I am reposting this to reconsider the issue of Darwinism in relation to Marx
here in another post. This interview of Fukuyama actually illustrates a lot
of the confusion over Darwinism and ideology.
Fukuyama wobbles on 'modernity'
'I have not jumped off the modernity boat'
by Helene Guldberg
Having spent much of my youth campaigning against America's military
involvement in the Middle East and Latin America, it was slightly surreal to
be sitting sipping coffee in a Soho teahouse with a former foreign policy
adviser to the Reagan administration. Francis Fukuyama seems to have no
qualms about openly defending the USA's power to impose its will around the
Yet Fukuyama comes across less as a Hawk than as a genteel and very likeable
man. And here we were discussing the impact of 11 September upon Fukuyama's
famous 'End of History' thesis, and putting the case for human
exceptionalism. Fukuyama proclaimed in 1989 that History (with a capital H)
had ended, because 'the major alternatives to liberal democracy had exhausted
themselves'. But after 11 September, many argued that we were not at the end
of History but were witnessing a 'clash of civilisations'. Fukuyama was put
under a lot of pressure to defend his thesis, but took some time to put his
head above the parapet.
'It was a serious challenge and I spent a lot of time trying to think through
exactly how serious it was', he says. 'There was a group of radical Islamists
who rejected Western values lock, stock and barrel, and did not want any part
of modernisation. So it did suggest that the universality of Western values
has certain limits.'
I am struck by the confusion of terminology in this interview, the confusion
created by the postmodern misuse of the term 'modernity', the incoherence in
Fukuyama's position vis a vis Kojevian historical materialism, somehow
Hegelian, mixed with Nietzsche.
The confusion over the term 'modernity' springs from the persistent
misunderstanding of its proper meaning, and the understandable impulse of
Fukuyama to defend it in relation to a thesis of universal history taken from
Hegel, but incorrectly. Thus now he is in trouble with the Huntington idiocy,
to say nothing of the biotech revolution which is confusing him.
Hegel's meaning as to the 'end of history' is probably correct, although we
can't be sure, but not in the sense of endorsing liberal capitalism. The 'end
of history' is a complex model based on absolute idealism and is very
difficult to grasp. But it amounts, perhaps, to saying that the active
generation of history in relation to passive 'not yet free men' comes to a
close leaving the 'end of dynamic' history operating on passive man. This
says nothing about the endstate of political systems, although, no doubt,
Hegel might be construed along liberal lines, keeping in mind his complex
ambivalence, his severe critique of civil society buried in his bluff about
Prussian reaction, etc etc.. This view may, again, not be Hegel but my own,
but the point is that Fukuyama is grafting Kojeve inherited historical
materialism via Marx on Hegel, to get his capitalist 'end of history'
gimmick. No idealism, no Hegel, unless Marx, and not even then.
The result is that he is, surprisingly, actually confused when someone
challenges him with Sept 11, as not be the end of history. Remarkable, and
sad. I suspect it is the end of history but this has nothing to with
postmodern views on modernity, or Sept 11.
One should note also the hopeless confusion by bringing in Nietzsche. Here
and in the original book that he wrote. The 'end of history' has to be
neo-liberal, and that leaves equality up in the air, so a dash of Nietzsche,
I guess, will take care of that in the whole package.
How about a time out for the eonic version? How about it? There we see the
eonic effect whose core is the eonic sequence of emerging civilization, the
third sector of which is what we are confusing with modernity, and whose
transitional falloff generates what we sense as the 'postmodern'. This eonic
transition, essentially the 'early modern', terminates around 1800, and
presto we find Hegel, with flawed symbols but a stunning intuition completing
his Phenom to the tune of Napoleon. It is a first class effect, and Hegel,
casting about for a means to express his intuition both scores a bull's eye,
and blunders at the same time. It is not by this reckoning the end of
history, although it might be the end of the eonic sequence as system
generation is replaced by full 'free action' in the language of the model.
But it is the end of the transitional effect, and this leaves whatever is in
its place a very strong and enduring candidate for persistent stability, and
people like Marx in 1848 really up the creek if they want to complete the
transformation toward full equality. Whatever this means, it is clear that
the misuse of the term 'end of history' creates a hopeless muddle, as does
the addition of Nietzsche who simply isn't helpful for understanding this,
unless you care to simply destroy liberal systems and modernity both. So
passing beyond the liberal system with its sudden eonic mystique is hard, but
surely not impossible, since, as Marx clearly suggests, the process of
globalization following in the wake of the modern transition will discover
the complete absence of liberal societies, what to say of their regression.
The Hegelian insight here was brilliant, but flawed. We need a different kind
of universal history, and the eonic model shows the way to one.
From where did we get globalization as a concept, apart from its obvious
empirical reality? Which seems to be misjudged all of a sudden as the 'clash
of civilizations'? Hegel is not clear here, he didn't use this term. He is
focussed on the French Revolution. A close look here shows globalization as a
jack in the box just here with Napoleon. So its there in the symbolism.
What Hegel couldn't quite grasp, and he is accused of Eurocentrism is that
the process of universal history which he saw acting through, e.g. his
Germany in seemingly chavinist terms, is a localized sequence in a
Here Hegel is caput. And the eonic model can clarify what is going on much
This gets confusing in small doses. The whole model is needed. But Fukuyama
has made a mess of pottage out of Hegel, and the confusion of debate is
The clash of civilizations so-called with Islam is real enough. Fukuyama's
model is fairly clear here, but there is no law of history that enjoins
liberal capitalism in theory, although in practice it is hard to see how in
the next century any other alternative. Failure to see this point requires
looking at the dynamics of Marx's thinking in 1848, and this has little to do
with Marx. But the confusion over the replication of 1789 in globalizing
contexts as this automatically generates a breakdown in liberal thinking and
the impulse toward socialism is classic indeed. That moment in its
permutations is the whole game in a nutshell. It is worth remembering also
that the Bolshevik revolution was the world's most complicated bourgeois
revolution. This kind of irony means the original idea is not to be sneezed
at. The problem then is seen to be resolved, but never solved, by the
realization that there are no civilizations to clash, only collisions in the
process of globalization permuting 1848, in the medley and distraction of
nationalism emerging amidst internationalism. So that's it. One global field
in the wake of a 'phase boundary' we call the modern. The problem with this
cute system is the first come first serve cases in what they call the 'west'
try to prevent the process from completion. So the system unwinds short of
completion. The term 'western civilization' has no status then. Islam,
clearly, is in trouble. It is futile to call it however a 'civilization'. It
is like the Holy
Roman Empire in the time of Napoleon. There is no law of history that says
they have to replicate the whole process, but that is just what we are seeing
in slow motion. The term 'modern' needs to be replaced. The 'end of history'
concept is so muddled it is useless at this point. Hegel's system is in any
case a rather stark case of idealist thinking. It is hard to see how this
mystique could be grafted onto technological evolution plus Nietzsche and
used to justify western capitalism, but that's what the State Department got
away with. Poor Fukuyama.
These questions need a whole new model and brand new terminology, then
perhaps we could be rid of this nonsense of Huntington versus Fukuyama which
is driving me bananas. Bananas! The left right and upside down is in a
muddle, no wonder the Islamic world doesn't buy it.
Check out http://eonix.8m.com for the eonic model. Hegel's a great
philosopher, but his philosophy of history is done for. Upgrade now!
Website on the eonic effect
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