Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

The Last Man struggles for the sake of struggle

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019

Francis Fukuyama is touring the world promoting his new book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. Sounds very much like the right book at the right time. Fukuyama is best-known, of course, for The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which grew out of an essay in The National Interest magazine in 1989, and in which he argued, controversially, that the global spread of liberal democracy and the associated Western lifestyle might herald the end point of socio-cultural evolution. Or, in his own words:

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

As mentioned, this was, and remains, hugely controversial, but what’s been overlooked in all the heated debates since is the message of the fifth and final chapter of The End of History and the Last Man. Published almost three decades ago now, it anticipated so much of what we face today. Snippet:

“But supposing that the world has become ‘filled up,’ so to speak, with liberal democracies, such that there exist no tyranny or oppression worthy of the name against which to struggle? Experience suggests that if men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier generation, they will struggle against that just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: for they cannot imagine living in a world without struggle. And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity, and against democracy.”

The National Interest


Filed in: Books, History • Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.