The End Of History And The Last Man

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The End Of History And The Last Man

by Francis Fukuyama
Free Press, 1992
400 pp. $24.95
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The most intriguing aspect of this best seller is that its author is a former official of the State Department's policy planning staff, a RAND Corporation analyst and a Harvard Ph.D. in Soviet foreign policy. The causal relationship is not clear between this experience and the controversial thesis that liberal democracy as a system of government has emerged fully victorious over other philosophies such as fascism, communism and socialism. The notion that "history" has reached its end with the emergence of liberal democracy owes much to the ideas of Hegel and, more particularly, an obscure French interpreter of his named Alexandre Kojeve. But one wonders how this "feel good" thesis is viewed in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where liberal democracies are often fragile at best and where basic human needs are not being met. Even in Western terms this provocative tract seems more attuned to the self-congratulatory 1980s than the problematic years ahead. Yet whatever one's response, we are indebted to Fukuyama for such an ambitious work of political philosophy, more typical of the European intellectual tradition than our own, and look forward to his next thoughts-beyond the "last man."