Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fuykuyama, whipping boy

Here we go again: another pundit taking a gratuitous swipe at Francis Fukuyama. This time it's Philip Stephens:
Then, of course, there was the famous claim that the collapse of communism marked the end of history. To my mind, recent times have felt rather more like the beginning of history, but Francis Fukuyama’s career has not suffered for predicting otherwise.
Fukuyama never said "the end of history" -- the universal triumph of democratic capitalism -- was upon us. He suggested that the world is trending toward it, because competitive pressures drive countries first to open their markets and then their political systems; the "end" was at hand only in the sense that with the collapse of communism there were no viable ideological alternatives.

Indeed, Stephens' own diagnosis of China's current conundrum is pure Fukuyama. Policymakers in Beijing, he writes,

are also aware that the autocracy and corruption on which the present system rests will not withstand the pressures of economic and social change.

Only the other day Mr Hu called for a “vigorous improvement” in democratic decision-making to help fight corruption within the ruling Communist party.

Read The End of History again, Mr. Stephens. The title may "shout a single message," as you complain serious books must do these days. But the content still provides a road map for the difficult course humanity is steering.

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