Ever since its first publication in 1992, The End of History and the Last Man has provoked controversy and debate. Francis Fukuyama's prescient analysis of religious fundamentalism, politics, scientific progress, ethical codes, and war is as essential for a world fighting fundamentalist terrorists as it was for the end of the Cold War. Now updated with a new afterword, The End of History and the Last Man is a modern classic.
History is directional, and its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy, asserts Fukuyama, former U.S. State Department planner. In a broad, ambitious work of political philosophy, he identifies two prime forces that supposedly push all societies toward this evolutionary goal. The first is modern natural science (with its handmaiden, technology), which creates homogenous cultures. The second motor of history (which the author borrows from Hegel) is the desire for recognition, driving innovation and personal achievement. Fukuyama's main worry seems to be whether, in the coming of what he considers a capitalist utopia, we will all become complacently self-absorbed ``last men'' or instead revert to ``first men'' engaged in bloody, pointless battles. Several of the countries that he christens capitalist liberal democracies--Turkey, the nations of South America--are in fact either oligarchies or police states, and his contention that liberal democracies do not behave imperialistically flies in the face of world and U.S. history. Nevertheless, this self-congratulatory book will probably be popular and widely discussed, like Fukuyama's 1989 National Interest essay, ``The End of History?''
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I consider the author’s viewpoint to be very dogmatic, without any clear argument on why one of the two sides discussed prevails. I also missed a logical cohesion in the flow of the presentation of the issues raised, as it often seemed to me that the argumentation was more a passionate polemic against the other side, than a demonstration of the efficiency of the one the author supports. I usually look for books that challenge me in new directions, I found this one to have been written to recycle existing ideas. Nonetheless, I did appreciate the multitude of topics discussed and the aspects on which the two sides were compared.