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The End of History - Essay Example

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The End of History

What we may be witnessing in 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.In the controversial 1989 essay titled "The End of History", Francis Fukuyama attempted to give Western capitalism's victory over communism a Hegelian interpretation. He argued that the end of history has eliminated all but one intellectual option for the future evolution of the planet. Liberal Democracy and the 'American way of life' were hailed as the only rational coherent system of values and practices; everything else that happened in the past was only leading up to this new Enlightenment and triumph of reason, in a teleological sense of inevitability.
In a way, neither is the advent of man the end of evolution, nor is the widespread prevalence of liberal democracy that we witness in our day the "end" of history. Yet they represent effective points of resolution. If we were to assert that man is the pinnacle of natural evolution, it would be factually very incorrect as man modern man evolved barely 100-120 thousand years ago, and evolution takes place in a geological time scale spanning millions of years. Though it may be difficult for us to conceive any life form beyond human beings, evolution is simply a naturally phenomenon that cannot be stopped and has not stopped with humans. Humans may only be representing a transitional life form, or dolphins may evolve to be more intelligent that humans ever were, in a million years or so. We also would like to think American-type liberal democracy as being the pinnacle of evolution of political organisation of society, but we could be wrong.

In the course of evolution, there occurred a decisive encounter between Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens for over ten thousand years, in which Homo sapiens sapiens finally emerged as the survivor to assert supremacy over the planet, about 28,000 years ago. Eerily echoing this epic evolutionary clash between the two rival human species, there raged a monumental battle in the twentieth century between communism and democracy during the years of the Cold War, in which the forces of democracy finally emerged victorious and asserted supremacy over the planet.

However, there is nothing intrinsically final about both these phenomena. Man has of course no rival on the planet now, and liberal democracy too, even with all its defects and shortcomings, appears the sole viable alternative for the present and the future of human society. However, if we were to claim that man is the culmination and the end of natural evolution, we could be accused of brazen anthropocentrism. Similarly, if we were to claim that democracy is the culmination, and more than that, the end itself, of ideological evolution, we could perhaps be accused of "American-centrism".

Yet the fact remains that, considered on a rational basis, emergence of man represents an evolution of consciousness that offers a satisfactory resolution to the six hundred million years of natural evolution, despite his war-like nature and other selfish, brutish tendencies. In this sense, enlightened liberal democracy too, notwithstanding its myriad inadequacies, offers a satisfactory resolution to the ten thousand years of evolution of human society.

If Neanderthals took over the Cro-Magnon man (that is, us), of if Hitler won the Second World War, or if the Soviet Union somehow succeeded in annihilating the United States in the Cold War, would we have been at the end of history too Certainly, Neanderthals were very robust, they had already been flourishing for about two hundred thousand years when the Cro-Magnon man arrived on the ice age European scene and made his presence felt. There were also many times in the Second World War, where the German forces were on the ascendency, and in fact Hitler ...Show more

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What we may be witnessing in 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…
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