Francis Fukuyama, Democracy versus culture

Posted on Friday, June 29th, 02007 by Stewart Brand
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Francis Fukuyama

Democracy versus Culture

Francis Fukuyama began by describing the four most significant challenges to the thesis in his famed 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. In the book he proposed that humanity’s economic progress over the past 10,000 years was driven by the accumulation of science and technology over time. That connection is direct and reliable.

Less direct and reliable, but very important, is the sequence from economic progress to the adoption of liberal democracy…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

  • scratchmark

    Points on to the LNF for a ‘fair and balanced’ perspective in bringing people like Fukuyama and Rendon to speak.
    Points off for lowering the caliber of the seminars as a whole, by bringing people like Fukuyama and Rendon to speak.

    There are those enlightened few whose ideas are leading us into the future, and others whose ideas are dragging the ‘present tense’ back into our blood-soaked and all too predictable past. I hope the LNF can make the distinction.

  • edphil


    Your comment does not strike me as coherent. Fukuyama is rather updating some of the most cogent political economy of the last century, namely the work of Kojeve, who still looms large. Any person interested in political economics would be served well by thinking about Kojeve’s and Fukuyama’s work. The present is less blood soaked than the past largely due to the rationalization of state and economic institutions is one simple way of summing up an aspect of Kojeve.

  • edphil

    I don’t know that I put that too clearly, here is a snippet from a work cited on the wikipedia Kojeve page:
    “political leaders of capitalist states might choose the route of economic cooperation and integration as an alternative to mutually self-destructive wars.” We can probably change that might to will.

    Where Fukuyama has changed his focus of late is exactly where Kojeve was pointing; there exists and will continue to exist a kind of capitalist-socialist synthesis. The large state infrastructures are not going away pace our libertarian fantasists. In fact, if you were surprised that the Bush admin grew the state infrastructure, you would do well to give Kojeve a quick glance.

  • Pingback: Francis Fukuyama, “‘The End of History’ Revisited”, Long Now Foundation, 2007/06/28 « Media Download Queue –> Coevolving Innovations()

  • scratchmark

    Thanks edphil, I will look up Kojeve then…I should point out though, given the dwindling corner that western capitalist societies have painted themselves into vis a vis environmental (and lately, economic) collapse- I’d have to say the phrase ‘cogent political economy’ was a bit oxymoronic. Have a look at the Nicholas Taleb and Jared Diamond lectures on that count.

  • phlegethon

    alas, fukuyama, partially chastened by the absence of the end of history, has not officially made any
    ‘long bets’ at, so the net cannot officially give them the short shrift they so richly deserve.

    this grand neocon pajandrum is still repackaging his odious vacuities expecting that we should just forget what the straussian cause he peddles entails: specifically, the noble lie, and the elevation of the elite.

    the long now organization rightly places patience in their seven cardinal virtues slot, but by including this self-aggrandizing and boring little twerp in it’s list of funky intellectuals, it is testing that of it’s most devoted followers. although I suppose, from the meagre discussion that seems to have followed, silence is still the most perfect expression of scorn.

  • Sarosh Kumana

    Fukuyama’s The End of History posits that liberal democracy represents the end-point of political development – that societies will naturally evolve towards it. This provided some of the intellectual impetus for promoting the drive towards “democracy” in the rest of the world (or the simulation of democracy evidenced by “free” elections) by the GWB administration.

    However, liberal democracy needs continuing economic growth and a distribution of wealth such that all vested interests (or almost all) are satisfied. In a resource-constrained world this is manifestly not possible over the long term. In fact we are seeing the breakdown of liberal democracy all over the world, as the economies on which they depend falter and crumble.

    We are also seeing the growth in authoritarian regimes, which are needed to control human populations where wealth and power distribution are skewed and many groups are suppressed based on their “otherness”. In some areas, eg in Muslim societies, it is women; in Sudan or Rwanda, it is the non-dominant ethnicities etc.

    Perhaps there will soon be a book, “The End of Liberal Democracy”.

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