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The End of History and the Last Man Paperback – Feb 1993

4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Paperback, Feb 1993
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (Feb. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380720027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380720026
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,009,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Francis Fukuyama was born in Chicago in 1952. His work includes America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy and After the Neo Cons: Where the Right went Wrong. He now lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and children, where he also works as a part time photographer. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Inside This Book

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First Sentence
The twentieth century, it is safe to say, has made all of us into deep historical pessimists. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The End of History and the Last Man combines a wide range of subjects: history, philosophy, political theory, international relations, economics and psychology to build a coherent model of human history. Fukuyama shows insightfulness and lucidity in this enormous undertaken – he is an intellectual heavyweight.
The book argues that History ends with Liberal Democracy in the political sphere and the free-market in the economic sphere. Its critics contend that it is merely western triumphalism at the end of the Cold War. However, this book is anything but triumphant. Fukuyama analysis the type of man (hence the second, often over-looked, part of the title “…and the Last Man”) living at the end of History. Fukuyama does not like what he sees: the Last Man has no higher ideals above his own health. He lives solely to prolong his existence. He is risk averse; a weak pitiful creature scared of death.
One reviewer of the book gives it one star because Fukuyama uses the Hegelian historical paradigm. However, this is only half the story because Fukuyama builds two independent, although complementary, views of history’s linearity: one Hegelian the other based on improving technology and increasing scientific knowledge. Hence even if you are not Hegelian you can still largely agree with Fukuyama’s arguments.
This is one of my favourite books and it is impossible to do Fukuyama’s clever, finely balanced juxtaposed arguments justice. I can only recommend reading the book. Finally, because this book embraces so many subjects it has made me want to explore many of the ideas behind the arguments.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The year is 1993. The Berlin wall has fallen. The West has won the Cold War. The West's ideology seems triumphant as Communism has been discredited around the world. In this heady political milieu, Francis Fukuyama posits that History has ended because it is directional and inexorably leads all people to choose the most rational form of government: liberal democracy. Twenty years on, Fukuyama's thesis seems questionable.

THE THESIS
The End of History is based on the Hegelian conception of history as the unfolding of Spirit. History, defined by Hegel as the progress of mankind to higher levels of rationality and freedom, terminates in the achievement of full self-consciousness. Fukuyama argues that mankind seems to be making Hegelian progress for two reasons: economics and the need for self-recognition.

1. ECONOMICS. Modern economies need to be rationally organised. Plans need to be made and products produced using rational means. As such, reason and efficiency become the animating features of a modern economy. In the process, rational means of production undermine traditional sources of authority such as clan ties and religion.

2. SELF-RECOGNITION. Various interest groups in a modern country vie for power in order to be 'recognisd'. People, being social creatures, want to have their voices heard. The only system that guarantees that the voices of competing interest groups will indeed be heard is liberal democracy

So far, so good.

THE ANTITHESIS
The End of History was written at the end of the Cold War when Russia was comatose and China had not yet emerged on the world stage. Fast forward twenty years and the story is different. China is the second-largest economy in the world and is emerging as a counter weight to the West.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, maybe not in so many words, but all the way through The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama treads a fine line between reasonably lucid interpretations of political philosophy on the one hand, and then deliberately provocative value-judgments on the nature of man and society on the other. Maybe that's why it's been such a seller the past 20-odd years.

Fukuyama argues that History (always a capital H) is a Mechanism (capital M) by which liberal democracy overturns a series of irrational and inegalitarian forms of government (feudalism, monarchy, fascism, soviet communism, etc) to ensure the majority of people are provided with an equal opportunity to freely participate in a world of material comfort and mutual security.

Liberal democracy, according to Fukuyama, is the only form of government that rules for the people, as opposed to a range of otherwise authoritarian regimes that govern only to fulfil the megalomaniacal whim of a despot or local oligarchy. Only liberalism allows for the educated and egalitarian society required to rationally maximise the flow of technologies and goods demanded in a post-industrial state. Only democracy can facilitate and regulate all the different businesses and interest groups involved in a complex modern economy. Authoritarian rulers wither away before the task.

But, being a pessimist, Fukuyama doesn't see this as a good thing. The pay-off for stability is domestication, with men becoming hollow creatures addicted to material possessions and unable to aim higher than their lowest-common-denominator set of paper thin values. What man needs most, he says, is dignity and community, the very things that liberal democracy itself has paradoxically undermined through its equalisation of society.
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