It's the End of the End of History As We Know it


Writing in the World Affairs Journal, Michael Zantovsky, the former Czech ambassador to the U.S. and longtime former wingman to Vaclav Havel, has an interesting and hard-to-define essay that ruminates on the collapse of communism, Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man, evolutionary biology, Sept. 11, Hayek, and much else besides. Any excerpt will be an injustice; here's the closing paragraph:

Jean-Paul Sartre was a fartre

Even so, the [recent] bad news has come with a sense of relief, at least to some. It has reconfirmed some basic truths about the world. There is no manifest destiny for mankind, no end point, no true ideology, and no salvation on this earth. Civilizations come and go, idols rise and fall, people are born and they die only to make room for later generations. Freedom, for which liberal democracy is a conduit rather than the other way round, can never be assured of its final victory, can never be taken for granted. Its enemies, among which the most insidious reside inside rather than outside the West, will always threaten it. Ideologies are the props of history, not the moving forces behind it and certainly not the actors. These are the people. In fact, by trying to channel history into the boundaries of their dogmas and prejudices, ideologies more often hinder history than propel it forward. It is simply not the case, as Hegel thought, that "spirit…determines history absolutely, and it stands firm against the chance occurrences which it dominates and exploits for its own purpose." History, to borrow a phrase from Adam Ferguson, is not a product of human design but of human action. The end of history is the death of the last man.

Whole thing here. Other 20th-anniversary noodlings from me and Michael C. Moynihan, and read our Fukuyama file here.