Volume 12, 2007
Philosophical Trends in the XXth Century
Re-Examining the 'End of History' Idea and World History since Hegel
This paper offers an analysis of central features of modern world history which suggest a confirmation, and extension, of something resembling Fukuyama's Kojeve-Hegel *end of history' thesis. As is well known, Kojeve interpreted Hegel as having argued that in a meaningful sense history, as struggle and endeavour to achieve workable stasis in the mutual relations of selves and state-society collectivities, literally came to an end with Napoleon's 1806 victory at the battle of Jena. That victory led to the establishment or consolidation of a European system which significantly embodied the conceptually ideal roles and mutual relations of individual, state, law, and culture (including religious culture), in the aggregated states ruled or presided over by Napoleon. For Hegel the universal structures which constitute the progression of the Absolute are importantly independent of the actual concrete historical individuals and doings which embody and implement them. Once realized upon the earth, the idea of a civil society living, under law, with a sustainable religious and national normative ideology is inexpungible. Even if it has for a time dimmed, it will resurface and re-present itself, and, for Kojeve, has done so, in the gradual articulation of European union and the formations of the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations, in the world that is still our present world. It is much of this model that Fukuyama adopted, and conceived, more explicitly than perhaps either Hegel or Kojeve had done, as a realized triangulation of democracy, liberal individual rights ideology, and capitalism. The realization came to the fore, in Fukuyama's view, in the matrix of the events set in motion by the fall of communism in the European world in 1989. Contrary to Fukayama, of course, there has been rather a lot of 'history' very dramatically in the years in and since 1989, and of course especially explosively in 2001. This recent history notwithstanding, the end of history thesis seems plausible and defensible. Four large geopolitical struggles may be identified, as constituting sequential clusters of argument aimed at determining the human telos, or end-state. They constitute also a sequence of reductios of blueprints that are rivals to the liberalism-democracy-capitalism complex. The four are World War I and the geopolitical struggles between Liberal modernism and fascism, communism, and Islamism. Analyses of these four struggles are offered and defended.