Posted by: sean | October 2, 2006

Fukuyama’s new book

The London Review has an interesting review of Fukuyama’s new book.

In administration rhetoric, terrorism (a method for waging asymmetrical war) is routinely opposed to liberty (a principle for organising a modern society). The antithesis of liberty, however, is not terrorism but tyranny. So when the administration tries to place jihadism in the space vacated by Communism, turning it into the new global enemy of liberty, it confuses both itself and others.

Tacitly, the neo-con advocates of Middle Eastern democracy are siding with the young men who might be tempted to join terrorist conspiracies against their clientalistic, kleptocratic and non-democratic governments, which are officially allied with the US. Al-Qaida is less like the KGB than the KGB?s implacable foe, the Afghan mujahidin, ?freedom fighters? supported by Ronald Reagan, among others. Today?s neo-cons no longer want to imitate Reagan by helping resentful young Muslim men regain their dignity through violent insurgency. Instead, they want to give them an alternative path to dignity: namely, liberal democracy. But the basic reason for supporting frustrated Muslim youth, that they deserve American support in their noble search for liberation, is the same.

It is worth dwelling for a moment on this massive contradiction. Although obvious in a way, it is seldom discussed; Fukuyama doesn?t seem to notice it. The neo-cons defend two diametrically opposed propositions: that the jihadists hate freedom at the same time as hating their own lack of it. On the one hand, neo-cons assert that Islamic radicals hate American values, not American policies, and deny that America?s past behaviour has in any way provoked anti-American violence. On the other hand, they imply that the 9/11 plot was inspired and implemented by terrorists radicalised by Arab autocracies allied with or sponsored by the US. This suggests that 9/11-style terrorists hate American policies, not American values. They hate not the principles of American liberty but, rather, America?s unprincipled support for tyranny. To promote democracy in the Middle East is to imply that such hatred is in part justified.

The review goes over this and other contradictions inherent in the Bush administration’s strategy in the “War on Terror” and in their rationale for invading Iraq. It is worth reading in its entirety.



  1. I’ve been waiting for Fukuyama’s new book, “After the Neo-Cons” for a while now.

    I’ve been playing with the idea that Fukuyama, as elaborated in his book “The End of History”, represents the *other* side of Karl Marx, in the sense that both Marx and Fukuyama embody the extreme left & right of Hegelian-teleology.

    For Marx, the end state of history starts with the triumph of the socialist system over capitalism, whereas Fukuyama asserts that it was the liberal-capitalistic-democratic sweep that overtook communism. Hence, do we get sophisticated interpretations regarding the “pacification” of Czechlosovakia, or the “liberalization” or “democratization” in Iraq.

    It seems that Marxism is dying out as a credible philosophy/theory because of history’s liberal-democratic direction. On the other hand, Fukuyama’s sadistic-teleological logic will be here to stay, *as long as* history pulls toward the capitalist synthesis. Meanwhile, Fukuyama will perhaps remain *legitimate* and therefore *powerful*, as long as such neo-con intellectuals trumpet the fall of communism, and then further claim that “democracy-promotion” inevitably *works* due to the synthesizing crystallization of free-market, democratic (neo-conservative) norms.

    Thus, just as it is a pain in the ass to argue with sophisticated Marxists, it is practically dangerous to argue against intellectual neo-conservatives. In other words, these are “the means rationalize the ends” kinds-of-people.

    Once the Iraq-experiment fails, Fukuyama will once again trumpet his annoying “end of history” thesis, and will continue to argue that “democracy promotion” must *still* be a major element in US foreign policy.

    Only history will tell.


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