Fukuyama was Right, but Hegel Lives on

Readers of Žižek should probably be familiar with the famous Žižek quote of “It’s easy to make fun of Fukuyama, but aren’t we today all Fukuyamaists?” Yes, indeed most of us today are clearly Fukuyamaists, in the sense that we do not muse about ideological alternatives to global capitalism anymore. Instead, the primary concerns of today are mainly how to make the system more open, tolerant, humanist, ecological, religious (in some cases), and so on. History in the sense of ideological battles is over, save perhaps for Muslim backlashes.

But what is interesting in the Muslim backlash — and other struggles in the contemporary society, including non-“ideological” ones — is the immense stress people tend to put on their cultural and ethnic identity. Of course there has been many researches on this matter, probably spawned by Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations. People are becoming increasingly sensitive in their physical being — race, ethnicity, cultural heritage and customs, sex, gender. It is important to read Fukuyama by his 2002 book, Our Posthuman Future — in this book he basically fixes his end-of-history thesis, claiming that a revolution in biotechnology will provide new terrains of struggle, thus continuing history.

Here we see a line, a pattern in current struggles: physicality. People are becoming increasingly sensitive towards their physical state and what physical states can and cannot do, what the misrecognized image of themselves are and are not. Technology and the increasingly augmented gaze it has brought forth has dissected and questioned the significance of the human body with all its properties. The body itself is now, more than ever, the terrain of struggle.

It is here that I am being a Hegelian, both in the broadest sense of seeing history as a dialectical process and in the idealistic, disembodied “Spirit” sense. What we are now seeing is in fact a dialectics between man and machine, between body and information. We can see clearly the negation of negation present in contemporary history: Cold War – End of History – Posthumanity, Modernism – Postmodernism – Žižekian 180-degree turn, and so on. Thus, although history may have ended (we are only denying the fact and calling Fukuyama an idiot because of “postmodern” or “cultural” reasons, but we nevertheless skeptically believe, and so on), I would claim it naive to dismiss Hegel as well. Perhaps, he may be more relevant in the posthuman — isn’t that the “Spirit” that Hans Moravec just downloaded into a computer to become immortal?

5 Responses to “Fukuyama was Right, but Hegel Lives on”

  1. […] embodiment becomes the terrain of fight, a sort of posthuman-charged Hegelianism I briefly noted here.) This is precisely why capitalism is very tricky and troubling, and seem to only rejoice at its […]

  2. Hm, I don’t think Fukuyama is right, even if he builts in “biotechnology” in his concept: According to Schumpeter, as well as to Negri/Hardt (which I personally don’t like) capitalism will “run out” itself. Where Negri/Hardt in my opinion aren’t able to explain this very well, Schumpeter absolutely is. So history/capitalism is not the point of end, economically. I guess Fukuyama uses the hegemonian consens to built his theory upon. But that’s not that hard to do, I guess. Capitalism itself is constantely transforming. And there aren’t just islamistic people who are trying to “create history” in their lunacy. Watch the ambitions of China, the ambitions of Russia, resistance in the poor south, or the upturn of diverse left movements in latin america, watch “anticapitalist” movements like open source which are changing the way we live (and the thinking of a whole generation about property) I think we should more think of history as a history of social fights, like for example Foucault did. I think Fukuyama himself argues ideological when he really pretends all of this simply doesn’t exist. Big ideas, whether they are “good” or “bad”, always are coming back (Zizek) or are newly created.

  3. Bonni Rambatan Says:

    I think you’re missing my point. My thesis here is that contemporary history no longer works as it used to, since the dominant ideology today, that of global capitalism, thrives on its very attacks, on the very crises it spurs. Capitalism is also worldless, in the Badiouan sense of the term. The only remaining terrain to fight here is the body, although not many would realize. (I should probably have quoted Badiou and Agamben as well in the post, but ah.)

    Fukuyama was right in the sense that most fights against today’s capitalism is a false one, and thus it thrives, making history as postmodern ornaments of phenomenological constructs. But I’m not saying Fukuyama is a smart guy who has the last laugh — when you read him you sort of get the sense that he actually accidentally got it right, as it were. Hope that makes more sense.

  4. Fukuyama was late for the end, and it is a problem that Fukuyama (nor any big idea thinkers), does not have the courage, like that of a ‘first’ man and to challenge the authority, the reality principle, the one he never mentions, thus never questioning why those with power have more money and global influence. More than they will ever need: unless they do plan to buy everything ?
    Fukuyama advised Bush to invade Iraq! (WTF: pure Hegelianism)

  5. Bonni Rambatan Says:

    Yeah, that’s why I said he just happened to be right in his sensational thesis. We all laugh about it but my point is that it has more truth than you know. Not that you should admire the guy anymore than you do now.

    I really hope your last comment in the bracket is meant to be an ironic one… Otherwise you just gave away your identity as one of those reptilian people! *gasps*

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