February 23, 2006

The End of Francis Fukuyama (and, No, We Don’t Mean His Posterior)

The February 19 number of The New York Times Magazine sports an essay by the famed intellectual Francis Fukuyama entitled “After Neoconservatism.” We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” would offer a “link” to said piece, but the folks at the Gray Lady—who are constantly carping about the evils of right-wing greed—are insufficiently magnanimous to allow non-subscribers to access such articles. After all, how could these selfless egalitarians make a buck off of you then?

Mr. Fukuyama, you undoubtedly recall, caused a big stir in the intellectual world with his 1992 tome The End of History and the Last Man, which, David Brooks usefully noted, sounds implausible even to those who have only read the title. In essence, Mr. Fukuyama—conjuring the spirit of Hegel—argued that liberal democracy had defeated totalitarianism in the world, and thus history was over.

Sounds about right, eh? Well, it turned out that a little thing called 9/11 happened, and perhaps that showed that Mr. Fukuyama was a bit off when he argued that liberal democracy was becoming a universal aspiration. Ever heard of Islam, Francis?

Naturally, this didn’t stop Mr. Fukuyama from landing a fancy gig at Johns Hopkins University. But it did prove him more wrong than Neville Chamberlain and Robert Mugabe combined. And you can throw in Jimmy Carter, too: That guy is so consistently incorrect that you can set your watch by him.

Mr. Fukuyama’s new piece in the Times Magazine, which is really an excerpt from a forthcoming book, explains that its author no longer counts himself among the neoconservatives. Distraught by his perceptions of the Bush Doctrine’s failures, he has broken ranks.

Now we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” could offer a number of reasons why Mr. Fukuyama’s assessments of George Bush’s foreign policy are incorrect. For instance, he appears to believe that establishing democratic governments in the Middle East would be a quick panacea, as if the Palestinians were likely immediately to elect Al Haig or Henry Kissinger. These things take time, for crying out loud. As Tom Cruise says to his gal-cum-beard: Baby steps.

But we don’t want to get bogged down with such an argument. Instead, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” simply aim at fussing over the fact that the fellow who wrote about “the end of history” is now conjuring “the end of neoconservatism.”

We mean, come on, Francis: You don’t really have a great track record on this whole “end of” thing, now do you? Will neoconservatism end twelve minutes after history, or perhaps a few months later? We have the feeling that even the nutters at The Nation won’t care that much, under the circumstances.

In fact, we would like to assert one official rule of public intellectualdom: Once you predict the end of history, you should no longer have the right to predict the end of anything else.

Posted at February 23, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack