Francis Fukuyama’s Fever Dream
Thirty years ago an American Political Scientist named Francis Fukuyama declared, without irony, that history had come to an end.(1) He meant it figuratively of course, but he also wasn’t kidding around. He was quite serious. The supposedly no longer relevant history that Mr. Fukuyama was referring to in his, at the time, widely acclaimed best-seller “The End Of History And The Last Man”, was the history of a world that, in his mind, had completely transmogrified on November 9, 1989.
It was the day that the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War seemed to be at an end. From that moment forward there would be no more roadblocks, no more obstructions getting in the way of the new globalist dream. According to Fukuyama all that remained for humanity to do from 1990 onward was to ride an all-unifying unipolar capitalist wave of progress toward eventual global prosperity for all.
History however, obtuse bugger that she is, did not heed Mr. Fukuyama’s memo. In fact, in the first months of 2008 Fukuyama’s ahistorical kahuna would be rudely ripped from its heavenward trajectory and pulled into one hell of a bardo. A dark, desolate, disunified realm full of all kinds of twisted characters. These retrograde creatures would come on in droves from all regions of the planet demanding that we acknowledge our long, unresolved and still very relevant past, our history.
Four Horsemen And The Pimps
Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Donald Trump (USA) and Giorgia Meloni (Italy) are just a few examples amongst dozens of reigning and/or up and coming right-wing nationalist political leaders. There has been no shortage of mainstream media pontification about the recent rise of these politicians. The usual choir of center-left status quo pundits, a portion of whom were center-right status quo pundits singing the praises of Fukuyama’s book thirty years ago, have been chiming and cashing in on the upsurge of these “new irrationalist”(2) “dismantlers of democracy”(3) for almost a decade now.
These days we are harangued constantly by mainstream media commentators and academics about how these “backward” characters have persuaded the “undereducated masses” to turn away from democracy.(4) What these pundits fail to recognize and/or fail to admit though, is that the rise of the new populism of the right is a direct systemic product of the anti-historical, anti-democratic, oligarchic neoliberal aberration that these “experts” have been pimping for the last thirty-plus years.(5)
Revenge of The Late Middle-Aged Mutant Jingoist Turtles
On the one hand populist leaders like the ones mentioned above profess to uphold and defend traditional Christian values, against what they view to be the threat of relativist, degenerative forces.(6) Their nationalist call to return to traditional values, they claim, is a counter to the unhinged decadence they feel has been generated by modern liberalism.
On the other hand, ironically, in their life practices, in their real-time manner of conducting themselves, these neoconservative leaders are actually postmodern caricatures brandishing lifestyles and ideologies that are, at bottom, deeply cynical, reactionary, and, despite all pretensions otherwise, kindred to those of their modern liberal rivals.
What most of these leaders personify is not a return to values but instead a mutation, an undisguised doubling down on the anti-utilitarian decadence of the neoliberal order that they claim they are challenging.
Their proposed cure for quasi-oligarchies are quasi-dictatorships. Their answer to globalist militarism is nationalist ethnocentrism. Their remedy for growing wealth inequality is unregulated top-down private and/or state (depending on which nationalist is being referred to) control.
Add to this, in the cases of leaders like Bolsonaro and Trump, a penchant for anachronistic quasi-monarchal glitz. In Meloni and Putin one finds a not so subtle despot fetish and a tendency to reverently hark back to potentates of ages past.(7)
Right-Wing Populism (The Delinquent Lovechild Of Neoliberalism)
This is the crucial point. This is the moment in this article where, hopefully, I complete the fulfillment of my main aim. “What is your main aim, Mark?”, you might be thinking. Well, I will tell you.
My central aim in this piece of writing is to point out that 21st century right-wing populist nationalism is the delinquent lovechild that neoliberal capitalism has given birth to. It is the grotesque shadow, the degenerate offshoot of the currently disintegrating Greenspan-Reagan-Clinton era deregulation dream. A dream that was, essentially, to dismantle the New Deal and to go global with vulture capitalism.
Late 20th/early 21st century (bipartisan) globalist neoliberalism has plunged a significant portion of the world’s population into such confusion, such fear and such desperation that they are ready now to risk losing everything they have gained over the last century in order to escape the suffering and meaninglessness that the current system has imposed on them.
Another decade of broken promises, austerity and dashed hopes is simply not an option for a growing majority of this planet’s disenfranchised despairing masses. They cannot continue to place their hopes in and give their support to a system that has morphed into a cash cow for the wealthiest of the wealthy at the expense of the physical and mental health and well-being of the majority of the people on this planet.
As for those in the West who, in ignorance and/or bad faith, still speak of the need to continue to unquestioningly serve, at all costs, the current neoliberal military industrial corporate complex, the current system, alleging that people who challenge it are enabling the aims of the enemy, I say, J’Accuse! (8)
*Note: I wrote a group of articles that go into detail about neoliberal capitalism and how it has been the central propellant of economic disparity and war in the modern world over the last four decades. I’ve pasted two of these articles here (just below) if you would like to take a deeper dive into the matter:
There Has To Be A Third Option
There has to be a third option. The two that are being put on offer by the mainstream media, a) continuing the way we’re going, or b) shifting into full-on neofascism, are both false doors. They’re both anti-evolutionary paths.
What this possible third option is or could be will be the subject of an article that will be published here in Pressenza sometime in October.
In Closing: “I Want A Cause Worthy Of The Human Landscape”
This article ends with a quote from a book entitled “The Internal Landscape” that was written forty-two years ago by the Humanist philosopher Silo. I was going to paraphrase it but instead I decided to paste it here (below) as it is.
“I renounce every faction that proclaims an ideal higher than life and every cause that, to impose itself, generates suffering. So before you accuse me of not being part of any faction, examine your own hands—you may find on them the blood of complicity. If you believe it valiant to commit yourself to those factions, what will you say of one whom all the murderous bands accuse of being uncommitted? I want a cause worthy of the human landscape: a cause committed to surpassing pain and suffering …
I deny the right to make accusations to any faction that, whether recently or long ago, has figured in the suppression of life. I deny the right to cast suspicion on others to any who conceal their own suspicious faces. I deny that anyone, even someone arguing the extreme urgency of present circumstance, has the right to block the new roads that the human being must travel.
Not even the worst of what is criminal is foreign to me, and if I recognize it in the landscape, I recognize it also in myself. So it is that I want to surpass what in me as in everyone fights to suppress life: I want to surpass the abyss! …
All worlds you aspire to, all justice you demand, all love you search for, all human beings you would follow or destroy are also within you. Everything that changes within you will change your direction in the landscape you inhabit. Thus, if you have need of something new, you must surpass the old that dominates within you.” (9)
- Fukuyama, Francis, “The End Of History And The Last Man”, Free Press, 1992
- Silo, “The Internal Landscape”, Chapter IV, Latitude Press, 1980