Thoughts on Fukuyama's "End of History" Thesis

E. Christian Brugger
March 25, 2014
Reproduced with Permission
Culture of Life Person and Polis

In his famous 1989 essay "The End of History" Francis Fukuyama writes:

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

How perspectives change in 25 years. Belloc said a hundred years ago that modern liberal free market democracy doesn't have the internal stability to constitute history's definitive political synthesis. He was right. It is disintegrating all around us. Fukuyama's world of interconnected liberal states has become a tyranny of relativism forcing a homophrenic, death-crazed, Christ-hating libertinism upon the world that the Catholic Church built. The lacerating ethical divisions at the heart of apparently-stable societies are unprecedented and dare I say, intractable. And the Baconian dream of a world subdued and pacified by science is becoming a Shellian horror story. (See John Harris's recent Frankensteinian proposal.)

Fukuyama's thesis is naïve. In the name of progress, we've entered a neo-barbarian age, more antiseptic and better dressed to be sure, but no less hostile to culture, Christianity, truth and goodness than the fifth through eighth centuries. The Church will always be in the world; always a vessel of redemption; always 'on the side of humanity.' But as Western man inexorably moves away from Christianity, the stakes that the Church plants in defense of man are increasingly outside the camp. Leaven in the marketplace is only possible if the marketplace allows leaven. Otherwise, it becomes Jeremiah in the marketplace, an image from which, I confess, I recoil.

Modern liberalism is creating a vacuum of values that, before our very eyes, is sucking the world toward a catastrophic antithesis. While we blabber about freedom and choice, the Fundamentalists grow strong.

What will my children's children's world look like? Without a great awakening, I fear the façade of social stability will be ripped back and, as MacIntyre predicts, followers of the Lord will be forced to flee for serenity to the monasteries.

It may seem that amid the circle of gloom nothing much can be accomplished. For anyone tempted to give in to inertia, Pope Benedict XVI says this:

"At such times, a living relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right path, without falling into an arrogant contempt for man, something not only unconstructive but actually destructive, or surrendering to a resignation which would prevent us from being guided by love in the service of others. Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone." (Deus Caritas Est, no. 36)