The End of History and the Last Man | Study Guide

Francis Fukuyama

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Francis Fukuyama | Biography

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Education and Early Career

Francis Fukuyama was born in Chicago on October 27, 1952. He studied Classics at Cornell University, graduating in 1974. Fukuyama then began his studies for a PhD in Political Science at Harvard University, which he completed in 1981. After his graduate studies, he went to work for the U.S. State Department on issues involving U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and later Eastern Europe. During this time he also worked for the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank that provides research on matters relevant to U.S. foreign policy.

Fukuyama came to public recognition after publishing his best-known work, The End of History and the Last Man, in 1992. The book was based on an essay he had written in 1989 for The National Interest. The essay and book were written in a time of dramatic change, in which the Soviet Union and many communist states in Eastern Europe underwent democratic revolutions. Fukuyama proposed that these events not only marked the end of communism and the Cold War (the 40-year arms race period of hostility without battles, between the United States and the Soviet Union) but also ushered in the final era of human social evolution. Liberal democracy and capitalism were not only the victors of an ideological struggle, but they were also the final form of human social progress. This was the end of "History." The book was widely read, if controversial, and cemented Fukuyama's reputation as a provocative political theorist.

Later Works

Fukuyama followed up The End of History with texts that developed the themes first introduced in that book. Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (1995) examined connections between culture and economic success, proposing social trust and cohesion would be necessary in the post-history economy. The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order (1999) argued the 20th century had seen a "great disruption" of traditional social order in the United States. Biotechnology became a concern of Fukuyama's, and he wrote about his fears of the potential for genetic engineering and eugenics programs in Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (2002).

Political Views

A political conservative, Fukuyama was associated with the neoconservative movement in the 1990s and early 2000s. The neoconservatives promoted foreign policy positions that saw the United States using military force and pressure to promote democracy and capitalism (the economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and distributed through markets) around the world. These preferences were present in Fukuyama's earlier work (including The End of History) but were expressed most clearly in State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century (2004). In this book Fukuyama analyzed the threat posed to world order by "weak" or "failed" states that needed to be propped up and made more robust through intervention. However, Fukuyama became disillusioned with neoconservatism, especially its implementation by the presidential administration of George W. Bush (2001–09), and wrote another book criticizing the movement: America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (2006).

Late-Career

Fukuyama has held positions as professor of public policy at George Mason University and professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University. Since July 2010 Fukuyama has been a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. From 2001 to 2004 he also held a position on the President's Council on Bioethics. Throughout his career Fukuyama has sought to understand the circumstances, challenges, and opportunities of the post-Cold War world. Fukuyama's thesis that the end of the Cold War marked the "end of History" was always controversial (and especially criticized by thinkers on the left), and Fukuyama himself has, in the early years of the 21st century, walked back some of his claims. Nevertheless, his work is a provocative and bold interpretation of the post-Soviet age.

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