The End of History and the Last Man | Study Guide

Francis Fukuyama

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The End of History and the Last Man | Part 2, Chapter 10 : The Old Age of Mankind (In the Land of Education) | Summary



Fukuyama moves to consider how and why economic development might also promote democracy. He wishes especially to make the case that democracy is not purely a result of a particular European cultural legacy. He looks to the examples of South Africa, Japan, and the Soviet Union to show the desire for democracy arose in tandem with economic development. He notes that the Middle East has no stable democracies but explains this by noting that these countries have not "developed" as much as they have exploited the sale of natural resources in the form of oil.

Fukuyama discusses three arguments for why democracy arose with economic development. The first is that only democracy can navigate the competing web of interests that arise in a developed economy. The second is that an advanced technological society causes authoritarian control to "degenerate" as a more complex society baffles the ability of autocrats to control it. The third and in Fukuyama's view most convincing argument is that development creates a "middle class" that desires democracy, because it most involves their own participation in politics. An important aspect of middle-class society is mass education, which creates "the conditions" for a democratic society by encouraging people to value free thought. Fukuyama does not think any of these explanations adequately explain the correlation between development and democracy, however. He outlines several objections, such as that democracy is in fact not good at resolving conflicts between national or ethnic groups. Fukuyama decides another reason must be sought for the rise of democracy.


Fukuyama plays a rhetorical trick in this chapter by setting up three explanations which he then spends the bulk of the chapter shooting down. He does this because he wishes to show the phenomenon he has identified is commonly accepted enough to have received scholarly attention and explanation. That is, he believes he has established that economic development arrives in tandem with democracy, and crucially, he is not alone in doing so. However, the reasons for this are unknown. This is a phenomenon that has multiple explanations, yet Fukuyama disagrees with all of them. In dealing with them here, he lays the ground for his own preferred explanation, which will follow in a subsequent chapter. By addressing them in a thorough manner here, Fukuyama hopes the reader will find his alternative explanation more profound.

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