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 11 : The Old Age of Mankind (The Former Question Answered) | Summary

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Summary

Fukuyama circles back to themes he has discussed previously. He states it is indeed possible to write a Universal History. This history is progressive, not cyclical. This is because of the progressive nature of scientific understanding. The communist and Nazi regimes of Stalin and German dictator Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) were not brave new worlds but dead ends straying from the true path of human developments, producing only horrors. These regimes were the sources of much of the pessimism Fukuyama identified at the start of the book, but he wishes to reassure the reader these societies really were aberrations. For all their horrors, they could not last. There is so much good in modernity that the horrors of failed states should not distract from the true narrative of progress.

Analysis

In this short chapter Fukuyama covers weighty subjects—like the Holocaust (the systematic killing of over 10 million Jews and other minorities by Nazi Germany) and Stalinist tyranny—as a way of answering questions he has posed earlier. In the previous chapters he made the case for a Universal History of human progress. Nazism and Stalinism are addressed here because they are the most obvious counterarguments. But Fukuyama believes he has laid out enough of an argument for progress to dismiss these societies as deviations. They do not amount to rejections of modernity or enough of a regression to doubt the goodness of modernity. The chapter functions as a response to anticipated objections and as a brief pause to sum up before launching fully into the next inquiry, which considers why democracy arises.

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