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 8 : The Old Age of Mankind (Accumulation without End) | Summary

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Summary

Fukuyama notes he has not yet revealed how this scientific and historical progress leads to capitalism or democracy. He points out that economic development alone does not lead to capitalism or democracy. The Soviet Union under Stalin experienced rapid economic development but was neither capitalist nor democratic. Nevertheless, Fukuyama believes a given level of economic development does make capitalism inevitable. Partly this is because industrialization is a long process, not a single hurdle to be jumped. Technological advancement in the 20th century progressed at an unprecedentedly rapid pace. The division of labor was spread across the globe. A high-tech economy demanded workers with a high degree of education and training. All of these factors meant economic growth slipped beyond the realms that could be adequately grasped by economic planners who could not adapt to rapid change or accurately predict the "winning" innovations, as could a capitalist market economy. Authoritarian regimes and planned economies could resist the reality that only a market economy could properly manage modern economic activity, but they could never do so for long, and never completely.

Analysis

The account of how the modern high-tech economy necessarily led to capitalism helps to explain the economic factors behind the collapse of the Soviet Union. Planning, in this analysis, was always doomed to failure when faced with a truly modern economy. Fukuyama notes that he believes this economic logic to be essentially self evident in light of the collapse of communist regimes. He thinks it is much more difficult to explain why history tends toward democracy than why it tends toward capitalism. This is because economic progress rests on scientific progress, which is a tangible force in life and history. The desire for democracy rests on subtler conceptions of what it means to be human.

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