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 4, Chapter 24 : Leaping over Rhodes (The Power of the Powerless) | Summary



Fukuyama continues to deal with foreign-policy realism. He believes realism rests on shaky foundations. The first is the idea that the motives and behavior of human societies can be reduced to the structure of the state. The second is that realism does not address the existence of directional "History." To the first Fukuyama acknowledges that states pursue power but thinks this is ultimately a trivial fact. More telling for the behavior of states is the pursuit of legitimacy. Britain gave up its empire because it gained in legitimacy what it lost in economic and political power. Moreover, Eastern European states abandoned their defensive arrangement, the Warsaw Pact, and thus transformed international relations in the region as the legitimacy of the pact evaporated. Realism cannot properly explain or react to events like this. Nor can it explain the workings of states that have reached the end of History. Liberal democracies, in Fukuyama's analysis, simply do not go to war with one another. As the world moves toward that state, Fukuyama wonders what realism can offer.


Fukuyama continues to dispense with "realism." The desire for legitimacy should be seen as akin to the desire for recognition that drives human actions. This is intentional; Fukuyama wishes to make it clear that recognition and legitimacy are aspects of one another and that the desire to be seen as worthy is an intrinsic quality in all human activity. Some of Fukuyama's arguments here and in the previous chapter foreshadow those that were made by the neoconservatives who came to dominate President George W. Bush's administration's foreign policy. Neoconservatives promoted the use of U.S. power to spread democracy around the world, especially in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the declaration of the Global War on Terror. Fukuyama was associated with the movement for some time but later repudiated it. Neoconservatives, like Fukuyama, disdained foreign-policy realism and a relativistic view of global power. They also shared Fukuyama's displeasure with the United Nations, which he covers in a later chapter.

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