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 5, Chapter 29 : The Last Man (Free and Unequal) | Summary

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Summary

Continuing with Nietzsche, Fukuyama turns to his recognition of the tension between the desire to be recognized and the limited horizons of liberal democracy. Fukuyama suggests that liberal democracy could be subverted by excesses of isothymia or megalothymia. He says isothymic passions would run into the differences between humans that are imposed by nature. Megalothymia, meanwhile, will always have a place in society because it is deemed the driver of many good—as well as many bad—things, such as the ambition to serve in public office or to invent. Indeed, Fukuyama notes that capitalism itself requires a degree of megalothymic behavior to function. Fukuyama believes democratic politics ultimately offer enough of a release valve for megalothymia to take advantage of the benefits and minimize the potential pitfalls.

Analysis

Fukuyama retreads arguments he has made previously about challenges to liberal democracy from both the left and right. Both deal with the notion that human beings are not endowed with equal abilities and cannot be treated as such. Megalothymia is a more serious threat because it is also a necessary quality for capitalism itself to function. Fukuyama does not wish to get rid of it even if he could, and so the megalothymic threat to democracy will linger. Fukuyama is confident, however, that a well ordered democracy is sufficient to contain it.

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