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 31 : The Last Man (Immense Wars of the Spirit) | Summary



Fukuyama finishes by wondering if the inhabitants of the "end of History" will be satisfied by the world they now inhabit. He wonders in particular whether the megalothymic will be satisfied by the "metaphorical wars" of business deals and other non-violent competition. He sketches out historical examples, such as the student protests in France in 1968, as convulsions of bored young middle-class people seeking to inject dynamism and struggle into their lives. Likewise, he ascribes the mass slaughter of World War I as having resulted from the too-long peace of the 19th century. Fukuyama ultimately judges that the end of History is a good thing, and he has no desire to return to the world of megalothymic outbursts and their mass slaughters. Nor does he think they are likely to erupt in the contemporary United States anytime soon. He closes the book by suggesting his thesis will be vindicated by future events. The final sentence points to a potential next step in history that involves the conquest of space.


Fukuyama sums up his argument by looking backwards at the sweep of history. He raises once more the prospect that he is wrong, that humanity will slide back into old habits. He does not think it is likely, however. The metaphor of the long road is an apt one for a notion of human progress. There is a definite destination, but it is not always one the travelers can see or even imagine. Getting off the road and going another direction might end up taking humanity back to where it needs to be, or it might end in disaster. But whatever the choice of individual travelers, the road remains. Fukuyama's final sentence suggests the future of humanity may in fact lie in a spaceship rather than a road-going vehicle.

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