Some years ago, there have been a dispute between two totally different philosophies:

1) The concept of "End of history", proposed by Francis Fukuyama, meaning that western liberal democracies are the cream of human civilizations, thus nothing else have to be achieved, beyond the remaining of the world walking (or running or crawling) towards the "West".

2) The concept of "Clash of Civilizations", proposed by Samuel Huntington, meaning that the western idea of civilization is just one among many, and history is far from an "end" (if such concept even makes sense).

After so many recent phenomena, like September 11, the Muslim growth over Europe, BrExit, China economical and geopolitical ascension, crisis after crisis since 2008/09, the election of an improbable figure like Trump... are there any serious philosophers still defending the "End of History" theory?

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    Not even Fukuyama himself defends it anymore:""Twenty five years ago, I didn't have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward," said Fukuyama in a phone interview. "And I think they clearly can... Globalization really does seem to produce these internal tensions within democracies that these institutions have some trouble reconciling"" See WaPo article on his reaction to Trump's election.
    – Conifold
    Aug 9, 2017 at 20:42
  • stanleyrosen.jimdo.com/kojève-s-paris
    – Gordon
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:52
  • The history of this topic is very interesting to me. Kojeve was sort of a "dark operator" for the Right, but he did this in a very "clever" hidden way. Many roads led to Kojeve, who was a very powerful man. I have posted above a recollection of Kojeve's Paris by Stanley Rosen, a young American philosopher and later professor, who was sent by Leo Strauss to be tutored by Kojeve in 1961. You have to skip down towards the end to get to the recollections of Kojeve, but the whole article is interesting.
    – Gordon
    Aug 12, 2017 at 15:59
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    Kojeve was really the originator of the end of history "theory" through his lectures on Hegel in the 1930s. When Rosen visited Kojeve, he was de facto "second in command" to de Gaulle, and he called himself a god, Rosen said he was the most feared philosopher in Paris. Rosen himself became a prominent, conservative (no surprise with these friends) philosopher in America, and I have to say he himself wrote a good book on Hegel, though I don't agree with his conclusions. Kojeve's Hegel lectures were/are famous, entertaining, but not considered to be of the highest scholarship.
    – Gordon
    Aug 12, 2017 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


Well this is a question with an interesting cast of characters who come into play and I don't know if I'm up to the task of sketching it out completely, perhaps all I can do is sketch out a little of it.

What does the end of history mean? Maybe I can give you a little of the history of the end of history, or at least point you in that direction as I understand it.

Have we found "nirvana" in capitalism? If so, history is over, and we can rest easy in that knowledge. We just sit back and enjoy the fruits of capitalism, and nothing really changes.

I will put aside for bit talk of Fukuyama, and discussion of Alexandre Kojeve's influential brand of Hegel. I have an article for you below. (By the way, Kojeve did not bow out of history after he gave his highly influential lectures on Hegel at the Sorbonne in the 1930s. He ended up in an important post in government administration in France, and he maintained a vital friendship with the philosopher Leo Strauss. Understanding Kojeve's tremendous influence, which he asserted in his early lectures, and his later philosophical connections, are absolutely necessary to comprehend the whole end of history thing).

Concerning today, the first thing I would mention, to be kept always in the back of the mind is the PE ratio, or price/earning ratio for publicly traded stocks. Stocks sell at a multiple of price to earnings, so built into share prices is an expectation of future growth, and this puffs up the market considerably.

The expectation of growth, and in fact growth itself, is essential to the success of capitalism, and the classic end of history theory.

So what strikes holy terror into the heart of the capitalist class (but NOT just them) is that somehow this expectation of growth will stop, and that "word" of something will get out, and it will become common knowledge that this growth ain't happening in the future.

We may surmise why it's not happening by considering topics like climate change and limits to growth, and limits to growth is not dead, it is still a live concept. The Paris Accords itself was a joke, it didn't do enough, and even so the US is withdrawing, etc.

The above is not a tomorrow problem, or an end of century problem, it is a today problem, in the sense that the market might collapse and stay collapsed starting soon. Doubtful, but posssible. And this should give you at least some idea of why there are very, very strong forces trying to keep a lid on the full comprehension of this information.

Now these super "rich" folks are NOT all bad. Remember, there are many middle class and lower middle class people whose retirement accounts are tied to the stock market. So if the rich go down, a lot of the regular folks do too, and not down the road, but soon.

Question? So do we need to change our economy so that we direct and control the ends of production so as to better preserve our existence on earth for a longer period of time? Today, we don't really control the ends of capitalism. The capitalist can "waste" resources by making the goofiest things, as long as he can sell them for a profit.

Key point: To change our economy is to engage with history again, to "restart" history so to speak.

From here I would suggest Joe McCarney's article at Marxists.org, below. This should make clear some things on Fukuyama, Kojeve, Hegel, etc.

Here is a link to the McCarney article. It is a bit outdated due to events, but still good and very important to read for background information: https://www.marxists.org/archive/mccarney/fukuyama/shaping-ends.pdf

Can Marx helps us? Marx is most valuable for the critical tools he gives us. The tools of analysis. These are still very important in my opinion and we should retain them.

As far as exact Marxian solutions, these may be, and probably are, outdated, or at least in part they are. Marx himself was vague about how real communism would work, he was probably vague on purpose because he didn't exactly know himself, leaving it for future generations to figure out. Of course there are different socialist flavors, permutations available also.

And we should not just speak of Marx, we could very well end up with an authoritarian capitalist system at least for a period of time, because the dominant class is understandably nervous about the fast pace of change which may be necessitated by environmental changes and resource constraints. The Chinese have a system of authoritarian capitalism right now. Chinese brand authoritarian "communist" capitalism. (If this seems like an odd paragraph to you, you're right! Welcome to the 2000s).

Anyway, we are in new territory. We have an advanced global economy that may be killing us. In some ways we are stumbling forward almost blindfolded. The earth itself will force us to restart history, we humans have managed somehow to adapt and move forward in the past and the hope is we can do it again.

P.S. People like Naomi Klein try to suggest that we can grow ourself out of climate change by building a lot of green things. Think of all the growth! We'll build a lot of stuff and this stuff will protect us! I'm not so sure. The world is a relatively closed system, already beginning to overheat. Construction creates disorder in order to make new order, and it uses energy, lots of it. What about entropy effects? The physicists tend to take a narrow, specialist approach to this issue. I'm not so sure. Maybe we need to look into this, scientists should study this problem since earth/ atmosphere is a relatively closed system. Efficiency will be key to solutions.

  • Very interesting thoughts (and link), thank you. I need time to digest.
    – Rodrigo
    Aug 9, 2017 at 11:03
  • Thank you. I wrote it on an empty stomach so sorry for any confusion and incompleteness. Now I'm going to eat breakfast!
    – Gordon
    Aug 9, 2017 at 11:56
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    Rodrigo and others, Alexandre Kojeve's lecture notes, "Introduction to the Reading of Hegel", is available free, PDF, on the internet. Book form. It's at the root of the current end of history thing, I believe. I don't believe it is a correct reading of Hegel. Nevertheless Kojeve remained influential behind the scenes for years after his popular lectures.
    – Gordon
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:37
  • thanks! didn't really know a thing about kojeve... growth will surely increase, the issue for me is that imvho capitalist ideology is thinning, and we're seeing either it fade out or go bang
    – user28117
    Aug 12, 2017 at 21:52

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