Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The End of History

Geo-Cosmos in the National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo

Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous book in the early 1990's that argued capitalism had won. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, capitalism did win - and its victory precipitated the end of history.

Liberal democracy had proven itself the ultimate form of government and a repudiation of Karl Marx's assertion that communism would be that governance system claiming the ultimate position.

For the Gen Y (and younger) generation who did not experience the anxieties of the Cold War, the debates around governance systems are somewhat arcane, replaced by more current worries related to social media and acceptance of various cultural and religious beliefs.

It seems that every generation carries the full potency of their history with them, unique to their times. The Baby Boomer generation, for instance, would know more about the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement and the volatility of a decade of assassinations from JFK to MLK to Malcolm X to RFK. The Greatest Generation would know more about the horrors of war and the want for uneasy peace and prosperity of post-WWII and so on.

I reflected on this in relation to the temporal nature of our lifetimes and the unique circumstances and events that shape what we know. Within our own generations, we directly experience so many things that other generations will not quite know as we do, same as the experiences they know more directly than are only notional for ourselves.

In other words, Mr. Fukuyama was on to something profound, this idea of the end of history. It just had less to do with governance systems and more with his own personal experiences than he might have appreciated.
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