Francis Fukuyama, (1952-) American philosopher and his famous work The End of History and the Last Man (1992)

Francis Fukuyama (1952-) is an American political philosopher and political economist. He was born in Chicago, to a well-educated middle-class family. He obtained his BA at Cornell University, where he studied classics and political philosophy. There he met one of his key influences, the conservative cultural critic Allan Bloom, author of the bestselling polemical account of the decline of American culture The Closing of the American Mind (1987). He then went on to complete a doctorate at Harvard with Samuel P. Huntington, author of the highly influential neo-racist tract The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (1998). His career has been divided between positions at the RAND Corporation and the US State Department, where he specialized in policy and planning relating to the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, and prestigious American universities such as George Mason and Johns Hopkins.

Fukuyama shot to prominence with a short essay published in the right-wing journal, The National Interest entitled ‘The End of History?’ (1989). Written on the eve of the collapse of so-called ‘actually existing socialism’ with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Fukuyama’s essay seemed to capture the spirit of what took place: it was not merely the triumph of the capitalist West, it was also final confirmation of the universal legitimacy of liberal democratic order. History had come to an end, Fukuyama claimed, because (following a highly Hegelian line of thinking) the pinnacle of possible social formations had been attained. Fukuyama converted this essay into a bestselling book entitled The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which mainly argues that the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free-market capitalism of the West and its lifestyle may signal the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and become the final form of human government. It sparks an intense debate that included sophisticated repudiations from several critical theory luminaries, such as Jacques Derrida in Spectres de Marx (1993) translated as Spectres of Marx (1994), Fredric Jameson in The Cultural Turn (1998), and Perry Anderson, in A Zone of Engagement (1992). His work since, which has focused on such issues as trust, the inhuman, and governance, has not attracted the same level of critical interest (although it continues to sell well), perhaps because it has not entertained the same philosophically grandiose pretensions as his debut work.

Then he wrote Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (2002), America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (2006), The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution(2011), and Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Present Day(2014). In 2005 Fukuyama founded the magazine The American Interest, which sought “to explain America to the world, and the world to Americans.”

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