The End of Civilizations and the Remaking of the Last Man
The purpose of this study is to examine the contrasting ideas of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History (1989) and Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations (1993). My research will support Fukuyama’s claims that the end of the Cold War marks a triumph for Western ideals and the spread of liberal democracy has produced a lasting order of peace and prosperity. The study will defend the existence of a New World Order and the notion that democracy is a universal concept from which to challenge Huntington's arguments of future conflict among civilizations. I will argue that Huntington’s interpretation of civilizations is too simplistic and fails to acknowledge the extent to which globalization has increased economic interdependence between states. The consequence of interdependence will be examined in relation to the social effects of globalization and the extent to which a universal consumer society is creating a global culture of mass consumption. In arguing that cultural tensions will be reduced by the effects of globalization, I will defend the idea of a liberal peace and the argument that democracies do not fight each other. The study will then address Fukuyama’s concept of the Last Man at the end of the History and the concerns that this raises for stunting social advancement. Future socities will not necessarily degenerate into apathy and nihilism as the Last Man will live in a world governed by market forces and will remain innovative and competitive. Furthermore, individual pursuits for power and prestige will not threaten to undermine the social order as individual endeavour will be constrained to the economic sphere and will seldom extend to political or military ambitions. The study will conclude that the spread of liberal democracy and free market capitalism can secure a sustainable New World Order. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations will not occur due to increased economic interdependence and a culture of mass consumption. The study will argue that the intensification of national sentiments and a revival in fundamentalism will not necessarily lead to a full blown clash of civilizations. While antagonisms will still exist, these conflicts will be unable to produce a dialectical opposition capable of undermining the global balance of power. Therefore, the strength of opposition to global capitalism will be ineffective in preventing the spread of a consumer culture and civilizations will exist as benign entities within an increasingly globalized world.
- MPhil