Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Sunday reviews of Fukuyama

Gary Rosen in the WaPo is worth reading as a critique of Fukuyama that takes the Islamist threat more seriously than FF seems to.

Paul Berman writes in the NYT from the left, expressing dissatisfaction with the smallness and wonkishness of Fukuyama’s "realistic Wilsonianism":

In "America at the Crossroads," Fukuyama describes the Hegelianism of "The End of History" as a version of "modernization" theory, bringing his optimistic vision of progress into the world of modern social science. But the problem with modernization theory was always a tendency to concentrate most of its attention on the steadily progressing phases of history, as determined by the predictable workings of sociology or economics or psychology — and to relegate the free play of unpredictable ideas and ideologies to the margins of world events.


And yet, what dominated the 20th century, what drowned the century in oceans of blood, was precisely the free play of ideas and ideologies, which could never be relegated entirely to the workings of sociology, economics, psychology or any of the other categories of social science. In my view, we are seeing the continuing strength of 20th-century-style ideologies right now — the ideologies that have motivated Baathists and the more radical Islamists to slaughter millions of their fellow Muslims in the last 25 years, together with a few thousand people who were not Muslims.

Both reviews point to significant problems with Fukuyama’s thinking--Rosen emphasizing the continuing importance of military responses and Berman the battle of ideas, both of which get lost in FF’s somewhat odd decision to display his mastery of the social scientific literature of political development. Perhaps, he thinks, if he bores us, we’ll leave the world to experts like himself.

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