Beyond the End of History
Not even Nietzsche could have predicted the horrors that have come to pass after the societies of the Last Man opened up their gates to people from around the world whom they are not in any way fit to deal with. It’s like seeing a pack of wolves running rampage in what used to be a closed pasture.
Francis Fukuyama is one of the world’s most renowned political scientists, and a major reason for this is a book that he wrote some years ago in which he predicted that history had effectively ended with the Cold War coming to a close. Fukuyama is often referred to with a degree of ridicule, and he is viewed as the poster-boy of liberal utopianism and naiveté. But there are good reasons to push this view of Fukuyama aside and instead look at him as a thinker who actually said something important about our time.
One of the interesting things about Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man, is that he, unlike certain other liberal dreamers, never cared much for economics, and instead grounded his argument in philosophy. Fukuyama summoned three great European thinkers in order to put forward his views: Plato, Kojéve, and Nietzsche. Fukuyama made use of the philosophies of these thinkers, which differ from each other greatly, in order to interpret the mechanisms that drive history forward, and that in turn can be changed and manipulated in order to stop its wheel from spinning.
What is history in this context? And what happens when history ‘ends’? Judging from the way Fukuyama describes history, I interpret him to mean human action, and more precisely the type of grand actions that are driven by the will to power. There is a reason why Nietzsche has a place in Fukuyama’s scheme of things. Fukuyama believes that history has been driven by two prime motivations: first, the need for recognition, as Kojéve described it in his lectures on Hegel; and second, the power of the soul, also called thymus, which is described by Plato. For the purposes of this essay, thymus is more important than the need for recognition.
Thymus is essentially the philosophical term for testosterone, and they are characterised by the same traits. With thymus comes virtues like a sense of honour, concern for glory, self-confidence, and bravery. On the other hand, it is also the foundation for more dangerous qualities such as rage, pride, and the will to power. Fukuyama believes that thymus has been a driving force of history in the sense that it has underpinned the great quests, wars, and other events that have serious consequences for people in general. If history is to end, then thymus needs to be quelled and its energies need to be directed elsewhere.
This is where Nietzsche comes in. Nietzsche predicted a creature that he called the ‘Last Man’, a man who lacks thymus and therefore has no will to power. The Last Man is content with the easy life, and cares nothing for adventure and danger. Those that live at the end of history and can still kindle a spark of thymus can always work in business and direct their energies into making as much money as possible. An interesting thing that is seldom mentioned when it comes to Fukuyama is that he opens up the possibility for history to start again. All it takes is a strong enough spark of thymus to ignite the dynamite that lies within European man, and that never fully disappeared.
European civilisation is once again in history, and the reason for this is mass immigration to Europe and all the panoplies it has brought to our continent. It was often said that history began again with the events of 9/11, but right now it seems much more relevant to think about the atrocities that were just committed against the French people, and which was felt by all Europeans. It would be wrong to say that the terrible massacre that was committed in Paris by Islamic terrorists is a starting point in history. It is, however, a powerful reminder that we are still living in history.
What adds to this tragedy is the fact that our elites and most of our people are reacting to this attack in the context of the nature of the Last Man, with that which Aristotle described as the last virtues of a dying society: apathy and tolerance. We will be told that we are in need of more multiculturalism, understanding, diversity, and equality. Nothing will be done about the root of the problem, namely emigration from the Middle East and Africa into Europe.
Not even Nietzsche could have predicted the horrors that have come to pass once the societies of the Last Man opened up their gates to people from around the world whom they are not in any way fit to deal with. It’s like seeing a pack of wolves running rampage in what used to be a closed pasture. It is certainly clear that our current herdsmen, the politicians, bankers, journalists, and academics, are not going to do anything about this situation. Furthermore, it is not the ‘silent majority’, that is finally going to break their silence and attempt to change the order of things.
The future is uncertain, but one thing I’m sure of is that the people who are going to reverse this downward trajectory will have to rekindle their thymus and awaken their will to power. This awakening will not come from observing the cardinal virtues of our current order, namely equality and diversity, but rather by looking into our own being for those qualities that Nietzsche advocated in his Zarathustra: courage and wisdom. This is because if one cannot use our civilisation as it exists as a source of strength, then one has to start by rebuilding oneself. This rebuilding is necessary, because history leaves us no choice but to confront it, regardless of anything else.