The Future of History

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The “Shock effect” in the Western scientific and philosophical thought in the 20th century was accepted as a main hallmark of innovative rhetoric. These phenomena emerged since classic scientific criteria formed by the West in the minds of people during a couple of centuries were called in question. The scientific elite gave the green light to theoretical approaches, which during the entire 20th century favored the transition from the white to black, order to chaos, big to small, positive to negative.

Philosophical and methodological nuances of this transition are the topic, which requires a long analysis. From the standpoint of the interesting aspect of this topic, we can note that this wave, figuratively speaking, as part of the "shock rhetoric", afforded to portray contradicting ideas as almost great ones. The similar fate awaited Francis Fukuyama, one of the famous Western ideologists. Paying homage to the Western liberal scientific thought, he first came up with the "end of the history" term and then, as if nothing had happened, he wrote an article on "the future of history." Both terms can take their place among gems of the postmodernist scientific rhetoric.

Nevertheless, objective conditions the concrete historical stage creates for the progress of the concrete society suggest something completely opposite. Irrespective of the rhetoric the history continues to create itself. What can one see from this point of view, pondering over the thoughts put forward in the Fukuyama`s article "The Future of History. Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?" published in the January 2012  issue of the Foreign Affairs magazine?
Fukuyama comes up with an idea that eroding middle class in the United States and all over the world can become the biggest political problem in 2012. Fukuyama insists that liberal democracy can lose its leading position without the middle class. Misgivings of the American philosopher and writer of Japanese origin are based on the tide of protests which recently hit USA and Europe. Protesters declared they oppose injustice seen exactly in the income distribution.

Generalizing these protests, Fukuyama now wants to present them as the “future of universal history” concept. Very good. But what about protests, which took place in other world`s countries? If the fate of the world is interpreted by the scientific thought which depends on the dynamics of the socio-cultural and economic development of one of its regions, the existence of the risk factor should be mentioned anyway. However, the world is an integral system and its any corner has the potential to play a leading role.

In spite of this, Fukuyama`s ideas about the middle class are quite effective. Temporality and nonlinear dynamism of the modern society requires its structure to be mobile. The middle class is the stratum, which can ensure the integrity of the society in which parameters changing inside non-standard conditions predominate.
Society’s having connecting, transparent and integrative function in the positive sense between “upper” and “lower” strata directly depends on the competitiveness of the middle class. Therefore, the fate of the middle glass in some specified sense can also affect the future history of humanity.

That Fukuyama presents such general theoretic issues in his article in the light of the present situation in the USA is another case. From this point of view, one can say that a slogan “protection of the middle class” comes mechanically from both parties this year, which will see presidential elections. However, Fukuyama insists a threat comes largely from the dynamism of the modern and global economy rather than any party`s specific tax or expenditures policy. This new world can fail to achieve successes because of the uneven income flow to the elites. Fukuyama writes that “inequality has always existed, as a result of natural differences in talent and character. But today’s technological world vastly magnifies those differences…‘Financial wizards` or software engineers can take home ever-larger proportions of the national wealth.”

This is a possible option. Nevertheless, it is, in many respects, a process stipulated by the conditions of the present state of the US society. In our opinion, universalization of this aspect is very risky. It means Fukuyama is a useful “talker”. “The End of History” was the climax of optimism, source of reference after the “cold war.” However, after 11 September 2001, it seemed to him that the history returned as an avenger with redoubled force.

Although Fukuyama cherish hopes for the triumph of liberal democracy ideas, he things that the global market can become an enemy to the liberal democracy instead of a servant. In 1989, the global market ruled by a technology, “the end of history” and its constantly increasing wealth as a decisive factor of universal environment of democratic values was used by him as a basis. Now, he is concerned that globalization destroys the middle class, which historically became the support of the liberal political order. It is an important moment.

The problem is that some western ideologists, in accordance with the criteria they provide themselves, regard liberal democracy a universal phenomenon. In fact, every society has its own history and even the most positive ideology cannot produce the same effect everywhere. For example, what results can sharp introduction of liberal values generate in the society without the sufficiently strong state system and socio-spiritual unity? In many cases, consequences tend to be tragic as societies fall apart. There are many examples. The West itself began to “loosen the belt” only after reaching the strong state and mature solidarity stage.

A strong state concept is more vital for the societies, which gained independence. In comparison with this, liberal democracy may appear to be more effective. For this reason, in Fukuyama`s view, “the future of history” has quite a vague, one-sided and unintelligible content. It is, as Fukuyama understands, the reverse side of “the future of history”: but Fukuyama only just looks at the history from the Wall Street.

He asks what if the further development of technology and globalization undermines the middle class and makes it impossible for more than a minority of citizens in an advanced society to achieve middle-class status? He says such a phase has begun in the United States where median incomes have been stagnating in real terms since the 1970s. He warns that the work done by the old middle class in the developed world can now be carried out everywhere at a cheaper price.
Fukuyama sees the anger of middle-class Americans against the Wall Street. He underlines the paradox of the fact that the Tea Party strengthening the status-quo of the main beneficiary was more popular than the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Fukuyama went on to say that “something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.”

This review is well covered by the “Foreign Affairs” magazine as an important part of its 90th anniversary. In response to the economic crisis which started in 1930, editors include quotations from the articles which discussed formation of communism and fascism. Just as the article, which in 1932 made an attempt to explain the rising popularity of Adolph Hitler in Germany, the mentioned essay also causes anxiety: “These are mainly problems of Germany`s hard times. As to the middle class, which became the support of Germany, its living standards are much lower than that before war”

The presidential election campaign has already begun in the USA, where economy is the major problem. The masses seen by the Wall Street elite as a mechanism with a mobile system is in anger. However, it is not an evidence of the sound logic of neither Barack Obama who made this problem the demagogy nor American politicians who are his leading Republican opponents. Each candidate builds his multi-level plans to revive the economy.

Fukuyama`s words, which are in harmony with the thoughts reflected in the articles published in the “Foreign Affairs” in 1930s, are drawing attention: “Many people currently admire the Chinese system not just for its economic record but also because it can make large, complex decisions quickly, compared with the agonizing policy paralysis that has struck both the United States and Europe in the past few years.”

As it can be seen, despite all paradoxes, Fukuyama managed to astonish the scientific thought this time too, at least, because his ideas are one of barometers of the modern western socio-cultural, political and economic environment. In this capacity, Fukuyama is a real phenomenon.

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