63 pages 2 hours read

Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1992

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Important Quotes

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“The twentieth century, it is safe to say, has made all of us into deep historical pessimists.”

(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 3)

Fukuyama reflects on the developments of the 20th century. These developments included two world wars and the Holocaust, toxic ideologies such as Fascism, and a prolonged Cold War. For this reason, Fukuyama believes that the large-scale negative events of the 20th century have made the public feel little hope about positive developments of the future.

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“Liberal democracy was challenged by two major rival ideologies—fascism and communism—which offered radically different visions of a good society. People in the West themselves came to question whether liberal democracy was in fact a general aspiration of all mankind, and whether their earlier confidence that it was did not reflect a narrow ethnocentrism on their part.”

(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 7)

The author discusses the three main ideologies of the Modern period: Liberalism, Communism, and Fascism. Each ideology featured a different historical subject and a different vision of a desirable future for humanity. Fascism and Communism ultimately failed to represent that vision on a global scale after World War II and at the end of the Cold War, respectively. Some proponents of Liberalism, however, question whether Liberalism could be that vision of the future for all humankind, rather than an intellectual product of the West, according to Fukuyama.

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“When we speak of a crisis of legitimacy in an authoritarian system, then, we speak of a crisis within those elites whose cohesion is essential for the regime to act effectively.”

(Part 1, Chapter 2, Page 16)

Fukuyama asserts that authoritarian states are inherently weak despite their outward posturing. However, it is not those they govern that may cause a crisis of internal legitimacy, excluding mass-scale unrest, but the elites. According to the author, rulers need to be on board with the program of an authoritarian country; otherwise, there may be an internal political crisis, and the regime may lose power.