The End of History, 25 Years Later

22/11/2017, 17:00 - 18:30


A research seminar as part of the Capitalism, Crisis and Ideology research theme at the School, with guest speaker Gregor Moder (University of Ljubljana).

In 1992, immediately after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the socialist regimes across Eastern Europe, Francis Fukuyama published his notorious work, proclaiming The End of History. While he has upgraded, modified and continued to develop his theses in subsequent publications, he never wavered from his basic claim: that the idea of liberal democracy, perceived as inseparable from capitalistic mode of production, is the ultimate goal of the long historical process of the fulfillment of the idea of human freedom. This claim was heavily criticized, even ridiculed; Slavoj Žižek argued that the ideology supporting the claim that that capitalist liberal democracy could constitute the “end of history” met its tragic end with the terrorist attack on WTC in New York in 2001, as well as its farcical repetition with the global banking and economic crisis and the subsequent socialization of the enormous bank losses in 2008 (First as Tragedy, Then as Farce). But no matter how false or unfounded we may think Fukuyama’s central claim to be, he should be credited for one thing: writing in the time when “postmodernism” was still haunting theoretical world with wild claims about the end of “grand narratives” about human progress (Lyotard), Fukuyama had the philosophical boldness to propose what could be regarded as perhaps one of the grandest narratives imaginable: the idea that history itself should be perceived as a purposeful process, a process that culminates in our historical present. It is time, 25 years after this extravagant claim was made, to reengage with the concept of purposefulness in history. But instead of reading Kojève, a notable Hegelian and Fukuyama’s main reference and source, we turn to the source, to Hegel’s concepts of purpose (Zweck) and purposivity (Zweckmäsigkeit) of reason.

Gregor Moder, the author of Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity (Northwestern University Press, 2017), works as a researcher and teaches “What is Enlightenment” and “Philosophy of Art” at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a member of the editorial board of Problemi, the foremost Slovenian journal for philosophy, psychoanalysis and culture.

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Capitalism, Crisis and Ideology Seminar Series