Falsehoods of Francis Fukuyama
A PERPLEXED Francis Yoshihiro Fukuyama recently wrote to alert the thinking world to “the emergence of a post-fact world” where poor quality information and lies have crowded out the truth in the globe.
To Fukuyama, the worldwide dream that the information society brought to being through the internet has fast turned into a horrendous nightmare from which the world must urgently wake up. That countries like China and Russia have “managed to manipulate the World Wide Web and insert their agendas in the world knowledge landscape” is to Francis Fukuyama a monumental disaster.
Not only that but the vulgarity of the way in which Donald Trump, the new American President, lies and believes his own lies symbolise a decline in the image and idea of America in the world. It is with remarkable philistinism and political Catholicism that Fukuyama loudly bemoans how the values of freedom of information have been used and abused by authoritarian states and other low organisations to circulate their propaganda, make and manage their images in the unsuspecting world. The pure, pristine and authentic idea of America and the West at large has regrettably been usurped and corrupted by pretenders and upstarts who are determined to disrupt the American master-narrative with myths of their own, myths of “dubious quality and provenance.” Much different from these pretenders and upstarts America has “impartial institutions tasked with producing factual information that we trust.” The whole world must urgently wake up from slumber because “bad information” is all over the place being used by negative elements in the world to wage war against western and American values of truth, justice and democracy. If anything, Francis Fukuyama writes in the tone of an Old Testament prophet of doom decrying the decay of the world and need for an apocalypse. Because he writes from the political power, the economic prosperity and epistemic privilege of America and the West, Francis Fukuyama has been lionised into an intellectual celebrity. There is no university, no history and political studies department where Fukuyama is not fetishised and does not occupy pride of place in the reading list.
In 1992, the Hegelian Professor of Political Science and Political Economy, writing from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University predicted “the end of history” and the arrival of “the last man.” Famously, Fukuyama told the world that the spread of liberal democracy worldwide and the naturalisation of capitalism were bringing western political and cultural values to uncontested worldwide hegemony. Liberal capitalism, in the prophecy of Fukuyama, had become the highest and the finest form of world human governance and culture, there was no need to bother searching any further for solutions to the world’s problems, America and the West had by the end of the Cold War answered all the weighty questions of the world, a global paradise was in the offing.
There was no more need for ideological and cultural conflict in the world, national and cultural passions that had previously set nations upon other nations and sparked world wars were now a primitive thing of the past. Nine years after Fukuyama’s famous thesis, the events of 9/11 in the United States of America proved to be, in the words of Edward Said, “the end of Fukuyama” as a credible public intellectual. A kind of rival of Fukuyama, Bernard Lewis was proven right that there is “Muslim rage” in the world that seeks revenge for the wrongs of the West under the sun. National passions, group politics and identity ideologies were not a thing of the past but a sign of times to come. The continuity of terror and the war against it have totally buried Fukuyama and grew beautiful flowers on his grave. As wrong as Fukuyama was that history had come to an end then, he is wrong now that the thinking world has no memory and cannot recall his famous falsehood and doomed political prophecy. After such a famous career in political false prophecy, Fukuyama believes in miracles if he thinks any serious thinker will buy into the myth of a “post-fact world” even if it is propagated from the prestigious Stanford University.
Who fundamentally is Francis Fukuyama? Fukuyama is a descendant of a Japanese businessman who has successfully naturalised himself into an American. That biographical detail may partly illuminate the biopolitics, geopolitics and egopolitics that shape the mental universe of Francis Fukuyama, a true disciple of radical Americanism. Americanism exercises in Fukuyama a certain blinding jingoism that deafens the ear and shuts the mind. He now distances himself from the movement but all serious researchers know that Fukuyama was part of the “Neo-conservative Movement” of scholars that supported the invasion, under false pretences, of Iraqi by America in 2003. The Neocons are those scholars that unabashedly privilege American national interests ahead of anything else in world affairs. Under the dubious research interest in “strategic and security issues” Francis Fukuyama and others have preached that anything American is good for the world and humanity.
As a scholar, Fukuyama has done famously but poorly. This particular Professor simply does not want to learn from history. The thesis of the end of history that made and unmade his name is a tired argument that has flourished and floundered over the many decades. In 1806 Wilhelm Georg Hegel saw an “end of history” in the way Napoleon defeated the Prussian Monarchy at the famous Battle of Jena. But history really did not end and more wars were yet to be fought and are still going to be fought. Alexandre Kojeve also thought erroneously that the French Revolution would end history and unite the world into one paradise. Rather unwisely, in 1992, Fukuyama thought he could dust up the tired argument and give it new world wide importance. If anything, Fukuyama is a brilliant phrasemonger and really not an astute observer of history and the world. He possesses a paradisal mindset that keeps dreaming of heaven in the midst of the chaos America causes in the world. Birth of the Fact-World and beginning of History Contrary to the fallacy that Francis Fukuyama so vigorously seeks to install as new wisdom, the world that emerges with the inauguration of Donald Trump is a fact-world, the real world. The vulgarity, hatred and bigotry that Trump has given respectability is exactly what America and the larger West have always represented but masked under a veneer of fidelity to truth, peace and justice in the world. Donald Trump represents hate undecorated and unperfumed, as it is. For centuries, the West has used and managed differences and difference in the world, from race, age, gender, sexuality, ability of body, identity, culture and religion for purposes of othering and inferiorising non-western peoples. Prominently, Edward Said called it “orientalism” while Valentin Mudimbe has forcefully described it as the hateful “invention of Africa” by the colonisers. What Said and Mudimbe have described in different words from different places, Asia and Africa, is one thing, hatred of the other and the rest by the Westerners.
Through uses of the global media in shape of the news channels and the cultural industry of movies and music, the idea of the West as the world has been established into the common sense of the world. Through the westernised and colonial model of the university in the Global South, Eurocentricism and western cultural and spiritual sensibility have been installed into universal wisdom. The mobilisation of the hearts and minds of all peoples of the world towards the religion of the worship of things western was ably described by Walter Lippmann as early as 1922 as “the manufacture of consent” by the political manipulation of public taste and opinion. Brilliantly, as late as 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman magnified and amplified the idea of global manufacture of political consent by demonstrating how the global western media and cultural industry seeks to make truths out of western political and economic fallacies. What Francis Fukuyama decries as the power of “bad information” that is crowding out good information is an information revolution where worldwide thinkers are beginning to call the bluff of American and European propaganda. The emergence of such a bigot, a hater like Donald Trump as president of the USA embarrasses Neocons like Francis Fukuyama because it is an appearance of that which was always true but had to be masked and concealed, covered behind rhetorics and pretences. The happening of the Trump 9/11 will hopefully jolt the world to the emergency and the urgency of the need to understand and engage with the problem of difference and hate in the planet. Not only the way man has hated man, but also how man and woman have treated nature and the environment with contempt and greed, leading to the present ecological crisis that threatens all life in the planet. The need for the liberation of man, nature and all things from the dominance of hate should be the new game in town. When researchers and other scholars at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, as they recently did, talk about the importance of studying and critically engaging with power, privilege and the uses of difference in naturailsing hate and hatred in the world, they talk of a theme that should occupy governments, organisations and societies as the world gets used to a Trump-led world system and political and economic world order. The globe is tittering towards a fierce criminalisation of difference and naturalisation of hating and hurting in the name of democracy, law, order, peace and other goods. We have come to a moment under the sun where peace has become, itself, a threat to planetary security because it covers up rather than reveals the concealed fact that the world is in a state of a hateful war.
Cetshwayo Zindabazezwe Mabhena writes from Pretoria: decolonial[email protected]