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Fukuyama vs. Huntington

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Nic Huete

on 3 September 2013

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Transcript of Fukuyama vs. Huntington

Fukuyama vs. Huntington
Francis Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist, political economist and author. In 1989 he published an essay titled “The End of History?” In this essay Fukuyama explains that history –defined as mankind’s ideological evolution– is nearing its end. It does not mean that events will cease to happen, but that every single country will eventually move towards political and economic liberalism. He states that this “triumph of the West” has been happening ever since the French Revolution.
He uses Hegel’s Dialectic –interpreted by Kojève, a Russian émigré who taught in Paris in the thirties– as a basis for his theory. The main thesis of his theory is that, even though certain typed of conflict won’t stop, ideological conflicts will, with democracy and capitalism having been declared winners.
His views are, understandably, very Western centric, and at times he fails to point out the flaws that democracy and capitalism have shown over the course of the years.
Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington was an American political scientist. He became widely known after he published “The Clash of Civilizations?” in 1993, in which he described the new, post-Cold War world order. In this article he talks about how the differences among civilizations will cause them to stay in constant conflict with each other. He also states that these types of conflict, primarily of ethnic and religious implications, will replace the ideological conflicts the world saw so often in the XXth century. Contrary to what Fukuyama states, he does not believe the world will get more and more Westernized over time. He does agree that civilizations are working towards being modern, but he does not equal the modernizing process to the Westernizing one. He uses Islamic civilizations as a prime example of this process.
Huntington also sets forth as part of his hypothesis that the axis of world politics will be the West versus the Rest (a term he borrows from Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singaporean diplomat). He explains that the elites in non-Western countries are likely to pursue the Westernization of their nation, but that they will face obstacles to achieve it.
Huntington’s views, in contrast with Fukuyama’s, don’t show much bias towards the West.
So... who's right?
I tend to agree more with Huntington than I do with Fukuyama. I do not believe the world is destined to move towards a more democratic and capitalist structure. I believe both democracy and capitalism have been shown to have many, many flaws over the past few couple of years. It is important to take into account that both of the articles were written over twenty years ago, when the world was completely different to how it is now.
However, the fact that more and more countries have been moving towards establishing a democratic government –take the Arab Spring as an example of this change– proves that Fukuyama was somewhat right. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that we will see the whole word become democracies in a near future.
The countries that have the higher living standards and some of the most stable economies in the world have now adapted a different political system. They’ve become social democracies. This does not mean that democracy in itself will cease to exist, but that the way that it’s been carried out throughout the years will probable experience a change.
I do not believe it is accurate to compare freedom to democracy. How can one really be free –even if one lives in a democratic country– when one has limited access to education and social security? The idea that freedom and democracy have to go hand in hand is one that has pushed people to search for democracy when what they truly want is to search for freedom.
Capitalism and economic liberalism has brought many good things to this consumer-centric world we inhabit. Nevertheless, this economic system has also made the wage gaps even larger. It has resulted in countless abuses towards human beings and human rights violations. I believe there will come a time in which the people, especially those who are suffering capitalism, will rise up and try to fight it again. I believe it is extremely possible for a new economic system to be proposed and made effective in certain parts of the world. To say that the whole world will be capitalist is a big statement to make.
We are seeing more and more religious based conflicts nowadays. We can also see how the Islamic world harshly opposed the West in certain aspects. We can also see how, even when they’re becoming more and more Americanized, certain Asian countries still reject a complete Westernization. Huntington predictions are also becoming somewhat true.
In the end, I believe they were both partially right. Or, at least that’s what we’ve seen so far. It’ll be a matter of time until we can completely argue that one of them was entirely right.
Nicole Huete Guevara
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