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Is China Next?
March 24, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Francis Fukuyama on China's political (r)evolution: Will the protests that have swept the Middle East inspire a similar movement in China, or is that country's middle class more interested in the material than the political? posted by kliuless (62 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Didn't history already end fifteen years ago?
posted by koeselitz at 7:48 AM on March 24, 2011 [34 favorites]


Every country's middle class is more interested in material than political.

It's only when you start depriving them of enough material that they start caring about the political.
posted by dum2007 at 7:56 AM on March 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


A recent New York Times article says that cell phone calls around Beijing are disconnected when the word "protest" is uttered, in either English of Manda.... [click]
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:56 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


All social revolutions are driven by intense anger over injured dignity, an anger that is sometimes crystallized by a single incident or image that mobilizes previously disorganized individuals and binds them into a community.

I'd like some examples on that, on which tipping moments/points/events triggered a revolution. A possible candidate that runs to mind is the infamous, and possibily historically inaccurate phrase by Marie Antoinette "let them eat cakes" or some similar otrageous remark. In theory famine (desperation) + careless aristocracy was the necessary precondition for a similar comment to trigger an avalanche.
posted by elpapacito at 7:58 AM on March 24, 2011


A recent New York Times article says that cell phone calls around Beijing are disconnected when the word "protest" is uttered...

Debunked.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:00 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


. For the past two decades, -western observers and governments have projected these questions on to leadership changes, in the hope of finding the new Chinese Gorbachev figure, one who has yet to appear.

Why would China need a Gorbachev? Imagine if positions had been reversed in the 80's, and the Soviet Union had the world's largest, most dynamic economy and was effectively propping up a moribund, corrupt and nepotistic United States with easy loans to cover the massive, gushing hemorrhage of jobs and capital from American shores! Would the Soviet Union, in that position, really have needed to "reform"? Or would we have declared them the winner of the Cold War?
posted by Avenger at 8:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


How Many Good Emperors in a Row Can an Authoritarian System Produce?

The Ottomans got to 10, although I'm honestly not sure that either Turkish monarchs from 500 years ago or Romans from 2000 years ago have any relevance to modern Chinese quasi-communist dictators.
posted by Copronymus at 8:02 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is certainly true that the dry tinder of social discontent is just as present in China as in the Middle East.

There is, moreover, a huge and growing problem of inequality in China. The gains from China's remarkable growth have gone disproportionately to the country's coastal regions, leaving many rural areas far behind.

To the extent that we can gauge Chinese public opinion through surveys like Asia Barometer, a very large majority of Chinese feel that their lives have gotten better economically in recent years.

tl:dr

The bottom line is that China will not catch the Middle Eastern contagion anytime soon. But it could easily face problems down the road.

So there you have it. China is not "next" and Fukuyama (nor anyone else) has a clue what will happen in the future.

Democracy is a means, not an end. If China's communist government delivers peace, prosperity, and some limited measure of justice to the vast majority of its people, why change political horses?
posted by three blind mice at 8:05 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fact that a majority of Chinese citizens believe democracy is the best form of government - after all, they already have it - is a two-fisted blast of public relations genius.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The limits on justice is one reason. If justice is fickle, and enough people are fined or jailed for no apparent reason, the people might rise up. Maybe.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Democracy is a means, not an end. If China's communist government delivers peace, prosperity, and some limited measure of justice to the vast majority of its people, why change political horses?

Because horses don't catch mice.
posted by atrazine at 8:24 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Ottomans got to 10, although I'm honestly not sure that either Turkish monarchs from 500 years ago or Romans from 2000 years ago have any relevance to modern Chinese quasi-communist dictators.
posted by Copronymus


epoopysterical
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Regarding the opinion of Francis Fukuyama:

"A consultancy firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has admitted it had made serious mistakes in entering into a multimillion dollar contract with the Libyan regime to portray Muammar Gaddafi to the west in a positive light. (...)

Experts were encouraged to travel to Tripoli to meet a range of senior regime figures, including Gaddafi himself and his son Saif al-Islam, both of whom are now on the UN's sanctions list designed to prevent Gaddafi's assault on his own people.

The individuals who were engaged in the Monitor project included Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History; Richard Perle, a prominent neocon who advised President George W Bush in the buildup to the Iraq invasion; and American academics such as Benjamin Barber, Joseph Nye and Robert Putnam. (...)

Fukuyama, the most celebrated name among those enticed to visit Tripoli, did not respond to a request for comment, but others on the list did give their recollection of events."

What about an apology for your paid PR-work for Gadaffi, Mr Fukuyama? At least Beyoncé eventually gave her Gadaffi money to charity.
posted by iviken at 8:35 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Because horses don't catch mice.

And they don't have to.
posted by three blind mice at 8:38 AM on March 24, 2011


The individuals who were engaged in the Monitor project included Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History; Richard Perle, a prominent neocon who advised President George W Bush in the buildup to the Iraq invasion; and American academics such as Benjamin Barber, Joseph Nye and Robert Putnam. (...)

Fukuyama himself was a prominent neoconservative who signed the PNAC (Project for a New American Century) letter requesting military action to impose and American ideology across the world, especially in the Middle East and supported the war in Iraq...

At least until he realized what a bunch of incompetent fools he was in bed with (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Addington, Woo etc...) and what a huge massive mistake he made.

Guess history just has a way of going on and on and turning into shit with the wrong people at the helm of it...
posted by Skygazer at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


ah Christ... not this guy again. Can't we lump him in with the Supermoon=massive earthquakes yet?
posted by edgeways at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011


He's one of the guys... I wouldn't trust him to tell it's raining outside my house, w/o going and checking myself.

BS artist. He doesn't care if he's right, just whatever will get him attention and money.
posted by KaizenSoze at 8:58 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"or is that country's middle class more interested in the material than the political"

The only thing that really seems constant is that anyone who tries to speculate about the collective desires of a country full, much less a billion+ people, is probably wrong
posted by Blasdelb at 8:59 AM on March 24, 2011


Let's try this again, but a bit differently:

"Will the protests that have swept the Middle East inspire a similar movement in the United States, or is that country's middle class more interested in the material than the political?"

Yeah, that seems like the more useful and less condescending version of the question.
posted by hank_14 at 9:06 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


funny, he didn't make the mead list! (neither did mccain ;)
posted by kliuless at 9:11 AM on March 24, 2011


Once upon a time it was considered uncontroversial to assert that material concerns were the only real political concerns. Then again this is the Wall Street Journal, perhaps we cannot expect them to know that "preoccupation with material concerns" for most of us human beings means "desperation and the need for structural change", not "comfort with affluence".
posted by idiopath at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The very question that Fukuyama asks, whether China could see Middle East style uprisings, is pretty silly. I didn't need Mr. End-of-History to tell me what should be patently obvious to anyone who picks up a newspaper. The only thing that China and Egypt have in common, in terms of governance, is that they aren't really democracies. Egypt's economy has flatlined for several decades while China's economic growth is probably setting records. Even more importantly, Chinese civilization is ridiculously old and famously stable. Yes, I know that Egyptians built the pyramids, but there's nowhere near the same kind of cultural continuity. This could only be a question if you view the world through a black-and-white democracy-vs.-totalitarian lens. Oh yeah, we're talking about Fukuyama.
posted by Edgewise at 9:13 AM on March 24, 2011


Activist says China cracks down on ethnic Uighurs

China says lessons to learn in Xinjiang from Mideast unrest
posted by homunculus at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2011


Chinese civilization is ridiculously old and famously stable

In what sense of "stable"? China is about as "stable" as Russia, which is not very. Two revolutions and two major economic shifts in the last century is pretty significant.
posted by nasreddin at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


as long as affluence continues, i don't see a middle class uprising in china - what i think is a real possibility is a rural maoist insurgency like india's and nepal's - which would be ironic and very difficult to deal with

also china and the u s are far too big for an uprising to play out the way they have in the middle east - some regions might revolt while others supported the government
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"A recent New York Times article says that cell phone calls around Beijing are disconnected when the word "protest" is uttered...

anotherpanacea: Debunked."

That's hilarious:
CONCLUSION: The staff of Shanghai Scrap conclude that, a) Foreigners can feel confident that they can quote Shakespeare, in English, when discussing restaurants in China on the phone; b) the New York Times needs to widen its circle of sources on censorship beyond people who quote Shakespeare, in English, when discussing restaurants on the phone. Further study needed on whether or not phones used by New York Times correspondents and assistants are the most reliable means of judging phone censorship in China.

posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on March 24, 2011


Fukuyama is one of those cats who have been so consistently wrong about pretty much everything, that I just don't give a shit what they have to say about anything...
posted by stenseng at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2011


I can never tell who's actually read Fukuyama and who is just parroting the received wisdom. The End of History was a wise and well-argued book that's actually been proven more right than wrong by subsequent events (though it did have some problems). The vast majority of commentary on it that I've seen appears to be based on the title alone.
posted by nasreddin at 9:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


iviken: " What about an apology for your paid PR-work for Gadaffi, Mr Fukuyama? At least Beyoncé eventually gave her Gadaffi money to charity."

What's so strange about this is he was working on this project around the same time he was publicly declaring the death neoconservative movement and announcing that Bush was a disastrous President.
posted by zarq at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2011


Given that there is no way Canada (for example) would ever help establish a no-fly zone over parts of China, I'm thinking "no."
posted by clvrmnky at 10:00 AM on March 24, 2011


nasreddin, I never read the book, but I've read Fukuyama's articles on the same subject, and other subjects. While the thesis is not as stupid as the title, I was still vastly unimpressed. It struck me as staggeringly unimaginative and triumphalist. But no, I didn't read the book.
posted by Edgewise at 10:00 AM on March 24, 2011


nasreddin: "I can never tell who's actually read Fukuyama and who is just parroting the received wisdom. The End of History was a wise and well-argued book that's actually been proven more right than wrong by subsequent events (though it did have some problems). The vast majority of commentary on it that I've seen appears to be based on the title alone."

I tend to agree, although I think some of the assumptions he made in that book were a bit.... wrongheaded.

His more recent "Falling Behind" book was also fascinating.
posted by zarq at 10:01 AM on March 24, 2011


What about an apology for your paid PR-work for Gadaffi, Mr Fukuyama?

Is there actually any more to this story than FF getting paid to fly out and meet with Gaddafi on a single occasion? Because if there isn't, then this is way overblown and in no way deserving of an apology.

nasreddin, I never read the book, but I've read Fukuyama's articles on the same subject, and other subjects. While the thesis is not as stupid as the title, I was still vastly unimpressed. It struck me as staggeringly unimaginative and triumphalist. But no, I didn't read the book.

Congratulations. Your opinion about this book you have not read is very valuable. Perhaps you would like to tell us more about other books you have not read.

I tend to agree, although I think some of the assumptions he made in that book were a bit.... wrongheaded.

Yeah, it was very much of its time in its characterization of the Asian tiger economies, and there were certain other things that look pretty silly in hindsight.But the idea that radical Islamism is more or less doomed as an alternative to liberal democracy seems to be on point, given that twenty years on the prestige of Al Qaeda is steadily waning despite monumental US fuckups in the region.
posted by nasreddin at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2011


Lighten up, Francis.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:07 AM on March 24, 2011


Imagine if positions had been reversed in the 80's, and the Soviet Union had the world's largest, most dynamic economy and was effectively propping up a moribund, corrupt and nepotistic United States with easy loans to cover the massive, gushing hemorrhage of jobs and capital from American shores! Would the Soviet Union, in that position, really have needed to "reform"? Or would we have declared them the winner of the Cold War?

Except that's a horrifyingly bad analogy for what's happening now with China vs. the United States. The United States isn't moribund, and China isn't anywhere near the position of the United States in the second half of the 20th century.

Any rational leader would trade China's problems for America's in a second. The reckoning the United States faces when everything catches up to it is a depression and a generation of stagnant growth; all the while maintaining the youngest population in the West and an unprecedented military that has better force projection off China's coast than China does. China will ultimately face internal unrest that could tear the nation apart in a land that is far dryer and less ideally positioned geopolitically.
posted by spaltavian at 10:30 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


nasreddin: “I can never tell who's actually read Fukuyama and who is just parroting the received wisdom. The End of History was a wise and well-argued book that's actually been proven more right than wrong by subsequent events (though it did have some problems). The vast majority of commentary on it that I've seen appears to be based on the title alone.”

I'd feel bad if what I meant to be a silly little snark at the beginning of this thread was taken too seriously; although you're right – Fukuyama is unfortunately too quickly dismissed often.

My objections to his work have less to do with any prediction of the end of history (which he didn't make, and which wasn't what people seem to think it means) and more to do with an over-reliance on Hegelian theories of historical dialectic, which don't really seem cohesive to me.

But the thing is, I have no idea how much he'd actually hold to the theses he laid out in The End Of History now, anyway. He's changed his positions substantially over the last decade; his criticisms of neoconservatism in general and the Bush administration specifically have been very good, and signal that he's done some rethinking since he worked with Reagan. So: he deserves a chance.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 AM on March 24, 2011


Congratulations. Your opinion about this book you have not read is very valuable. Perhaps you would like to tell us more about other books you have not read.

Your sarcasm would be more appropriate if I had expressed an opinion about the book, which I did not. FF wrote an essay in 1989 entitled "The End of History," and I have read that, and that's all I commented about. Geez, relax.
posted by Edgewise at 10:32 AM on March 24, 2011


Congratulations. Your opinion about this book you have not read is very valuable. Perhaps you would like to tell us more about other books you have not read.

I read the book and while this was more than 10 years ago and I've never revisited it, my own impression was the same--it was unimaginative and triumphalist. I'll also throw out that excerpts and short essays summarizing the main points written by Fukuyama himself in promotion of the book were all over the place and pretty much every poli sci undergrad student in the 1990s was exposed to the ideas whether they'd read the book or not. That was very dismissive of you.
posted by Hoopo at 10:38 AM on March 24, 2011


I read the book and while this was more than 10 years ago and I've never revisited it, my own impression was the same--it was unimaginative and triumphalist. I'll also throw out that excerpts and short essays summarizing the main points written by Fukuyama himself in promotion of the book were all over the place and pretty much every poli sci undergrad student in the 1990s was exposed to the ideas whether they'd read the book or not. That was very dismissive of you.

Triumphalist? Maybe. But unjustifiably so? I don't think so--and the book has few illusions about the "triumph" being a necessarily positive development.

As for "unimaginative," the book defends an orthodox-Hegelian interpretation of the end of the Cold War and links it to contemporary economic thought as well as a Nietzschean account of the impact of modernity on subjectivity. I dare you to find a recent book of comparable popularity that draws on a richer and more diverse set of sources and traditions.
posted by nasreddin at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2011


Again, it's been a long time since I've read it and it didn't leave much of an impression on me, but it came out at a time when globalization was considered this unstoppable force of democratization and liberalization that would lead to the adoption of liberal democratic ideals worldwide. He wasn't the first, but he articulated it more coherently. But it's a bold conclusion (not unlike Marx's was) to declare an end point to the evolution of social and political theory, or a final stage. My opinion was that it his conclusions did not account enough for the possibility of a shift from liberal ideals or evolution into less liberal or democratic forms of government. We've since seen that it's quite easy for unforeseeable events like 9/11 to be exploited to re-shape the political landscape and open up liberal democratic institutions to usurpers who represent liberal democracy only nominally. I suppose he fits this into his framework by calling such developments a regression and implying a return to liberal democracy as the new natural state of affairs, but that ultimately seems a fairly arbitrary choice, and doesn't account enough in my opinion for the what I fear is an evolution into a modern plutocracy that only pays lip service to liberal democratic institutions and ideals.
posted by Hoopo at 11:25 AM on March 24, 2011


I dare you to find a recent book of comparable popularity that draws on a richer and more diverse set of sources and traditions.

Not quite the same thing as "imaginative."

What's unimaginative about his thesis is that he believes Western democracy to be an end-point to the Hegelian dialectic. All this says to me is that he can't imagine anything better. To be honest, I can't, either, but I'm not so dense as to think that this means that there is nothing better, or more importantly, that it is inconceivable that someone, someday, could come up with something better. This is both extremely unimaginative and triumphalist. He can link it to Nietzsche all day and I won't be persuaded.

I read the damn essay and was profoundly unimpressed. Unless the book does a 180, why should I waste my time? Sorry to dismiss your beloved political philosopher without having read the unabridged works. When something tastes like crap, I stop chewing.
posted by Edgewise at 11:35 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not about it being "better." Fukuyama is a pessimist and he isn't saying we've reached the summit of human progress or something. In fact, the whole last part of the book is devoted to how stagnant and meaningless life in a completed liberal-democratic world is likely to be.
posted by nasreddin at 11:40 AM on March 24, 2011


I haven't read the book and I have no plans to anytime soon. Fukuyama lent his considerable intellectual weight to a movement populated by facile and delusional fools, who expressed a dearth of common sense that is staggering with PNAC and the attendant BS, and damage this country underwent to some of it's most cherished freedoms and ideals: Patriot Act, FISA, NSA expansion, Guantanamo, disregard and deplorable reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention iIII and IV in regard to "Humane treatment of POW's" to exclude "unlawful combatants."

From what I gather, Fukuyama's arrogance in dismissing Islamic extremism as never standing a chance against a secular free society did not take into account many things. It was the attitude that allowed Rumsfeld to brush aside the State Dept. and any idea of securing and rebuilding (nation building) post U.S. occupation of Iraq and winding up with the lawlessness and looting that led to a deadly insurgency receiving weapons from Iran, and fired up by AQ and the protracted wasteful death od Americans and Iraqi's.

I won't even touch, the suggestion in PNAC that the U.S. could unilaterally and without provocation attack a nation to impose it's will...of course Dubya and Cheney and Co...gave us the WMD debacle...

Again, what good were this man's books, if he would not and could not translate it into a real world solution? How foolish and irresponsible was it for him to give the Neocons intellectual cover?

He can write all the books he wants and I might read them even, but his credibility is and should be suspect and remain that way. As at the end of the day, Fukuyama, like his Neocon colleagues were myopic ideologues looking for a problem to their solutions.
posted by Skygazer at 11:45 AM on March 24, 2011


Wow, y'all are a bunch of philistines. I'm out.
posted by nasreddin at 11:45 AM on March 24, 2011


Thanks Professor.
posted by Skygazer at 11:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Skygazer: “I haven't read the book and I have no plans to anytime soon.”

Nor do you seem to know even a tiny bit about Francis Fukuyama. Every single thing you said in your comment about him was wrong.

For those playing along, we're talking about someone who's said that the neoconservatives were fatally flawed for many reasons, one of which was that they overestimated and misunderstood the threat to the US from Islamist terrorism; who said that the administration of George W Bush was the worst in history; who made it clear that he was voting for Obama in the last election. Hell, Francis Fukuyama went as far as saying that neoconservatism was parallel to Leninism a few years ago.

He is not some stalwart Reaganite. Maybe you could even just look over his Wikipedia page for a moment before dismissing him like this; at least he's had the guts to say he was wrong, and to try to be coherent about why.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


And, for what it's worth, Fukuyama earned considerable right-wing derision when he stood up during the height of the Iraq war and called on Donald Rumsfeld to resign for foolishly leading our nation into an unnecessary war. So figure that into your calculations before you dismiss him as a neocon booster.
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I wrote is not wrong. I know all of what you wrote above in regards to Fukuyama's reversals and subsequent criticism of the Bush administration.

It doesn't excuse him from being a signatory to PNAC and supporting going to war with Iraq and lending his name to movement that was dangerous and extreme.

I don't care how much he finally realized his mistake and what he finally said about Rumsfeld and Bush, so on and so forth...

He fucked up and he can apologize until he's done, but I won't forgive him, and neither should anyone who cares about all the ways this country was damaged by those on the right, and those who lost family and friends; American or Iraqi because of what amounted to neo-imperialistic bombast and foolishness and criminality.
posted by Skygazer at 12:08 PM on March 24, 2011


And look folks, I love Nietzsche and theory and abstract concepts, but there's a reason it's theory and abstraction.

Perhaps historians should stick to studying history instead of trying to make it or influence it by lending there names to fools.
posted by Skygazer at 12:15 PM on March 24, 2011


their....
posted by Skygazer at 12:15 PM on March 24, 2011


But Francis Fukuyama didn't support the Iraq war. He was explicitly against it from the very beginning. He said that it was a betrayal of the neocon ideals, and a complete perversion of what he'd thought they stood for. This doesn't make any sense; you can't hold him accountable for something he spoke out against.
posted by koeselitz at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


But Francis Fukuyama didn't support the Iraq war. He was explicitly against it from the very beginning. He said that it was a betrayal of the neocon ideals, and a complete perversion of what he'd thought they stood for. This doesn't make any sense; you can't hold him accountable for something he spoke out against.

Come on, koeselitz, you've been here for the Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan threads. You know that the one unforgivable sin is having, at one point or another, been a conservative.
posted by nasreddin at 12:24 PM on March 24, 2011


If you want irony, you can find it in the source of neoconservatism: the first neocons were ex-communists in the 60s and 70s who came to conservative from a far-left background. In fact, I remember reading an essay by the (relatively liberal) Bernard DeVoto saying that he wasn't likely to trust anybody who'd made such ideological mistakes. I guess history repeats itself, only the second time it's sort of backwards and upside-down.
posted by koeselitz at 12:27 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah while I'm no fan of The End Of History, that's not what this thread is about and a lot of the criticism against it here seems off the mark anyway. Let's leave it and RTFL.
posted by Hoopo at 12:29 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


wikipedia: He was active in the Project for the New American Century think tank starting in 1997, and as a member co-signed the organization's letter recommending that President Bill Clinton support Iraqi insurgencies in the overthrow of then-President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.[7] He was also among forty co-signers of William Kristol's September 20, 2001 letter to President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks that suggested the U.S. not only "capture or kill Osama bin Laden", but also embark upon "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq".[8][9]

The wikipedia information on Fukuyama is found word for word at a number of other sites (Powerbase, answers.com)

Later it says:

Beginning in 2002 however,[citation needed] he began to distance himself from the neoconservative agenda of the Bush Administration, citing its overly militaristic basis and embrace of unilateral armed intervention, particularly in the Middle East. By late 2003, Fukuyama had voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War[11] and called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.[12] He said that he would vote against Bush in the 2004 election,[13] and that the Bush administration had made three major mistakes:[citation needed]

In regard to [citation needed], I remember nothing coming from Fukuyama about his oppostion to the war until late 2003, after the invasion and after the "overthrow," and only once it began to be painfully obvious just how badly the Bush White House and Rumsfeld had mis-managed the post-war strategy (of which there was none, as the State Department was cut out of the process).

So he was for it, before he was against it. But who wasn't once it became apparent what a utter shitshow it had become. Someone with his qualifications should know just a little better I would think.

Nasreddin: Come on, koeselitz, you've been here for the Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan threads. You know that the one unforgivable sin is having, at one point or another, been a conservative.

I like Hitchens and Sullivan, and conservatism is no crime. I only wish there was a real and not insane conservative movement in this country along the lines of SUllivan or Hitchens or a David Brooks.

Yeah while I'm no fan of The End Of History, that's not what this thread is about and a lot of the criticism against it here seems off the mark anyway.

Well, the man's credibility is seriously flawed and that is exhibit B. (Exhibit A is his signing Kristol's letter and not voicing opposition against the management of the war until late in 2003.) But, I'd be happy if this discussion went back to Fukuyama's understanding of Chinese and American relations. (Hopefully he doesn't sign any letters this time.)
posted by Skygazer at 12:48 PM on March 24, 2011


Fukuyama is the go-to contrarian indicator. Sooo...there will be absolutely no influence in China w.r.t. the Middle Eastern revolts.
posted by telstar at 2:58 PM on March 24, 2011


Fukuyama is the go-to contrarian indicator. Sooo...there will be absolutely no influence in China w.r.t. the Middle Eastern revolts.

From the linked article: "The bottom line is that China will not catch the Middle Eastern contagion anytime soon. But it could easily face problems down the road."

But, I'd be happy if this discussion went back to Fukuyama's understanding of Chinese and American relations.

That's not what the article is about.

He's basically examining the traditional wisdom on what causes social upheaval in light of new developments in the Middle East that no one predicted and applying it to China to see if it sticks. It's a semi-formed conversation piece in the WSJ. I don't know how worthwhile that is, but holy crap it's so obvious people here aren't reading it.

Sorry Kliuless
posted by Hoopo at 4:45 PM on March 24, 2011


As for "unimaginative," the book defends an orthodox-Hegelian interpretation of the end of the Cold War and links it to contemporary economic thought as well as a Nietzschean account of the impact of modernity on subjectivity. I dare you to find a recent book of comparable popularity that draws on a richer and more diverse set of sources and traditions.

Read the (oft-recommended by me) Voltaire's Bastards, by John Ralston Saul, which was more of less contemporaneous with Fukuyama's effort (or any of his newer work). If that's what you're looking for (and it is what I look for), you will be well rewarded.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:23 PM on March 24, 2011


Sorry, that was a bit incoherent.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:23 PM on March 24, 2011


Why should we expect anything but contradictory behavior from someone who has ascribed at any time ascribes to something as patently oxymoronic as "neoconservatism"? Isn't this the same as how democracy offers the paradox of choice to the crystalized masses? This is not snark, but a real question about what makes democracy function as well as it does and what makes Fukuyama interesting, if problematic.
posted by thebestusernameever at 7:07 PM on March 24, 2011


What about an apology for your paid PR-work for Gadaffi, Mr Fukuyama?

Is there actually any more to this story than FF getting paid to fly out and meet with Gaddafi on a single occasion? Because if there isn't, then this is way overblown and in no way deserving of an apology.


He borrowed his name to this PR project, and made it more acceptable to others. International contacts is OK, but whitewashing dictators for money is not.

"Monitor promised the Libyan regime that it would secure a "regular flow of high quality visitors" to Tripoli who would be selected for the appeal of their ideas and for "the strength of their influence in guiding US foreign policy".

Monitor proposed to write a book about Gaddafi's philosophy that would include transcripts of conversations between those western experts and the Libyan leader. It would show the world that he was "a man of action and a man of ideas … Gaddafi is well known but poorly understood, particularly in the west"."

Link (pdf, via) to the Monitor Group document "A Proposal for Expanding the Dialogue around the Ideas of Muammar Qadhafi".

This was also a part of their PR work:
"In 2007, five Bulgarian nurses doing humanitarian work in Libya were falsely accused of deliberately infecting 400 children with AIDS and sentenced to death. After intense negotiations by the European Union the nurses were freed. Upon their release from a Libyan prison they told of being tortured while in custody.

Fuller was sensitive to Khadafy’s reputation as overseer of torture: “Monitor proposed a media campaign following the release of the Bulgarian medics. By actively talking to the media, Libya was able to focus the coverage on positive issues and away from coverage of the medics and their stories of torture.”

Benjamin Barber, also a part of the Monitor Group project, still thinks he did the right thing:
"FP: So why have Monitor Group and the London School of Economics now washed their hands of the regime?

BB: You have to ask them, but to me they seem frightened, cowed, unwilling to take risks on behalf of their own former commitments and beliefs. All they seem worried about is the money. I mean, did LSE take Saif's money -- the Gaddafi Foundation money -- improperly? No, they all took it properly. And promised a scholarly center to study the Middle East and North Africa. And offer scholarships to students from the region. Just the way Harvard and Georgetown and Cambridge and Edinburgh have done -- not with Libyan money, but with Saudi money (look at Prince Alwaleed bin Talal). By the way, not just Monitor, but McKinsey, Exxon, Blackstone, the Carlyle Group -- everybody was in it."

Barber also still thinks Saif Gadaffi really is a good guy:
"And now Saif and the internal reform efforts that probably led to some of the people in Tripoli coming out in the streets because those were some of people who had been freed from prison by the Gaddafi Foundation -- and now he's being blamed for what happened. I think that's absurd."

The original post in this thread is interesting and worth a read, but we should know a bit about the source and the people he cooperates with.
posted by iviken at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


ah, yes, the world is gradually falling to pieces and you guys are busy arguing someone's credentials

is it any wonder the u s looks so lost and confused to the rest of the world?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


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