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Francis Fukuyama: The acceptable face of the neo-cons?
August 16, 2005 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Francis Fukuyama: The acceptable face of the neo-cons?
"Francis Fukuyama famously announced that we had reached the end of history....For a man whose reputation was made not on extolling the virtues of Western liberal democracy but on proclaiming its complete triumph, now and forever, a degree of equivocation appears to have crept into Fukuyama's commentary. Not, though, that he ever believed the end of history meant nothing would happen. It merely meant that nothing quite as momentous would happen anew, and if history were to begin again, it could only be a repeat."
posted by jenleigh (82 comments total)

 
``...We ought to maintain a level of political support, and practical support to civil society and human rights groups that are struggling for democracy but ultimately we have to be patient because unless the basic impulse for democracy comes from within societies it is not going to happen...

``"But there are," he argues, "a lot of other components of good governance besides democratic participation. Singapore, for example, has had non-democratic good governance. It is relatively corrupt but focussed on development goals and it doesn't promote patronage, and is very focussed on creating a state that invests in education and other genuine development goals... I would say... bad politics and democracy is sometimes a solution but not always."


This is a very flexible and expedient philosophy, and one that allows the US to shake hands with many dictators, including the ones in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, without much care for the consequences to ourselves or our neighbors.
posted by Rothko at 8:41 AM on August 16, 2005


I'm still convinced that I will see something go down within my lifetime, the likes of which hasn't been seen on the planet yet to date. Iraq and Bush isn't it.
History does repeat itself, but new levels, both for good and bad, are still in the future.
posted by Balisong at 8:42 AM on August 16, 2005


When, on 26 January 1998, President Bill Clinton received a letter urging him to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein by adopting a much more aggressive policy than containment, few would have recognised the majority of names appended to the appeal. Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton et al

jenleigh not to derail your post, but the first paragraph..... how the Republicans can continue to get away with the lie that the invasion of Iraq was not already decided before 9/11 is just incredible.

To me there is no acceptable face of the neo-cons. Full stop. Fukuyama's association with the PNAC destroyed his credibility forever.

Moreover, I am a bit tired of the Right using minority faces to shill for them. It has been a bit too effective in disarming the Left's criticism.
posted by three blind mice at 8:48 AM on August 16, 2005


He has made a career out of being interestingly wrong. His latest high horse is the anti-biotech crusade, with commentary and a book that are as elegantly written -- and wrongly argued -- as The End of History.
posted by twsf at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2005


Could have been titled "quasi figure finally discovers he was duped."
posted by BeerGrin at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2005


three blind mice writes "Moreover, I am a bit tired of the Right using minority faces to shill for them. It has been a bit too effective in disarming the Left's criticism."

So minorities shouldn't be allowed to be conservative intellectuals? And if they choose to be we should feel free to dismiss them because of their ethnic identity? I mean, if someone with a "minority face" takes a conservative position, clearly they're just a shill.

This is excruciatingly stupid.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2005


Moreover, I am a bit tired of the Right using minority faces to shill for them.

"Progressives" have been using minority faces to shill for them throughout a lifetime. Full stop. It'd be difficult to convince anyone politicians on one side of the aisle exploit minorities/The Common Man/whoever any more than those on the other side.

Your suggestion that Fukuyama is not capable of promoting his own ideas—instead needing Republicans to pull strings for him—is equally objectionable and racist.
posted by dhoyt at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2005


Or what mr_roboto said.
posted by dhoyt at 8:57 AM on August 16, 2005


right wing kool aid
posted by nervousfritz at 9:05 AM on August 16, 2005


Methinks mr. roboto infers too much. And that is excruciatingly stupid.
posted by nofundy at 9:05 AM on August 16, 2005


All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.
posted by odinsdream at 9:06 AM on August 16, 2005


Aside from Fukuyama's ethnicity (completely uninteresting), he has clearly drunk the neocon kool-aid. They are not promoting free markets, they are promoting tightly controlled markets with the intention that they will be positioned to benefit from the transition. They are lying to the American people and causing death in the process.

They're free-market capitalists in name only. Fukuyama should be able to recognize this.

On preview: oh, nervousfritz can smell it, too.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:06 AM on August 16, 2005


nofundy writes "Methinks mr. roboto infers too much."

What the fuck am I inferring? He referred to the man (a tenured professor at a top-tier university) as a "shill" merely because of his race. This is entirely inappropriate, and I don't understand how any self-respecting liberal could countenance such a viewpoint.

Unless you're just a right-wing shill....
posted by mr_roboto at 9:10 AM on August 16, 2005


Methinks mr. roboto infers too much. And that is excruciatingly stupid.

Overstatement aside, the fact that politicians and activists of all stripes often use "minority" people as moral props is not exactly news. Though I don't doubt Fukuyama believes what he's saying.
posted by jonmc at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2005


"Progressives" have been using minority faces to shill for them throughout a lifetime. Full stop.

too bad that it doesn' take a genius to understand -- hence, even you can probably make it -- that the difference is, "progressives" are the ones who have worked, for a few centuries now, to end discrimination of various kinds. the other side of the fence has been consistently happy with various forms of discrimination, from slavery to segregation and so forth.

that's why the various Dinesh D'Souzas (you know, the guy who says that slavery was not a racist institution and that segregation was meant to protect blacks) and the Clarence Thomases and Alan Keyeses of the "conservative" world are such sad, sad figures. they're actively working for the side that, historically, has been against progress in racial and ethnic relations.

____

So minorities shouldn't be allowed to be conservative intellectuals?

straw man, and a lame one. of course they can -- with a little caveat. I simply don't see why one shouldn't have the right to point out that it's funny to see Condoleezza Rice work for the guy who thought Nelson Mandela should stay in jail, that's all.
please allow us to remain unimpressed by the Fukuyamas "conservatives" are always so happy to hire to shill for them.
posted by matteo at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2005


Thank you for proving my point.

This is why the Right hides behind minority faces. No self-respecting Leftie can ever say anything negative about a minority without this sort of reaction.

Excruciatingly stupid is the reaction of the PC police. Of course he is not a shill because of his race - I never said that - but because of his race he IS the acceptable face of the neo-cons. You silly people are too afraid to criticize a minority with the same intensity as a white male.
posted by three blind mice at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2005


Let's see the Islamic neo-con shill that comes out to say that all Islamic people should give in to indefinate detentions.
posted by Balisong at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2005


Clarence Thomases and Alan Keyeses

A first-rate smear via juxtaposition.

You never. fucking. stop. Do you?
posted by Kwantsar at 9:25 AM on August 16, 2005


You silly people are too afraid to criticize a minority with the same intensity as a white male.

Yes, the left gave Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden, Al Sharpton, and Marion Barry free rides.

(I'll stipulate that there are people like you describe, tbm, so afraid of being thought a racist that it makes them feckless, but let's not paint with such a broad brush.)
posted by jonmc at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2005


This is a very flexible and expedient philosophy, and one that allows the US to shake hands with many dictators, including the ones in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, without much care for the consequences to ourselves or our neighbors.

This is simply "pragmatism," no?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2005


This is simply "pragmatism," no?

Without care for long-term consequences, namely creating and supporting Al Quedas and their offspring indirectly by supporting dictatorships in Muslim countries, I would call that "foolishness". That's just me.
posted by Rothko at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2005


Yes, the left gave Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden, Al Sharpton, and Marion Barry free rides.

If the 50.1%+ of the DC left that re-elected Barry didn't give him a free ride, they gave him a reduced fare.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2005


For chrissake jonmc Al Sharpton ran for President and Marion Barry got re-elected. They got a race pass.

I will concede that Idi Amin and Osama bin Laden were universally reviled.

Yeah, it is not an all encompassing strategy, but it is pretty damned broad brush. Moreover, it seems to work. The neo-cons are nothing if not deviously clever. It wasn't a dozen comments before Mr_Roboto started screaming racist. The Right knows that the the word "racist" is the Left's kryptonite.

Fortunately, we Libertarians are made of stronger stuff. Unfortunately we are too few to make a difference.
posted by three blind mice at 9:37 AM on August 16, 2005


I was being sarcastic, Kwantsar. And Barry's re-election is useful for showing that a black electorate can be as befuddled/corrupt/blinkered as a white one. Minority people are people not demons or magic oracles of wisdom for white sahibs.
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on August 16, 2005


Why would anyone even bother to debate Fukuyama's credibility? The man is famous for a vacuous buzz phrase, nothing more. The thesis behind the phrase "the end of history" has been and will continue to be debunked by subsequent events.
posted by bshock at 9:38 AM on August 16, 2005


Al Sharpton ran for President and Marion Barry got re-elected.

And plenty of the leftiest lefties (of numerous races) that I know have torn Sharpton apart over numerous things. What were they supposed to do, stop him from running? It's still a free country, as they say.
posted by jonmc at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2005


It merely meant that nothing quite as momentous would happen anew, and if history were to begin again, it could only be a repeat.

He may be a professor, but he'd never get a job in a history department. His understanding of history is laughable.

Nothing quite as momentous as the Cold War? The Cold War was just a blip compared to importance of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. The Hundred Years war was far longer and violent, though it has faded so much in our memory. And this is just European history. Momentous events and periods in human history have been happening for millennia, and will continue to happen for millennia. The entire twentieth century is likely to be remembered like the thirteenth - a bunch of terrible stuff in the middle, with some important technological developments towards the end. The end of human history comes only when we are all dead.

I don't really care about what else he has to say, because the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are really boring, but I can never respect a man who parades his ignorance of the nature of human history, especially when other unknowing people then listen to him.
posted by jb at 9:45 AM on August 16, 2005


Okay - if you include all the wars and coups, etc, that weren't officially part of the cold war, but really were part of the Cold War, the Cold War was more violent than the Hundred Years war (because of the greater populations involved). But the Hundred Years War was still longer. I mean, it lasted for like, a hundred years.
posted by jb at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2005


three blind mice writes "This is why the Right hides behind minority faces. No self-respecting Leftie can ever say anything negative about a minority without this sort of reaction. "

This is absurd. The negative statement that you made and that I objected to was, "Moreover, I am a bit tired of the Right using minority faces to shill for them." This is not a valid criticism of Fukuyama's thinking or character: it's a sweeping dismissal of all conservatives who happen to be minorities.

No one in this thread has really attempted to defend Fukuyama's arguments; certainly no one has made the (ridiculous) case that he deserves a free pass because of his ethnicity. You seem to be imagining this. I myself disagree with Fukuyama's political thinking. I also disagree, however, with your reaction to his race. I don't think he's been selected as a public face of the neo-conservative movement because of his race, as you seem to think. He's an intellectual leader of that movement, and he deserves to be treated as such.

Of course he is not a shill because of his race - I never said that...

Then who the hell were you writing about? Someone with a "minority face" who "the Right" is "using...to shill for them". This thread is about Fukuyama; I assumed you were writing about him.

matteo writes "that's why the various Dinesh D'Souzas (you know, the guy who says that slavery was not a racist institution and that segregation was meant to protect blacks) and the Clarence Thomases and Alan Keyeses of the 'conservative' world are such sad, sad figures."

This attitude is dangerous, especially to American liberals. As matteo says, progressives have historically been on the front line fighting discrimination. But the Democratic party needs to recognize that the lines in that war have moved; it has won a lot of battles, and the Republican mainstream recognizes this. The cultural message of the Republican party has a lot of appeal to socially conservative African American communities and immigrant groups. The Republicans are pushing hard to be an inclusive multi-ethnic party, and to put their unfortunate xenophobia in the past. Democrats would do well not to find themselves fighting the last war; the public's memory isn't that long. Democrats assume that the minority vote belongs to them at their own peril.

three blind mice writes "Mr_Roboto started screaming racist. "

I never used that word. Your viewpoint, while probably not technically "racist", is simplistic and insulting. Not surprising from someone who would self-identify as a Libertarian. zing!
posted by mr_roboto at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2005


Haven't we always been fighting the hundred years war?
posted by Balisong at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2005


"...but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

One could make the same assertion at various points in the Roman Empire.

mr_roboto & dhoyt seem to very carefully misunderstand threeblindmice's point.
The "I'm not hung up on race - YOUR hung up on race!" argument seems a rather intentional stalking horse.
Just look upthread. QED.

But it is hard to take opposition with Fukuyama's ideas, at least in this peice, because of all the 'sometimes', 'patience' and 'not always' palter.

"There is a form of Islam quite compatible with that but there are some who don't believe so. "
Ok...yeah.
"...if more opportunities for careers and other kinds of personal development were available Islamist ideology wouldn't be as powerful."
Also - ok, yeah. But is this predicated on our economic domination or as some sort of internal defect or both? He guesses agains Iraq working as a vehicle towards democratisation and political reform and broader participation in the Arab world.
I'd agree that it would be worth it if it worked: some sort of stability there that would lead us to trade instead of exploitation.
But what then is the solution? Voting ofr Kerry?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:54 AM on August 16, 2005


ofr is the new 'teh'
posted by Smedleyman at 9:54 AM on August 16, 2005


He's an intellectual leader of that movement, and he deserves to be treated as such.

This is a good point, but probably not for the reason you expected.

Does his intellectual dishonesty say anything about the qualities and actions of the neo-con movement? And vice versa, for that matter, if their actions determine the philosophies of their intellectuals?

If their intellectuals display a callous disregard for fact, fitting facts to the philosophical leaning of the day, is this why the neo-con political positions and actions change so frequently and illogically?

Or do their intellectuals come up with shaky frameworks as a result of having to fit their worldviews to reinforce the "legitimacy" of the White House's policy of the day?

If it is the latter, what more legitimacy does Fuyuyama have as an intellectual, if his views can be boiled down to little more than mere propaganda?
posted by Rothko at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2005


I agree with you wholeheartedly, Rothko. I think it's an intellectually bankrupt movement: historical know-nothingism. But Fukuyama is a leader, not a shill.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:02 AM on August 16, 2005


The thesis behind the phrase "the end of history" has been and will continue to be debunked by subsequent events.

"The End of History" was debunked by the fall of Athens to Sparta, but certainly Mr. Fukuyama didn't let that get in his way.
posted by Ptrin at 10:04 AM on August 16, 2005


I think Terrence McKenna first coined the phrase,
The Transcendental Object at the end of history.
And it would be on par for the neo cons to lift a buzz word from someone peering into the possibilities of the future to prop up their own tired worn vision of world domination.
posted by hortense at 10:04 AM on August 16, 2005


Minority people are people not demons or magic oracles of wisdom for white sahibs.

Sorry jonmc you lost me with this one.

But it is instructive how you can write "white sahib" without pause whilst wringing your hands over the perceived offense directed towards a minority.

Look, the neo-cons know full well that in liberal america is it OK to say anything about a white male, but criticism of minorities will always be approached with cautious sensitivity. You select a minority face and you disarm the opposition.
posted by three blind mice at 10:07 AM on August 16, 2005


three blind mice writes "You select a minority face and you disarm the opposition."

This very thread disproves your thesis. Fukuyama has received uniform criticism from liberals here. They certainly don't seem "disarmed".

And your implication that he was "selected" as a public face for the movement because of his race remains dismissive and insulting.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2005


But it is instructive how you can write "white sahib" without pause whilst wringing your hands over the perceived offense directed towards a minority.

I'm saying that even self-proclaimed anti-racists of any political stripe can be very weird in their dealings with people of other races: that is, treating them as magical morally pure beings with mysterious unimpeachable wisdom, rather than simply as human beings with the same frailties as anyone else. I was basically saying you had a point. My earlier comments on Barry, Sharpton et al, were merely stipulating that the attitudes I've described aren't universal.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on August 16, 2005


This is not a valid criticism of Fukuyama's thinking or character: it's a sweeping dismissal of all conservatives who happen to be minorities.

Thus Mr_Roboto.

The headliner of the FPP, my mechanical friend was: "Francis Fukuyama: The acceptable face of the neo-cons?"

My comment was "Moreover, I am a bit tired of the Right using minority faces to shill for them."

It is not a suggestion that "we should feel free to dismiss [Fukuyama] because of [his] ethnic identity," but that because of their ethnic identity the Left will approach any criticism of them with cautious sensitivity. Your reaction proves my point exactly. If we were talking about Cheney or Wolfowitz you would dismiss them (properly so) as neo-con nutters, but since Fukuyama is not a white male you defend him and approach your criticism of his ridiculous views with an undeserving respect.
posted by three blind mice at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2005


please allow us to remain unimpressed by the Fukuyamas "conservatives" are always so happy to hire to shill for them

You select a minority face and you disarm the opposition.



Compared to his colleagues, Fukuyama is a nobody in the minds of most Americans — they've never heard of him.

So how is he being 'selected' for anything or 'hired' for anything important these days, compared to, say, Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz?

Fukuyama in an economist & college professor, not a politician. Thinking his minority mug has been exploited by Republicans rings a little phony. No one I know would recognize him if they saw him on the street, and they've certainly never read his writing. He can think for himself, tbm, and you are free to disagree with it.

I'm saying that even self-proclaimed anti-racists of any political stripe can be very weird in their dealings with people of other races: that is, treating them as magical morally pure beings with mysterious unimpeachable wisdom, rather than simply as human beings with the same frailties as anyone else.

The same double standard, re: Xtianity vs. magical/special/fragile/Other/Underdog/noble savage Islam, is applied here at MeFi daily, though no one would admit to it.
posted by dhoyt at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2005


Good article, jenleigh. Thanks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2005


The same double standard, re: Xtianity vs. magical/special/fragile/Other/Underdog/noble savage Islam, is applied here at MeFi daily, though no one would admit to it.

Yeah, you're the SOLE voice of reason here. No one else recognizes the phenomenon. Thank god you also point it out daily. Would that all of us etc. etc.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2005


This is simply "pragmatism," no?

Without care for long-term consequences, namely creating and supporting Al Quedas and their offspring indirectly by supporting dictatorships in Muslim countries, I would call that "foolishness". That's just me.


Agreed. But it is still pragmatism, nevertheless.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:37 AM on August 16, 2005


"But it is still pragmatism, nevertheless."

Dunno ZenMasterThis, are you talking just being practical? Not putting the cart before the horse type of thing?
'Cause I'd go with you there.
But I think J.S. Mill would have some issues with Fukuyama.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:51 AM on August 16, 2005


Black, white, red, green, whatever. Francis Fukuyama is a hack.
posted by raysmj at 11:10 AM on August 16, 2005


And for the record, he's not an economist. He's a political scientist whose academic specialty is international political economy. There's a difference.
posted by raysmj at 11:13 AM on August 16, 2005


three blind mice writes "It is not a suggestion that 'we should feel free to dismiss [Fukuyama] because of [his] ethnic identity,' but that because of their ethnic identity the Left will approach any criticism of them with cautious sensitivity. Your reaction proves my point exactly."

Was that when I said I disagreed with his political thinking or when I called him intellectually bankrupt?

I don't see how "cultural sensitivity" figures into it. You're the one who brought up his race, and you're the one who keeps carping on it. Your concern with his race is inappropriate.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:13 AM on August 16, 2005


Pragmatism got us Afghanistan and Al-Queda and Iran and Wahabbis, etc.
Doesn't look like a very good political stance. Kissinger and his realpolitik also got us Chile and contras and support of apartheid too. I give "pragmatism" very low marks.

Mr. roboto, do you deny that minorities are often misused by a certain group of politicians to hide behind while implementing policies harmful to the minority group to which the person belongs?
Surely this was clear to you from the beginning. Yes, shill is the correct term for those people.

Michelle Malangong is a racist who happens to look somewhat Asian and thus could print a "book" supporting the incarceration of the Japanese. Thomas Sowell can attack every single effort to promote affirmative action or reduce the embedded racism in our society and, yes, they are both SHILLS for the rich white men funding their little circus.

Can you see that?
posted by nofundy at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2005


Thomas Sowell can attack every single effort to promote affirmative action or reduce the embedded racism in our society and, yes, they are both SHILLS for the rich white men funding their little circus.

You may be right, but since when is it our job as white guys to tell them what they should think? Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2005


Doesn't look like a very good political stance. Kissinger and his realpolitik also got us Chile and contras and support of apartheid too. I give "pragmatism" very low marks.

I'm more of the opinion that talking out of both sides of our mouth and over-militarizing everything has played a bigger role in creating a hostile environment for the U.S. than anything else.
posted by raysmj at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2005


The thesis behind the phrase "the end of history" has been and will continue to be debunked by subsequent events.

This is an all-to-common, specious (and incorrect) interpretation of Fukuyama's work. The End of History does not refer to historical events in general, but to the evolution of political systems. Fukuyama acknowledges Hegel's dialectic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis), but infers that society is (in general) not simply repeating itself, but actually moving closer to the ultimate synthesis, which he feels (for a few reasons) is representational democracy.

What I dislike about Fukuyama is that his theory is self-satisfying--pointing out, for instance, that Rome was a representational democracy that all went to shit is only a "temporary setback" in mankind's political evolution. Well, that's convenient. In that case, any evidence to the contrary is merely a "setback," but that we're all, in the long run headed towards this wonderful beautiful land of Democracy with flying cars and golden robots.

But why democracy? Why not totalitarianism? After all, human history is filled with people making others their subjects and slaves. Hell, evolution itself shows us that the in nature, the strong are the survivors--and history has plenty of evidence of this. Here Fukuyama suddenly becomes utilitarian: "Oh, well, eventually we will realize that representational government is in our best interest." To which I say, "Feh." When the strong threaten the weak, it's in their best interests to comply.

Really, the End of History might as well be a religious book; it requires an enormous amount of faith in humanity's good nature. It's idealism reeks of post-cold war naivety.

As for the political discussion, it should be noted that Fukuyama didn't approve of the most recent Iraq invasion, and was among those conservatives that wanted Rumsfeld to step down. But I still hate the guy: The End of History is a giant "LOOK AT ME!" PR stunt in an academic field that's extremely competitive and not particularly innovative.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:52 AM on August 16, 2005


since when is it our job as white guys to tell them what they should think? Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 2:42 PM EST


I would never to presume to "tell them what they should think" but I do reserve the right to call a whore and a shill exactly that.
Just saying. :-)

I'm more of the opinion that talking out of both sides of our mouth and over-militarizing everything has played a bigger role in creating a hostile environment for the U.S. than anything else.
posted by raysmj at 2:49 PM EST


Yeah, that too. And the mischief of our CIA.
posted by nofundy at 12:00 PM on August 16, 2005


I would never to presume to "tell them what they should think" but I do reserve the right to call a whore and a shill exactly that.

And I don't neccessarily think you're wrong in Fukuyama or Sowell's case, but oftentimes criticism of minorities who deviate from liberal consensus, tends to be focused on how they are "traitors to their race." That's awful close to saying "How dare those darkies step out of line! Don't they understand that us white liberals know what's best for them?!" This is (at best) paternalistic and patronizing. Without the freedom to disagree, equality is meaningless.

(note: I'm not accusing you of this, just stating stuff based on observation of people)

I'm more of the opinion that talking out of both sides of our mouth and over-militarizing everything has played a bigger role in creating a hostile environment for the U.S. than anything else.
posted by raysmj at 2:49 PM EST


Agreed. Double-talking is not pragmatism, it's merely bullshit.
posted by jonmc at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2005


but I do reserve the right to call a whore and a shill exactly that.

And you're automatically a whore and a shill if you're a minority and dare to not toe the Democrat party line? Silly me. When people were talking about voting rights for minorities, I envisioned them as being able to support any party they wanted. When the Democratic party supported civil rights, they did a great thing. But minorities don't owe them eternal loyalty in return.
posted by unreason at 12:11 PM on August 16, 2005


"...Fukuyama famously announced that we had reached the end of history..."
Has nobody read the damn article or book? I am so sick of seeing this nonsense. This writer needs the bastinado.

The "end of history" is not a process, like time stopping, it is a state of being, specifically milktoast liberal democracy. But Frank was rather wrong about that, instead we got George II and the end of democracy.
posted by warbaby at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2005


I do reserve the right to call a whore and a shill exactly that.

I don't get it — who is a "whore" in this case? Fukuyama clearly isn't after money, and there's no evidence the current administration is relying on him to be the face of their cause. He's an academic, not a policymaker. And he's not selling something he disbelieves — he believes in it wholly, and dispenses opinions of his own volition.

"Whore" and "shill" are melodramaese for "person holding opinions I don't agree with".
posted by dhoyt at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2005


When the Democratic party supported civil rights, they did a great thing. But minorities don't owe them eternal loyalty in return.

Interestingly, the Republican machine often takes the tack that black people should join "the party of Lincoln" as gratitude for ending slavery (never mind that the Civil War wasn't fought over slavery). Both sides play the race card in this respect.
posted by Rothko at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2005


Michelle Malangong is a racist... Thomas Sowell can attack every single effort to promote affirmative action...

Another first-rate smear via juxtaposition.

You never. fucking. stop. Do you?

A Classical Liberal, National Humanities Medal winner who is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution is in no way equivalent, analogous, or comparable to the Nazi-ish Malkin. But you, just like matteo, like to tar minarchists and fascists with the same brush. Shame on both of you.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2005


But Fukuyama is a leader, not a shill.

Wrong. Leo Strauss was a "leader." Fukuyama is quite definitely a mere shill.
posted by stenseng at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2005


He's a shill if he accepts money for promoting certain views. He's just mistaken if he actually believes them. Fukuyama is willfully mistaken, blinded by what he wants to believe is true: that liberty is on the march, is inevitable, and is represented by present-day America.

He is not a propagandist like Malkin. He is a respectable man who has bought into some foolish ideas.

I wish I could say I had never done anything similar.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:43 PM on August 16, 2005


And you're automatically a whore and a shill if you're a minority and dare to not toe the Democrat party line?

Of course not silly. Why would you try to characterize what I said as such? There are shills and whores on both sides of the political divide. Sorry to disrupt your line of thought. And you too dhoyt and kwantsar. Really now, would any of you deny the truth fo the statement? Would you hesitate, for example, to call Biden a whore for MBNA or Lieberman a shill for the insurance lobby? I would not and neither would I hesitate to call out those on the other side of the political divide when it is true.

Kwantsar, as I pointed out, each example are people who front for attacks upon minorities that they supposedly should "represent" and thus try to pass off bullshit racism as legitimate discourse. Sorry if you hold Sowell in high regard, you might want to rethink that position, but that ain't MY problem.
posted by nofundy at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2005


*Overtly refusing to take part in the Humpty Dumpty argument*

"When the strong threaten the weak, it's in their best interests to comply."

One could argue that democracy in Fukuyama's terms is a sort of oligarchy. The strong being strong because of numbers for example.
But Civil_Disobedient that 'strong survive' schitck is tautology. The strong survive. The survivors then, are strong. *repeat*
Domination is not efficiency or of itself a useful trait.
That said, I agree at no point in human history has a people suddenly realized they should do something in their best interests.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:09 PM on August 16, 2005


each example are people who front for attacks upon minorities that they supposedly should "represent"

Therein lies a bit of racism embedded in American politics: that every minority is automatically a racial representative. If Fukuyama or Sowell were white, they'd just be two more conservatives. If you don't like conservatives, fair enough, but they don't deserve extra anger for not being white conservatives.
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2005


Kwantsar, as I pointed out, each example are people who front for attacks upon minorities that they supposedly should "represent" and thus try to pass off bullshit racism as legitimate discourse.

"Attacks?" I don't recall Sowell being used to attack minorities, and I doubt that Sowell thinks he "represents" people of color. The stance that AA is racism, and propagates racism isn't "bullshit racism"-- and Sowell's arguments are honest. Just because you disagree with them doesn't make them any less so.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2005


Jesus, I thought there was gonna be a discussion here, not just the long term grudge matches of Metafilter...
posted by klangklangston at 2:06 PM on August 16, 2005


I'm with ya klang. klang. ston.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:44 PM on August 16, 2005


klang, you actually assumed that enough people had read the book rather than just knew the title? Seems otherwise...

Ho, hum. The best criticism of Frank's Famous Book I've seen is in Paul Berman's A Tale of Two Revolutions. It was a compare / contrast of two theories of history. Good literary criticism, but didn't really settle any of the issues.

BTW, Frank frequently shows up in the acknowledgements of work by people of pronounced liberal views. Which is indirect evidence that he's a reasonable colleague without big political axes to grind. But one would have to read in his field in order to know that.

But, like I said, most people seem to want to criticise him without reading him. But having a serious discussion in a comments thread is about as rare as making sense in a sports bar.
posted by warbaby at 3:07 PM on August 16, 2005


Sorry to say, but by saying something that stupendously moronic Fukuyama has just managed to demonstrate what an intellectually-bankrupt circle-jerk the neoconservative movement is today.
posted by clevershark at 6:54 PM on August 16, 2005


that 'strong survive' schitck is tautology

Yeah, good point. I've been away from the big books for more than a few years now, and the brain rot is starting to show. :)

I still think Fukuyama was nothing more than an opportunistic history student trying to make a name for himself. Every instance of publicity in the "real" world = 10 x publicity in academic world. The fact that anyone outside a classroom actually knows his name is proof that his scheme worked, and look at the nice job he got out of it at Johns Hopkins.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:48 PM on August 16, 2005


Francis Fukuyama is a postmodern lightweight who will only be remembered as a pathetic propagandist in the manner of a cautionary tale.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:53 PM on August 16, 2005


warbaby: Citing someone isn't the same as saying you thought highly of their work. I say this as someone who has cited Fukuyama in research. He had written a book related to my topic, and I was being thorough. This should not be taken to mean that I wasn't interested in the ideas of anyone leaning "conservative" (As if anyone can know that in every instance besides!), I just wasn't exactly wowed by the book (in this case, Trust).
posted by raysmj at 8:27 PM on August 16, 2005


It's unfortunate so few seem to have even read the book. Fukuyama's thesis--that liberal democracy is the "stable form" for large-scale group organization--doesn't work because, at best, it's a faith-based proposition. I have a feeling what's driven Fukuyama to the right and conservatism is that he's finally beginning to grasp just how fragile the liberal "world order" really is. In the Middle East, you have whole subcontinents "regressing" to sharia law while under-developed Africa and even partially-developed China make little "progress" towards the stable form. Throw in rapid advances in telecommunications technology, the rise of biotech which threatens our most basic assumptions, the continued resurgence of tribal and religious conflicts, and good old human fear, uncertainity, and doubt, and you have a recipe for change on a scale that's difficult to imagine. It no longer seems so far-fetched that historians will one day look back on the last five hundred years as simply the "democratic phase" that gives rise to the global tolatarian technocracy. (It's long been said that the nature of democracies is just that, after all: to devolve into tyrannies). In this light, Fukuyama's flight to the neo-cons seems to be driven by a sense that if liberal democracy isn't as inevitable as we'd like it to be, then the neo-con project, particularly creating democracy at the barrel of a gun, would be the next best thing. This doesn't make his actions forgivable though. If he'd had more integrity instead of running to the neocons he'd have gone back to the drawing board.
posted by nixerman at 9:50 PM on August 16, 2005


3.2.3: Shit, he's treated that way now. He got lumped in with Thomas Friedman in one of my classes on global order. He's the equivalent of Thomas the Tourist but without the magic power of the moustache. Snap.

And yeah, Fukuyama's main body of work consists of a fit of irrational exuberance following the end of the Cold War, some unfortunate friends, and either an excess of pride or deficit of common sense.

Homogenous Hegelian end state my ass. I thought we were done with ultimate historical laws. At least Marx got confused when things didn't pan out as expected; Fukuyama just stalls for time.
posted by Coda at 12:19 AM on August 17, 2005


So, jonmc and kwantsar, during the GOP convention, was stragetically placing minorities on the stage whilst none existed in the convention crowd below an act of fronting by the GOP (whose Southern Strategy endorses racism) or does pointing it out make me a racist?
Pointing out that a political party disingenously misuses/abuses certain minorities to provide cover for their REAL policies whilst compensating said minority representatives well for their *ahem* controversial statements seems to me fair and definitely NOT a racist response.
If I observe you promoting and performing racist acts, or providing cover for those who do, and loudly declaim you, that does NOT make me a racist but rather a person with the power of observation intact.
There have always been "Uncle Toms" and pointing them out is fair and correct.
[/sorry for the derail folks but this simple point needs made it would seem]
posted by nofundy at 8:08 AM on August 17, 2005


He got lumped in with Thomas Friedman
Which is exactly who I thought of with his fairy tale concoctions that are totally reality detached makes them a pair.
posted by nofundy at 8:10 AM on August 17, 2005


So, jonmc and kwantsar, during the GOP convention, was stragetically placing minorities on the stage whilst none existed in the convention crowd below an act of fronting by the GOP or does pointing it out make me a racist?

Well, you've shifted frames a bit, no?

I don't know whether you are a racist, nofundy, and I don't particularly care-- but the implication that people like Sowell are Uncle Toms is intellectually bankrupt and patently offensive.

When the white-supremacist crowd calls white people who support AA "race traitors," they are rightfully ignored or shouted down. But a black strict-constructionist is routinely pilloried-- after all, black people mustn't deviate from the party line and anyway there's not a single good reason to support AA-- and a good part of the hard-left-identity-politics-crowd quietly applauds.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2005


There you go again, intimating I am racist just because I do not hesitate to call out those who are racist or those who act in concert with the racists. You know better and that cheap rhetorical ploy is beneath you and is common among certain groups.
[I'm really quitting this derail this time, argue amongst yourselves]
posted by nofundy at 9:16 AM on August 17, 2005


Mmm-hmm. I intimated that you are a racist. Keep reading.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2005


Hey, the guy opposes technological progress. What more do you need to know? He is evil. Read Peter Singer if you want real ideas.

Yes, Africa etc. are regressing, but flawed cultures should take themselves out of the memepool. Christianity is doing this now with its neocon allies. Just make sure all your European & Asian friends know that it the Iraq war is on the hand of American Christians & Neocons.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:03 PM on August 17, 2005


Nofundy: You have to remember that true freedom includes the freedom to act in your own narrow interest, and actively working to enrich yourself at the expense of others like you.
Kind of like how true freedom also includes the right to advocate a negation of that same freedom. It's one of the challenges inherent in being a liberal; think of how often fundamentalists (of all stripes) decry the intolerance of liberals to their ideas of intolerance. When someone advocates violence against gays because their religion espouses that view, how can a liberal tolerate their religion at the same time as decrying the views inherent to that interpretation of religion?
Generally, it means finding out that there are limits in any normal person's ability to tolerate.
So, I think part of your criticism of Thomas et al. is flawed. To truly rebut Kwantsar, focus on how the first President Bush intentionally included Thomas because he was black, and the disconnect when Thomas then works against the policies that got him to his place (and please, don't pretend that he was the most qualified justice at the time, Kwantsar. He was a sexually-harrassing hack who was one of the worst appointments in the 20th century. At least Scalia has a sharp legal mind, deranged as it may be).
But further, each of us is free to betray that which may have helped us in the past. So perhaps the answer isn't to focus on Thomas at all, aside from the fact that he's generally a poor judge, but focus on those who haven't had the advantages that he has had and how best to help them. Feel free to call Thomas a liar when he says he didn't benefit from Affirmative Action, but keep the focus on the policy, and not on the person.
Each individual has a right to whatever ideas he or she may wish to hold, no matter how moronic or detrimental to society. Convince them to change their minds, or you'll win the argument and lose your chance for progress.
posted by klangklangston at 2:11 PM on August 17, 2005


if liberal democracy isn't as inevitable as we'd like it to be, then the neo-con project, particularly creating democracy at the barrel of a gun, would be the next best thing

Classic spring effect: the greater the pressure applied, the greater the resistance received.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:20 PM on August 17, 2005


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