end-of-history

If Man becomes an animal again, his arts, his loves, and his play must also become purely “natural” again. Hence it would have to be admitted that after the end of History, men would construct their edifices and works of art as birds build their nests and spiders spin their webs, would perform musical concerts after the fashion of frogs and cicadas, would play as young animals play, and would indulge in love like adult beasts. But one cannot then say that all this “makes Man happy.” One would have to say that post-historical animals of the species Homo sapiens (which will live amidst abundance and complete security) will be content as a result of their artistic, erotic, and playful behavior, inasmuch as, by definition, they will be contented with it.
—  Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, 2nd Edition

Yet the largest bankruptcy of postmodernism is that the grand narrative of human mastery over the cosmos was never unmoored and knocked from its pulpit. Instead of making the locus of this mastery large aggregates of individuals and institutions – class formations, the state, religion, etc. – it simply has shifted the discourse towards the individual his or herself, promising them a modular dreamworld for their participation but more often than not providing only a disciplinary squalor.

For these reasons we can say that the proper end of postmodernism comes in the gradual realization of the Anthropocene: it promises the death of the narrative of human mastery, while erecting an even grander narrative, described eloquently by Timothy Morton as the hyperobject. If modernism was about victory of human history, and postmodernism was the end of history, the Anthropocene means that we are no longer in a “historical age but also a geological one. Or better: we are no longer to think history as exclusively human…”[10]  Perhaps our wanton ignorance of this force, at once geological, chemical, atmosepherical, worldy, is that we cannot see it and cannot grasp it firsthand. We can only feel its effects: droughts and water-rationing, the slow migration of people, food crises that produce incredible political revolutions. The time of the Anthropocene is the time of hyperobjects because it exists on a scale beyond our comprehensions.

On this day in 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. While Lee’s surrender did not end the Civil War, the act is seen by most Americans as the symbolic end of four years of bloodshed. Today, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park – along with other National Battlefields – will commemorate the 150th anniversary of that surrender with the ringing of the bells. Photo by Tami A. Heilimann, Interior. 

The disappearance of Man at the end of History is not a cosmic catastrophe: the natural World remains what it has been from all eternity. And it is not a biological catastrophe either: Man remains alive as animal in harmony with Nature or given Being. What disappears is Man properly so called—that is, Action negating the given, and Error, or, in general, the Subject opposed to the Object. In point of fact, the end of human Time or History—that is, the definitive annihilation of Man properly so called or of the free and historical Individual—means quite simply the cessation of Action in the strong sense of the term. Practically, this means: the disappearance of wars and bloody revolutions. And the disappearance of Philosophy; for since Man no longer changes himself essentially, there is no longer any reason to change the (true) principles which are at the basis of his knowledge of the World and of himself. But all the rest can be preserved indefinitely; art, love, play, etc., etc.; in short, everything that makes Man happy.
—  Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the reading of Hegel
forty years ago, there were still debates about what the future will be - Communism, socialism, fascism, liberal capitalism, totalitarian bureaucratic capitalism. The idea was that life would somehow go on on earth, but that there are different possibilities.
—  slavoj zizek
Today in 'End of History': Obama Snaps Funeral Selfie at Mandela Memorial

The End of History: Obama Snaps Funeral Selfie at Mandela Memorial

https://twitter.com/afpfr/statuses/410438858342285312

Above, via the Agence France-Presse, is a photograph of President Barack Obama, of the United States, taking a “funeral selfie” with David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Helle…

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If Washington’s plans succeed, Libya will become another American puppet state. Most of the cities, towns, and infrastructure have been destroyed by air strikes by the air forces of the US and Washington’s NATO puppets. US and European firms will now get juicy contracts, financed by US taxpayers, to rebuild Libya. The new real estate will be carefully allocated to lubricate a new ruling class picked by Washington. This will put Libya firmly under Washington’s thumb.

With Libya conquered, AFRICOM will start on the other African countries where China has energy and mineral investments. Obama has already sent US troops to Central Africa under the guise of defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army, a small insurgency against the ruling dictator-for-life. The Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, welcomed the prospect of yet another war by declaring that sending US troops into Central Africa “furthers US national security interests and foreign policy.” Republican Senator James Inhofe added a gallon of moral verbiage about saving “Ugandan children,” a concern the senator did not have for Libya’s children or Palestine’s, Iraq’s, Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s.

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Saint Seiya The Heated Battle of the Gods | Final scene (Yggdrasil blooms)

This is like we were in the paradise.All the beauty repressed resurface to replace the evil image of Odin for recover the natural harmony of our beloved Earth.This is the legendary tree of the world

Baudrillard and The End of History / [flickr]

“The remorse that has been expressed, and the - more or less hypocritical - commemorations and recantations give the impression that we are trying to run the events of the century back through the filter of memory, not in order to find a meaning for them - they have clearly lost that en route - but in order to whitewash them, to launder them. Laundering is the prime activity of this fin de siècle - the laundering of a dirty history, of dirty money, of corrupt consciousnesses, of the polluted planet - the cleansing of memory being indissolubly linked to the -hygienic - cleansing of the environment or to the - racial and ethnic - cleansing of populations. We are turning away from history ‘in progress’, with none of the problems it poses having been resolved, and plunging into a regressive history, in the nostalgic hope of making a politically correct one out of it. And in this retrospective, necrospective obsession, we are losing any chance of things coming to their term. This is why I advanced the idea that the Year 2000 would not take place. Quite simply because the history of this century has already come to an end, because we are reliving it interminably and because, therefore, metaphorically speaking, we shall never pass on into the future.”

- Jean Baudrillard, Paroxysm

Please Stop Encouraging Francis Fukuyama

On the outside, it looks like Francis Fukuyama is doing a bit of backpedaling.  Not enough to change the conclusion he became famous for in ‘The End of History’, that with the dissolution of Soviet Russia the ideological game of liberal-democratic capitalism vs. communism was over.  That would be much too far!

However, the man that was right in behind Reaganism and the Bush 1 and Bush 2 presidencies is beginning to back away from these affiliations.  He told The Guardian that he voted for Obama, and plans not to register with the Republicans this election year.  Possibly he will even register with the Democrats!!

Unfortunately, someone needs to better inform Frankey-boy.  For a man that has built his career on political-punditing, he does not seem to have grasped the fundamental nature of American politics.  It doesn’t matter if you ride the donkey or the elephant, you’re still going to the same place.

You see, Francis, hun, it’s not about where the democracy is, it’s about where the money is.  In many parts of the world, people are still fighting for their basic right to self government, and it’s sweet of you to say you support them.  But in the rest of the world needs to fight too, because your 'liberal-democracy’ has not given us freedom.  Even in countries not shackled by a redundant two-party system, the claws of capitalism are dug deep into our skin, and no political platitude will make us less able to feel them.

I’ll readily admit I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t know what to replace capitalism with, or how to go about it.  But I do know that our aim should be to at least start thinking about it, and not sit around congratulating ourselves on a job well done.

Go ahead, vote Democrat.  See if I care.

Marx and Fukuyama

Over at my other blog I’ve just written another long post about Marx, Marxist Eschatology, arguing that the argument over whether Marx has been “proved right” or “proved wrong” by history is misconceived and short-sighted, because the conditions that could prove Marx right or wrong do not yet obtain.

I was very pleased to see a piece at the Foreign Policy website today, Misunderstanding Fukuyama (dated 30 December 2011), because it covers similar ground. Over at Foreign Policy (and in other venues), the debate is at least in part over whether Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis has been “proved right” or “proved wrong” by subsequent historical events. This makes the debate over Fukuyama’s thesis closely parallel to the debate over Marx’s thesis.  

Dan Blumenthal quotes Fukuyama as follows:

“In order to refute my hypothesis, then, it is not sufficient to suggest that the future holds in store large and momentous events. One would have to show that these events were driven by a systematic idea of political and social justice that claimed to supersede liberalism. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan – horrible as that would be for those countries – does not qualify, unless it somehow forced us to reconsider the basic principles underlying our social order.”

It is admirable that Fukuyama does not here argue that he is not proved wrong by history, only that he has not yet been proved wrong by history. He leaves open the future possibility that there may someday come a reconsideration of the basic underlying principles of social order.

This is both a virtue and a weakness of Fukuyama’s thesis. With Marx, we can identify a “bend in the road” of history at which point Marx might be proved right or wrong. For some people – wrongly to my mind – this point was identified as the end of the Cold War. To my mind, it is the full industrialization of the world’s economy. Thus Marx’s thesis has the virtue of falsification.

Fukuyama’s thesis does not seem to provide the kind of “bend in the road” of history that would constitute the experimentum crusis of his “end of history” argument. The most we seem to be able to say here is that history is always open to revision. This is true, but it is true because it is trivially true, and because it is trivially true it is largely uninteresting.