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Friday, February 24, 2006

After Neoconservatism

For your reading pleasure, check out Francis Fukuyama's piece in the New York Times Magazine last weekend. It's a long, sober reflection on neoconservatism and Iraq. Fukuyama writes of his disillusionment with neoconservatism in the aftermath of intelligence gaffes, reconstruction struggles, and enhanced resentment toward the United States. He offers some suggestions as to where we go from here. Most interesting to me was his analysis of how Cold War success deluded neoconservatives into thinking that parallel transitions to democracy (and the use of force to bring it) could be accomplished worldwide. A long piece, but worth the effort.

One interesting aspect of the article: Fukuyama offers a correction of a common caricature of his most famous book:

Many people have also interpreted my book "The End of History and the Last Man" (1992) as a neoconservative tract, one that argued in favor of the view that there is a universal hunger for liberty in all people that will inevitably lead them to liberal democracy, and that we are living in the midst of an accelerating, transnational movement in favor of that liberal democracy. This is a misreading of the argument. "The End of History" is in the end an argument about modernization. What is initially universal is not the desire for liberal democracy but rather the desire to live in a modern — that is, technologically advanced and prosperous — society, which, if satisfied, tends to drive demands for political participation. Liberal democracy is one of the byproducts of this modernization process, something that becomes a universal aspiration only in the course of historical time.

Hmm, convenient after-the-fact revision or legitimate correction? Beats me. Fukuyama readers, discuss...

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