Global end game, but not as we would like it
Across the globe, minds are closing, not opening. Borders are being closed, and walls are being raised. Science is being discredited while religion is on the rise
Between the time I got out of college and entered graduate school, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Soviet Union had collapsed. Francis Fukuyama, then an obscure American academic, became world-famous by publishing what turned out to be a bestseller called The End of History. He took an idea from a little-known Marxist-Hegelian-Heideggerian philosopher called Alexandre Kojeve – that historical time had come to an end – and combined that with the cold war triumphalism of American-style free market capitalism and liberal democracy.
In his view, the world spirit – the final enlightenment of the human mind and freedom of the person – has realised itself in the political-economic systems Americans have perfected.
Kojeve himself wouldn’t have picked the US. Like most French intellectual snobs, the Russian-born philosopher regarded Americans as cultural barbarians. Instead, he thought the European Economic Community – subsequently the European Union – would herald mankind’s final prosperity, stability, and mutual recognition of each other’s rights, freedoms and humanity.
Kojeve was partial to the EEC/EU in which he served as a mid-level French bureaucrat, though there was evidence that he was also a Soviet mole: the spy who loved Hegel.
No matter, whether the US or the EU, these philosophers thought the West was leading mankind into the final era in which we would leave behind our basest instincts, tribal mentality, and the closed mind of bigotry, hate and prejudice. Even the state, the final legitimate bearer of arms and organiser of violence, would give that up to either a super-state (Brussels) or an enlightened hegemon (Washington).
How wrong they were!
Across the globe, minds are closing, not opening. Borders are being closed, and walls are being raised. Science is being discredited while religion is on the rise. After the British vote to leave the EU, police reported more than 100 hate crimes and instances of racist abuse against Muslims and Poles across Britain.
After Brexit, Frexit, Auxit, Nexit, Swexit, Plexit… ? Kojeve never saw the rise of the EU. We may be witnessing its breakup.
Across the Atlantic, we have a racist-sexist-bigot-crypto-fascist who may be the next US president. Even if he doesn’t become president, it’s more than worrying that so many citizens of the world’s most powerful nation want someone like him to be their leader.
It’s end time all right, just not of the enlightened philosophical variety.