Francis Fukuyama Discovers the Limits of Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukayama came late to the party. Still, the Lord loves a prodigal, no matter his rolling in the mud with neo-conservatives before he got here:
"What was truly troubling, however, was that the collapse undermined the fundamental moral justification for material inequality in a politically egalitarian society. Basic to the legitimacy of market capitalism is the efficient market hypothesis—that is, the notion that in a truly competitive market everyone earns something close to his or her “social” rate of return. This means, in other words, that if your investment banker earns 100,000 times as much as your plumber, it’s because he or she is contributing roughly 100,000 times as much to society’s total pool of wealth.
The crisis made it glaringly obvious that the efficient market hypothesis was wrong: Oversized returns were flowing to innovative financial entrepreneurs who, in their avidity to create new and more complex financial instruments and products, were destroying rather than creating value for society as a whole."

No shit, Sherlock.

Let me get this straight; it took two wars and an economic collapse for a tenured professor to realize what my sharecropping ancestors knew in their bones?
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Francis Fukuyama is the fellow who announced "The End of History" in 1989, after Russia lost the Cold War. This made him a lot of friends among fans of Ronald Reagan. He later explained that what he really meant was an end to interpreting history as having a goal, as Hegel, Marx and apocalyptic Christians do.
I could almost buy his equivocation, but Fukuyama's inner Pangloss never knows when to shut up: "... while earlier forms of government were characterized by grave defects and irrationalities that led to their eventual collapse, liberal democracy was arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions." Say wha--? Democracy (or republicanism, if you prefer Latin to Greek) is chock-full of "fundamental internal contradictions"-- that's why Lincoln warned that democracies are inclined to self-destruction; why Churchill called democracy the worst except for all the others. You're a hard man indeed if you can see the dead at Fredericksburg or Wounded Knee as nothing more than a perfect system correcting itself. Call me Manichean, but I still see history as a struggle between forces of creation and destruction, Thanatos and Eros. It only takes a moment for a soldier to kill Archimedes.

I am not calling for F.F. to start wearing an IWW shirt and become a neo-socialist. I just want him to discover that there might be a reason the left feels pissed off and pissed on. And this does give me another excuse to assign the reading of Kipling's "Gods of the Copybook Headings", despite its misuse by the odious Beck, unable to recognize himself in its warnings.

I would not bother with this if Francis were just another Wanker Like Me with a blog. But this guy is a paid lecturer in the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it range. Francis Fukuyama has made a spectacular career out of being wrong, but being wrong in a way that flatters the masters of our world.
I'm all in favor of being wrong and making grand barroom pronouncements-- as a storyteller and a reader, I embrace six impossible things before breakfast, hoping to unearth those poetic truths that "burn like cold iron", as Lewis said of Tolkein. We bohemians (cough slackers cough) are, after all the secret legislators of the world. But when I wear a history teacher's hat, I have to answer "I don't know" a dozen times a day, puzzling innocents who think a mastery of trivia and telling anecdote is the same as knowing "everything", then try to turn the things I don't know into a problem for them, like a cat giving kittens a crippled mouse to bat around. But my foibles don't end in a body count, as Fukuyama's did when he signed William Kristol's letter urging regime change in Iraq.

It may be that a repentant Francis is trying to find his way home, to move the bead of isn't-it-pretty-to-think-so a bit closer to what is. He's just about the only neoconservative I can stand to read without gagging, certainly the only one capable of conceding that he might be wrong, and any sign of enlightenment is to be cherished-- for this thy brother was lost, and is found. So, my turn to make a pronouncement, though the thoughts of Francis Fukuyama are worth 100,000 of mine, and it's a truism the ancient Chu Yuan knew in his drowned bones: No courtier ever went broke by telling the bosses what they want to hear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here, here. That's how many a courier survived.
I do believe (especially living in the worst state funded education system in the U.S.) of the dumbing down of Americans. If children are encouraged not to question the sources of the information they obtain, then they are as dumb as the cattle that they are raising for slaughter.