The End of History (Beware: Thought Required.)

Modern historicsim, layed out originally by Hegel, declares that history has a beginning, middle and end. That is to say, the course of human history has been directed toward a final goal: the ultimate defeat of all contradictions to human need. Human consciousness has progressed through tribalism, tyranny, theocracy, etc… to modern liberal democracy. Springing from the ideals of the French and American Revolutions, liberal democracy established itself throughout the Western world.

In the next century, we saw the rise of two new modern ideologies (modern=embracing rationalsim, humansim, historicism, positivism), each vying for universal dominance.

In the early and mid twentieth century, we saw the most bloody wars in human history: the Ideology Wars. National Socialism rose up as the next potential step in human history, attempting to address liberal democracy’s political weakness, materialism, anomie and lack of community. It was defeated.

In the remainder of the 20th century, we saw the far greater conflict between liberal democracy and communism. Marxist communism claimed to address the conflict between capital and labor inherent in liberal democracy. It too, crumbled.

All three of these ideologies desired to establish a universal homogenous state, thus heralding the end of human conflict and the end of history. When the dust settled, only liberal democracy remained standing, and is poised to go global. Every ‘developed’ country embraces the ideals of economic and political liberalism.

Is this the end of history? The end of the Evolution of Consciousness? Is liberal democracy the ‘final idea’? Is this a good thing?

For those familiar with Nietzche, he would be fiercely against this. These are the ‘last men’ of which he spoke. According to him, it is our responsiblity as artists to resist this with all our ammunition.

“In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for a time when history existed. Such nostalgia, in fact, will continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world for some time to come. Even though I recognize its inevitability, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its north Atlantic and Asian offshoots. Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.” -Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History”

Lets have a real discussion.

I don’t think history will end, liberal democrasy is not stable, corporate entities and power brokers assault it from within, stripping await the powers of statehood and replacing it with a sort of corporate fuedalism, as the middle class disappears conflicts will arise, the age of cheap energy is almost at an end, this will polarise the haves and have nots,
Big history may for a time stop and be replaced by mediocre history but not for long.

As a scientist, I don’t believe we are living in a mediocre time, the advances of scientific theory over the past century have been huge; and are continuing still, helped by the knifeedge stability of the world over the last few decades.
Art and philosophy may stall, but advanced human thought continues.

Even from a political view there is still a conflict between the liberal democracy and religious conservatism, which, while not modern, has a powerful force on the human psyche. If we are still unsure over religion, how can we have reached the pinnacle of human conciousness?


i think an environmental turningpoint will be more likely than a directly political or class one.

I.E. with the ocean towns of the US being uninhabitable due to hurricanes every year.

the east coast of australia drying up and becoming to dry to live.

the north and South of NZ having ground destabalising floods. causing millions of dollars of damage to small communities.

this will cause an emigration stress, which will reflect in pollitical pressure.

imagine if china suddenly had bad weather causing millions of people needing to be relocated. what would happen to another country if they just turned up?

this is gonna cause big issues i think.

our advance at the sacrifice of nature will soon catch up (i hope)
how we deal with this i dunno. i can only hope


One of the most intriguing books I read recently was called The Midieval Machine. And the most interesting part about it was an afterthought: Appendix-A.

In this section, the author draws very strong analogies between how the “modern” world is today and how it was in the “Dark” ages, which he has already spent the book pointing out “were not so ‘Dark.’” He specifically discusses how nations rise and subsequently decline (he does not use the word “fall”) from world prominence … having briefly grown to encompass “the world as they knew it” (or at least “the world that they could practically sail to”) and then shrunk back. America, he points out, reached its zenith circa 1970 and is shrinking back. Like the Spanish and the Dutch, it is bankrupt with its hands full of ‘money.’

The author could not have anticipated the European Union, being a different type of union that will be the world’s next great experiment.

But “the end of the world as we know it?” Yes and no, depending entirely on how you look at it. The end of the world as we know it is certainly not the end of the world. Just ask my housecat, or the insect he is currently chasing. We are only one animal among thousands of species.

Kepler’s fourth law:
The world does not revolve around you.

Nature is a cruel green mother, “red in tooth and claw.” Like all animals, we must eat. Or, we shall die. It makes no difference whatever to Gaea. If we invent paper or mine gold or do whatever-we-like and our accountants wring their hands and fling their ledger-books up into the air and proclaim to us with great gnashing of teeth that we have screwed it all up at last and we are “bankrupt,” the crops will still come in and we must collect and distribute and eat them – or we shall starve and the woods will in due time reclaim our pastures and Gaea still will not care. As one nation declines it creates an opportunity for others to advance. The subjugated nations in Persia, India and South America seem poised to do so (each returning in their cycle to the prominence they once knew, one day to retreat). Life will continue inexorably on, red in tooth and claw.

This is how things works… Bad things must happen for good things to happen. You need to know what black is in order to define white. Acording to what you say we are entering some sort of gray state. Personally I think that we have some time before all the world will embrace democracy. But even afterward do you really think humanity will just stop. I met a lot of people who thinks that the world is going to plunge in to a gray age of midioqery, a world that looks like generation X. I have more hopes for humanity, because that’s what we are… we’ll always find somthing to fight on and we’ll keep going forward… we won’t stop moving… we just can’t.

btw… watch “Angels in america” it speacks exactly about that and about few other things.

The history of Earth might be somewhat overish, but since Francis Fukuyama wrote that in 1945, he probaböy had no idea of that history will go on beyond Earth. At least that’s what I believe.

Reminds me of the Frank Herbet books. The “Golden Path”, or humankind’s path to lasting survival. As long as we’re stuck on this ball of dirt shooting each other to bits, I don’t see it happening. Your statement assumes that American democracy will stay in control forever. So the Greeks thought. There are also plenty of influences such as massive natural disasters, large scale war that could drastically influence things. So, until humans can get off the earth and form seperate unconnected communities I don’t see any end to history soon.

As long as human beings will exist they will have a past, reflect on it and call it their history. Therefore, I’d say that history will only end when the last human being ceases to exist.

I think you are misinterpreting his point/taking it literally.

I think you are misinterpreting his point/taking it literally.[/quote]

I think he’s interpretting it as correctly as it could be, the problem is that history entails so so much more than just political systems. That’s a really narrow way to see the world, and I guess if that was all that one thought was interesting enough to record as history the world would be bland, but not for me.

In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history.

It definately isn’t the end of art or philosophy. If nothing else, Objectivism still hasn’t been implemented in any political system and it’s a fairly large movement. If anything, look at computer generated art. It’s still progressing and will continue to as technology progresses. Later we’ll have things like holographic art, etc.

well, there are times when I’m feeling rather pessimistic and believe that complete societal and moral decay will come within the next few decades :wink: .

I seriously doubt that western/US philosophy will be dominan’t “forever,” or even for a significantly longer period of time. The US will lose its dominance, but the government probably won’t realize until long after it has overextended itself.

As for the “end of history,” I find that pretty absurd. Granted, I do think there will be an increased stratification between “creatives/innovators” and the “I don’t give a #$#$'s” Inevitably, there’ll be some measure of “homogenization” due to globalization and intercommunication, but extrapolating that to predicting the “end of history” is going too far. Besides, if humanity ever gets into space, it’s going to diversify at an exponential rate :slight_smile:

from a technical standpoint, we’re always at the end of history. Since “Now” takes up no space on a timeline (much like a point in euclidean geometry), everything is in the past, basically.

“There is no future; only today.”

Basically what that’s saying (i think) is that even if you could travel to the future, it would still be “now” to you, and since time is relative to the observer…

I hope i make some sense to you all, maybe in the morning i can think more clearly about this

oh, and we’re already growing exponentially, kind of. for example, one couple has two kids, each of those forms their own couple and has two kids, etc. etc.

Now you guys are just nitpicking and getting into semantics pissfights.

Is this the end of history?

Human history is at its end if there are no humans anymore.
We live in times of changes, our anchestors lived in times of changes, and our children will live in times of changes. Changes of livestyles, political systems, social systems, economical systems. You can see it each and every day all over the word. Changes means history.

The end of the Evolution of Consciousness?

Yep, as far as we know the future.

Is liberal democracy the ‘final idea’?

Which kind of liberal democracy ?

Interesting topic NateTG

I guess it depends on how you define “history”. You seem to suggest that Hegel defined it as a ‘story’ with a direction and an endpoint.

From a ‘commonsense’ point of view, as long as human beings exist, there will always be history. Events, population movements economic disasters, wars etc etc.

I’ve not read anything by Hegel, so I’m simply going on your opening paragraph. This suggests that Hegel provided a fairly linear view. Alternatively, you can think of the worlds population (and indeed the world as a whole) as a dynamic system which is in constant flux and change. Possibly in some sort of equilibrium, possibly not. Think chaos theory and apply it to world population dynamics. Is not history simpy a socially constructed document which charts and describes these changes in socially and politically motivated ways?

I can’t see an end to history unless we all get wiped out. I think that over the coming decades, the big challenges will be about both the environment (provided we haven’t messed it up beyond repair) and population growth and expansion. I read some work by Peter Drucker who reckons that population growth and decline is going to be a major factor in coming years.

Some world population stats for the interested:

Its particularly interesting that the combined population of India and China represents more than a third of the entire world population.

What I’m seeing here is a general misunderstanding of the broader concept of Hegel’s work.

“History” is not what you learned in high school. It is the evolution of idea. Ideas form empires, revolutions, cultures, art, social structures, values, everything that defines human life. History is the gradual elimination of contradictions to human need, to reach the final definition; the final regime that satisfies human need.

“Liberal democracy” does not mean the particular establishment we see today–whether that be European, Asian, or North American. It means the ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity; which are common to all of these. It means positivism. It means pluralism. It means the defeat of nationalism. It means pacification. Regardless of the current administration, liberal democracy holds the same basic premises. When Hegel talks about history, he talks about history with a capital H. Big history. History like the Roman Empire. History like the Protestant Reformation. History like the Enlightenment. History like the French Revolution. History like World War 2. History like the Cold War.

With the defeat of Communism and Fascism, we ask: Is there any remaining contradiction to human need (which is the driving force of History) that cannot be resolved within the context of liberal democracy, and thus giving History the fuel to continue?

Of course anyone realizes that time will continue to pass, and we will always have history with a small h. But it will be irrelevant history. The changing of administrations, of irrelevant internal policies. And that will be the perputual role of man. Endless economic calculations, simply maintaining the system, the “endless solving of technical problems.”

The driving force of History, as I said, is the conflict of ideas to overcome opposition to the fulfilling of human need. That means conflict. Big conflict. Not partisan politics. This is so much more than politics. It is the all-encompassing human consciousness.

What we have is the agreement that the ideals of liberal democracy are the ultimate ideas. Art is the expression of ideas. With the death of new ideas comes the death of art. I am not talking about technical art. I am talking about real art. With the universal homogenous state comes the death of philosophy. It has no purpose if these are the final ideas. The driving force of History has been satiated.

What does this future hold for humanity? Nietzsche’s last men? Who have manufactured for themselves a nausiating happines? Complacency? Mediocrity?

Or is this something we should embrace? Will it be within this context that humanity flourishes?

One last point: The most incredible leaps of human accomplishment in the realms of art, philosophy and science have taken place during times of conflict. Whether it be physical war, or the war of ideas, conflict spurs human ingenuity.

Whether you reply to this thread or not, I believe this is a vital discussion in a regime where the burden of governance is placed upon the many. But I encourage replies. The exchanging of ideas is something that is slowly fading away.

I agree with some of you that there will always be history. There will be no human history unless the human race is altogether wiped out. Where there’s information, there will always be history.

Now, I have never read any of Hegel’s works. From the first message, it sounds like Hegel’s point of view that he has been witnessing (from his own time) the end of the world as he knows it. I can totally understand that viewpoint.

Recalling that the “Dark Ages” I remembered reading is to suggest that there had been a lack of flow of information. How information spread during the Roman Empire is different from during the Dark Ages.

Firstly, there had been an abundance of scripts, stories (including histories, third-person accounts of events, plays, etc.), architecture (which usually depicts visual events of great progress from the perception of the Roman Empire), philosophy. In addition, the dissemination of information had been achieved through battles (conquering lands outside of Rome) and establishing trade with other countries. Everyone within the sphere of influence of the Roman Empire had been literate. Majority of the citizens of Rome can access available information. That’s the time that the people of the Roman Empire has known it. Until when the Empire declined.

Secondly, the Dark Ages had some information spread throughout the lands of Europe. This was when Christianity had been becoming dominant in people’s way of life. Majority of the people during this time had been illiterate. Information had been produced under a selected group of people (namely the monks in monasteries). Codices, artworks had been produced under the authority of the Church and the Lords. Not a lot of people could have access to these forms of information. If people were affluent, they could go to the university or they had to go to Church where the sermon is read out or had to depend on plays or travelling minstrels for news of events. That’s the world that people of the Dark Ages have known it. Until when Gutenberg got the printing press working.

Now, fast forward to the present.

We have been living in a period where information is at its most abundant! The internet is the prime example. We can access information (news, sports, entertainment, etc.) in real-time; ahead of conventional news outlets (magazines, newspapers, etc.). We are even watching TV shows (especially those imported from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Japan, etc. We have been witnessing the rapid development of technologies at record speed. Not only that, we have been absorbing different ideals, theories, new lifestyles (homosexuality, “metrosexuals”), movements (feminism, the 1960s, the politically-correct movement, globalization, etc) during the 20th century. There are so many things that I could point out. We have been living in accordance to the 20th century. Altogether, this is the world as we know it.

Now we are at the crossroads where there are events which will shape this century.

Remember the major events which has changed each century:

World War I swept away “19th century thinking/lifestyle” and ushered in the 20th century (in 1919). The dominance of Great Britain as a power during the 1800s had waned; United States became ascendant as a power.

Napoleonic War swept away “18th century thinking/lifestyle” and brought in the 19th century (in 1815). Great Britain has ascended as a great power; France as a power during the 1700s had declined (the Enlightenment at its apex; the French Revolution in 1789).

And so on …

As most of you have pointed out that there will be challenges which I agree: environmental changes, social changes, economic changes and political changes. So far, we are witnessing those changes: the Middle-East; results of American foreign policies (especially in Iraq, and Afghanistan); the growing dominance of the European Union, India and China. To some degree, we also are witnessing the transition to the 21st century (I don’t know what, maybe you guys know). I believe that what is happening right now is going to create an event so big that it will sweep away the 20th century as we have known and grew up in.

Now, the United States is a major, influential power in the world. We are witnessing its decline (its huge debt from the war on terror). However, China and India are ascending world, influential powers. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism (which could unify the Islamic world and produce a formidable league). Where are we going from here? That’s the real question for all of us…

So far, the year 2020 looks like a magic number for change. :smiley:

It will not happen until it happens.

I don’t think you can isolate ‘human need’ as easily as that phrase makes out in the singular form. Humans have many different needs and desires for certain things to be a certain way. That’s why we have different cultures. If there was an all-encompassing common human need, we would have reached it long ago.

I don’t believe that human ideological evolution can reach an end. I also don’t think that liberal democracy is the ideal situation if that’s what we have now. There can’t be a decent implementation of it because some people will always abuse the system for personal gain.

What we have now isn’t even a democracy (according to the definition of majority rules). We have an elected dictatorship where a small minority of people govern a huge majority of the population (that is a definition of democracy I don’t like).

If 80% of America doesn’t want to go to war, f*ck them. When the head honcho gives the call, war starts. IMO that is not a democracy. I would say it’s liberal though because people are able to express their disgust openly.

Another example is that of human rights legislation, which allows innocent people to get a fair trial but it also allows rapists and murderers to receive less punishment than they deserve.

When you create a system that tries to have a one rule fits all in a diverse culture such as the human race, there will always be major problems. That’s why the western ideology doesn’t go down well in places like Iraq and people will die trying to protect the system they feel is right. There is a constant battle going on between people who want complete freedom (some would want child sex, bestiality to be legal) and complete repression (religious fundamentalists fall into this category). Western society today tries to be somewhere in between - I reckon closer to complete freedom. However, I think somewhere along the line we did something very wrong.

We now have a system that lets 5 year olds say f*ck off (freedom) to their teacher but doesn’t let the teacher reprimand the child (oppression). Before we had a system where a teacher could give the child a decent reprimand (freedom) but it might have been for something so minor as not being dressed properly (oppression).

I’m not sure which is better. What seems to be happening is a sliding scale is being tweaked to suit all. The closer we get, the less work needs to be done. Trouble is that people keep pushing too far. Feminists get rights, some want to oppress men. Black people get rights and some use those rights to oppress white people. As the great Homer J. Simpson once said: “democracy doesn’t work”

What does this future hold for humanity? Nietzsche’s last men? Who have manufactured for themselves a nausiating happines? Complacency? Mediocrity?

Or is this something we should embrace? Will it be within this context that humanity flourishes?

I see you refer to our state as a step towards positivity. I disagree. I think people are still unhappy. People today look eagerly for quick fixes to their mundane lives - drugs, alcohol, sex, money. Because society now has nothing to fight for/against, we do have mediocrity and that’s bad because as I said, people then look for quick fixes and have a selfish, stubborn attitude.

If I asked what the American Dream was, would anyone have said:

“The hope Americans have for a better quality of life and a higher standard of living than their parents’.”

I reckon today’s translation would be more along the lines of an individual getting as much money, sex or general personal pleasure that can be gotten from life and to hell with everyone else who doesn’t. At one time, the general idea might have been to work hard so that everyone has a better quality of life.

What we have is the agreement that the ideals of liberal democracy are the ultimate ideas. Art is the expression of ideas. With the death of new ideas comes the death of art.

Perhaps why so many things these days are parodies of old ideas or are just plain stupid. On the whole, I’m not sure if art can live forever. We only have limited means of expression so if we use them all up, how can anything be new or art in the sense you mean? That’s why ‘artists’ these days produce things with sh*t smeared over it or any kind of rubbish.

That’s why I choose to define art as the means of expressing emotions/ideas through various media. Good art is when this is done effectively. That way art never dies.

One last point: The most incredible leaps of human accomplishment in the realms of art, philosophy and science have taken place during times of conflict. Whether it be physical war, or the war of ideas, conflict spurs human ingenuity.

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Without a need to make things better, we reach a staleness. I don’t think that war/conflict (whatever form) is the only aid to human ingenuity. Personal Computers were developed from 1984-2004. No major conflict in there and yet the home computer is probably the greatest human achievement of all time.

I agree that conflict helps ideas to flourish but I think money is a good incentive too.

Not surprising though.

“History” is not what you learned in high school.

yes it is.

If you are saying “I / Hegel thinks history is not the same as what you learned in high school”, then thats ok by me.

History is the gradual elimination of contradictions to human need, to reach the final definition; the final regime that satisfies human need.

So is this is part of Hegel’s definition? NateTG, if you take a look around the world, do you think that we are close to living in a world society which “satisfies human need”? Unless I’m mistaken, people are starving in many places in the world and the proportion of people below the poverty line is enormous.

With the defeat of Communism and Fascism,

If I look around the world, are you saying I will not encounter fascism?

oh and err… China. What political system exists there? And what proportion of the world population lives in China?

Of course anyone realizes that time will continue to pass, and we will always have history with a small h. But it will be irrelevant history.

Population growth + world climate change = irrelevant history with a small ‘h’?

Art is the expression of ideas.

is it?

With the death of new ideas comes the death of art.


One last point: The most incredible leaps of human accomplishment in the realms of art, philosophy and science have taken place during times of conflict. Whether it be physical war, or the war of ideas, conflict spurs human ingenuity.

what’s your point?

One has to be careful in discussions such as these not to get so lost in the abstract world of concepts that one loses sight of what the concepts are supposed to be describing.