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New Left Review I/193, May-June 1992

Ralph Miliband

Fukuyama and the Socialist Alternative

Since Francis Fukuyama’s essay takes up some key themes from his book The End of History and the Last Man, I think it would be useful for the purposes of this symposium [*] These comments were made at a Symposium convened in Washington, D.C., on 3 April 1992, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. The comments are to appear in a special issue of the Journal of Democracy in July 1992 and we are grateful for permission to reproduce them here. if I were to focus part of my comments on that work itself. [1] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, London and New York 1992. All page references to this work are given in the text. The core of Fukuyama’s argument is that there is no satisfactory alternative to what he calls liberal democracy (I prefer to call it capitalist democracy). The main challenge to capitalist democracy in this century, he says, was Soviet-style Communism, which has now revealed itself to be a definite failure. Other alternatives of one sort or another—fascism, various forms of rightist authoritarianism, or Iranian-style theocracy—remain possible, but they are infinitely less satisfactory than capitalist democracy, and do not in any case correspond to the march of history. The future belongs to capitalist democracy, which represents, in Fukuyama’s words, ‘the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution’ and the ‘final form of human government’ (p. xi). ‘Left-wing critics of liberal democracies,’ he also claims, ‘are singularly lacking in radical solutions to over-coming the more intractable forms of inequality’ (p. 293, emphasis in the original).

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