Francis Fukuyama, the famous author of "End of History" has recently come out with an essay titled "The Future of History" which sees challenges to liberal democracy given the vast inequalities and fundamentalist embrace of neo-classical economics.
That's about where it stops being serious. The rest are statements which ought to baffle anyone who reads it, Fukuyama himself most of all.
So let's examine some real winners:
Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators.Lets step back for a second, he is actually saying that the Occupy movement has had less impact or attendance than the Tea Party movement. Notice this wasn't written in 2011, it was written last February.
It's almost not even worth comparing:
* In October of last year there were an estimated 600 Occupy communities in the United States, including every major city, which had to be evicted to stop, unlike the Tea Party which held 3 hour rallies.
* At it's height, during the Global October 15th protest, over a million (if not a couple million) people around the world participated, something the Tea Party couldn't even hope to accomplish.
* For a direct comparison lets take the Wisconsin protests, at it's height there were several thousand tea parties counter-protesters compared to 100,000 anti-Walker protests.
What's odd about this supposed swell in right-wing politics is it serves no purpose in the article. He basically drops the topic, which at best is supposed to show that "old narratives" of too much free market fundamentalism still exist.
But Fukuyama goes further when describing the "problem" of the left:
But the deeper reason a broad-based populist left has failed to materialize is an intellectual one. It has been several decades since anyone on the left has been able to articulate, first, a coherent analysis of what happens to the structure of advanced societies as they undergo economic change and, second, a realistic agenda that has any hope of protecting a middle-class society.Apparently he's never heard of Noam Chomsky, Gar Alperovitz, Michael Albert or Thomas Ferguson, scholars who have not only sought to explain what is happening but what can be done about it.
So why are incomes stagnating (which at least he admits is happening)?
[T]he benefits of the most recent waves of technological innovation have accrued disproportionately to the most talented and well-educated members of society.This phenomenon helped cause the massive growth of inequality in the United States over the past generation. In 1974, the top one percent of families took home nine percent of GDP; by 2007, that share had increased to 23.5 percent.Yes technology, not the free flow of capital which has allowed outsourcing, technology is the reason everyone is losing their jobs and wages are going down.
Trade and tax policies may have accelerated this trend, but the real villain here is technology...
First, lets dispel the myth that "financial wizards or software engineers" as he puts it, are the richest and "most talented" of society.
As Paul Krugman points out the vast majority of the wealth generated by the top 1 percent is overwhelmingly by non-financial managers, that is, bosses and CEOs of large companies. The so called "financial wizards or software engineers" (taken rather generously) only make up 21.4% of the group.
That being said, as numerous scholars have pointed out, the reason for the inequality has been among other things, deregulation and policies that favor the wealthy, not a couple of wiz kids that benefited off the new technology.
So what's the point of the article? Quite literally, it's that the end of history is still true but we need a strong middle class and not be so fanatical about free markets. That's it.
In fact, it's not even clear that "end of history" of global liberal democracy is threatened by market fundamentalism, he just makes it a point to say it's bad.
And for whatever reason, he felt the need to shove in as many outdated talking points and flat out false assertions as possible. If Fox News were smarter at doing their jobs they would book Fukuyama as much as possible.