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The last man

The idea of democracy and together with it the Western Capitalist model of economy as the end of history as postulated by Francis Fukuyama, (End of History and the Last Man) despite whatever counter arguments, remains among the most thought provoking and controversial theses that grew out of the political developments in the last part of the 20th Century, the most momentous of which was the end of the Cold War and the crumbling of the Eastern Bloc. The era of Marxism too virtually came to an end with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the opting of the free market economy by it former constituents and Communist allies, although we must add that even if the ideology failed as a political or economic model, it still remains a powerful and incisive tool for social analysis and literary communication. Communism as a political system may have seen its end, but we are of the opinion that it is destined to be survived by the vision it provided in understanding the very concept of social justice, and the influence the material world has on the inner drives that shape man`™s desires. It is also an irony of history that even if Communism has been discredited almost beyond salvation in the public spheres, at the very basic, individual level, the general understanding of a true democrat always seems to be someone with inclination towards the Left vision, who sees equality or at least non disparity in the status of religion, income, class etc as virtues, going a step beyond the other powerful alibi of democratic norms `“ that of equality before law.

On Fukuyama`™s contention of the free market democracy as the end of political evolution, we had already argued our points of differences on these same columns before. Much as we admire democracy, Fukuyama`™s Capitalist market model of democracy is too utopian, tending to overlook its many flaws. Developments in the Middle East, where this model of democracy was sought to be literally forced down the throats of the countries here as pills for all their ills, and the cataclysmic way this medicine is misfiring is just another reminder of this failure. We will not run the risk of repetition by arguing out the points again, but on the second point the American scholar makes `“ that of the liberal democrat as the last man, we are sufficiently provoked to make yet some more observations. Although not always for the same reasons as Fukuyama cites, we tend to agree that the liberal democrat, or for that matter any man espousing liberal thoughts, will be `the last man` for in him ceases all the tensions that make further growth not only desired but necessary. But the reality also seems to be, no society will allow a truly liberal democrat to go unchallenged. Our experience has been, the liberal man is always seen as a threat to any given society, and to counter him, there always have emerged a matching conservative group of thinkers and politicians.

We have seen this happen in Fukuyama`™s own ideal of a Capitalist democracy, America, where men like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King were gunned down. We have seen this happen in India too where liberals are so very often rebuked as `pseudo secularists` and `pseudo intellectuals`, we are seeing this happen in Manipur, where anybody who tries to look beyond the ethnic equations and identities are viewed with suspicion, and as someone who has been possibly bought over. The liberals are also always under pressure to prove their loyalty to the idea of their nation, and they are always left with the difficult task of doing this without subscribing to narrow nationalism. The question that is always thrown up in these circumstances is, is there anything as a larger national identity away from the more circumspect ethnic, religious, community identities. Perhaps the answer is also to be found in Fukuyama`™s own narrative of the ideal, liberal democrat. This man is defined as somebody who has overcome the demands of the Platonic Thymos, or the irrational human need to be recognized as essentially different, which is believed to be the motor behind social evolution. Giving up Thymos also would mean erasing the psychological boundaries that mark out one ethnic group from another, one religious community from another etc. The purely civic identity and citizenship that an ideal democracy seeks precisely this sacrifice. We all know what kind of opposition such a man anywhere would face and from where. For reasons that may in fact be a compliment to Fukuyama`™s liberal intents, his `last man` may never happen in this world, considering how zealously boundaries of religion and ethnicity are guarded even in the so called bastions of democracy.



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