63 pages 2 hours read

Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1992

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Part 5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5: “The Last Man”

Chapter 27 Summary and Analysis: “In the Realm of Freedom”

The final section of The End of History and the Last Man is focused on that very proverbial last man. In the previous sections, the author demonstrated that history is unidirectional, that technological progress is essential, and that the world tends toward liberal democracies. However, liberal democracies are not without their problems, including social inequalities, homelessness, crime, and substance abuse. At the very least, the end of history could mean “the end of wars and bloody revolutions” (310). But democracy has its own discontents.

In Chapter 27, Fukuyama returns to the question of a “trans-historical standard” which he raised earlier in the book. This standard is meant to establish an ideal human being (“man as man”) against which liberal democracies could be measured (288). It remains to be seen whether liberal democracies could truly meet one’s “desire for recognition” (288). One of the key problems with establishing a safe and secure society of material abundance, according to the author, is having the pendulum swing too far in the other direction. If historic societies involved much bloodshed and cruelty, then one of the dangers of an advanced liberal democracy is the “last men.”

These last men, to use Friedrich Nietzsche’s term from Thus Spake Zarathustra, are passive and even nihilistic.