Thursday, November 10, 2016

Christian Realism: An Honest man without God—the Dilemma of Francis Fukuyama [part 2]

[This is the concluding segment of David Pence's analysis of Francis Fukuyama].

In his afterword (to The End of History and the Last Man ) published 17 years later, Professor Fukuyama looks at his thesis and still holds that history has an end and the system that best offers the twin principles of liberty and equality will hail that end. What Hegel saw when that "great soul of the world" Napoleon bestrode a horse at Jena (October 1806) was a living manifestation that the monarchies were defeated, and Liberty and Equality vindicated. Mr. Fukuyama saw a continuation of the historical march toward the triumph of Liberty and Equality in the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Another of his teachers, Samuel Huntington, predicted that out of the bipolar Cold War would emerge a clashing of civilizations. The West with its Enlightenment principles was one civilization among many. Fukuyama pays heed to his teacher but says they have one fundamental difference. Huntington believes that the "values and institutions" of the western Enlightenment "grew out of a European Christianity that will never take root outside the boundaries of that culture." Fukuyama sees that just as modern science grew out of a particular milieu but has been universalized, so with the institutions of liberal democracy. In the reappraisal of his thesis, Fukuyama grants that the nation state may remain the crucible for democracy rather than an international democratization. He does not see the Islamic revival as a religious refutation of his very secular paradigm. He agrees with French professor Oliver Roy (The Failure of Politicalized Islam; Globalized Islam: the search for a new Ummah)  that jihadist Islam is actually a political ideology. And while ideologies may shed blood, they will not prevail.

Fukuyama does grant a possible deficit with the triumph of  liberal democracy. Having attained the best form of polity, what kind of character will be favored? We may become well-fed animals—men without chests. We will recognize one another, but what kind of men will we have become? This is the problem of the "Last Man" in his title.


He deals with other misgivings  in subsequent books on Trust and The Great Disruption. Both deal with the formation of the social bonds necessary for democracy and some of the tendencies that break them down. In Trust he talks about the paradox of family values and the necessity to build trust beyond kinship ties. He introduces the notion of "wide radius" trust. This became a major theme of his encyclopedic world history book on the Origins of Political Order where he attributed the establishment of strong state institutions to the ability to move beyond social advancement by kinship (he called 'patrimony') to appointment by competence. Celibacy in the priesthood, Janissaries in the Muslim world, and civil service exams in China all move cultures beyond kinship to wider radii of trust. In The Great Disruption he saw individualism and the celebration of autonomy leading to the miniaturization of community. This, coupled with the social revolution in sex roles and technological revolution in birth control, disrupted the family as the first font of social cohesion. While larger political order is built on bonds other than family, the character built inside family stability is necessary for social order. Throughout these works on social capital, Fukuyama argues that the propensity for making rules to foster cooperation and sociability are inherent in human nature. And in the forward of The Great Disruption he translates the Latin epigram of Horace:

"You can throw out nature with a pitchfork,
But it always comes running back
And will burst through your foolish contempt in triumph."

The real quest of Francis Fukuyama is to tell the truth of "the whole of man." As Bloom said of him, "Fukuyama has introduced practical men to the necessity of philosophy now that ideologies are dead or dying." All of Mr. Fukuyama’s important teachers were atheists; and Mr. Bloom, whose last work was on love and friendship, was a homosexual. Mr. Huntington saw the West as an Anglo-Protestant culture. Maybe that is why the WASP professor didn’t think the West was as universal as his non-WASP student who was its defender. (Fukuyama is truly  a more global thinker than his Harvard teacher. His books on comparative political orders are unusually inclusive in treating China and India as pivotal States in the history of human development.)

Religion is treated by both teacher and student as a very powerful force which, like dynamite, can still blow things up but has been superseded in the modern nuclear age. Their disdain for nations and yet grudging recognition that they are not going anywhere should point them to their inadequate account of communal bonding and human nature. Fukuyama treats nations as irrational entities. "A political order based on Serbian ethnic identity or twelve Shi’ism will never grow beyond some miserable corner of the Balkans or Middle East…" He is kinder to "nations built on universal liberal principles." But he certainly does not ascribe the spiritual significance of the State and nation as a manifestation of the Absolute that Hegel felt so deeply in his bones.

The Harvard and Cornell and Chicago intellectuals have their disagreements. But together they do not believe in God. They have no understanding of the State or nation as a sacred male covenant under God that moves men well beyond kinship. There is no satisfactory treatment of the structure of public brotherly love which informs Apostolic Christianity. Even the French Revolution was clipped of its Trinitarian nature—liberty and equality were won by Fraternity. As good modern collegians, they do not speak of fraternity except as retrograde. That great soul on a horse, Napoleon, was buoyed by an army of men who loved him… and he loved them. The whole of man is not just about liberty and equality and being recognized. Man who was loved into existence is about loving in an orderly way and being loved back—that is the real root of man’s sociable nature that Fukuyama defends so eloquently, if incompletely. Just as surely the first seat of self-recognition is a mother’s gaze. And the next dozen events of social recognition are her willingness to decipher babble as speech and tripping as a first step. Thus, the utter social disaster of feminism—the true great disruption of nature that interrupted history. The betrayal of mother love for female autonomy was hinted at in a short chapter in The Great Disruption but, in obeisance to the inner feminist ever lurking in Ivy League males, no more was said.

Likewise, the treatment of thymos (or thumos) was divorced from its true basis in sociability -- the anger that virtuous men feel at injustice, not just toward individual rank but impiety to God or betrayal of country or desecration of a virgin. Thymos is the guarantee of social justice, not just personal esteem. It is a great contribution of Fukuyama to introduce thymos to those who have never heard of it. It elevates the discussion for "the practical man to hear from the philosopher." But the philosopher might want to learn from the theologian-philosopher if he really wants to give an account of "the whole man." Nicholas Lombardo’s The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion would be a good beginning for a fuller treatment. Dr. Fukuyama is a noble pagan who has thought about human nature and history in a much deeper way than all too many of our present-day Christian thinkers. He has corrected the brutal Hobbesian prescription of eternal war of the present day international "realists." They don’t understand his biological arguments well enough to know how well he has schooled them. In this era of religious wars and emasculated nations, however, we will need more than a noble pagan modulated by the feminist academia to explain human nature and the true end of history. Liberty and Equality without Love is no civilization at all. The dream of a West without religion or nations gives us men without chests and women without babies. Religious beings cannot rely on a pagan intellectual to appreciate the final social recognition that is the ultimate end of thymos. We seek to come face to face with the God who loved us into existence. We seek His approving gaze that will hold us forever in the state of love and communion. Just ask the martyrs and saints -- that is the ultimate social recognition.

(Note: I am still hoping someone will ask Professor Fukuyama if his father gave up Christianity for secular religious studies. Maybe we could enlist his great soul in the spiritual journey that goes in  the opposite direction.)

Fukuyama interview on End of History and Last Man in 1992 just after publishing.

Fukuyama in 'Conversations with History' -- an interview in 2011 with two decades of reflections on the book, subsequent books, and reactions.


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