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Adam Kirsch
The Dawn of Politics « Back to Story

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p.s. Jarad Diamond is not a saint yet (he still has a few miracles to go), however, he was a teacher of mine and mind at RAND and has the ability to figure this out for the rest of the underlings.
Awe, but youth is but a perception. Nietzsche was quite right and still is. But it is thinking that is of most import. I am involved with the "Occupy San Diego" movement at the present. Not a bad thing; not a good thing. Just a thing.
Thank you Adam Kirsh
Well reasoned analysis
Fukuyama is still struggling
To find his way
Bruce Sterling too is looking
He seems to counter Fukuyama
With a concept called Atemporality
Which seems to be a more gestalt approach
That seeks to transcend the post modern view
East is East,
West is West,
Exceptionalism is the Best.
I want Fukuyama to collaborate with Jared Diamond and write a book.
Udo Dirkenschneider July 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM
Not having read Fukuyama's latest book, let me just make a couple of short points on the review.

a) There is plenty of evidence that Hobbes is right about the emergence of states -and super-groups more generally- as an answer to war and insecurity. When there is a vacuum in central power, there is a period of insecurity and war, until (as described by Nozick in Anarchy State and Utopia) a sovereign is established. This can be a King, a Mafioso, or a Warlord. We need PEACE before we can worry about anything else.

b) Hobbes is wrong about Human Nature - it does seem as if we are, as claimed by Aristotle, social animals. However, it does not detract from his justification/abstract genealogy of political political authority.

c) Yes, Darwinian evolution is aimless in one sense. But, as always emphasized by Spenser, it is still possible to think in terms of the more complex, the more viable, and so on. Certainly there is reason to think that the capacity to act in accordance with abstract principle and emotions like loyalty would be beneficial to a group, and that therefore it would thrive over more egotistic groups. In any case, to think that in the end the societies which respond to certain basic human dispositions would be more stable, and out-compete alternatives in the long run is not too optimistic a thought. In particular given globalization and free flow of information.
Lexington Green July 16, 2011 at 4:47 PM
Does this mean that America, a nation that refuses to abandon God and moral norms, is lagging behind in the march of history -- toward nihilism and the last man? Or does it mean that America remains on a path toward freedom because it has kept its purpose, and its compass?
Why doesn't Fukuyama have a sense self-knowledge of this trite glib unsound posturing? He sounds like the pope.
Mr. Kirsch,

Thank you for your well thought out and even handed review of Fukuyama's book. Yours is quite the best and most useful of the several reviews of the work that I've read. Well done.
An astute review, indeed, of more than a famous author's latest book, but rather of his entire intellectual trajectory. The basic flaw in Fukuyama's thinking is having taken Hegel seriously in the first place. At the turn to the 21st century it required a lack of serious scholarship to take Hegel seriously, as did Fukuyama in framing in Hegelian terms the very thesis that made him famous. The swiftest cure for an admiration for Hegel as a thinker is to read him, first hand, and not, as Fukuyama seems to have done, to get to know him second hand through a latter-day Hegelian like Kojève. Then, in apparent disappointment with Hegelian History as a guide to history, to turn to a new mentor in Darwin as a guide to politics is fraught with peril, and Fukuyama has apparently not avoided the pitfalls, to judge by this most informative review.
Shalom Freedman July 14, 2011 at 2:00 AM
This is another comprehensive and outstanding review from Adam Kirsch. It points to yet another instance in which a contemporary thinker overreaches by relying on Darwinian Evolution as basic explanatory principle for all aspects of reality. Fukuyama at least does this with solid argument and a degree of plausibility which is something which cannot be said for those using Darwinian ideas to 'interpret' works of Art and Literature.
print this off for records?
Excellent review.
Fukuyama claims that "a strong state, the rule of law, and accountable government" make for stable societies, but why obey laws without an individual benefit? Just pick and chose which you can get away with violating, no matter. For a more convincing reason for successful societies read Christopher Dawson's "Dynamics of World History". This author was once esteemed until the nihilistic 1960s came along and embraced Nietzsche. What killed Dawson's influence? Fashion and false believe in Scientism.
For a better understanding of Fukuyama's superficiality, readers might consult a masterly essay on Kojeve by Professor Stanley Rosen of BU, and especially his book, NIHILISM. I think Kirsch wrote excellently; but he is still young and perhaps these important sources are unknown to him. Rosen cut Kojeve to shreds before Fukuyama found and took him seriously, long before, I estimate.
Jascha Kessler, UCLA
Craig S. Maxwell June 09, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Yet another (equally lame) attempt to read Darwin's significance into politics? Thanks for the warning. Sounds like a good one to skip.
This is very fine indeed. I missed, however, any mention of Rousseau's First and Second Discourses.