- By Dan BlumenthalDan Blumenthal is the director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
In a thoughtful article, "The Bend of History," John Arquilla argues that the events of 2011 have proven that Francis Fukuyama was wrong about the "end of history." Therefore, Fukuyama’s analysis that democracy and free market capitalism have triumphed can be decisively put to rest.
According to Arquilla, Fukuyama had been observing merely a "bend in history": the end of a great historical clash between empires and nations. That clash has now finally resolved in favor of a new kind of conflict. According to Arquilla, "history" is not over, we are just witnessing a new epic unfold. This epic will be characterized by how nations deal with new "networks," from the protestors in Egypt to China’s alliances with hacker and criminal networks.
While the idea is thought provoking, it does not truly engage Fukuyama’s argument. Fukuyama was defining history in the Hegelian, philosophic sense. He argued that the mainspring of "history" is the basic desire for recognition by others of one’s freedom and equality as a human being. That desire is what drives a (fitful) democratic revolution.
In one of many responses to his critics Fukuyama wrote:
"In order to refute my hypothesis, then, it is not sufficient to suggest that the future holds in store large and momentous events. One would have to show that these events were driven by a systematic idea of political and social justice that claimed to supersede liberalism. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan — horrible as that would be for those countries — does not qualify, unless it somehow forced us to reconsider the basic principles underlying our social order."
In other words, the mere unfolding of large events, or struggles between or within nation states does not refute his thesis. Rather, a new systemic idea about the social order would have to emerge to really disprove Fukuyama. To date, none has. Al Qaeda’s ideology has no universal appeal. Even within the Muslim world, it is highly unattractive. It is certainly no competitor to liberal democracy as a means for humans to find recognition at the most profound level.
Neither have powerful nations such as China and Russia come up with an attractive systemic idea of political and social justice. The protests unfolding in both countries are in some sense caused by the failure to provide for the "basic human yearning for equal recognition." It is highly debatable that, as some argue, China has developed a new model of human organization around "State Capitalism" or a "Beijing Consensus" that is exportable to others. That "model" is not even attractive to the Chinese people. Indeed, it can be argued that Chinese government is fighting a rearguard action against the "end of history" — its people are finding more ways to satisfy their must human of yearnings, and the government will eventually give in or have to fall back on a very non-universalist ideology of power and coercion.
As the analyst Stanley Kurtz wrote:
"Fukuyama’s great accomplishment in "The End of History" is to establish that democratic rights and participation are fundamental ends in themselves, not mere epiphenomena of capitalism. Communist dictatorships and capitalist autocracies alike rob human beings of their dignity, and Fukuyama successfully shows how the growing turn toward democracy in both types of society is not simply a demand for wealth but, at the deepest level, an insistence upon equal personal dignity and recognition."
In some important ways, Arquilla actually bolster’s Fukuyama’s point. The new networks about which he writes more often than not have formed to fight dictatorships who have robbed people of their dignity. While the Arab Spring is still a process fraught with danger, at a fundamental level it is about people standing up for their basic rights. And, China is simply co-opting the "networks" Arquilla mentions to exercise state power in innovative ways.
Arquilla does not refute Fukuyama’s argument (despite the article’s provocative title). No one has developed a competing ideology that speaks to the human insistence on equal personal dignity and recognition. Standing in the way of liberal democracy are not competing ideologies, but rather hidebound traditions and particularistic state ideologies of power. Arquilla’s "new networks" employ technologically sophisticated strategies to either embrace or resist the "end of history."
John Arquilla earned his degrees in international relations from Rosary College (BA 1975) and Stanford University (MA 1989, PhD 1991). He has been teaching in the special operations program at the United States Naval Postgraduate School since 1993. He also serves as chairman of the Defense Analysis department.
Dr. Arquilla’s teaching interests revolve around the history of irregular warfare, terrorism, and the implications of the information age for society and security.
His books include: Dubious Battles: Aggression, Defeat and the International System (1992); From Troy to Entebbe: Special Operations in Ancient & Modern Times (1996), which was a featured alternate of the Military Book Club; In Athena’s Camp (1997); Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy (2001), named a notable book of the year by the American Library Association; The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror (2006); Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military (2008), which is about defense reform; Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World (2011); and Afghan Endgames: Strategy and Policy Choices for America’s Longest War (2012).
Dr. Arquilla is also the author of more than one hundred articles dealing with a wide range of topics in military and security affairs. His work has appeared in the leading academic journals and in general publications like The New York Times, Forbes, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Wired and The New Republic. He is best known for his concept of “netwar” (i.e., the distinct manner in which those organized into networks fight). His vision of “swarm tactics” was selected by The New York Times as one of the “big ideas” of 2001; and in recent years Foreign Policy Magazine has listed him among the world’s “top 100 thinkers.”
In terms of policy experience, Dr. Arquilla worked as a consultant to General Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm, as part of a group of RAND analysts assigned to him. During the Kosovo War, he assisted deputy secretary of defense John Hamre on a range of issues in international information strategy. Since the onset of the war on terror, Dr. Arquilla has focused on assisting special operations forces and other units on practical “field problems.” Most recently, he worked for the White House as a member of a small, nonpartisan team of outsiders asked to articulate new directions for American defense policy.| Rational Security |
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |