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The end of ‘End of History’.

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

In the last 12000 years, humankind has evolved by leaps and bounds. The Hunter-gatherers of the millenniums gone by have come a long way. From the settled phase of agriculture to factory line production, today we are staring at a future that will be characterised by artificial intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning and internet of things. The future is knocking at our doors.

The evolving modes of production over the years have in turn impacted the other facets of our lives. The way we organise our societies and our polities has been a consequence of the way we have organised our economic systems. Every age corresponding to its mode of production, that is slavery, feudalism, capitalism, welfare-capitalism, have all been identified with some or the other grand idea of organising our lives.

Prior to the revolutions in the West ( Glorious 1688, American 1776 and French 1789) the world was organised on the grand idea of divine kingship and an undisputed hegemony of religion. By 1939, there were three competing grand ideas, these were - fascism, communism and liberalism. With the end of World War Two, fascism was out of the race leaving behind two grand ideas competing for global domination, these were communism and liberalism. With the collapse of USSR in early 1990s Communism was relegated to the dustbin of history. By the turn of the millennium there was one meta-narrative, which was liberalism. Free market economy and democratic polity were claimed to be the best ways of organising our economy and polity respectively. Liberalism was seen as the end of man’s ideological evolution. The victory of liberalism was claimed to be the end of history.

The global financial crisis of 2008 shook the roots of global capitalism. Come 2016, the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump as the President of USA rocked the boat of political liberalism. Hence both the economic and political foundations of liberalism took a serious hit. The project of globalisation started its reversal. All types of walls- concete, tariff walls as well as firewalls started gaining currency. Liberalism is sailing in rough seas, with the chances of capsizing just lurking around the corner. Covid-19 can be considered as the capitulation of liberalism with its chief protagonists missing in their effective response as well as in the role of global leadership.

Today it can be said that there is no grand idea. It is elusive. We humans don’t have any idea to look up to. There is a palpable uncertainty, a fear of the unknown, anarchy, a disorder, confusion, chaos and crisis. We can no longer make sense of the world around us and its changing dynamics. The onslaught of radical political Islam in the form of ISIS (a feature of theological/religious supremacy) Growing number of protests (a feature of communist politics), the election of right-wing leaders (a feature of fascist politics) as well as some semblance of belief in free markets and democracy (the ideas of liberal politics) are coexisting uneasily. It is but a toxic cocktail. To say that the end of history has postponed would be an understatement. It is without an iota of doubt that the end of history debate has ended.

With rapid advancements in technology and development of cutting edge technologies in the biological stream, we are staring at a future with human beings and animals designed to be custom made and machines with their intelligence playing a major role and influencing the way we go about in our lives.

With no grand idea in place in face of such radical technological changes, the future looks bleak, more like a dystopia. With no informed thought, theory or explanation, the negative fallouts are spilling over in other streams. For instance, today our politicians or administrators are far behind their technology counterparts (engineers, scientists etc) in their professional evolution. The impact is visible in the glaring lacunae in the legislations which seek to control or regulate technological advances. As an example till today the Indian government has not come up with a privacy policy, though the technologies are changing day in day out. The law is not keeping pace with the changing technology. It is trailing many steps behind with the distance increasing in geometric progression. The Elon Musks or Zuckerbergs of today are not waiting for the laws, rules and regulations to catch up.

The need of the hour is for the philosophers, thinkers, theoreticians, social scientists, universities etc to work for another grand idea which conforms with the world of the 21st century and makes sense of it. This is not to repudiate the wisdom of common folk. Any idea from anywhere must be appreciated and put to practice if it makes sense. Common men acting in concert to dwell on something new rather than fighting each other in defence of the indefensible anachronistic ideologies would be the best way out.

Until and unless we devise something reassuring there is no end to the predicament of the present world. The world today needs people who can think out of the box. We need to think big, think fast and think unconventionally. There can be no end of History until and unless these difficult questions having existential significance are addressed logically, scientifically and coherently, giving us humans the much needed reassurance.





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