Friday, November 21, 2014

The End of History?

commemorating the Czech Velvet Revolution
The phrase "The End of History" comes from an article and a book (The End of History and The Last Man) by political economist Francis Fukuyama.

After the revolutionary changes in eastern Europe begun in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama maintained that the defeat of Communism meant that there was only one triumphant political system left.

"What we may be witnessing," he wrote, "is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

In the early 21st century, after 9/11 and more recent events, his conclusions seem premature at best. ( Some even believe a new form of the Cold War is beginning.) But it was not this book that guided HSU's production of The End of History.  Most influential was The Darkness Crumbles: Despatches From the Barricades by BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson.

Simpson reported from Germany and eastern Europe as well as China in 1989.  (A series of his BBC reports revisiting 1989 are on the Internet.)

Both directors agree that this book was important to the final script.  Simpson's re-evaluations of events, reported optimistically but tempered by time, were especially valuable.

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