March 22: the end of history and a pint of beer

Twenty-five years ago Francis Fukuyama wrote his essay on the end of history. Communism was on the way out and Capitalism had won. I remember heads of the European Union talking about the construction of Europe, monetary union and greater political integration as a historical inevitability. I have friends with backgrounds in literature who have stopped reading at Samuel Beckett, believing the discourse that the dribbling away of the Beckettian voice into silence is the final outcome of fiction; all gibbering diminishing into silence.

And yet life goes on. History goes on. New ideologies spring up (religious or social). There is no inevitability about Europe. Even at the time I remember shaking my head at the outdated and unhealthy notion of inevitability expressed by someone who must have had no conception of what history actually lands you with, and it isn’t inevitabilities. And writers go on writing. People go on gibbering. Sorry if that’s all it is, but if it’s all it is now, it’s all it ever was. And those other plotters of our destiny, the economists, have been proved to have no clue about inevitabilities either!

The fact is that all this teleological fetishism about the end and the inevitable are in flagrant contradiction of the facts that go on all around us; people living, plotting, striving, engaging, having a pint of beer. Shakespeare knew that things don’t end; there are no conclusions. At the end of his history plays , his tragedies, the seeds of the next new tragedy are there. A new king is on the throne and he ain’t perfect either and there’s this younger nephew with ambition in his eyes. A serious mind will find  it is impossible to predict his own next action or instinct, let alone the end of Fukuyama history. 

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