This review essay examines two Hegelian responses to the unexpected collapse of communism, both published in 1992: The End of History by Francis Fukuyama and Civil Society and Political Theory by Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato. Fukuyama’s book famously predicted that the triumph of markets would lead to the end of armed conflict. Cohen & Arato celebrated the role of civil society activists in overthrowing communism, and proposed that first world progressives follow a similar path to reform. This review essay argues that Fukuyama’s interpretation of Hegel as a cold war liberal ignores Hegel’s warnings about the anomic and antisocial effects of unfettered markets unless softened by publicly subsidized empoyment, and civil society organizations. Fukuyama further ignores Hegel’s pessimistic argument that social welfare and civil association impair the allocative efficiency of markets, driving states into economic and military conflict. By contrast, Cohen & Arato recognize the deficit of recognition Hegel attributed to markets and the importance of civil society in filling it. Yet they also fail to acknowledge the extent of Hegel’s pessimism about the capacity of civil society alone to make up the deficit. According to Hegel, there is no substitute for meaningful work as a source of recognition, but providing everyone with meaningful work yields crises of over-production. The essay concludes by warning that the problem may survive the transiton from an industrial to a service academy, and that we may already be experiencing a crisis of over-production in the area of human capital.
Michigan Law Review
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.buffalo.edu/articles/292