On the Political Self-rehabilitation of The Neo-Conservatives: Francis Fukuyama on Putin, in The Financial Times

Political Observer comments.

I woke up last night, several times, to the sound of thunder overhead and the fact that it was raining in San Diego , after days of near summer temperatures …

It is Friday March 4, 2022, and usually a time when all those ‘pundits’ of Corporate Media, give way to their seconds . To my amazement The Financial Times has posted on Thursday this essay by Francis Fukuyama in it’s ‘Life and Arts’ section…

Headline: Francis Fukuyama: Putin’s war on the liberal order

Sub-headline: Democratic values were already under threat around the world before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now we need to rekindle the spirit of 1989


This is the first time that I can recall when a ‘Guest Writer’ has won headline status!

The Reader confronts the ‘Fukuyama Method’ in his first bloated paragraph:

‘The horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has been seen as a critical turning point in world history. Many have said that it definitively marks the end of the post-cold war era, a rollback of the “Europe whole and free” that we thought emerged after 1991, or indeed, the end of The End of History.’

The Reader might recall the images of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, if she were to inconveniently recall the propaganda of the Corporate Media. The Images of Abu Ghraib torture, and the psychologists that practiced that regime of torture, the use of White Phosphorus on Fallujah … The list of American Crimes in its ‘War on Terror’ have been subject to the exercise of self-forgetting:

Headline: At Least 37 Million People Have Been Displaced by America’s War on Terror

Sub-headline: A new report calculates the number of people who fled because of wars fought by the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

This, as the in order too of blame placing onto Putin, as the current Enemy of Humanity. Putin acts like an American President has acted in the Post-War World – this time using the Cold War antique of NATO as its, what to name it? Biden has declared that the U.S. nor NATO will take part in a ‘defence of Ukraine’ but will use ‘Sanctions’ as its weapon.

Mr. Fukuyama then quotes Ivan Krastev, who is part of the George Soros funded Open Societies Foundation. Mr. Soros was one of the funders of the 2014 Ukrainian Coup. Should The Reader exercises her critical faculties to make note of Mr. Fukuyama’s sources?

The Reader might consider thinking about two important questions before proceeding: that in the almost or near Post-Trump era, wishful thinking or no. The Neo-Conservatives have experienced, or more frankly are conducting their own political rehabilitation, as the not so potent toxin, they once were in relation to the Trump antipolitical politics.

The Impeachment of Trump ex post facto, rehearsed by the hysterical Adam Schiff, presented two new Neo-Conservative personalities to American audiences: Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill. Such was the beginning of the project of political rehabilitation of The Neo-Conservatives. The Impeachment Trail, after the fact was failed political theatre, but Hill and eventually Vindman have added a bit of life to the shopworn Kristol, The Kagans, and the New York Times’ David Brooks and Bret Stephens. Stephen Hayes hired by NBC, and David Frum at CNN now add Neo-Conservative voices to Corporate Media, a signal that that political rehabilitation is in process? Not to forget that Liz Cheney has become the ‘voice’ of the Anti-Trump Republicans. Is my rhetorical framing near to the mark? Mr. Fukuyama’s essay awaits!

From this sentence : ‘ There is no question that the Russian assault has implications that reach way beyond the borders of Ukraine.’ to this sentence ‘There is no question that the Russian assault has implications that reach way beyond the borders of Ukraine.’ Mr. Fukuyama considers Putin. The remainder of his essay considers the fate of The Liberal World Order . All of this accomplished in a brief 2507 words! Note that Mr. Fukuyama’s source used in his essay is Freedom House:

Primary funding for Freedom House’s programs comes in the form of grants from USAID and U.S. State Department, as well as from other democratic governments—Canada, the EU, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden—and from private foundations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.


Mr. Fukuyama provides sub-headings for his essay:

What is Liberalism?

After reading Mr. Fukuyama’s definition, I would suggest that The Reader should consult ‘Liberalism A Counter-History’by Domenico Losurdo:


How Liberalism evolved into something illiberal:

The body of this topic is about The Neo-Liberals, Fukuyama opines ‘On the right, the economic liberalism of the early postwar years morphed during the 1980s and 1990s into what is sometimes labelled “neoliberalism”.’ Having dismissed the notion/practice of Neo-Liberalism, he then praises ‘Liberals’:

Liberals understand the importance of free markets — but under the influence of economists such as Milton Friedman and the “Chicago School”, the market was worshipped and the state increasingly demonised as the enemy of economic growth and individual freedom. Advanced democracies under the spell of neoliberal ideas began trimming back welfare states and regulation, and advised developing countries to do the same under the “Washington Consensus”. Cuts to social spending and state sectors removed the buffers that protected individuals from market vagaries, leading to large increases in inequality over the past two generations.

The questions that Fukuyama avoids at all costs: The Neo-Liberals believe in The Strong State as the Protector/Guardian of the hallowed ‘Free Market’. The Straussians believe in The Strong State as the guarantee that they retain power over the lesser beings of the polity, whom they think they govern by fiat, or in reductivist terms, example. Fukuyama thinks himself one of these Self-Elected Platonic Guardians: his status as the political temperature taker of the Post-Soviet World, in sixteen pages cemented in his mind his status as one of those Guardians. The use of Hegel was inspired. Hegel, next to Heidegger as a kind of Seer, that appealed to the intellectual vanity of the American Provincials, who tasted the toxin of The World Historical as presented by one of their own! Fukuyama adopts the role of The Voice of Political Reason, in the contest of the ideas in The Political Present:

On both the right and the left, foundational liberal ideas were pushed to extremes that then eroded the perceived value of liberalism itself. Economic freedom evolved into an anti-state ideology, and personal autonomy evolved into a “woke” progressive worldview that celebrated diversity over a shared culture. These shifts then produced their own backlash, where the left blamed growing inequality on capitalism itself, and the right saw liberalism as an attack on all traditional values.

The global context:

Liberalism is valued the most when people experience life in an illiberal world. The doctrine itself arose in Europe after the 150 years of unremitting religious warfare that followed the Protestant Reformation. It was reborn in the wake of Europe’s destructive nationalistic wars of the early 20th century. A liberal order was institutionalised in the form of the European Union, and the broader global order of open trade and investment created by US power. It received a big shot in the arm between 1989 and 1991 when communism collapsed and the peoples living under it were freed to shape their own futures.

What follows this is a list of The Villains of The American National Security State:

Russia, China, Syria, Venezuela, Iran and Nicaragua with special attention to Nicolás Maduro!

The spirit of 1989 isn’t dead

Mr. Fukuyama does not know the value of brevity, so he rambles on, an old Straussian gambit, to exhaust The Reader’s patience and resolve!

The travails of liberalism will not end even if Putin loses. China will be waiting in the wings, as well as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and the populists in western countries. But the world will have learnt what the value of a liberal world order is, and that it will not survive unless people struggle for it and show each other mutual support. The Ukrainians, more than any other people, have shown what true bravery is, and that the spirit of 1989 remains alive in their corner of the world. For the rest of us, it has been slumbering and is being reawakened.

Are ‘The travails of liberalism’ or ‘true bravery’ a substitute for ‘the Spirit of 1989’ ? Look to Andre Voznesensky’s book of 1978, Nostalgia for the Present :

Nostalgia for the present

I don’t know about the rest of you,
but I feel the cruelest
nostalgia -not for the past-
but nostalgia for the present.

A novice desires to approach the Lord
but is permitted to do so only by her Superior.
I beg to be joined, without intermediary,
to the present.

It’s as if I had done something wrong,
Not I even –but others.
I fall down in a field and feel
nostalgia for the living earth.

No one can ever tear you away,
and yet when I embrace you again
I feel overcome by terrible pain
as if you were being stolen from me.

When I hear the nasty tirades
of a friend who has taken a false step,
I don’t look for what he seems to be,
I grieve for what he really is.

A window opening on a garden
will not redeem loneliness.
I long not for art –I choke
on my craving for reality.

And when the Mafia laughs in my face
idiotically, I say:
“Idiots are all in the past. The present
calls for fuller understanding.”

Black water spurts from the tap,
Brackish water, stale water,
rusty water flows from the tap – I’ll wait
for the real water to come.

Whatever is past is past. So much the better.
But I bite at it as at a mystery,
nostalgia for the impending
And I’ll never catch hold of it.

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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