Predicting the End

Radix Journal has a lot to say about the end. The end of American military hegemony, the end of men, the end of Europe, the end of civilization, the end of the world, the end of Americanism, the end of the golden days, the end of conservatism, the end the end the end. In a way, it keeps with Richard Spencer’s half-joking goal of making Radix come off (at least to newcomers) as a website of the radical left as opposed to the radical right. If one goes to Adbusters (the anarchists behind Occupy Wall Street), there too you can find endless discussion of the end: the end of consumerism, the end of apathy, the end of childhood. There is a lot of overlap between Radix and Adbusters as well, believe it or not, Adbusters talks about the end of western civilization as well.

Meanwhile, neither National Review nor Harper’s talk much about the end. They talk much more about the next election (whichever one that might be), which is something that is talked about very little on either Radix or Adbusters. This serves as a good example of the horseshoe theory, which claims that both ends of the political spectrum curve and begin to approach one another, making radicalism of the left and right more related than either is to its centrist version. It is worth keeping this in mind while observing that the center is moving along squabbling amongst itself, while each extreme can’t stop talking about the end.

Why the end? The answer comes with noting the only “end” the center has considered for the last 25 years: Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History thesis. In short, Prof. Fukuyama claimed that with the end of the Cold War came the end of history itself — in the Hegelian sense. In the realm of fulfilling man spiritually, democratic capitalism had vanquished its last foe, and from here on out it was about fine-tuning the system. All big questions were answered, now it was just a matter of getting the policies right. It is not difficult to understand why the mainstream fell in love with this idea.

For everyone outside the center, the thesis served as a kind of terrifying joke. It is easy to dismiss Prof. Fukuyama and his believers as suffering from presentism, as many have, and it is easy to mock his neoconservatism, as many have. However, there is also a sense of yearning in both Radix and Adbusters for Prof. Fukuyama to be proven wrong in one fell swoop, for something inescapably fantastic or horrific to happen very suddenly that would inarguably render the argument mute. After all, for those who hate democratic capitalism, what could be more unsettling than suspecting it was invincible? An eternity of alienated labor, enforced multiculturalism, bourgeoisie exploitation, and last men.

And for that to possibly be the case, it would of course have to mean that certain axioms of each extreme were untrue. It would turn out that the internal contradictions of capitalism are, in fact, sustainable. It would also mean that the races of mankind were created more-or-less equal. This in turn forces each extremist to ask himself, “for how long?” How high does the rising tide of color have to get in the United States before things will fall apart, or Richard Lynn will be proven wrong? How long does capitalism have to last before it cannot be said that its fall is inevitable?

What anxiety-inducing questions for a dedicated outsider, no? Hence, the eagerness to jump at any sign of the end, because with the end, comes the new. With this comes endless proclamations about the death of neoliberalism, and ritualistic reminders that immigration will irrevocably change the demography of the country. So too come desperate attempts to envision a new world, one that would exist outside of the present, and go beyond the present’s stranglehold on the imagination. On the one end, the Charles Martel Society offers sizable incentives for writing on the prospects of creating a new, all-white nation. On the other end, Jacobinmag will invoke the television show “Star Trek” over half a dozen times in an essay discussing what a socialist future may look like.

In short, the prospect that it’s Prof. Fukuyama’s world, and we’re just living in it, is sufficiently terrifying to some, that they shout “the end” when anything seems amuck, while simultaneously mustering up critiques of the world that are in large part daydreams.

Originally published by Chronicles on April 22nd, 2014

Predicting the End

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