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The History of the World:
earthan exploratory essay

Francis Fukuyama, in The End of History and the Last Man, demonstrates, with a convincing overview of global trends and historical philosophy, that human society is funneling into a single strategy, the mode of liberal democracy. This outcome is explained by the convergence of two historical forces, the drive for satisfying desires and the drive for recognition. The first finds success in capitalist economics, the second in the guarantee of freedoms. By Fukuyama's own analysis the result is not necessarily utopian; nor is stability guaranteed. The drive for recognition (or thymos) is the volatile element; the problem being whether the comfortable conventions of liberal democracy allow sufficient challenge for the prideful human spirit.

A personal note, by way of introduction

Of the generation of the Bomb, I've been forced from an early age to come to terms with a questionable human future. I've huddled dutifully under my desk in elementary school air-raid drills, and awakened fearful to the cracking thunder of low-flying jets; survived with dim understanding the Cuban missile crisis, and with grim foreboding the invasion of Cambodia. By the eighties, first-strike strategic plans and weapons systems had brought disarmament to center stage in my personal life's priorities--along with the project of building a sustainable life in a sheltered corner of the world. Housebuilding and peace education competed for space in my life while I started a new family.

Despite having established a comfortable home base in rural British Columbia, I had to act locally--through blockades and other nonviolent group efforts--to protect my watershed from pesticides and logging. I learned there is much untapped power in a concerned citizenry. Seeing how desires can manifest in the world, I felt a renewed need to ground my politics in a more deeply considered vision of the future: "What am I aiming for? Does what I want for my life make sense on a global scale?"

This essay is my attempt at sharing what I have found. In the nature of evolution, any conclusion reached here is tentative. More research and analysis, a surprise turn in historic events, an exciting new book, will appear tomorrow to change the shape of a desirable outcome. Yet at each point I can only strive to make the best of the knowledge available--providing a foundation for further growth. A related drawback to my conclusions might be that they are "idealistic"--an epithet familiar to me when I was twenty and had accomplished nothing. Twenty-five years later, I can claim experience in hunting and growing my food; in building my shelter; in participating in a healthy relationship and community; in educating myself, my child, students and political activists on a wide range of topics through a wide variety of means. I have experienced something of what it takes to manifest desire in the world. So am I qualified to speak of such matters as human survival? Any one alive is.

I see my present situation as emblematic of human history. I get my meat from wild bear and deer and fish, and from domestic fowl and pigs I've helped to raise. My partner grows our produce in the garden, and we harvest fruit from our orchard. That takes care of the historic human food strategies--throwing in the rifle and rototiller as industrial aids.

I also rely, of course, on the money system for other needs. I've worked primarily as a teacher and treeplanter--in both cases a cog in the world industrial network. As I write, the computer bespeaks of the post-industrial, or cybernetic mode of human activity. It's all here! But where's it going?

--Nowick Gray [1997]

Full text version of "The History of the World" available to download:


This longer document, an exploratory essay, is (and perhaps by nature must be) unfinished. It began as a review of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992), expanded to include evaluation of a number of related works (notably Marshall Savage's The Millennial Project), and evolved into a longer odyssey.

The History of the World, Part 2: Beyond Politics
A review of Derrick Jensen live (Victoria, BC, 20 Oct. 2007)
Derrick Jensen is the author of Endgame (I: The Problem of Civilization; II: Resistance)

View catalog of ebooks for free download.

© Nowick Gray

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