in turn by the ideas of liberty and equality that had driven the French Revolution. Nationalism has been a threat to liberalism historically in Germany, and continues to be one in isolated parts of "post-historical" Europe like Northern Ireland. To a literal-minded idealist, human society can be built around any arbitrary set of principles regardless of their relationship to the material world. This is not to say that the opinions of progressive intellectuals in Western countries are not deeply pathological in any number of ways. As we look around the contemporary world, the poverty of materialist theories of economic development is all too apparent. The economic success of the other newly industrializing countries (NICs) in Asia following on the example of Japan is by now a familiar story. Due to the strength and adaptability of the indigenous cultures there, Asia became a battleground for a variety of imported Western ideologies early in this century. The materialist bias of modern thought is characteristic not only of people on the Left who may be sympathetic to Marxism, but of many passionate anti-Marxists as well.
The End of History?
For there is a very widespread belief among many observers of international relations that underneath the skin of ideology is a hard core of great power national interest that guarantees a fairly high level of competition and conflict between nations. And yet this realm of consciousness in the long run necessarily becomes manifest in the material world, indeed creates the material world in its own image.
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0NE MAY argue that the socialist alternative was never terribly plausible for the North Atlantic world, and was sustained for the last several decades primarily by its success outside of this region. But anyone familiar with the outlook and behavior of the new technocratic elite now governing China knows that Marxism and ideological principle have become virtually irrelevant as guides to policy, and that bourgeois consumerism has a real meaning in that country for the first time. And indeed, a central theme of Weber's work was to prove that contrary to Marx, the material mode of production, far from being the "base was itself a "superstructure" with roots in religion and culture, and that to understand the emergence of modern capitalism and. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted. The first Asian alternative to liberalism to be decisively defeated was the fascist one represented by Imperial Japan. Nonetheless, neither country ion the eve of its reforms was in such a state of material crisis that one could have predicted the surprising reform paths ultimately taken. For Kojève, this so-called "universal homogenous state" found real-life embodiment in the countries of postwar Western Europe - precisely those flabby, prosperous, self-satisfied, inward-looking, weak-willed states whose grandest project was nothing more heroic than the creation of the Common Market. But is it true? 2, the Battle of Jena marked the end of history because it was at that point that the vanguard of humanity (a term quite familiar to Marxists) actualized the principles of the French Revolution. Among those modern French interpreters of Hegel, the greatest was certainly Alexandre Kojève, a brilliant Russian émigré who taught a highly influential series of seminars in Paris in the 1930s at the. While it is impossible to rule out the sudden appearance of new ideologies or previously unrecognized contradictions in liberal societies, then, the present world seems to confirm that the fundamental principles of sociopolitical organization have not advanced terribly far since 1806.
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