Last week in London we kicked off the Peter Thiel/Sovereignty reading group I announced a few weeks ago
(You can join our Slack group here
). We’re working through this reading list
, which many TiB
readers will find interesting. I wanted to share some thoughts on the first session, which was on the theme of Globalisation: Prophecy vs History
. Stefano Zorzi
and Peteris Erins
have also written up excellent reflections.
One of the texts was Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 article “The End of History
”. I’ve not read it before and expected it to be an amusing example of the dangers of prophecy. In fact, it holds up rather well. Fukuyama’s core contention is:
There is no struggle or conflict over “large” issues, and consequently no need for generals or statesmen; what remains is primarily economic activity”
From the vantage of 2019, there appear to be two obvious critiques: (1) the rise of China and (2) the (re)emergence of populism. But I’m not so sure. China looks successful today not because it’s engaged with great ideological struggle with the West, but because it’s (maybe) winning the battle on “End of History” territory - delivering economic growth.
On populism, I’m optimistic that it will resolve itself within
the current system. My big question, though, is whether the economic structures that enable prosperity, albeit with high inequality, (e.g. the EU, free trade, immigration, etc) undermine the mutual loyalty
on which the nation state is built. As I’ve asked before, are we mere customers of a state’s institutions and infrastructure or is citizenship something more? I’m looking forward to debating this question in future sessions.