Monday, September 17, 2007

column 20;

So I've been following the news recently. Some highlights:

First off there have been car bombings in Glasgow and London. Considering that I was in London less than a month ago it does come as a bit of a surprise. The one's in London didn't go off, luckily, but a burning car was driven into Glasgow Airport and another detonated at a nearby hospital.

Of course this has lead to an increase in airport security in the U.S. JFK Airport Security was most likely on edge when a terminal was evacuated to call in the bomb squad. Offending item: cologne. While the British Government is on Critical Alert so goes the U.S. This comes only a few days before the 4th of July, which may be a part of it.

In other news: Putin and George are meeting for talks. I am not alone in thinking that Putin is starting to border on Bond Villain. Indeed, many news sources and editorials are awash with the idea of things as radical as a new Cold War being started by the leader of the world's largest country and historical US rival. This brings to mind the unintentionally comic essay by Francis Fukuyama entitled 'The End of History?' It was published in 1989, as the Cold War was conceivably coming to an end. I'll just quote some lines that well summarize his views:

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

Well, he was wrong. The article has become infamous for being wrong, as predictive politics often is. After all, in 1987 no one would have guessed that within two years the Soviet Union would collapse, just as in that year no one would guess that Nelson Mandela, still a prisoner, would be president of South Africa in 1994. History brings surprises. It morphs and the deeds of individuals and unexpected occurrences will always throw wrenches into the 'march of History' ideology.

Fukuyama was in prestigious company. Marx, and more importantly Hegel, were both proponents of 'the march of History'. It's a notion that drove the mindset of the Western 'long 19th century', lasting from 1789-1914. Between these years Europe was fuelled by amazing developments and a drive to constantly improve and perfect. Why this took place may be credited to 'the March of History' and GWF Hegel. Hegel, writing in the first years of this period, was the most admired philosopher in the West until the long 19th century ended. The basic formula, as is generally understood, is that History progresses when concepts come into contact with one another, and get eliminated. Like National League sports: 16, 8, 4, 2, champ. So in Hegel's world we are forever moving towards perfection, that is the culmination of history. 1989, perhaps fortunately, wasn't it.

The other prong of Hegel is the maxim 'That which is rational is real, and that which is real is rational'. Look back to that date when the long 19th century ended. What happened to defeat Hegelian optimism was the very irrational, but all-too-real outbreak of World War I. And so Hegel was abandoned, nearly overnight.

Are this week's developments the beginning of the end, or another bump in the road, or just the product of loonies in Government and loonies in Scotland? Stay tuned!

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