Abelshauser - Chapter 01
1. Beyond "The End of History"
When the East Bloc imploded in the early 1990s, the American philosopher
Francis Fukuyama spoke of the "end of history."1 He meant, in Hegel's sense,
the suspension of the great antagonism between the economic systems in East
and Westï¿½between the First and Second Worldsï¿½and, hence, the end of the
idea of a dialectically mediated, progress-oriented synthesis of economic
development bound to pull the Third World along gradually, too. The varieties
of "Western" production regimes, for all their dissimilarities upon close inspection
of their traditional institutional frameworks, counted little. As long as the
East-West conflict also dominated the ideological struggle for worldwide political
and economic hegemony, such differences were regarded only as facets of
the same thing, the "free world's" market-based economic system. This monolithic
perspective, a symptom of thinking in terms of blocs, quickly eclipsed the
fact that World War II had also been fought as fratricide between differing
branches of capitalism's extended family and that eliminating "corporatist"
peculiarities of the German economic system had been a leading American war
aim. It was the United States that therefore explicitly insisted after 1945 on trying
German industrialists, whose heresy against the liberal creed of capitalism
was partially blamed for the rise and crimes of the Nazi regime. Even before
the end of the Nuremberg trials of industrialists, however, the wind of world
politics changed and blew bloc-related internal disputes about the pure theory
of capitalism into the background. The Cold War had begun, creating new,
clearer-cut fronts in the competition for hegemony on the world's markets. All
that mattered thereafter were economic efficiency and the ability to improve the
economic stability and military defense of one's own camp as much as possible.
Not until this East-West antagonism between the economic systems
entered its final phase did it lose its capacity to mask internal divergence.