chapter  3
19 Pages

Barbarism and the idea of progress

More incredible than the sudden eruption of the concept of progress is its current revival in postmodern America and Western Europe. Francis Fukuyama (1992) revived Hegel's concept of the end of history, by which Fukuyama means the alleged triumph of liberal democracy over totalitarianism, imperialism, and other forces inimical to the long-awaited establishment of complete freedom and rationality in the world. A quick survey of the globe suggests that Hegel and Fukuyama simply fail to account for the reality of modern-day totalitarianisms, Serbia's current imperialist war against its neighbors, and ethnic conflict that hit as close to home as the Los Angeles riots of 1992, among many other events that contradict the claims for an end of history. Auguste Comte is hailed as the founder of sociology in contemporary sociology textbooks, even though that is a debatable point. Comte invented the term sociology, but Durkheim ([1928] 1958, [1925] 1961) criticized him, along with Rousseau, Descartes, and Saint-Simon for promoting an oversimplified rationalism that could not sustain

genuine sociology. Durkheim's fin de sieck colleagues in sociology have been sanitized by Parsons (1937) and others who misrepresent them as disciples ofComte and Hegel rather than the fin de sieck critics of the Enlightenment that they were.