We have been considering Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man in our theory class. Students get that Fukuyama, and Hegel before him, do not mean that we could ever come to the end of the succession of events. But they do think that the long search of human History for the best way to organize society can come to an end. Fukuyama even believes that it has.
Fukuyama's argument is that capitalism and liberal democracy are the best way to organize the political economy of society. We have tried all the other options, and found the one that works best, compared to the practical alternatives. Societies that have achieved stable capitalist democracies can seek their fulfillment in post-historical existence. Societies that have not achieved stable democratic capitalism are still mired in history. Where they should try to get, though, is now clear.
What struck me about this argument is like something I noticed about Marx. For all Marx' opposition to bourgeois liberalism, his tantalizing view of the end and aim of life is really the same as theirs: individuals can do what they choose to do. Marx does not have a higher conception of what realizing our species-being would mean.
In the same way, Fukuyama, another kind of Hegelian, identifies democracy and capitalism as the best ways of organizing society without having any vision of what the aim or end of human existence is beyond the End of History. Democracy and capitalism are both technologies for sorting our competing individual desires. Neither leads to the good life as such, only a life with less conflict and fewer transaction costs. To be sure, capitalism promises greater wealth for society, and if democracy reduces bloodshed that is a very great improvement over the alternatives.
Still, the End of History would not give any clue about the telos or meaning of human existence. Hegel could answer that question, at least in an abstract way. The Westminster catechism famously answers the question, What is the chief end of man? with To praise God and enjoy Him forever.
The End of History is, in the end, vacuous about the Ends of History.