The Civic Sociologist Podcast - Ep. 7 - James Block (DePaul)

At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously declared the ‘End of History’ in which we could expect liberal capitalist democracies to triumphantly expand across the globe. While many today might laugh at the assertion that anything about the present could be defined as a successful or stable political order, what happens if we take the longer view of things back to the turn of the 20th, rather than 21st century.

As I discuss with James Block, Professor of Political Thought at DePaul University in Chicago, progressives back then thought the American project had culminated, with all the central institutions of liberalism firmly in place. The question became, how do we get our population to buy into this American project – which required participation - if it was already finished? The answer was found in consumption – individual gratification and the promise of fulfilled desire – a promise that appeared to be attained by the mid-1960s, only to produce alienation on a massive scale when the younger generation realised the moral emptiness of this new regime. Tracking the consequences of these trends to the present, we can see the end of the line for this particular order of things – requiring a radically new imagination if we propose to get out of the current mess we find ourselves in after the end of history.