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I THE NOTION of the end of history is not an original one.
Its best known propagator was Karl Marx, who believed that the direction of historical development was a purposeful one determined by the interplay of material forces, and would come to an end only with the achievement of a communist utopia that would finally resolve all prior contradictions.
But the concept of history as a dialectical process with a beginning, a middle, and an end was borrowed by Marx from his great German predecessor, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
For better or worse, much of Hegel's historicism has become part of our contemporary intellectual baggage.
IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history.
The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world.
There is no struggle or conflict over "large" issues, and consequently no need for generals or statesmen; what remains is primarily economic activity.
And indeed, Kojève's life was consistent with his teaching.
While there was considerable work to be done after 1806 - abolishing slavery and the slave trade, extending the franchise to workers, women, blacks, and other racial minorities, etc.The notion that mankind has progressed through a series of primitive stages of consciousness on his path to the present, and that these stages corresponded to concrete forms of social organization, such as tribal, slave-owning, theocratic, and finally democratic-egalitarian societies, has become inseparable from the modern understanding of man.Hegel was the first philosopher to speak the language of modern social science, insofar as man for him was the product of his concrete historical and social environment and not, as earlier natural right theorists would have it, a collection of more or less fixed "natural" attributes.For human history and the conflict that characterized it was based on the existence of "contradictions": primitive man's quest for mutual recognition, the dialectic of the master and slave, the transformation and mastery of nature, the struggle for the universal recognition of rights, and the dichotomy between proletarian and capitalist.But in the universal homogenous state, all prior contradictions are resolved and all human needs are satisfied.
The mastery and transformation of man's natural environment through the application of science and technology was originally not a Marxist concept, but a Hegelian one.