SCOTT RITTER: No ‘End of History’ in Ukraine

Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist post-Cold War vision of liberal democracy — published in 1989 — had a major blindspot. It omitted history.

Francis Fukuyama in 2016. (Fronteiras do Pensamento, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

“What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

These words, written by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who in 1989 published “The End of History,” an article that turned the academic world upside down.

“Liberal democracy,” Fukuyama wrote, “replaces the irrational desire to be recognized as greater than others with a rational desire to be recognized as equal.”

“A world made up of liberal democracies, then, should have much less incentive for war, since all nations would reciprocally recognize one another’s legitimacy. And indeed, there is substantial empirical evidence from the past couple of hundred years that liberal democracies do not behave imperialistically toward one another, even if they are perfectly capable of going to war with states that are not democracies and do not share their fundamental values. “

But there was a catch. Fukuyama went on to note that, 

“[N]ationalism is currently on the rise in regions like Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union where peoples have long been denied their national identities, and yet within the world’s oldest and most secure nationalities, nationalism is undergoing a process of change. The demand for national recognition in Western Europe has been domesticated and made compatible with universal recognition, much like religion three or four centuries before.”

Global Model 

This growing nationalism was the poison pill to Fukuyama’s thesis regarding the primacy of liberal democracy. The foundational premise of the then-burgeoning neoconservative philosophical construct of a “new American century” was that liberal democracy, as practiced by the United States and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe, would become the model upon which the world would be rebuilt, under American leadership, in the post-Cold War era. 

These paragons of the twisted confluence of capitalism and neoliberalism would have done well to reflect on the words of their arch-nemesis, Karl Marx, who famously observed that,

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

E. Capiro’s 1895 oil painting of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the printing house of their German daily Neue Rheinische Zeitung, published in Cologne at the time of the Revolution of 1848-1849. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

History, it seems, can never end, but rather is reincarnated, over and over, from a foundation of history influenced by the actions of the past, infected as they are with the mistakes that are derived from the human condition.

One of the mistakes made by Fukuyama and the proponents of liberal democracy, who embraced his “end of history” ideal in reaching their conclusion, is that the key to historical progression lies not in the future, which has yet to be written, but in the past, which serves as the foundation upon which everything is built.

Historical foundations run deep — deeper than the memories of most academics. There are lessons of the past that reside in the soul of those most impacted by events, both those recorded in writing and those passed down orally from generation to generation. 

Academics such as Fukuyama study the present time, drawing conclusions based upon a shallow understanding of the complexities of times past. 

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According to Fukuyama, history ended with the conclusion of the Cold War, perceived as a decisive victory of the liberal democratic order over its ideological opponent, world communism. 

But what if the collapse of the Soviet Union — the event seen by most historians as signaling the end of the Cold War — wasn’t triggered by the manifestation of the victory over communism by liberal democracy, but rather by the weight of history defined by the consequences of prior “end of history” moments? What if the sins of the fathers were transferred to the progeny of previous historical failures? 

War & Revived Nationalism 

Of the many points of conflict occurring in the world today, one stands out as a manifestation of the ongoing fascination liberal democracy adherents have with the victory over communism, which they thought was won more than three decades ago, namely, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Political scientists in the Fukuyama “end of history” school view this  conflict as being derived by the resistance of the remnants of Soviet regional hegemony (i.e., modern-day Russia, led by its president, Vladimir Putin) over the inevitability of liberal democracy taking hold.

But a closer examination of the Russian-Ukraine conflict points to the present conflicts being born of not simply the incomplete divorce of Ukraine from the Soviet/Russian orbit that occurred at the end of the Cold War, but also the detritus from the collapse of previous ruling systems, especially the Tsarist Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk map showing territory lost by Bolshevik Russia in 1918. (Department of History, U.S. Military Academy, Public domain)

Indeed, the current conflict in Ukraine has nothing to do with any modern-day manifestation of the Cold War bipolarity, and everything to do with the resurrection of national identities which existed, however imperfectly, centuries before the Cold War even began.

To understand the roots of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, one needs to study  German actions after the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the rise and fall of Symon Petliura and the Polish-Soviet War — all of which predated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the dissection of Galicia that took place in 1939 and 1945. 

These actions were all triggered by the collapse of Tsarist and Austro-Hungarian power, and then united by violent efforts to allow local realities to shape the final disposition of a region frozen in place by the rise of Soviet power.

The dislocation felt by many Ukrainians today from all things Russian can be traced to the failed attempt at forming a nascent Ukrainian nation in the chaotic aftermath of the First World War and the collapse of both Tsarist Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire – all prior to the consolidation of both Polish and Bolshevik power.

The Brief Rise and Fall of a Ukrainian State, 1918-1921

The Ukrainian People’s Republic, led by the nationalist Symon Petliura, proclaimed its independence from Russia in January 1918. It did so backed the German army, which occupied the Republic after the Central Powers, led by Germany, signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with Ukraine in February 1918. (Russia and the Central Powers signed a separate Brest-Litovsk Treaty in March 1918).

The German military occupiers then dissolved the socialist, Ukrainian People’s Republic in April 1918, replacing it with the Ukrainian State, also known as the Second Hetmanate. (The First Hetmanate was a Ukrainian Cossack State that existed in the Zaporizhian region from 1648 until 1764).

Symon Petliura (Wikipedia/Public Domain)

But the Ukrainian State survived only until December 1918, when forces loyal to the deposed Ukrainian People’s Republic, led by Petliura, overthrew the Second Hetmanate, and reclaimed control over Ukraine.

During this time the physical dimensions of the Ukrainian People’s Republic was in constant flux. In the short first tenure of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, two territories claimed as Ukrainian — centered round Odessa and Kharkov — declared their independence from the Ukrainian People’s Republic, and instead opted to join Russia [as four regions today have similarly opted to join Russia]. 

In November 1918 a portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Galician territories possessing a Ukrainian majority declared its independence, organized itself as the Western Ukrainian Republic, and in January 1919 merged with the Ukrainian People’s Republic.

But upon its creation, the Western Ukrainian Republic found itself at war with a newly independent Poland and, following the merger between the Western Ukrainian Republic and the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the war morphed into a general conflict between Poland and Ukraine.

One of the major battlegrounds of this conflict was the western Galician territory of Volhynia. It was here that Ukrainian troops undertook the slaughter of thousands of Jews, for which Petliura has been blamed.

End of Ukrainian Republic

The Polish-Ukrainian war ended in December 1919 with the defeat of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. One of the major reasons for this defeat was the rise of Soviet power as the Russian Civil War reached its violent conclusions in the territories abutting the Ukrainian People’s Republic, allowing the victorious Red Army to turn its attention to consolidating Bolshevik authority over the territory of Ukraine.

This led to a peace treaty between the Ukrainian People’s Republic and Poland which saw the territories of the former Western Ukrainian Republic turned over to Poland in exchange for Polish assistance against the Bolsheviks.

The alliance between Poland and the Ukrainian People’s Republic, concluded in April 1919, led to a Polish offensive against the Soviet Union which ended with the capture of Kiev by Polish troops in May 1919. A Soviet counterattack in June took the Red Army to the gates of Warsaw, only to be thrown back in August by Polish forces, which began to advance eastward until the Soviets sued for peace, in October 1920.

While various efforts to end the Polish-Soviet conflict had been brokered on the basis of a delineation of territory known as the Curzon Line, named after the British Lord who first proposed it back in 1919, the final demarcation of the border was negotiated via the Treaty of Riga, signed in March 1921, which formally ended the Polish-Soviet war.

The so-called “Riga Line” had Poland taking control of large amounts of territory well east of the Curzon Line, leading to longstanding resentment by Soviet authorities.

The Treaty of Riga imposed boundaries on a region with no regard to the ethnic composition of the people living there, leading to a mixing of populations that were inherently hostile toward one another.

The end of the Western Ukrainian Republic, in 1919, led to the political leadership of that entity going into diaspora in Europe, where they pressed the governments of Europe to recognize the independent status of the Western Ukrainian nation.

Rise of Bandera

Stepan Bandera torchlight parade in Kiev, Jan. 1, 2020. (A1/Wikimedia Commons)

This diaspora worked closely with disaffected Ukrainian nationalists who found themselves under Polish governance in the aftermath of the Polish-Soviet war. Among these Ukrainian nationalists was Stepan Bandera, an adherent of Symon Petliura (assassinated in exile in Paris in 1926 by Jewish anarchist Sholom Schwartzbard who said he was avenging the deaths of 50,000 Jews. Schwartzbard was acquitted.)

Bandera rose to lead the Ukrainian nationalist movement in the 1930’s, eventually allying himself with Nazi Germany following the 1939 partitioning of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union, which ran roughly along the Curzon Line demarcation.

Bandera was the driving force behind Ukrainian nationalist forces operating alongside the German occupying forces after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. These forces participated in the massacre of Jews in Lvov and Kiev (Babyn Yar) and the slaughter of Poles in Volhynia in 1943-44.

When the Soviet Union and the western allies defeated Germany, the Curzon Line was used to demarcate the border between Poland and Soviet Ukraine, putting the western Ukrainian territories under Soviet control.

Reinhard Gehlen (Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia Commons)

Bandera and hundreds of thousands of western Ukrainian nationalists fled to Germany in 1944, ahead of the advancing Red Army. Bandera continued to maintain contact with tens of thousands of Ukrainian nationalist fighters who remained behind, coordinating their actions as part of a resistance campaign managed by Reinhard Gehlen, a German intelligence officer who ran Foreign Armies East, the German intelligence effort against the Soviet Union.

After the surrender of Nazi Germany, in May 1945, Gehlen and his Foreign Armies East organization was subordinated to U.S. Army intelligence, where it was reorganized into what became the BND, or West German intelligence organization.

The Cold War began in 1947, following the announcement by U.S. President Harry Truman of the so-called Truman Doctrine, which aspired to stop the expansion of Soviet geopolitical expansion.

That same year, the newly created C.I.A. took over management of the Gehlen organization. From 1945 until 1954, the Gehlen organization, at the behest of U.S. and British intelligence, worked with Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) to direct the efforts of the Banderist fighters who remained on Soviet territory.

They fought in a conflict that claimed the lives tens of thousands of Soviet Red Army and security personnel, along with hundreds of thousands of OUN and Ukrainian civilians. The C.I.A. continued to fund the OUN in diaspora up until 1990.

Link to Today

In 1991, the first year of Ukraine’s independence, the neo-fascist Social National Party, later Svoboda Party, was formed, tracing its provenance directly to Bandera. It had a street named after Bandera in Liviv, and tried to name the city’s airport after him. 

In 2010, pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko declared Bandera a Hero of Ukraine, a status reversed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was later overthrown. 

More than 50 monuments, busts and museums commemorating Bandera have been erected in Ukraine, two-thirds of which have been built since 2005, the year the pro-American Yuschenko was elected.

At the time of the 2014 overthrow of the elected Yanukovych, Western corporate media reported on the essential part the descendants of Petliura and Bandera played in the coup. 

As The New York Times reported, the neo-Nazi group, Right Sector, had the key role in the violent ouster of Yanukovych. The role of neo-fascist groups in the uprising and its influence on Ukrainian society was well reported by mainstream media outlets at the time.  

The BBC, the NYT, the Daily Telegraph and CNN all reported on Right Sector, C14 and other extremists’ role in the overthrow of Yanukovych.

Thus today’s Ukrainian nationalism draws a direct link to the history of extremist nationalists beginning with the post World War I-period.  

Where Does History Begin?

Almost every discussion about the historical roots of today’s Russian-Ukrainian conflict begins with the partition of Poland in 1939, and the subsequent demarcation that took place at the end of the Second World War, solidified by the advent of the Cold War.

However, anyone searching for a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that is grounded in post-Cold War policies will run afoul of the realities of history that pre-date the Cold War, and which continue to manifest in the present day by reincarnating still unresolved issues.

They all have a precedent that dates to the tumultuous period between 1918-1921.

The reality is that the collapse of the Tsarist and Austro-Hungarian empires had a far greater influence on the history of modern-day Ukraine than did the collapse of the Soviet Union.

History, it seems, will never end. It is folly to think so, with those embracing such a notion simply prolonging and promoting the nightmares of the past, which will forever haunt those who live in the present.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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44 comments for “SCOTT RITTER: No ‘End of History’ in Ukraine

  1. Maria Elena Milton
    October 4, 2023 at 22:21

    Thank you Scott for your rebuttal to Fukuyama’s flawed theory of hegemony of western liberal democracy’s triumph over communism. Your research into the history of post Tsarist/post Austro-Hungarian empires’ collapse and the expediency of the European powers to settle borders without consideration for the cultural differences of the people is typical of imperial methods of always leaving wounds behind to fester for a later date when it may be useful to the elites that redraw maps and displace peoples as if they were cattle. One wonder’s if Fukuyama’s simplistic theory was an attempt to brush the obvious under the rug: that the Nazi problem rearing its ugly head once again in Ukraine is not a regurgitated version of the earlier European version, itself a creation of British, Dutch and German version to try to destroy Russia.

  2. Observer
    October 4, 2023 at 18:12

    The situation at that time on the territory of what was for a couple of decades the Ukrainian state was even more complex. There was another significant player, the vaguely anarchist Makhnovite army that controlled a large part of Ukraine for a while, and battled both the Petliura forces and the Bolsheviks.

  3. rick
    October 4, 2023 at 16:05

    This is a undeniably a pertinent exposition of the political history of Ukraine and roots of the current conflict by one of the few courageous commentators and critics of the Ukraine War still resident in the West who like the late Howard Zinn know “If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. If you were born yesterday then any leader can tell you anything.”Howard Zinn, American historian (1924-2010).
    Unfortunately individuals like Scott Ritter are anathema to the UK National Security State whose virulent ideology of race hatred against Russia would have branded him a traitor and Russian sympathiser early in this conflict leading to his vilification and premature demise much like Russell Brand but far worse!

  4. Tamer
    October 4, 2023 at 14:26

    Liberal Democracy had a chance to succeed if it was not devoured by unbridled capitalism. Unfortunately, contemporary systems are terribly corrupted by elites.

  5. Sharon Aldrich
    October 4, 2023 at 12:31

    Thank you, Scott and Consortium News for keeping us truly informed. Great work!

  6. mary-lou
    October 4, 2023 at 12:13

    Fukuyama cleverly ‘forgot’ to include the devastating processes of neo-colonialism after 1945.

  7. vinnieoh
    October 4, 2023 at 09:36

    Thanks Scott Ritter; I’m bookmarking this for re-reading. And thanks to all the other commenters for their additions.

    Regardless of the CN monitors, Scott’s own words prompted me, as I’m sure it did others, to go looking even further back to see how that region got to where it was in ca. 1915. See also, the Pale of Settlement, the Cossacks of the period around Stenke Rozin and later, and the migration into and expulsion from western Europe of the Jews. That history cannot be ignored, as it has large implications regarding historical and present-day Poland as well as Ukraine.

  8. Tom67
    October 4, 2023 at 06:28

    1. Western Ukraine or Galicia was never a part of imperial Russia. It was first under Polish and then under Austria-Hungarian and then – after 1919 – under Polish tutelage. Western Ukraine was therefore not subject to the Russification under the Czars in the 19th century. Although under Polish rule between 1919 and 1939 it kept the language. It also has it´s own church. The rites are orthodox but the highest spiritual authority is the pope. Western Ukraine is the only region of Ukraine were only Ukrainian is used in daily life. In all other areas of Ukraine the majority language is Russian. Even in Kiev.
    2. When the Soviets annexed Western Ukraine in 1939 they deported about 10% of the population to Siberia and about half of them perished there. The surviviors were only allowed back in the Fifties. Furthermore there were tens of thousands of political prisoners which were all executed when the Red Army had to retreat in 1941.
    3. The executioners and members of the Soviet secret police were disporportionally Jewish. Not really surprising when you consider the progroms during the civil war. The brutalised population of Western Ukraine took their “revenge” on perfectly innocent Jews for instance in Lviv were the progroms (without German prompting) started when the central prison was opened and the dead bodies of the political prisoners were found.
    4. Western Ukrainians fought against the Soviets into the Fifties and they were a big factor in the Gulag risings that greatly contributed to the abolishing of Slave labor in the USSR. Aleksandr Solshenyzin describes these risings in the third book of his Arkhipel Gulag,
    5. Basically Ukraine is split between the West and the East with Kiev somewhat in the middle. Considering the wildly divergent identities of Ukraine (the Donbass was solidly pro Soviet in WWII) the only chance for Ukraine would have been as a neutral state with good relations with the East as well as with the West. Unfortunately the Neocons in Washington decided to rip the country apart.

      October 4, 2023 at 07:10

      Ritter was not writing a book, but an article tightly focused on the events after World War I.

    • Rafael
      October 4, 2023 at 21:06

      A lot of claims and innuendo with no evidence. (A work of fiction is not evidence.)

  9. RWilson
    October 4, 2023 at 03:04

    Always interested in Scott Ritter’s knowledgeable contributions to the discussion.

    Expanding a bit, people naturally see themselves a grouped to some extent by similarities – family, neighborhood, nation, and ethnicity. So political analysis naturally includes consideration of these groupings. But the picture will never be complete until it includes the most powerful group of all – the financial oligarchy with the power to set these other groups at war with each other.

    We have a President, a Secretary of State, and a National Security Advisor who are all lying brazenly to the American people about the Ukraine war. And we have a corporate media spreading the same deceptive disinformation across the land. All against the interests of the American people.

    As Scott notes, history repeats itself. Biden is the new Dubya. Serving the same masters.

    • mary-lou
      October 4, 2023 at 12:07

      Canada’s Freeland and the US’ Blinken (to name a few) have family ties with Ukraine, so there’s that.

    • evelync
      October 4, 2023 at 18:33

      RE: Your reference to:
      “the financial oligarchy with the power to set these other groups at war with each other”.
      Ain’t that the truth….they do it here at home with their culture wars and overseas to destabilize the countries whose stuff (above and below ground) they’re determined to grab…

  10. jonathan p nelms
    October 3, 2023 at 16:00

    “the irrational desire to be recognized as greater than others” is not only the essence of nationalism or exceptionalism, as it used to be of manifest destiny, jingoism, and chauvinism, but still is of patriotism. (plus religion, as in ‘god bless America and god bless our troops’) The purpose of all these ideologies is to create a license to kill.

  11. Gosha
    October 3, 2023 at 15:46

    How about a more thorough analysis of the events of the first half of the 1930’s in Ukraine?

      October 4, 2023 at 03:50

      The purpose of this article was to focus on the period just after the First World War.

  12. gwb
    October 3, 2023 at 15:40

    An outfit called the Litopys UPA Publishing House (litopysupa-dot-com) has been publishing a chronology (hagiography?) of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army since the 1980s, and it is up to over 50 volumes… Given what we know now of Canada’s harboring Ukrainian Nazis after World War II, it’s not surprising that this operation is based in Toronto.

  13. Major Kong
    October 3, 2023 at 12:15

    And interesting how this evil also targets the other ‘c’ words that you list. They oppose community, because community is how people come together to work towards the common good. They also oppose the common good, with Thatcherites talking that such a thing did not exist. The evil of the West preached ‘individualism’, and sets it as direct conflict with ‘common good’ and ‘community’.

    Today, American history is far more likely to emphasize ‘gun fights’ in the ‘wild west’ than to talk about communities coming together for a ‘farm-raising’. And the whole bit of the history of the Wild West, where the communities came together to enforce gun control, at least inside the city limits, and thus begin the ‘civilization’ of the wild west is also forgotten.

    • rosemerry
      October 4, 2023 at 01:29

      Exactly! The conceit, arrogance and lying of the USA, which immediately refused the perfect opportunity for cooperation and peace with Russia but instead crowed “we won” and started the road to domination by ruining the emerging Russia in the 1990s and followed through with enmity ever since, shows the success of “liberal democracy”.
      Pretending that the USA is a democracy is another fantasy.

      It is a revelation now to read China’s “White Paper”just released and contemplate the possibilities of cooperation, seeing other points of view and ways of life and government as legitimate, and caring for the whole world.
      Avoiding conflicts rather than revelling in them and stopping success of anyone designated as a rival, trying to understand and cooperate rather than dominate, would really be a historical shift!

  14. October 3, 2023 at 12:00

    The term “liberal democracy” as used to describe the politico-economic systems prevalent in the NATO sphere is an oxymoron that ignores the reality of the self-perpetuating oligarchic system that has ruled that region and has sought global hegemony since the end of the United States Civil War, at least. Francis Fukuyama along with Samuel Huntington are the philosophers that eventually provided a pseudointellectual foundation for the evolving “Deep State” responsible for the resulting anti-Kantian world, the one perpetually at war. And they are wrong.

    Historical context based on accurate information rather than propaganda is essential for understanding the present and planning for the future, but that is denied us, hence the rule of incoherence in which we find ourselves. Scott’s article helps provide some of the essential context of which we’ve been deprived by pseudo-historians and what passes for modern journalism.

    Good article Scott, thank you.

  15. Major Kong
    October 3, 2023 at 11:46

    “We need mandatory testing for politicians, not students”
    (A PS to myself)

    Come to thing of it, back when America was closer to being a democracy, this is what politics was about. Political oratory was a politician standing in front of a large audience and speaking for perhaps a couple of hours. The following is the Wikiped description of the “Lincoln-Douglass Debates”.

    ” Each debate lasted about three hours; one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, followed by a 90-minute response and a final 30-minute rejoinder by the first candidate. The candidates alternated speaking first. As the incumbent, Douglas spoke first in four of the debates. They were held outdoors, weather permitting, from about 2 to 5 p.m. There were fields full of listeners.”

    They were debating the issues of the day, with the Abolitionist challenger Lincoln taking on incumbent Senator Douglass and his votes for ‘popular sovereignty’ on the issue of the Kansas-Missouri slavery fights, among other issues. If either candidate showed themselves to be inarticulate, or to be poorly educated as to history, they would have been doomed. Each candidate felt comfortable with standing before ‘fields full of listeners’ and talking for 90 minutes in a series of locations. They did not worry that they would end up looking ‘stupid’.

    In other words, the politicians were ‘tested’ by the campaign, publicly before fields full of listeners.

    Not today. Today, we get a President who announces his campaign for re-election, not with an important address that emphasizes their successes of their first term along with their plans and lofty goals for a second term … but with a five minute edited video of sound bites. We need to test politicians, not students.

    At the very least, this would give the American people what they say they want, rare as that might be. They say that they do not want another Trump-Biden election. A simple standardized test on history, civics and the constitution, administered with both live proctors and video observation, would clearly exclude both from the election.

    • Steven D Culp
      October 3, 2023 at 23:39

      I live in Quincy, Illinois, across the street from Washington Park, where the debates took place.

      Now the park is occupied by homeless, while the city’s infrastructure decays, and buildings stand empty.

      This country has become disgusting.

  16. John Puma
    October 3, 2023 at 11:37

    Re “Liberal democracy replaces the irrational desire to be recognized as greater than others with a rational desire to be recognized as equal.”

    Fukuyama’s theory was totally useless on arrival since the US had NO desire but to continue in its “irrational desire (he got THAT right!) to be recognized as greater than others …” since that self-aggrandizement is and has been the very basis of historical imperialism in general and of current US imperialism on steroids, in particular.

    Can we assume Fukuyama secured himself a basket of lucrative corporate and think tank board seats in reward for his deft propaganda piece that was used as academic cover for the US imperial quantum leap of its 1990’s pillage of Russian sovereignty and wealth aided by Boris Yeltson. Of course, that criminal act that should have collapsed in shame/logic both capitalism and “democracy” was directed by Bill “I feel the pain I’ve inflicted upon you – on several continents” Clinton.
    See “Failed Crusade” by Stephen Cohen

    • vinnieoh
      October 4, 2023 at 09:21

      Despite mountains of evidence that show just how nonsensical “The End of History” was, Fukuyama continues to defend his thesis as being correct.

      The passage that you highlighted also grabbed my attention as being either in-your-face sarcasm or blind hypocrisy. Alternatively – nice theory, but that obviously means the US is anything but “a liberal democracy.”

  17. Daniel Guyot
    October 3, 2023 at 11:34

    That article of Scott Ritter is particularly interesting, especially from a theoretical point of view, since it demonstrates that “the key to historical progression lies not in the future, which has yet to be written, but in the past, which serves as the foundation upon which everything is built”.
    I can only agree with Scott Ritter, and very little can be added to his article.
    Personally I believe, that history is not limited to the history of states and big powers, and that it should be studied from a broader point of view, including religious, philosophical and even mystical elements. The “triumph” of liberalism as seen by Fukuyama was only momentary, and was rather the triumph of a wave of materialism and hedonism. That has nothing to do with democracy which remains an ideal and even an utopia.
    In 1991 the collapse of the Soviet regime was not the result of a popular revolution, at least in Moscow. It was rather planned and organized by some members of the Communist party who were members of the Soviet élite, who never believed in communism, and who soon became the leaders of the new “democratic” Russia. That remark does apply mainly to Russia, and is not relevant for other Soviet republics where the national factor played a major role.
    As regards Ukraine, and the war presently going on, Scott Ritter is perfectly right in looking for its origins in the history of Eastern Europe. Nonetheless one should not forget the disastrous and criminal role played by the West in exploiting precisely all the existing historical causes of disagreement and resentment among the population. The present situation is an entanglement of different problems (the national problem in Ukraine, the relationship with Russia, Western meddling in Ukrainian affairs before, during and after WWII, the expansion of NATO, the attraction of “Western way of life”, the decline of moral values, etc. ).
    In 1917 Ukraine did not exist as a state, and its territory was not defined. The 1st Ukrainian rada claimed a series of “governorates” (gubernia), and formally excluded of its claims Crimea (Third Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council – November 1917).

  18. Juan M Rodriguez
    October 3, 2023 at 11:19

    Thank you-Scott for that good history lesson!

  19. Major Kong
    October 3, 2023 at 11:04

    The only thing a book with a title of “The End of History” tells you is that its readers and proponents have never read history. That was an obvious test that many failed, and which the non-history-reading American public never noticed. Anyone seen carrying that book should have been barred from public office.

    This failure leads to today where the entire Canadian government, along with the German ambassador, can fail to be able to name the countries that fought against ‘Stalin’ in World War 2 on a Pop Quiz.

    Knowing history used to be something which was required to be considered ‘educated’. That has been replaced by corporate trade training schools. Thus, we are doomed to repeat. Except this time, the cycle begins with nuclear weapons already in existence.

    We are testing the wrong people. We need mandatory testing for politicians, not students.

    BTW, both the USA and Russia are going to ‘test’ warning systems that can warn of ‘national emergencies’, such as your impending death in Global Nuclear War, on Oct 4. Have a Nice Day! Not only with the news that the government can take over your cell phone when it wants, but also with the thought that it even needs a system to tell millions of people across a vast nation that they are all about to die. Have a Nice Day, because nobody knows how many more there will be.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 3, 2023 at 13:21

      Great comment, although I do find your final paragraph a little doom-laden. Not that nuclear annihilation is not on the table of the clueless neocons, but I continue to believe that the workers of the world will step up and stop this insanity. What seems to be happening now that Slovakia, along with Hungary, has voted to stop sending arms and money to Ukraine, and Poland is increasingly coming to doubt any benefit from continuing to support a “drowning man”, is that the citizens closest to this hot spot are rejecting the destruction of their homes and lives. We shall see.

    • VallejoD
      October 3, 2023 at 14:31

      Thanks for an excellent comment. We are being ruled by psychopaths.

    • Lois Gagnon
      October 3, 2023 at 17:40

      I’m turning my phone off at noon tomorrow.

  20. susan
    October 3, 2023 at 09:03

    Hummm – Community, Commune, Common = to share – Just imagine. The ‘west’ places so much evil on communism when all it really means is: people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. The real evil lives, breathes and multiplies in the west…

    • Susan Siens
      October 3, 2023 at 17:12

      And to confirm that fact that apparently most Americans have little idea of community, a college-educated woman running a nonprofit locally could not spell and did not know the word “commonweal.” We hear constantly of small towns in Maine being “close-knit,” but I have not observed this in practice.

  21. James White
    October 3, 2023 at 08:09

    The past remains unchanged, though different interpretations of history evolve through competing ideas. Truth has been forever fleeting. And now we find ourselves in an information age where the sheer volume of information can exceed the ability of ordinary people to know even the simplest truth. As the collection of known information doubles at ever smaller intervals, that which we experience as fact is ever more uncertain. Before a few intrepid explorers proved it wrong, everyone in the world knew and understood that the world was flat, rather than spherical. As the information age developed, competitors discovered that a mass audience could be manipulated using a barrage of propaganda. That is, disinformation. Fake news. Those presently in power in the U.S. have perfected the presentation of their false narrative. That is, lies. The once noble profession of journalism is now nothing more than an amplifier of the power group narrative. Reading the New York Times or Washington Post today is a form of brainwashing. Every statement must be self-deprogrammed, which is exhausting. The internet, and publications like this one, are all that stands between thinking people and the demise of their ability to think for themselves.

    • firstpersoninfinite
      October 3, 2023 at 10:21

      Well said. Even the idea that the end of the Cold War was the “end of history” smacks of delusional thinking and a desire to deliver the first yawp of cheerleading for the worst aspects of capitalism going forward into today. Capitalism was actually dead in the water after the world-wide depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s. What saved it? The opposite pole of Communism. Of course for Communists, there had to be capitalism everywhere or else the necessary revolution of the workers couldn’t happen. Both ideologies are two sides of the same coin, and guess what? That coin is now spent. Capitalism will proceed to eat itself, and we will be remembered as the last great Carthage upon earth.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 3, 2023 at 13:24

      The presentation of “fake news”, also known as propaganda is nothing new. The only difference is that in our technological age floods the Internet with the same shit it used to pour out in its newspapers and television broadcast news. The same skills and knowledge of history are required now as they were back then in order to filter out the absolute crap and reveal the truth.

      • James White
        October 3, 2023 at 15:57

        Yes Carolyn, Propaganda has been with us even going back all the way to ancient times. Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1400’s enabled mass printing and accelerated the distribution of printed material. The first newspaper appeared by 1605 in Strasbourg. From 1835, the telegraph accelerated the speed and volume of communications. Just before 1900, Marconi’s radio enabled wireless transmission over the airwaves and to an ever larger and wider audience.
        Then WW1 began, giving governments the ability to spread their war propaganda by radio to their citizens in real time. FDR manipulated public opinion pre-WW2 through his folksy ‘fireside chats.’ In WW2, propaganda science was refined and developed specifically for the mass audience. Josef Goebbels was a master in the art of war propaganda and developed various techniques that are still is use today. It was Goebbels who observed that, ‘A crowd will believe anything if it is repeated constantly.’ The Allies too relied on propaganda to champion homicide on an industrial scale.
        The advent of the computer and the internet further exploded the production and dissemination of information at the speed of light. In 1981, just before the internet arrived, CIA Director William Casey announced the coming age of mass deception with the following observation: ‘We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.’
        Where we used to have a press that was a ‘fourth estate,’ now we have a ‘fourth branch’ of government. It was not that reporters all went rogue at the same time. The information is now controlled from the top of media corporations. Any reporter who fails to deliver the official government narrative is simply let go. As Tucker Carlson about how that works. Elon Musk also has had a lot to say about government censorship. Various courts have ruled against government censorship but that has done little to prevent the government from manipulating the minds of a large segment of the population.
        Each of us knows highly intelligent people, friends and family who are entirely demoralized while having no awareness of the blatant disinformation that they firmly believe and espouse.

  22. Francis Lee
    October 3, 2023 at 03:27

    In February 1929 the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was founded in Vienna. Roman Shukhevych, under the name “Dzvin” (Bell), became a representative of the Ukrainian Executive. In the fullness of time the OUN morphed into the OUN-B a more radical outfit led by Stephan Bandera.

    Shukhevych had been a leader of a wave of attacks against Polish property and homes in Galicia in 1930 and was intended to provoke Polish authorities into retaliation and to radicalise Ukrainian society. The Polish administration retaliated with a process of “pacification” which intensified anti-Polish sentiment and increased Ukrainian nationalism. Bandera and Shukhevych merged their two forces into a coalition into the (OUN-B) after a spat with Bandera into the old OUN and Shukheyvich commander-in-chief of the aptly named Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

    In 1943 the OUN-B along with the UPA led the murderous campaign in Volyhnia and targetting the (mainly) Polish settlers in Galicia and Volhynia. Estimates for the slaughter ranged from 70,000 to 100,000 mostly Poles.

    ”Notwithstanding the OUN’s prior quest for national liberation, neither its most important ideologists nor Bandera himself ever left any doubt that a future Ukrainian state should be a totalitarian dictatorship based on fascist principles. For those aims, ethnic cleansing and genocide were seen as legitimate means by the “Providnyk” and the rest of the OUN/UPA leadership.”

    — From: hxxps://

  23. Jeff Harrison
    October 3, 2023 at 01:21

    Impressive, Scott.

  24. Patrick Powers
    October 3, 2023 at 00:16

    I see current political behavior as stemming from Darwinian instincts that go back many millions of years. Even ants and bees have war, as do pack animals like dogs and apes.

    The big difference from the politics of my 1960’s youth is that today’s politicians do not even pretend that voters are rational actors. Instead they appeal entirely to emotions. I further think while this works after fashion it is ultimately not correct. The main reason Trump won is that he ran on a plan to improve the lot of the average havenot while Clinton didn’t.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 3, 2023 at 13:28

      The difference between human sentience and the instinctive practices of ants and apes is that homo sapiens has a highly developed brain that is capable of overcoming barbaric behavior because it can understand that a better way of existing is possible. To continually shrug off this fact and declare that “well, it’s the animal instinct, so we can do nothing about it” is wrong. Humans are capable of higher thought and it is therefore their responsibility to use that capacity to end war and primitive tribalism and act to create a society that is peaceful, equitable and sustainable. The warmongers amongst us are acting like primitive apes, not human beings. Just because they are wearing suits doesn’t mean anything. Inside those suits there be monsters.

      • Daedalus
        October 3, 2023 at 16:06

        I hope you are right, but so far it’s not all that obvious.

      • evelync
        October 3, 2023 at 17:03

        Thanks for your comment Carolyn! It helps me reframe my default thinking from my childhood about wars – that humans were like warring ant armies….I figured the ants weren’t thinking too hard about what they were doing just fell in with it and it seemed the humans were the same. But you’re right. We DO have a choice although our BEST AND BRIGHTEST seem to default, due to greed, hubris, delusion, god knows what, to start wars and send others to fight.

      • Susan Siens
        October 3, 2023 at 17:15

        If animals destroy their environment as is the wont of Homo sapiens, they die off. All we use our supposedly clever brains for — I have not observed that much intelligence on the part of human beings in my 70 years — is more and more technological destruction whether it’s weapons or “renewables” (the latest wealth transfer scam).

        • Valerie
          October 4, 2023 at 11:07

          But it’s not the animals destroying their own environment Susan. It’s humans who are killing them off by that process.

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