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Trust: the key to peace and prosperity

Mon, March 05, 2007   |   Author: Ron Gray   |   | Share: Gab | Facebook | Twitter   

In 1992, when Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man, many mistakenly assumed it was an apocalyptic-a book about "the end of the world". Of course, it was not. The word "end" in Fukuyama's title-as in St. Paul's statement that "Christ is the end of the law"-should be understood as "goal" or "purpose"-the meaning of the Greek word telos.

Fukuyama's thesis in The End of History was that human history has continually tended toward liberal-democratic capitalist societies. Now that we've got them, he asked, can we keep them? And if so, how?

Three years later, in 1995, Fukuyama answered his own question in Trust, a book that received considerably less attention-but deserved more.

The thesis of Trust is that culture plays a crucial role in both economics and politics. And the most important aspect of culture is whether it makes trust and cooperation possible through the widespread public embrace of shared moral principles.

Thus religion is seen as a key component of trust-and of civilization.

Such shared moral principles are the very foundation of Western civilization. In Europe, they began to be eroded in the 18th and 19th centuries by German 'higher criticism' of the Bible, and by the French 'Enlightenment', which valued human reasoning over revealed truth. In North America, during the last century or so, the foundation of trust through shared moral principles was further eroded-attacked, actually-by secular materialism in publicly-funded education, the mass media, and by the doctrine of multiculturalism, which decrees that all cultures are equal.

In Trust, Francis Fukuyama expertly trashes that multicultural conceit: some cultures, he says, because they inspire trust through common moral principles, have been able to produce societies in which peace and prosperity flourished; others have had the opposite effect. Those who seek to expunge the influence of the core faith of western civilization from the public square are either disingenuous or malicious: they are promoting their own religion or irreligion, either unconsciously or deliberately. But in either case, if we let them succeed, we do so at our peril.

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