CHAPTER SIX

Liberalism and socialism:
Marx's democracy

Histories and theories

Does the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe mark the 'end of history', as Francis Fukuyama from the Rand Corporation has proclaimed, 1 or the 'rebirth of history', as argued by the BBC correspondent Misha Glenny, 2 or the 'revenge of history', as diagnosed by the English Marxist Alex Callinicos? 3 First of all, however, we should ask, if these locutions make any sense. We are not going to know whether history is at an end or has been reborn or revenged for some time, so the truth conditions here are speculative. Most important, the term 'history' needs careful examination. Can these writers use it to refer in a commonplace way to 'what has happened'?

'What has happened' is of course a matter of selection, and necessarily so, but it is selection from what is already selective. No one has the totality of events on hand from which to select, and there is no totality of events in the first place. Events are not events till they are conceptualised, and there are arguably as many events as there are conceptualisers, even if many of them agree and even if they are eye‐ witnesses. Eyewitnesses notoriously disagree in practice in their descriptions as they conceptualise events; more academically, the search for a purely descriptive language — one that is independent of individual judgement and valuation - even for objects, never mind events, has been abandoned by philosophers, or at least thoroughly discredited. 4

-119-

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