Above, via the Agence France-Presse, is a photograph of President Barack Obama, of the United States, taking a “funeral selfie” with David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Helle Thorning Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark. Meanwhile, in Michelle Obama’s dour expression, we see congealed centuries of humanity’s growing distrust of the modern condition, the mask itself of power’s profound alienation from the mechanisms of meaning.
Nearly a quarter-century ago, neoliberal ideas guy Francis Fukuyama took to the pages of The National Interest to pronounce the “end of history.” Reprising the Hegelian prognostications of Alexandre Kojève, who in the 1930s proclaimed a “universal homogenous state” of liberalism, Fukuyama trumpeted the political rise of the “West” and the “Western idea” of democracy. Unbeknownst to Fukuyuma, his dead-on-arrival tripe is much better suited for pop cultural analyses, e.g. of the selfie — itself a far more properly Western idea than democracy or liberalism.
That was all basically throwaway setup for this paragraph, from the Fukuyuma piece, where we replace “Western,” “West,” and “democracy” with “selfie”:
The triumph of the selfie, of the selfie idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to selfie liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high selfie theory and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist selfie culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran.
Alright! Be sure to let us know how you feel about all this. (Also, did you notice that Fukuyama rhymes with Obama?)