Great philosopher and true friend of Ukraine Francis Fukuyama visited Kyiv

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Written by: Sergiy Vakarin

On April 22, 2018 UkraineIS Chairman and PGA member Sergiy Vakarin joined Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and other Ukrainians to listen to Francis Fukuyama’s lecture at the Club of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

There are fighters who would overcome any difficulties. But when the worst problems are already behind them, the last segment of the path is the biggest challenge to them. When the victory seems imminent but somehow slips away, and new obstacles seem endless. And just when all energy is needed for one last leap, the fighters can get overwhelmed by despair.This is the most dangerous moment, when your goal is just one step away but you can lose everything.

In some sense, we and the world-renowned social scientist Francis Fukuyama are alike. At some point it seemed to us and to him that the history actually ended, and the victory of liberal democracy and European values was irreversible. We were so sure of the victory that we thought it would come on its own. And now a painful rollback – especially in our country, where the war erupted, which would seem impossible just five years ago.

So was the philosopher wrong?

Well, says Fukuyama, it’s a painful moment, but the current wars will end like all previous wars, and what’s next? Has anyone invented a better path than the same liberal democracy that is now being attacked so fiercely? Sure, we can go back to the time of dictatorships, but this would only lead to more wars. Does anyone think this is a good alternative?

Even though Fukuyama became famous for declaring The End of History after the fall of the Soviet Union, he is respected by the academic circles, most of all, for The Origins of Political Order – a fundamental research into what makes the state stable and the dynamics of human communities.

Read more: NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik: Ukraine should continue space program

In Kyiv, Fukuyama emphasized the three conditions for democracy: an effective state governed by the Rule of Law and accountable to the society. But how can this be accomplished in a country with huge antagonism between the society and the state? The professor has a message to the civil society activists: join the government, become the government, change it from within. “When I’m in Ukraine, I feel that the only contribution I can make is to teach a new generation of leaders,” he said. It is necessary to change the institutions precisely in this way. New Maidans are unlikely to change anything.

But it is known that our bureaucracy has “digested” many reformers. Well, not all recipes from Western gurus, especially regarding tactics, are practical in Ukraine. It is necessary to develop our own  or adapted approaches. It is the strategic goals where Fukuyama’s advice can be most valuable. But to implement it, the leaders should find ways to change the prevailing mentality of the society.I had a chance to talk to Professor Fukuyama. We had a brief conversation about the role of e-government and future cooperation. His openness is really amazing.

And when I was sitting side-by-side with the members of the Ukrainian government, including Prime Minister Groysman, a thought came to my mind: something really changed. At last the Ukrainian leaders recognize the need for life-long learning. I cannot imagine the pre-2014 leaders sitting like students at Fukuyama’s lecture in Ukraine. In the best case, they would proudly sit at the podium next to him. See the difference?

Professor Fukuyama, one of the global Top 100 Public Intellectuals, came to Kyiv to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Stanford University (where he currently works) and Ukraine, represented by the Cabinet of Ministers, Professional Government Association and Kyiv School of Economics. His visit was initiated by the PGA.

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