ours is a newly dialectical age, the much- touted teleological resolu-
tion of the “end of history” having collapsed like the myth that it always
was into fragmentation, division, and dynamic oppositions, new strug-
gles erupting over old questions. For too long, however, dialectics has not
served to denote such moments of combative division that give its name,
but instead the opposite: a harmonious closure often announced but
rarely experienced. For this, Hegel bears as much responsibility as any-
one: driven by a profound anxiety toward rupture and “intense longing”
for unity, Hegel’s dialectical vision would enable conservative resolutions
even as it opened radical possibilities.1
It is perhaps little surprise, then, that the most famous recent attempt
to recruit Hegel for the task of declaring history over— Francis Fukuyama’s
The End of History—took much the same form as Hegel’s own preemptive
dialectical closure nearly two centuries prior, albeit in a more transparently
conservative way. Blind to the internal tensions of globalizing capital, Fu-
kuyama even more than Hegel fell back on a faith in the impossible: the
resolution of the utterly contradictory, the reconciliation of humanity with
its opposite, through the same vehicle: civil society.2 Today, more than two
de cades after the banner of civil society was hoisted to topple the Soviet
Union and usher in a temporarily unipolar neoliberal world, that banner
now dangles in tatters, its internal tensions bared and its complicities
with power ever more apparent— the vehicle of choice for removing in-
transigent regimes from Yugo slavia to Haiti, Ukraine, and Venezuela.3
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