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An attempt to strangle truth out of history

I've made fun of Francis Fukuyama before. He's about as stupid as a really, really smart guy can be.

I've made fun of Francis Fukuyama before. He's about as stupid as a really, really smart guy can be.

Back in the 1990s, he made a big splash with a book called The End of History, in which he hypothesized that human society had taken on its final form: representative democracy plus capitalism. All other visions of utopia need not apply.

Of course, this is akin to a medieval scholar of 1450 surveying Catholic feudal Europe and declaring that nothing was likely to ever change that most stable and enduring of political systems.

Guttenberg, Martin Luther and Columbus were getting ready to upend everything, but who could have predicted that?

But if Fukuyama is definitely wrong in the long term, modern political parties seem to be trying to prove him right in the short term.

The defining trait of western politics over the past couple of decades hasn't been a swing to the conservative side, nor to the progressive side, much as the firm proponents of Barack Obama, Stephen Harper, or the late Margaret Thatcher would like to assume.

It's been a mad rush to occupy a strange, artificial, economic middle ground.

You can tell it's the middle ground because every party seems to have to compromise its principles a little bit to edge towards that sweet spot.

The middle ground is defined as somewhere between low-tax libertarianism and Scandinavian social democracy. Citizens have come to expect limited red tape for businesses, and relatively low taxes, while being unwilling to give up on their social safety nets.

So in recent years, we've seen spectacles such as PM Harper squelching any attempt by his own backbenchers to bring up abortion or gay marriage. Remember Harper's "hidden agenda?" It turns out his main agenda was to hold on to power by occupying as much of the middle as possible.

The NDP, no slouches, has stripped out the word "socialism" from its doctrines, following in the footsteps of generations of leaders who have been prying it free from its populist/ Marxist origins.

While the parties move closer and closer together, we see party leaders trying to pretend that the choices are still as wide as they were in the 20th century.

Premier Christy Clark famously called the choice between the Liberals and the NDP "stark" on the first day of the campaign.

We're being told that the difference between an 11 and a 12 per cent corporate tax rate is a stark difference? NDP leader Adrian Dix is doing everything he can to (no surprises here) occupy the centre. I don't so much see a right wing party and a left wing party vying for power as I see a centre-leftish one and a centre-rightish one. More centre than rightish or leftish.

The concern I have for this isn't that I miss the good ol' days of fierce Marxist union organizers versus cigar-chomping plutocrats.

I worry there are some problems with the version of "centrism" we have been handed, at least in the economic realm.

The system may keep the middle class ticking along, but it's also perpetually enriching a small class of top executives and government managers. Power is acknowledged, now, to be rewarded with wealth, whether in good times or bad. Witness the bonuses to bankers who caused the recession, the golden parachutes for incompetent Crown corporation heads.

No one talks about ending unemployment, no one talks about eliminating income taxes, no one wants any radical change. If everyone is going to sit in the mushy middle, who's going to be prepared for when everything, inevitably, transforms completely?

Matthew Claxton is a reporter with the Langley Advance.