Jeremy Clarke goes to the US to think about sex and liberal democracy on Venice Beachby Jeremy Clarke / July 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
On the way back from New Zealand, I had the option of a stopover in Los Angeles. I took it and went to stay at Venice Beach for a week. I’d never been to the US before and have always felt a hick when owning up to the fact. I once heard someone say that they had no inclination to visit the US-as if to have one would be immoral. It is partly because people say such ridiculous things about the US that I am attracted to it.
I imagine it to be a sexy sort of country, with a vigorous, miscegenistic populace brought up to believe that anything is possible, including immortality and personal happiness. I also imagine that, in many respects, the US’s present is Britain’s future; where the various new blooms and mutations of that global organism called “liberal democracy” first became apparent.
Although I freely use the term liberal democracy, I’m still struggling to comprehend what it is. So far my line of enquiry has led me to a book called The End of History and the Last Man, in which Francis Fukuyama claims that, believe it or not, liberal democracy is the acme of mankind’s ideological evolution. One of the reasons I opted to stay in Los Angeles was because I thought it would be an appropriate setting for tackling such a book.
We have arrived at the end of the history of conflicting ideologies, says Fukuyama, because the bourgeois “men without chests” have triumphed finally and irrevocably over the aristocratic “beasts with red cheeks.” Competing ideologies such as communism have all failed to satisfy the long term, deep seated needs of the human soul. Liberal democracy alone can achieve this because it endlessly stimulates reason and desire (main components of the soul according to Plato), and offers each of its citizens what Hegel called “recognition.” I have to admit that stated as baldly as that it sounds a bit hit-and-miss, but as I sat outside a caf? on Venice Beach, I was so engrossed by Fukuyama’s argument, that the bums were loath to trouble me. Sometimes I looked up from my book to contemplate the handsome Last Men and Women as they glided past my table on their rollerblades. I also saw the police and, more surprisingly, Jonathan Ross skating by. “Believe the Hype -Get Sucked In” said a startlingly frank advertisement glued…