1996 and the End of History

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1996 and the End of History examines the year as it panned out in the UK not just in politics but in music, light entertainment and sport.


It was the zenith of a decade which will go down as remarkably untroubled by modern standards; following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, prior to 9/11, in which political conditions of peace and apparent economic prosperity created an overall mood of frivolity, postmodern anti-seriousness and a desire to get back to sunnier times before the grim onset of the strife-ridden 70s and 80s. 1996 could be seen in the UK as a subconscious recreation of the year 1966; the England football team seeking similar glory at Wembley Stadium in Euro 96, Tony Blair representing the white heat of an incoming Labour government after many years of Tory rule a la Harold Wilson, Oasis’s absolute dominance a throwback to the monomania surrounding The Beatles. However, the author argues, this mood of retrograde optimism was a distraction, the feeling of prosperity a delusion, one compounded by the notion that now the End Of History had arrived, so had the old oppositions of Left And Right; that we were entering post-political times. They were nothing of the kind, as the future we find ourselves in today confirms.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a journalist and author who started working life at Melody Maker in 1986. Since then he has written for NME, Uncut, The Wire, The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mash, When Saturday Comes and The Quietus among others. He is also the author of Fear Of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don’t Get Stockhausen (Zero), The Prince Charles Letters (Aurum) and Future Days: Krautrock And The Building Of Modern Germany (Faber & Faber), as well as books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminime and the footballer Charlie Nicholas. He lives in East London.

"A quality addition to the critical reassessment of ‘90s Britain."

LSE Review of Books