The End of History revisited

In my experience, the people who denounce Francis Fukuyama the loudest are the ones who haven’t actually read his book. Twenty-five years on from the publication of the original essay, he believes his thesis is in pretty good shape:

In the realm of ideas, moreover, liberal democracy still doesn’t have any real competitors. Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the ayatollahs’ Iran pay homage to democratic ideals even as they trample them in practice. Why else bother to hold sham referendums on “self-determination” in eastern Ukraine? Some radicals in the Middle East may dream of restoring an Islamist caliphate, but this isn’t the choice of the vast majority of people living in Muslim countries. The only system out there that would appear to be at all competitive with liberal democracy is the so-called “China model,” which mixes authoritarian government with a partially market-based economy and a high level of technocratic and technological competence.

Yet if asked to bet whether, 50 years from now, the U.S. and Europe would look more like China politically or vice versa, I would pick the latter without hesitation. There are many reasons to think that the China model isn’t sustainable. The system’s legitimacy and the party’s ongoing rule rest on continued high levels of growth, which simply won’t be forthcoming as China seeks to make the transition from a middle-income country to a high-income one…  With its rising levels of inequality and the massive advantages enjoyed by the politically connected, the “Chinese dream” represents nothing more than a route for a relative few to get rich quickly.

[Via Alex Massie/John Rentoul]

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