The End of History and the Last Man is 21 years old this year. The book of that name, by Francis Fukuyama, has, in the view of many, matured badly. Published in 1992, it was much lauded for its view that, with the collapse of communism in the Soviet bloc, liberal democracy and free markets were the only long-term politics and economics for the globe.
After 9/11, the disparagements came quickly. The terrorist attacks were held to show that history may have paused, but it had reignited with a vengeance. Clearly, there were other powerful forces in the world than the “inevitable” liberal democracy; sharply different ideologies were alive, well and seeking power by any means.
Fukuyama was seen as a man of the right, though he is quite heterodox: he endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, and has recently said that the German social democratic model is better for workers than the U.S. free enterprise one. He has not given up thinking freely, and though he has modified his views, he has not abandoned them.
Shouldn’t he, though? A tour of the contemporary world reveals much that would give Fukuyam-ists pause. Democracy of any kind is often a corrupt façade when it’s not missing altogether.
The Syrian conflict appears to be swaying to the advantage of President Assad, as the city of Qusair in Western Syria was retaken by government forces. Determined oppression, for which the Fukuyama thesis left little room, remains a regime’s possible response. Syria still has powerful friends and every chance of victory.