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Was democracy theorist Francis Fukuyama right all along?

April 16, 2011

Jeet Heer in The Globe & Mail:

In 1989, as communism was collapsing in Eastern Europe, foreign-policy oracle Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed that we were witnessing the end of history because, in the modern world, liberal democratic capitalism would have no rivals as a legitimate form of government.

His daring manifesto was widely derided as fanciful by critics, many of whom accused him of ignoring the fact that liberal democracy was hardly taking off in the Islamic world. More than two decades later, however, his ideas about the universal appeal of liberal democratic ideals look surprisingly robust in the wake of widespread popular revolts in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as persistent democratic tremors in China.

At 58, he is also back in the news with a hefty tome, The Origins of Political Order, an ambitious global survey that traces the birth and slow emergence of democracy, and is to appear in Canada on April 30.

In a phone interview from his office in Stanford University, where he is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Prof. Fukuyama provided a typically sweeping tour d’horizon of the world scene, offering surprising and thoughtful insights on recent events in the Middle East and Asia.

With characteristic aplomb, he argues that thinkers on the left and right have been purblind in ignoring the importance of a strong state, and that the Communist Party of China has inherited both the strengths and weaknesses of Asia’s tradition of enlightened despotism. [More]

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