Chaos at the End of History (Matt Johnson, 12 Feb 2024, Quillette)

His critics argue that the book failed to anticipate a long list of ideological clashes and upheavals: September 11, populist authoritarianism in the US and Europe, the invasion of Ukraine, and the rise of aggressive Chinese nationalism. Many of these critics haven’t read the book or the essay that preceded it, or they would know that Fukuyama fully expected wars, demagogues, aggressive dictators, and political crises to continue filling the pages of the newspapers. His central argument was that capitalist liberal democracy has proven to be the most durable political and economic system—an argument that’s every bit as compelling today as it was 30 years ago.

The evidence for Fukuyama’s claim that the end of the Cold War brought the “unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism” is all around us. Western Europe has been at peace since World War II. The total number of democracies has surged. The liberal-democratic world is far more prosperous than any civilization in history—the United States’ annual GDP alone is nearly $28 trillion, while global GDP (adjusted for inflation) was around $23 trillion when “The End of History?” was originally published in 1989. Meanwhile, democracy’s authoritarian challengers are foundering. Russia’s pointless war against Ukraine has made the country a global pariah (Moscow’s best friends are now North Korea and Iran), tanked the value of the ruble, and put immense pressure on its already-meager petro-economy. China, meanwhile, faces a crippling demographic and economic crisis—Chinese stocks have contracted by almost $6 trillion in just three years as a massive real-estate bubble bursts and growth slows substantially.