Following the Soviet collapse, Francis Fukuyama published his most well-known piece of work, The End of History and the Last Man, which proclaimed liberal democracy to be the end game for all forms of governance.
History, or at least the last two decades, has proven him wrong. The practice of liberal democracy has deteriorated within, the appeal of its ideals weakened without, its influence and continued spread far from certain.
John Kampfner’s book makes the following observations:
In China, the Communist Party has largely succeeded in convincing the country’s middle class that the freedoms demanded by students and dissident intellectuals at Tiananmen Square would have led to a welter of factional conflict, scaring away foreign investment and spiking economic growth.
In Russia, democracy is associated with the Wild West atmosphere of the Yeltsin years, when market reforms created a cohort of billionaires as well as mass unemployment and a collapse of social services.
India’s middle class, revolted by the corruption and demagoguery of mass politics (though apparently not by the horrifying deprivations of the masses), has largely forsworn political engagement (apart from bribing politicians), hoping for a strongman who will maintain public order through a combination of patronage and Hindu nationalism – bread and circuses.
In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s persistent popularity is due partly to his ownership of much of the country’s mass media and his influence over the rest. But it’s also partly an expression of public disillusionment with politics and a desire to be left alone by the state – above all by the tax collector.
Britain under Thatcher and Blair has seen an exponential increase in technological surveillance and a steady decline in Parliamentary and judicial control of the executive branch, especially the police and intelligence agencies. Here the pretext was not growth but security: terrorist threats, first from the IRA and then from al Qa’eda. But London’s centrality to international finance and its hospitality to rich foreigners with shady pasts have also helped to erode Britain’s already weak traditions of free speech, journalistic muckraking, and official whistle-blowing.
As for the United States, the Bush administration’s assault on civil liberties and the signal failure of Congress, the media or the judiciary to resist it are already well-known.
While the liberal democracy project stalls, chess pieces are rearranged silently.
After getting rejected by the EU despite American support, Turkey is re-thinking its next moves. While Europe loses a valuable ally – both economically and politically, Turkey has a whole lot to gain. After all, why play second fiddle to Europe, when you can be the big gun in your own neighbourhood?
Already an economic powerhouse in the region, Turkey is taking steps towards building relationships with Armenia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. And the one that’s raising eyebrows? Signs of a new alliance with Russia.
And Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian Eva Peron, is pro-Russian and likely to win the coming election. Despite years of high hopes over Ukraine’s eligibility to join NATO and the EU, there’s now despair in the west as Ukrainians signal their preferences of political stability and prosperity over ideology.