This is right up our alley, but The Atlantic wouldn’t dare cite Last and First Men. They are right to see the confusion among liberals because of the chaotification of democracy, and the corruption of its meaning. Fukuyama’s thesis had a funny core with some depth, but that core was swamped by what can only be called the silly side of the thesis: how could ‘democracy/capitalism’ be the end of history if we don’t specify the difference between different brands? How can the thesis stand if ‘democracy’ becomes corrupted by capitalist elites? This and a host of other problems are fully in evidence now as the great examplar of American democracy begins to induce disillusion rather than any claim for its finality.
At this point it is important to see that the issue is really about two opposites as they move to meet each other. Democracy/capitalism and democracy/communism. It was the inability of all parties, left and right to resolve the required ‘new definition’ that has left political evolution paralyzed.
A simple amendment to political thought that prevents the power of elites from concealed dictatorship is beyond the gaggle of the Fukuyama cult. It would that the ‘end of history’ will require another revolution.
But most disturbingly, the connection between capitalism, democracy, and liberalism upon which Fukuyama’s argument depended has itself been broken. In the wake of the credit crunch and the global economic downturn, it has become increasingly clear that prosperity is not, in fact, best served either by the pursuit of laissez-faire economics or by the inexorable extension of economic freedoms. Indeed, quite the opposite. As Thomas Piketty argues in Capital in the Twenty-First Century, free markets have not only enlarged the gap between rich and poor, but have also reduced average incomes across the developed and developing worlds.