Enrichment

Is it the end of "the end of history"?

Mike McCartney

4th January 2022

Fascinating article in the i that suggests that Francis Fukuyama's well worn thesis is now highly questionable

In the article, the author writes about a worrying trend:

"New Year is a time of hope and renewal. Yet it is hard to be optimistic about the state of the world as we start 2022.

Autocracy seems resurgent around the planet, despots emboldened by the West’s weakness and inequality inflamed by pandemic. Democracy feels febrile and fragile in many traditional strongholds, with a series of alarming studies concluding it is under siege and in retreat.

Freedom House, the Washington think-tank, talks about the international balance “shifting in favour of tyranny”, while a major Swedish-led study warned there has been “steep” global decline in democracy, shifting back to levels last seen three decades ago."

This constitutes a reversal of the process identified by the Princeton scholar, Francis Fukuyama, in the early 1990s following the collapse of communism, which Fukuyama argued was the final triumph over liberal western thought to its biggest challenge.

The book, of course, was subsequently criticised by likes of Samuel Huntington in his book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" which was published soon after Fukuyama's tome. But this time, it is not the threat is not principally one that pivots around ideas about identity and religion, but characterised by a collapse in faith in political leaders and the traditional political system, but even if the very idea of democracy.

As Birrell notes, there is serious and scholarly discussion about a second civil war in the USA.

Read the full article here: We are entering another year of democracy under assault. We must stand up for it (inews.co.uk)

Activities

Explain the main thrust of Birrell's article

Research the Freedom House article and report on its findings: Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege | Freedom House

Discuss using the content here, and the suggested links below, whether the USA is really heading for a new civil war

Is the US headed for another Civil War? (brookings.edu)

US ‘closer to civil war’ than most would like to believe, new book says | US politics | The Guardian

Is America in decline? | The Economist - YouTube

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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