In the past half century, some of the most prominent minds in international affairs have predicted the end of meaningful global divisions based on ideology. Daniel Bell published his “End of Ideology” in 1960; Francis Fukuyama published his “End of History and the Last Man” in 1992; and Thomas Friedman his “The World Is Flat” in 2005 . Especially in Bell’s and Fukuyama’s cases, the message was fairly clear: All this energy put into ideology was pretty much posturing.
You cannot say that now. The forward march of democracy has been halted, and decisively.
In fairness, some form of capitalism is pretty much global — even Cuba is inching toward it, leaving North Korea even colder, hungrier and more alone than ever. But the assumption that capitalism and the ensuing growth of a middle class, would naturally and inevitably produce a competitive political as well as an economic and consumerist market is looking shaky. It may work in time but it’s way too early to say.
Xi Jinping, head of the Chinese Communist Party, chairman of the committee on the armed forces and president of China has stated his an aversion to democracy quite flatly, insisting on absolute loyalty to the Party’s rules and aims, and an end to any kind of organized activity outside of its purview. “So-called” liberal democracy and freedom of the press are not for China. As a Chinese scholar I met at a conference said to me: “Stability first, democracy second.” If not now for democracy, I asked, then when? He would not be drawn; he didn’t know.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has created a neo-nationalist ideology, appealing to Russia’s centuries of separateness from Europe and its preference for a strong central power…