When Francis Fukuyama published his essay "The End of History?" in the summer of 1989, he ignited the first real debate about the future of the post-Cold War world.
Fukuyama, a RAND Corp. analyst, accepted the prediction of 18th-Century philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel that mankind's progression from the Stone Age was destined to end when "a final rational form of society and state became victorious."
Liberal democracy is that victor, Fukuyama declared.
"What we may be witnessing," he wrote, "is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point in mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."
Fascism and Marxism failed, and there is no other ideology ready to challenge Western liberalism, he contended. In the future, only the rapidly diminishing number of states that do not participate in the "common marketization" of the world will find differences worth fighting about.