I well remember being almost persuaded by Francis Fukuyama’s wonderfully argued The End of History and the Last Man. The book suggested that the West and perhaps the world had reached an endpoint where democracies constrained by the rule of law and powered by market economies would dominate. If so, the future looked happy. The synthesis of the principles of democracy and economic liberty would lead to a peaceful prosperity where the chief excitement might come from the relentless doubling of computer power.
At least so far, however, The End of History has collided with history. Much of the Islamic world has not gotten the message. To be sure, the fall of the Soviet Union has led to many ex-communist states with an admirable commitment to law and the kind of economics that gains long-term prosperity. But there remains Russia, where democracy seems incapable of sustaining a loyal opposition, the state looms as leviathan, and the economy has large elements of a kleptocracy. Readers of Russian history should not be surprised. Richard Pipes has long argued that since the 15th century, Russian culture has been marked by disdain for rights of property and an enthusiasm for a patrimonial regime with little separation between state and economic and civic society.
But nothing better represents the failure of Fukuyama’s thesis than plight of Euro and the Greek crisis. The Euro was the monetary representation of history’s end in the birthplace of the West.