by Kori Schake
February 18, 2014
Although frequently misunderstood, Francis Fukuyama’s argument in The End of History and the Last Man is crucial to assessing contemporary cases of regime change. Fukuyama argued for “the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” because there are no viable long-term ideological contenders for satisfying human wants from societal organization. That people choose authoritarian capitalism in the short term does not refute Fukuyama: his contention is that only Western liberalism can produce the ecosystem of prosperity and governance that wins popular belief in societal success. And that is how to understand the cataclysm Egypt is undergoing: the people there have chosen to regress from freedom out of fear of where their country was headed and to regroup and focus in the near term on prosperity. Unfortunately, authoritarianism is difficult to dislodge once it sinks its roots and cannot produce the kind of prosperity Egyptians seek.