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The problems with American politics today stem from the basic design of U.S. political institutions, exacerbated by increasingly hostile polarization. Unfortunately, absent some sort of major external shock, the decay is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose leads a conversation with the renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama on "The Future of History," Fukuyama's most recent contribution to the magazine.
Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of contemporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.
Fukuyama is best known for his reflections on "the end of history," but with this landmark study, he turns to history's beginning, tracing the origins and trajectories of political order from prehistoric times to the French Revolution.
The American version of capitalism is no longer dominant around the world. In the next decade, developing countries are likely to continue to trade the flexibility and efficiency associated with the free-market model for domestic policies meant to ensure greater resilience in the face of competitive pressures and global economic trauma.
After the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer each presented a bold vision of what the driving forces of world politics would be. The world in 2010 hardly seems on a more promising track -- a reminder that simple visions, however powerful, do not hold up as reliable predictors of particular developments.
Latin America is deepening its democratic institutions, integrating into the global economy, and finally addressing endemic social inequalities -- in short, turning into something of a success story even as most outsiders look the other way.
Washington's system of Asian alliances may have worked during the Cold War, but it ignores today's political reality. Although the six-party talks now underway on North Korea's nukes were born of necessity, their format should be made permanent, so the White House can help reshape Asian diplomacy.
To some degree, biology is destiny. The feminist school of international relations has a point: a truly matriarchal world would be less prone to conflict and more cooperative than the one we now inhabit. And world politics has been gradually feminizing over the past century. But the broader scene will still be populated by states led by men like Mobutu, Milosevic, or Saddam. If tomorrow's troublemakers are armed with nuclear weapons, we might be better off being led by women like Margaret Thatcher than, say, Gro Harlem Brundtland. Masculine policies will still be essential even in a feminized world.
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