No ‘End of the History’

Was it opportunistic or glorious what Fukuyama wrote in his article, which was later expanded to a book in 1992, on the dawn of Soviet Union’s collapse? Maybe the most importantly, was it realist what Fukuyama meant with ‘the end of history’ to triumph the American values along with the Western liberal democracy tradition over other forms of governance? Decades later, ongoing existence of monarchies and authoritarian governments in the different regions of the world against ‘the last man’ discourse proves that Fukuyama was not right in his new world prediction.

Expansion of democracy and democratic values can be resembled to the Kuznets circles: a new expansion followed by a downturn. Indeed, the first wave of democracy was then followed by the emergence of totalitarian governments in Europe. The second wave was hit by the communist takeover. The third wave of democracy has been shaded by the modern authoritarianism. Freedom House report marked 2015 as the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.  It is obvious that Fukuyama forgot to mention Kuznets cycle-alike democratization waves which made him fail to predict inevitable fall-back of some third wave democracies.

Leaving aside Fukuyama’s thesis, it is time to understand what really makes some revolutionary and authoritative regimes so strong not to be part of any major democratization waves?

Levitsiky and Way (2013) argued that revolutionary features of authoritarian regimes eased the governance. It was argued that belief in ideology and common identity could make citizens obey rules of authoritarian state and commit themselves to development aims that were generated by ruling elites. It is essential to note that ideology and common identity for revolutionary regimes are only temporary. One of the main reasons for the vanishing commonalities among citizens of revolutionary regimes over time might be pass-away of generations actively participated in the revolution. Second, and maybe the most immediate cause to diminishing belief in commonalities, might be marginalization of elites. As was seen in the last years of Soviet Union, differences in living standards between Politburo members and the masses had no interference with ‘the ideal of communism’.

As a counter example to the Soviet Union, China under communist party transformed its economy from a closed communist economy to a unique mixed-economy under the Chinese Communist Party leadership. According to China Business ,China’s middle class grew from close to zero in 1995 to an estimated 87 million in 2005 and  it was projected that number of middle class in China will jump to 340 million by 2016. Economic benefits not limited with the ruling elites or party members but expanded for masses can strengthen the legitimacy of revolutionary regimes. Similar to revolutionary authoritarian regimes, non-revolutionary monarchies might be subject to vanishing legitimization for the same reasons observed in revolutionary regimes.

Contrary to the common belief, Yom and Gause (2012) argued that it was not sacred kinship of rulers, culture, or institutions which made citizens loyal to the Arab dynasties but it was strategic governance which made the monarchical exceptionalism possible. Three main pillars of the monarchical exceptionalism were cross-cutting coalitions, hydrocarbon rents, and foreign patron.  In the article, it was noted that in a country where any two pillars were not realized, monarchical regimes faced with a danger of collapse. While no upheavals were seen in Qatar or Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring, Bahrain were subjected to strong protests. This reality can support the idea that Bahrain monarchy were not able to strategically govern the country creating cross-cutting coalitions and hydrocarbon rents. The regime; however, did not fall due to last pillar of monarchical exceptionalism, foreign patrol and particular to this case Saudi intervention.

It seems that states had not been shaped under one type of governance contrary to the Fukuyama’s ‘the end of history’ prediction. What Fukuyama essentially missed was the Kuznets cycle-alike democratization waves happening perpetually since the first democratization wave had begun. Although some countries moved back and forth in the democratization path, some never took the democratization route. Revolutionary and non-revolutionary authoritarian regimes can resist to any major shift that can shake the world order if only these regimes are governed strategically. Rather than commitment to the regime itself or hereditary and cultural ties with monarchs, people under authoritarian regimes aim to take their part from welfare created in their states.


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