RFI President Eric Patterson: “The Struggle For Liberty Continues”

June 30, 2023

RFI President Eric Patterson wrote an article for WORLD Magazine this week reflecting on Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man. “Fukuyama argued that democratic values faced no ideational challenge,” Patterson observes. “In the early 1990s, world politics was at the end of historical conflict between competing views of legitimate politics. Democracy had won.” But, Patterson continues, “Did democracy win? Is democracy winning?

Patterson writes:

The End of History argued that in the historical evolution of ideas, the notion that democracy—representative government and robust civil liberties of citizens—is not just political architecture, but rather a powerful set of ideas about individual human worth, equality before the law, limited and republican government, a free civil society composed of many other organizations (e.g., churches and businesses), and individual liberty. 

Later in the article, Patterson argues “that in 2023, there is no widespread political idea that rivals the desire people have in most places around the globe for civil liberties, the rule of law, and some form of representative government.” But, he contends: 

…on a practical level, one major challenge is represented by a form of centralized nationalism in which government takes control over sectors of the economy, public life, and some aspects of citizens’ private lives, including their religious faith. China’s President Xi makes this claim in a series of books, articles, speeches, and interviews in which he and his cronies chart the path of a unified Chinese society managed by the communist elite. He claims that rising economic standards demonstrate the utility of this approach and that liberal democratic norms are foreign to the Chinese character. Moreover, “foreign” ideas and identities, including Muslim Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and Western republicans, are enemies.

Read the full article: “The struggle for liberty continues.”