Liberalism and Cathonomics: books by Francis Fukuyama and Anthony Annett

Two works investigate how our ‘common good’ plays off against ‘individual autonomy’

Francis Fukuyama: Liberalism has “seen its core principles pushed to extremes by advocates on both its right and left wings, to the point where those principles themselves were undermined”. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty

Francis Fukuyama: Liberalism has “seen its core principles pushed to extremes by advocates on both its right and left wings, to the point where those principles themselves were undermined”. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty

There was much western hubris when the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama made his name heralding the “end of history”. The cold war gave way to a unipolar Pax Americana. The peaceful rise of China was to be accommodated within the architecture of neoliberal globalisation. The onward march of social and economic liberalism seemed assured.

In 2022, however, revanchist Russia seeks to turn back the clock while China flexes its military muscles. Universal liberal democracy looks increasingly utopian while even some of its supposed exemplars in the West have flirted with an authoritarian turn. So, has liberalism failed? Two new books address different aspects of this question.

The Irish Times
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