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seem to be in retreat. Fukuyama’s vision seems ever more Utopian, compromised by eternal forces.

The rise of Islamist extremism since al-Qaeda’s formation in the late 1980s does not in itself prove him wrong; but the refusal by certain Islamic states to condemn al-Qaeda’s activities; or to make any reforms themselves that might lead them towards democracy; and the hostility of a wider number to the American-led ‘war’ against Islamism, suggest a settled new world order is some way off. Nor are these the only impediments.

America’s response to the threat it perceives against itself has also compromised its own liberal democratic values. Former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe have espoused democracy, but Russia itself is a sham democracy – a tyranny in disguise – as are some former Soviet republics. Russia still interferes in democracies, such as the Baltic states, that it resents having had carved out of ‘its’ territory. China may be moving towards capitalism economically but it remains repressive socially and in terms of human rights, and makes no pretence of espousing liberal democracy. Much of the Middle East and Africa are despotisms of one stripe or another. Latin America has its beacons of democracy – notably Brazil – but elsewhere has repressive regimes and some states – including Mexico – on the edge of anarchy.

The desire for power, sovereignty, hegemony and control is basic, and will always ensure that

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