Post Modern Democracies or the End of History


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

14 Dec 2018 – In contemporary times, democracy has become the principal means of governance in most countries. Some such as France and USA have a presidential system others have a parliamentary system (Canada, India, New Zealand, Switzerland, etc) of governance. Even if there is a monarchy in some countries such as in UK or Japan, democratic institutions such as Parliament, political parties and periodic elections to elect representatives of peoples to parliament and other elected bodies are regularly held.

In 1993 the new Russian Constitution that is largely democratic, was adopted. It has a bicameral legislature, independent judiciary, offices of the president and the prime minister, and  other  democratic features including multi-party elections, separation of powers and federalism. In 1999, President Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin as the Prime Minister. Later in that year, Yeltsin resigned from the presidency and Vladimir Putin took over. In 2000 Putin won the presidential  election for two 4 year-terms after which he was appointed as the Prime Minister. He has again been elected as the Russian President in 2012. Now the presidential term is 6 years.

China and North Korea are communist countries and perhaps more dictatorial than democratic countries. In China, President Xi has now been elected for life.

It is only in the field of religion that Christianity today is not preponderant. Islam and to an extent Hinduism and Buddhism have large number of followers. Some scholars have estimated that the manner in which Islam is spreading across the world, Muslims may outnumber Christians by the end of the century.

There are some countries that try to unsuccessfully oppose the global order. China is opposing American hegemony in economic and even military matters. Smaller nations — North Korea and Iran also oppose the US military and nuclear order by continuing with their nuclear programs despite the US President’s threats.

Again, the idea of a democratic order in the world is losing steam as a result of the policies of certain nations — Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, apart from North Korea and Iran and others. In fact questions are being raised about the very meaning and relevance of democracy when large numbers of people live in acute poverty and denied basic human rights.

Francis Fukuyama (born 1952) is an American political scientist, economist, and author. He is known for his book ‎End of history and the Last Man (1992) and other outstanding books. In the End of History he argues that the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free market capitalism of the West and its lifestyle may signal the end point of humanity’s socio-cultural evolution and become the final form of human government.

He has also written “One of the problems with modern democracy is that it provides peace and prosperity, but people want more than that; liberal democracies don’t even try to define what a good life is. It is left to individuals who feel alienated without purpose and that is why joining identity groups gives them some sense of community.

The actions of USA which is the champion of the present post modern  capitalist  world are not infrequently detrimental to peace and stability in the world. Its decision to withdraw from the commitments made in the Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 has brought despair among the large number of nations facing the immediate danger of environmental pollution and global warming. Unfortunately the economic order based on increasing profit making is unconcerned with its adverse impact on the ecosystem and all peoples including the indigenous peoples of our planet, especially in Asia and Africa. Environmental pollution is leading to global warming, rising sea levels that are submerging many coastal regions and small islands, unpredictable weather conditions, causing disease and several other undesirable effects on our planet.

Apart from countries and communities opposing the global village and post modernity, even some individuals try to follow an independently distinct path. In the field of literature the Nobel laureates Jean Paul Sartre and recently VS Naipaul have distanced themselves from this order. In the field of international languages, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in Hindi in the UNO and in other fora. Earlier, Atal Bihari Vajpayee the former Prime Minister of India, who has died recently, also spoke in Hindi in these organizations. The idea was not just to oppose English but also to promote the use of Hindi which is followed and spoken in many countries of the world.

Individual efforts are also being seen in the digitized world today. The founders of Apple computers and iPhones — Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who were College dropouts, started their revolutionary work from Job’s garage in 1976.

One cannot forget the genius of the British scientist and author Stephan Hawking who delved deep into the mysteries of Quantum Physics and Black Holes and wrote popular books such as A Brief History of Time while confined to his wheel chair. Although some individuals have succeeded in the global village due to their inventiveness ingenuity and good luck, for an ordinary mortal questions about what path should be taken, is difficult to answer — in fact difficult to visualize.

Should he join one of the Ivy institutions, make a lot of money and then be part of the consumerist society and help in degrading the environment faster? Or should he just curse his bad luck in being born in a poor country without the wherewithal of becoming part of the modern world?

I am referring not just to one person but to a discourse where the poor the marginalized, the aboriginal peoples, the Dalits of India — what is termed as the subaltern view, have no audible voice. They are there in large scattered numbers but their views or voices can be ignored. This is unfortunate and is likely to lead to tensions and perhaps violence. For peace, harmony and goodwill we need to listen and act on the subaltern views.

If we do not, the prediction made by Fukuyama in 1992 that the spread of liberal democracies  and free market capitalism of the West and its lifestyle may signal the end point of humanity’s  socio-cultural evolution, may come out to be true. The voice of the marginalised sections of people–Dalits and Adivasis of India and the indigenous peoples in many parts of the world who have rich cultural backgrounds–is being ignored by the modern democratic world with its neoliberal capitalist order that is concerned with profit-making and not about increasing social and economic disparities and disorder. Are we slowly going towards the End of History as predicted by Fukuyama?


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 Dec 2018.

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