What's the Latest Development?

The author of The End of History has written a new book. Once a mid-level government employee, Francis Fukuyama set the political world on fire with his now-famous treatise on the triumph of liberal democracy as the world's accepted political ideology. Now, with The Origins of Political Order, he attempts to understand how countries, as he puts it, "get to Denmark". "Fukuyama is attempting to work out how states developed and why some became liberal democracies and others, notably China, opted for an authoritarian model. He argues that getting to Denmark relies on three things that have to be in harmony—a functioning state, the rule of law and accountable government."

What's the Big Idea?

While liberal democracy is the world's preferred political ideology, it remains vulnerable to decay. The creation of the European Union was meant to be an affirmation of a pan-European democracy, but as budget crises threaten to topple political leaders in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, one wonders if the world's current political reality is so preferable. And even Fukuyama admits that China's authoritarian government suits its unique political situation rather well. Still, he remains optimistic about democracy's chances: "I do think there's this historical modernisation process, and by and large it's been very beneficial to people. But there are blips. History doesn't proceed in a linear way."