The Future of Democracy and Democratization
The preceding chapters have focused on the large number of transitions toward democracy in recent years and have examined the possible effects of these transitions on economic development and international relations. This chapter explores the future of democracy and democratization. Will the processes of democratization continue in force with many more countries becoming democratic and with the new democracies moving toward greater democratic consolidation, or will there be reversals toward authoritarianism? It will quickly become apparent that forecasting is difficult; the ability to explain past events does not, unfortunately, necessarily mean that one can make accurate predictions about the future. What individual actors and social movements will do is to some extent unpredictable. But with the knowledge we have about the general framework that sets the stage for the actors, we can outline some possibilities in the form of scenarios. Although we cannot know if these forecasts will prove true, they can help inform our thinking about the future.
In a recent, much debated essay, Francis Fukuyama predicted the end of history. With the collapse of communism, he argues, there is no longer a viable alternative to the Western type of liberal democracy that is based on a market economy. We are looking at, said Fukuyama, "the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."1 According to this reasoning, the liberal democracy model is more than merely dominant; it is the only one left to choose. The alternatives have proven unviable. The transitions toward democracy discussed in this book constitute the early stage of a process that will lead to the victory of democracy on a world scale.
Fukuyama's essay has attracted substantial critique. Samuel Huntington, a scholar who rejects Fukuyama's vision, is much more skeptical about the future of democracy: