BOSTON – When Francis Fukuyama published his famous 1989 essay, “The End of History?,” he captured the mood in many Western capitals at the time. Not everybody agreed with him that “the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution” had been reached, but few could deny the resonance of his message. In anticipating “an unabashed victory” for “economic and political liberalism,” he was channeling both the emerging policymaking consensus and what had already become the standard approach in much of academia.
This late twentieth-century consensus rested on two distinct but synergistic pillars: political liberalism and economic liberalism. In the political domain, democratic institutions had the wind behind them and seemed to be taking root inexorably.