Dan O’Brien: Thirty years on from The End of History, the world appears to be facing a democratic recession

Francis Fukuyama’s influential 1992 work The End of History proposed that liberal democracy had triumphed over the ‘isms’ of the 20th century. But today liberal democracy faces three challengers: the authoritarian right, the illiberal left and non-democratic regimes imposing themselves on others

Police using tear gas to hold back pro-Trump supporters rioting at the Capitol. Trumpians are motivated by fears that their children are being indoctrinated, the police will be abolished and American history rewritten. Picture: Getty

Thirty years ago, one of the most influential books of the past half century was published. Francis Fukuyama's The End of History captured an idea of its time. In the early 1990s, communism had gone the way of fascism. After decades of conflict, the two great anti-democratic ideologies of the 20th century were defeated.

This had world-historical significance, Fukuyama argued. Political history was effectively over because liberal democracy had so comprehensively defeated the alternatives. Every ...