In his first State of the Union speech, U.S. President Biden warned that democracies need to put up a fight with autocratic states. This is in stark contrast to Fukuyama’s book The End of History and the Last Man, written 30 years ago: “at the end of history, there are no serious ideological competitors left to liberal democracy”. However, since Fukuyama’s work, the global number of people living in a democracy has declined, while the appeal of authoritarian regimes has increased – a process that has been accelerating since 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, Western democracies have been destabilized by so-called “illiberal democrats” that go against the founding principles of liberal democracies.
On a global level, as the appeal of democracies is waning, the powerful autocratic alliance between Russia and China seems to be growing stronger, united in their mutual adversity against the U.S.-led liberal world order. They envision an alternative world order, based not on universalism and unipolarity but on spheres of influence and dominating nation-states. That is why the war with Ukraine is so important for them: it embodies a battle for a cultural sphere of influence while the U.S. hesitates. As such, the ideological confrontation between the liberal-democratic and autocratic world order is on its way to becoming the global political issue of our century.