Africa Notes: Southern Africa in Global Perspective - November 1989
November 30, 1989
We live in interesting times, times of dramatic change and constantly shifting intellectual fashions. Two years ago, historian Paul Kennedy triggered one such fashion by writing of the decline of America as a great power. This idea enchanted many Western intellectuals, and even some stockbrokers and bond traders who suddenly had more time to read books after the 1987 crash. But something happened to undermine the new fashion: the Soviets decided to decline first.
Today, having won the Cold War, the West is engaged in debating what it all means, what new global system should replace the familiar one of the past 40 years. In this heady atmosphere, all sorts of ideas germinate. One such notion is the fashionable doctrine that history is dead, that the political-philosophical-ideological struggles of man since Plato to define the perfect society are over: Western economic liberalism and democratic principles have won.