Here’s the factual riposte to Francis Fukuyama that Sensemaker readers will have been waiting for. It comes in two parts. Part one: since 1981 the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has fallen from 40 per cent to 8 per cent. Part two: in that time the divide between countries that value secularism and self-expression and countries that value orthodoxy and tradition has widened, not narrowed. In other words, pace Fukuyama, prosperity has emphatically not seeded a global shift towards liberal democracy. We knew this (Xi-ism, Putinism, Orbanism, Syria, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iran, Ukraine). But the latest five-yearly update of the World Values Survey confirms it with a whole new level of detail. The Economist gives it the attention it deserves, with two big omissions. In relation to Part two above, it doesn’t mention the central role played by bad individuals nurturing kleptocracies with secret police and private armies as instruments of terror. And in relation to Part one (the astonishing decline in extreme poverty in the space of one long generation), it fails to note that a) this is progress and b) it’s intimately linked to climate change. For another week, perhaps.
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