Francis Fukuyama will always be best known for one cosmic soundbite – “The End of History“. This has given him an undeserved reputation as a political optimist, the man who believes that everything will turn out all right for democracy if we just let history run its course. In fact, Fukuyama is a much gloomier thinker than you might guess, always on the lookout for what can go wrong. The End of History, which was published in 1992, is a pretty depressing book (much more depressing than the original 1989 article on which it is based). It is overshadowed by the influence of one of Fukuyama's mentors, the conservative Chicago philosopher Allan Bloom. Bloom thought that American society was drowning in a sea of intellectual relativism and pop cultural pap, and Fukuyama worried that the post-1989 triumph of democracy threatened more of the same. With no big ideological battles to fight any more, politics would just become one mindless thing after another.