Daniel Luban at The Point:
If the right attacked Fukuyama for being insufficiently fearful about political threats to Western liberalism, the left attacked him for being insufficiently hopeful about economic alternatives to it. Fukuyama’s argument came on the heels of a set of developments that seemed to fit a pattern: the collapse of the USSR; Deng Xiaoping’s decision to move China toward something that looked a great deal like capitalism; Margaret Thatcher’s and Ronald Reagan’s attacks on the postwar welfare state. The closing-off of systematic alternatives to capitalism coincided with capitalism’s own transition from “Fordism” to “neoliberalism” (to use the now-conventional terminology), and Fukuyama seemed to exemplify both of these pernicious trends. To detractors on the left, his thesis was at best a failure of political imagination and at worst a highfalutin version of Thatcher’s taunt that “there is no alternative” to the free market.
However unappealing Fukuyama’s view may have been to the left, the lean years of Third Way liberalism and compassionate conservatism did little to disconfirm it. But more recent events have offered critics of the left, like those of the right, the chance to claim vindication by history.