The Democracy Trap
Dutton (January 1, 1992)
From Kirkus Reviews
Several years ago, Fuller and Francis Fukuyama (see above) were colleagues at RAND Corp. When the latter’s notorious “The End of History?” was published in The National Interest, Fuller (a sometime Foreign Service officer and CIA aide who’s still employed at RAND) felt obliged to draft a response to his friend’s controversial 1989 article. While the text at hand is no match for Fukuyama’s masterly new treatise, it earns attention on the basis of Fuller’s perceptive diagnoses of what currently ails the body politic. Cautioning that the end of the cold war, though a magnificent victory for Western values, does not signal the onset of a utopian future, Fuller offers a savvy appreciation of the many challenges facing liberal democracy in general and the US in particular.
In fact, he warns, uncritical extension of current limits and loosening of institutional ties that bind could stabilize rather than strengthen representative government throughout the Global Village. Absent the articles of faith attendant to the existence of a Communist threat, which could be used to explain away societal failures, the author argues, postindustrial America is confronted by challenges that may produce greater uncertainty and moral anxiety than ever did ongoing battles against Soviet-style totalitarianism. Among other urgent items on the domestic agenda, Fuller identifies ethnic unrest, racial anger, the growth of an underclass, a cultural context that encourages a widespread sense of entitlement, environmental issues with geopolitical implications, and a lack of national purpose. Fuller points out that the dilemmas facing the US are, at best, susceptible only to tradeoffs between conflicting aspirations. Moreover, he concludes that impatient idealists counting on peace or other forms of benefaction to accrue automatically from the presumptive triumph of liberal democracy are doomed to bitter disappointment. An informed and informative exegesis that spells out many of the reasons why a weary world may have to wait yet a while for a genuinely millennial age. — Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.