When the Cold War was ended in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote, three years later, his very well-known book proposing a quite original thesis. He argues that the end of fascism and of communism means the triumph of Eastern liberalism in history. Following a Hegelian perspective, Fukuyama said contrary to Marx that communism, like the other previous economic-political systems that are not liberal, has been only a step to achieve a liberal society. So it happened in Russia and in Eastern Europe, and so it seems to be happening with the progressive opening of the market in China. Today, more than twenty years after Fukuyama wrote, it is time to ask whether secular liberal Western societies still appear to the eyes of humankind to provide the best option. In fact, with the economic crises in Europe, with the austerity imposed on many people and affecting deeply the lives of at least one generation, are liberal societies at risk? Does the growth of the Islamic state after the Arab Spring question the foundation of democratic principles? Considering also Russia and the geo-political problems in Ukraine, can we say that the East has become or is in the process of becoming really democratic? Is the growing popularity of political parties opposed to the European Union, and often embracing anti-democratic ideologies, compatible with Fukuyama’s thesis? It is true, we must say that the American philosopher whom I mentioned assumed that, even if liberal economic-political systems were the best option, their triumph was not automatic and necessary in the long-term. However, Francis Fukuyama recently wrote a new book in which he analyzes a kind of contemporary democratic recession in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a recession that he sees as having delayed the democratic triumph all over the world and over history he announced in the nineties. For me, it is quite interesting to notice how Joseph Ratzinger shares, even if from a different perspective, the concerns of Fukuyama. The German theologian, who became the Pope during a time of political and economic crises, experienced the dictatorship of Nazism and was a protagonist of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Catholic Church accepted positively the principles of democratic society. While, in the past, the relationship between the Church and the “so-called” democrats was characterized especially by confrontation, it seems to me that today, Christianity encourages and is best able to preserve democratic principles. Furthermore, the originality of Ratzinger’s theology consists not only in reconciling the main liberal democratic values with Catholic thought but especially in showing that the condition of the possibility of democracy resides in such Christian theology: democratic values are intelligible and grounded within such theology.
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