Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture: A World View (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 331pp., $25.00.
Like tectonic plates slowly grinding against one another prior to causing an earthquake, there are two slowly developing tendencies in the world that will lead to major disruptions in the future, both within societies and among them.
The first of these developments is the "end of history." By this I mean the steady convergence of political and economic institutions around the models of liberal democracy and capitalism, and the continued implementation of liberal principles, particularly the principle of equality of opportunity, within liberal democracies. There has rarely been as much homogeneity in the basic structure of the institutions of advanced countries than there is today. Despite a series of peripheral conflicts around the world, nothing that has happened in the five years since I wrote the original "End of History?" article in this journal has fundamentally contradicted this view, and much has occurred to confirm it.
The consequence for international politics is not that nations are converging in all respects. On the contrary, the fact that their basic institutions have become so similar means that they are differentiated from one another increasingly by other factors, the most obvious and important of which is culture. Americans and Japanese thought they were all part of the "free world" during the Cold War; today, they see much more clearly that they have very distinctive forms of both democracy and capitalism.