Beyond the End of History: Cyclical Forces and Geopolitical Shifts in a Changing World

Sud Alogu
7 min readApr 29


With the end of the Cold War, an intellectual spark emerged in the form of a provocative thesis known as “The End of History,” introduced by Francis Fukuyama in his 1989 article and later expanded upon in his 1992 book, “The End of History and the Last Man.” As a keen observer of human history and an unabashed defender of liberal democracy and capitalism, Fukuyama boldly declared these systems to be the pinnacle of human ideological evolution. He argued that with the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, no credible alternative remained. However, as with any grand theory, the passage of time has exposed cracks in its foundations and detractors have arisen to challenge its claims.

The evolution of human history, Fukuyama posits, is propelled by social, economic, and technological forces that inevitably converge upon the triumph of liberal democracy and capitalism. History, to him, had reached its zenith — a point of equilibrium beyond which no grand ideological struggles lay. The post-Cold War world, Fukuyama claimed, would be a universal homogenous state characterized by economic prosperity and international security, devoid of ideological tension and conflict. The concept of an end of history was, and still is, deeply appealing to the Western psyche, but is it truly an accurate reflection of the world we inhabit?

To evaluate this bold assertion, one must consider the historical and political systems that have emerged throughout human history. From tribal communities to feudalism, liberal democracy and capitalism emerged as the systems that best guaranteed individual freedom and prosperity. Fukuyama’s thesis was given weight by the collapse of Soviet communism, which he saw as the “unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.” However, the unfolding of history since that point has given rise to new powers that challenge the notion that liberal democracy and capitalism have reached their final form.

China, for example, has rejected the liberal values of individual rights and freedoms, choosing instead a more authoritarian model of governance. Its state-led capitalism, which combines elements of market economics with strong centralized government control, has fueled remarkable economic growth while maintaining a firm grip on political and social order. This alternative model of governance and economic development challenges the idea that history is converging on a single global state, suggesting instead that the future may be shaped by diverse paths and divergent ideologies.

Additionally, the rise of populist and nationalist movements in Europe and the United States highlights that even within the traditional bastions of liberal democracy, there is dissatisfaction with the status quo. The United States, once a paragon of global influence, has struggled to resolve political deadlocks and has seen its international stature diminish. These challenges to Fukuyama’s thesis serve as a reminder that history continues to evolve, even if it is no longer directed by any overarching purpose or goal.

The unpredictable events of the past few decades, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, the ongoing War on Terror, and the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, demonstrate that the world remains far from stable and predictable. The Russia-Ukraine war, in particular, highlights the ongoing competition between nations with differing ideologies and values. This conflict, rooted in history, culture, and politics, underscores the deep divisions that persist between nations and suggests that the world is still a hotly contested arena of competing interests.

In the years since Fukuyama’s thesis emerged, alternative viewpoints have been put forth that challenge the idea of the end of history. Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations,” for instance, posits that the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world will be cultural and religious differences between civilizations, with the West at the top and Islam as the most dangerous civilization. John Mearsheimer’s “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” contends that global security is still largely determined by the actions of great powers.

George Friedman’s analysis centers around the notion that history is fundamentally cyclical, driven by shifting power dynamics between nations and their ongoing struggle for dominance. In his book “The Next 100 Years,” Friedman forecasts the future based on historical patterns and posits that we are currently experiencing a period of global instability, which will be followed by the rise of new powers seeking to challenge the status quo. This cyclical view of history stands in direct contrast to Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, as it suggests that the world will continue to experience power struggles, geopolitical tensions, and conflicts, regardless of the prevalence of liberal democracies.

Friedman’s forecasts are underpinned by his belief that technology, demographics, and geopolitics are the three key factors that shape the course of human history. He contends that the combination of these factors will determine which nations rise to power and which fall into decline. For instance, he predicts that countries with favorable demographic trends, such as a young and growing population, will be better positioned to assert their influence on the global stage. This leads him to identify potential future powers like Turkey and Poland, while also suggesting that aging societies like Japan and Germany will face challenges in maintaining their current positions. By examining these and other factors, Friedman offers a dynamic and nuanced understanding of history that anticipates the emergence of new geopolitical landscapes.

Peter Zeihan’s analysis, on the other hand, emphasizes the inherent unpredictability and complexity of the global system. In his book “The Absent Superpower,” Zeihan posits that we are witnessing a fracturing of the global order, driven in large part by the waning influence of the United States as the world’s predominant power. He argues that the post-World War II era of relative stability, which was underpinned by American hegemony, is coming to an end, and that the world is entering a period of increased uncertainty, fragmentation, and conflict.

Zeihan’s perspective focuses on the role of geography, resource distribution, and demographics in shaping global dynamics. He contends that these factors, along with the retreat of American power, will lead to the reemergence of regional powers and the decline of globalization. This process, he suggests, will exacerbate existing rivalries and engender new conflicts, as nations scramble to secure their interests and assert their influence in a rapidly changing world. Zeihan’s view of history, like Friedman’s, fundamentally challenges Fukuyama’s notion of a stable, liberal-democratic endpoint, instead envisioning a world marked by constant change, competition, and uncertainty.

Both Friedman and Zeihan offer alternative perspectives to Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, emphasizing the ongoing flux and cyclical nature of history. Their analyses serve as important reminders that history is shaped by an array of interconnected factors, which defy simplistic categorization or prediction. By examining the insights of these scholars, we can develop a more comprehensive understanding of the forces that drive global change and better prepare ourselves for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

As we grapple with the apparent contradictions of history and the diverse perspectives of noted scholars like Fukuyama, Huntington, Mearsheimer, Friedman, and Zeihan, it becomes clear that the concept of the end of history is, at best, a provocative thought experiment. It is evident that the world will continue to undergo shifts in power dynamics, economic transformations, and sociopolitical upheavals. While it may be tempting to seek out an ultimate destination or an endgame for humanity, history has proven time and time again that it is inherently unpredictable and constantly evolving.

The complexity of global affairs is only compounded by the myriad challenges we currently face, such as the rise of authoritarianism, the resurgence of nationalism, the impact of climate change, the threat of cyber warfare, and the devastating consequences of global pandemics. These challenges require innovative and adaptive solutions, rendering any notion of a static, unchanging endpoint in human history highly unlikely.

Moreover, the world has been witness to the ever-increasing interdependence between nations, as globalization has eroded traditional boundaries and facilitated the rapid exchange of goods, services, ideas, and people. This interconnectedness has fostered cooperation and diplomacy between nations, even as it has also intensified competition in various spheres, from economics to technology.

For example, the Biden administration’s zealous pursuit of greener energy policies, while noble in intention, has inadvertently tipped the scales of global oil markets and the broader geopolitical landscape, particularly with respect to the oil-rich nations of Saudi Arabia and Russia. In a bid to save the environment, the White House’s measures to curtail domestic oil production have spawned a series of unintended and unfavorable consequences.

As American oil production wanes, the price of crude surges, and in this newly created chasm, the calculating opportunists of Saudi Arabia and Russia have been quick to capitalize. Ramping up their own oil production to fill the void left by the United States, these countries have not only watched their coffers overflow with oil revenues, but they have simultaneously tightened their grip on global influence.

One could argue that this very push for sustainable energy has led to the strengthening of two nations that have long been engaged in a bitter rivalry with the United States. The paradox of attempting to usher in an age of clean energy without sacrificing the nation’s economic and geopolitical footing is laid bare before us. The complexities and challenges inherent in this transition force us to acknowledge that the road to a greener future is fraught with unintended consequences.

One can discern the common thread of competition, struggle, and the shifting nature of power that binds the course of human events. The case of Saudi Arabia and Russia, seizing upon America’s green energy policies, serves to demonstrate that we are still enmeshed in a world characterized by ever-shifting power dynamics, conflicting interests, and unpredictable outcomes.

Ultimately, whether one subscribes to the cyclical view of history espoused by George Friedman, the constant flux described by Peter Zeihan, or the linear progression championed by Francis Fukuyama, it remains clear that human history is an ever-changing tapestry, woven together by the actions, decisions, and desires of countless individuals and societies. As such, the concept of the end of history may be more accurately understood as a reflection of our innate desire for stability, predictability, and purpose, rather than an objective assessment of the world’s trajectory.



Sud Alogu

In search of truth and deception.