It is hard to predict how future historians will characterise our era.
Perhaps the end of the Cold War will be mentioned, although negative
labels (such as also those of ‘post-modernism’ or ‘post-industrial
society’) are not very conducive to understanding. ‘Globalisation’
might also be considered something typical for our epoch – even if it
is mysterious how this term, which is so overloaded with diverse
meanings, could ever capture the minds of the contemporaries so
thoroughly. A more plausible characterisation of the changes in the
status of global society which took place in the fourth quarter of the
twentieth century appears to be the reference to the triumphant transition
to liberal democracy. This regime form has become the ‘normal’
form of government. In 1974, scarcely 30 per cent of the
existing states could qualify as democracies; today these comprise
more than 60 per cent.