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Going through a protracted period of transition since the end of the Cold War, the world order in the making is neither what was nor what it is yet to become. It is in “the middle of the future.”

To get our bearings in this uncertain transition, we explore the two grand post-Cold War narratives—“The End of History” as posited by Francis Fukuyama and “The Clash of Civilizations” posited by the late Samuel Huntington. Mikhail Gorbachev looks back at his policies that brought the old order to collapse. The British philosopher John Gray critiques the supposed “universality” of liberalism and, with Homi Bhabha, sees a world of hybrid identities and localized cultures. The Singaporean theorist Kishore Mahbubani peels away the “veneer” of Western dominance. Amartya Sen, the economist and Nobel laureate, assesses whether democratic India or autocratic China is better at building “human capacity” in their societies.