There is a further obstacle to revolutionary change. The communist and fascist revolutionary alternatives to capitalism were disasters, and they are the only ones to have emerged so far. There are no other alternatives around and almost no one wants to repeat either of those. Socialism, whether revolutionary or reformist, has never been weaker. Fundamentalist Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam are the surging ideologies of the world and they tend to contemplate otherworldly as much as material salvation. This-worldly alternative ideologies of the 20th century failed. In poorer countries brought into the global economy we might expect the rise of socialist or similar movements, but they are likely to become reformist. Modern social revolutions have almost never occurred without major wars destabilizing and delegitirnizing ruling regimes. In the two biggest revolutions of the 20th century, in Russia and China, world wars (with different causes than capitalist crises) were necessary causes of revolution. Wars are thankfully in decline around the world—in fact only the United States continues to make inter-state wars—and there are no anticapitalist revolutionary movements of any size in the world. Revolution seems an unlikely scenario. The end really is nigh for revolutionary socialism.
The future of the left is likely to be at most reformist social democracy or liberalism. Employers and workers will continue to struggle over the mundane injustices of capitalist employment (factory safety, wages, benefits, job security, etc.), and their likely outcome will be compromise and reform. Developing countries will likely struggle for a reformed and more egalitarian capitalism just as Westerners did in the first half of the 20th century. Some will be more successful than others, as was the case in the West. China faces the severest problems now. The benefits of its phenomenal growth are very unequally distributed, generating major protest movements. Revolutionary turbulence is certainly possible there, but if successful it would likely bring in more capitalism and perhaps an imperfect democracy, as happened in Russia. America also faces severe challenges since its economy is overloaded with military and health spending, its polity is corrupted and dysfunctional, and the ideology of its conservatives has turned against science and social science. All this amid the inevitability of relative decline and the growing realization that American claims to a moral superiority over the rest of the world are hollow. This seems a recipe for further American decline.