What is the biggest transitionary world event of the last 15 years? The dot-com boom and bust? The War on Terror? Nope, even those don't get the grand prize.
The most profound event of our time has been the transition of three of largest non-capitalist countries of the world, Russia, China, and India, away from communism and/or socialism and towards free markets and capitalism.
Russia was part of the communist USSR. China is still run by a communist party, but is pursuing capitalistic wealth creation with great zeal, even using slogans like 'To get rich is glorious' to motivate the acquisition of wealth. India, while a democracy through the last 50 years, still used draconic, Soviet-style central planning measures that choked economic growth for four decades. In India in the 1970s, it used to take 6 years to purchase a scooter or get a telephone line.
These three nations are home to 2.5 billion people, and possess three of the world's four largest militaries and two-thirds of the world's nuclear weapons. All have moved towards free markets, and as a result, all now have economies growing at greater than 6% a year, and all three now have better relations with the US than they did 15 years ago. The decline in global warfare over this period is also a very good side benefit of this.
The number of people benefiting from this is so immense, that it amounts to no less than the center of gravity of world economic thought moving decisively away from socialism and towards free markets. There truly cannot be a bigger defeat for socialism than this.
One could argue that this would have happened anyway, particularly since the growth rate of the world economy is accelerating, and the huge populations of these countries would have to participate in rapid growth just to keep the world economy going on the exponential growth trendline. If that is true, then it means the trend is truly irreversible, and new countries would also get pulled into the train of higher economic growth. Afghanistan and Iraq are likely candidates.
Communists, socialists, and anti-US leftists are now only left with a few pockets of validation in North Korea and Cuba. They cheer the coverage of Hugo Chavez in the media, but Venezuela has about as much chance of moving the world back towards socialism as Jimmy Carter has of being regarded as a great President. They scream about the need to 'fairly' distribute wealth, never admitting that wealth has to be created first. They have been exposed as being consumed by little more than juvenile envy of the most productive and enterprising members of society, and their ideology has been rejected by 2.5 billion more people.
The world has chosen the path of enterprise and meritocracy. Period.