Purpose – The aim of this paper is to show that there could still be the possibility of a complementary relationship between capitalism and socialism (effective state), so that a higher human, social and economic order is realised. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is a meta-analytical study, which relied on secondary sources of information. It is a qualitative study that is based on conceptual analysis, theory building and “emic” perspective (authors' viewpoint). Findings – With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1998 and the fall of the famous Berlin Wall, the final victory or triumph of capitalism over its alternatives was heralded. This development saw nations, most especially the developing ones, rushing to infuse themselves into the capitalist global system, which is reflected by the opening of borders to the capitalist onslaught. However, soon after this euphoric capitalist triumphalism, capitalism seems to be heading to another cross-road, which is capable of undermining the aforesaid euphoria. As capital is now set to continue its accumulation, expansion and profitability, unemployment is on the rise, as government ability to create lasting employment has become ineffective due to the privatisation of the public sectors, retrenchment by private business, etc. The state of affairs is exacerbating the crime rate (both within nations and globally), ethnic and global tension, poverty and ill-feeling. Hence, there could be other better global alternatives to the current single capitalist triumphant orthodoxy. Practical implications – Socialism has failed and capitalism is in the process of failing. Therefore, the only hope left to resurrect socialism and resuscitate capitalism, is a complementary and comprehensive ideological order. In that sense, there is a need to complement the positive aspects of both ideologies. Originality/value – This paper is original, since no other paper has taken up the topic of “Triumphant capitalism and the future of human, social and economic progress in the post-Cold War era”. The suggestion given in the paper could help to achieve a higher level of human, social and economic progress in the post-Cold War era, most especially in the developing nations.