Review, Top Stories

Francis Fukuyama’s Master Concept

Dignity, recognition, esteem, respect, and the resentment that arises when they are not accorded—these are the themes of Francis Fukuyama’s new book. Like many political commentators, he was surprised by the results of two elections in 2016: the victories for Brexit and Donald Trump. To understand them, he sought a “master concept,” something that would explain not only these results, but also the many other political movements of this decade, from the rise of populism around the globe to #MeToo and campus protests in America. In Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, he proposes “identity,” a concept that grows “out of a distinction between one’s true inner self and an outer world of social rules and norms that does not adequately recognize that inner self’s worth or dignity.”

Fukuyama’s book moves adroitly between a history of how this concept emerged to an explanation of how it has caused our present crisis, before concluding with some suggestions for the future of liberal democracies. His framing of our present crisis as one of identity politics—which he understands broadly enough to encompass right-wing as well as left-wing versions, the international scene as well as domestic conflicts—is lucid and insightful.

It is difficult to discuss Fukuyama’s new book, however, without mentioning the book that established his international reputation almost three decades ago: The End of History and the Last Man (1992). Seizing on the title—and for that matter, only its first half—many commentators came to believe that Fukuyama argued history had come to an end with the fall of communism and the supremacy of liberal capitalism as a new world order. According to this misinterpretation, his argument was invalidated by challenges to this order: 9/11, the resurgence of Russia and China, the financial crisis of 2008, and so on.

But as Fukuyama clarifies in the preface to his new book, that was never his claim. Instead, he argued that the end (not the terminus but the goal: the telos in Greek) of political history was the liberal order, not because there would be no challenges to it, nor because it would never be displaced, but because only such an order could minimally satisfy the demand for recognition that was history’s engine. This half of his argument stemmed from Hegel, who saw history as a dialectic, a movement of rival ideas towards a final consummation.

As Fukuyama appropriated Hegel, only a liberal order would satisfy what the Greeks called isothymia (desire for equal respect). Whereas they saw it fulfilled in democratic city-states such as Athens, the Sophists of the classical era knew such an order to be unstable. For they were aware of some exceptional men who chafed under equal treatment, considering themselves to be superior. (Indeed, the Sophists often considered themselves to be such men.) Their ruling passion was megalothymia (the desire for esteem above others), and Nietzsche gave that desire a modern voice. Foreseeing that the liberal order would stifle greatness, turning human beings into cattle, or the Last Man, he foresaw a Superman (Übermensch) who would disrupt equality and create new values—nobler values—for the entire species.

This was the overlooked second half of Fukuyama’s famous title, which spoke to a perennial struggle between equal recognition for everyone, and the disruptive ambitions of men such as we have seen emerge one after the other in recent years: Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Viktor Orbán, Rodrigo Duterte, Jair Bolsonaro. Fukuyama now sees a dangerous resolution of this struggle, populism, whereby men who style themselves superior secure the allegiance of citizens who have felt disrespected. “I actually mentioned Donald Trump in The End of History,” Fukuyama adds in the preface to his new book, “as an example of a fantastically ambitious individual whose desire for recognition had been safely channeled into a business (and later an entertainment) career.” Little did he know, as he himself admits, that with this man, “megalothymia and isothymia thus joined hands.”

With this new book, Fukuyama tells a history of thymos (spiritedness) and its influence on politics. According to Plato, with whom he begins, this is “the part of the soul that craves recognition and dignity” (though he misunderstands Plato’s psychology—as I argue in a separate essay, which readers may find here). From this ancient theory of human nature, he moves swiftly through the modern notion it best explains: “identity.” He begins with Luther’s focus on faith rather than works, an exclusive attention to the inner attitude of the Christian rather than to his outward engagement with the corrupt Church and its extravagant rituals.

Next, as Fukuyama tells this history, Rousseau secularized Luther’s inwardness and revolt against outward conformity. In some of his writings, he explored his own plenitude of feelings; in others, he cast civilized society as a corrupting influence on the goodness of natural man. Secularizing the Christian belief that every human being has an equal dignity before God, Kant argued that this dignity stemmed from our rational freedom to choose rightly, giving each human being natural rights that every government was bound to respect. Hegel then observed that the French Revolution, carried to the corners of Europe by Napoleon, had inaugurated an era in which governments would now recognize the dignity of everyone, bringing to an end the drama of history, which by his lights was a struggle for recognition.

But not everyone’s identity had become individualized in the manner of the Enlightenment philosophers. Not everyone experienced infinite depths of idiosyncratic feeling, nor did everyone crave to rebel against the conformist group that had raised them. In fact, many felt alienated by the breakdown of longstanding communities as Europe and America industrialized. To avoid this sense of alienation, many clung to the identities of their (rural) upbringing: regional or national culture, or traditional observances of religion.

In the 19th century, then, there was a fork in the development of the concept of identity. For some, it remained individual, while for others it became collective. Governments had to respect the dignity of each citizen, granting all their natural rights as individuals, but the identities of some citizens now also demanded that their collectivities be respected. The stage was set for an era of battles over competing identities.

After World War I, and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the many linguistic and cultural groups mixed together in central Europe and the Balkans demanded rule by separate governments that recognized their unique nationalities. After the next world war, and the slow retreat of the European powers from their colonial ambitions, the many peoples of the Middle East, Africa and Asia demanded the same right. Later, as Islam returned to political potency, those whose identities were primarily religious clashed with those who sought recognition for their nation. In Turkey, the nationalists defeated the Islamists; in Iran, the Islamists defeated the nationalists; in Egypt, the two sides are still in conflict. In every case, though, the demands were for collective recognition.

Meanwhile, in the Western countries, especially the United States, demands for the recognition of individual identities intensified. Women and blacks sought equal recognition with white men as individuals. After World War I, women demanded the vote. After World War II, blacks demanded civil rights. Both were of course successful, though their victories required a fight, especially in the latter case. But after the 1960s, as demands for individual recognition widened to include the rights of homosexuals, indigenous peoples, the disabled, and others, conflicts became clear between these new demands for individual recognition and older demands for recognition of collective identity.

At this point in his story, Fukuyama uses the contemporaneous books of Phillip Rieff and Christopher Lasch to argue that American culture, and eventually American government, took a therapeutic turn. “A liberal society increasingly came to be understood not just as a political order that protected certain individual rights,” he writes, “but rather as one that actively encouraged the full actualization of the inner self.” This is when identity became the universal idiom of politics; individual forms of identity “began to reconverge with the collective and illiberal forms of identity such as nation and religion, since individuals frequently wanted not recognition of their individuality, but recognition of their sameness to other people.”

Conflicts between identities were nonetheless characterized as a contest between left and right, even as each of these two sides minimized the economic commitments that had formerly defined them. The left turned away from the issues of labor and poverty that had been its focus since the 19th century (after the evident failure of Communism, as well as the economic stagnation of the welfare states in the 1970s). It turned instead toward the politics of individual identities, what we now know as “identity-politics.” Thus, for example, the left championed gay rights while the right spoke for religious tradition—including in the debate over gay marriage in the United States, which culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to recognize it as a national right.

During this era of mass immigration, the left has championed the rights of individuals who have sought refuge in the prosperous countries of the West, while the right has opposed the broadening of those rights for nationalist reasons. The left and right have switched roles economically, notice, as it is the poor who have the most to lose, the rich the most to gain, from an influx of cheap labor into Western countries. But this switch is possible because the old (economic) politics of left and right have receded. A new politics of identity finally has come into its own. Nowadays, the politics of recognition—or the politics of resentment wherever identity is not recognized and respected—are everywhere.

Readers of this site need no schooling on the identity-politics of the left, but Fukuyama also illuminates the identity-politics of the right. It diverged from that of the left when it began to champion collective identities over individual ones, but Fukuyama also sees it as to some extent provoked by the identity-politics of the left. Leftists will object: The Men’s Rights Movement has deep roots in the patriarchy, just as American white nationalism has deep roots in the racism and slavery of American history. In short, how could left-wing identity-politics have provoked right-wing versions that precede them?

Against this objection, Fukuyama would argue that those closest to the mainstream are not saying (in the manner of John C. Calhoun) that whites are superior to other races and thus deserve to enslave them. Instead, these conservatives are claiming that their white, European identity has been ignored and disrespected by the elites (in media, academia, and politics) while other identities have been recognized and celebrated by that same elite. The roots, stem, and leaves of white nationalism are in the Confederacy, Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow south, but its sickly flower has indeed been pollinated by left-wing identity-politics.

So identity politics now animates the right as well as the left in America. It also explains the international scene in the way any candidate for a “master concept” must. Putin, for instance, appeals to a widespread sense that the West has not respected Russia’s historic dignity. By associating various symbols with this aggrieved identity (e.g., the Russian Orthodox Church) and demonizing various scapegoats as threats to it (e.g., gays), Putin permits Russians who may be suffering in any number of ways (e.g., poverty) to feel that they are nonetheless owed respect as citizens of a great nation.

Substitute Erdoğan, Orbán, Duterte and Bolsonaro for Putin, make appropriate adjustments to account for the symbols evoked by these leaders to suit their national cultures, and you have plausible explanations for the populist authoritarianism of Turkey, Hungary, the Philippines and Brazil respectively. In each case, a man of cartoonish arrogance and machismo speaks to the wounded pride of people and assures them he alone can make their country great again. The appeal of Law and Order in Poland, the Freedom Party in Austria, the AdF in Germany, the National Front in France, and the other nationalist parties in the European Union can be explained in the same way.

So, too, can the appeal of political Islam across the Muslim world, or for that matter the appeal of Islamic terrorism to young Muslim men in the Western world. Citing the work of Oliver Roy, Fukuyama notes that most of the terrorists who have become radicalized were beforehand no more political than they were poor. “Neither these issues nor any kind of religiosity drove them,” concludes Fukuyama, “so much as the need for a clear identity, meaning and a sense of pride.” This need began to burn when “they realized that they had an inner, unrecognized self that the outside world was trying to suppress.” Although they quote the Koran, then, they are really expressing Luther’s Christian inward turn, Rousseau’s Romantic critique of social corruption, Kant’s rationalist argument for universal human dignity, and Hegel’s historical prophecy about the need for universal recognition.

Fukuyama’s master concept of identity also renders intelligible the surprising elections that gave Americans Trump and the British Brexit. Upon his analysis, neither result is surprising at all. Whatever advantages in economics or foreign relations might have been achieved by the widely expected results, whatever advances in the individualistic identity-politics that now defines the left would have been accomplished by a victory for the Democrats in the United States, neither Remain nor Clinton would have yielded the nationalist or religious recognition of collective identity, the promise of renewed greatness, that large portions of the population now crave.

* * *

As far as “master concepts” go, this one is hard to beat. One worries, however, that it is a little too neat. After all, couldn’t an identity-politics explanation be given for a Hillary Clinton victory had she won? (By the popular vote alone, she did, of course.) Imagine Clinton had won, Britain remained, the other populist authoritarians lost their most recent elections, and so on. Would Fukuyama’s thesis be falsified? No, but that is not the flaw it might at first blush seem to be. His thesis, after all, does not say which variety of identity-politics must win, but only that the winning strategy is one of identity-politics of one sort or another. Whether a country leans left or right economically, whether it favors more authoritarian or more libertarian government—these will be matters of circumstance. What is becoming universal, according to Fukuyama, is how these rivalries are framed: as contests over identity.

What would falsify the thesis would be a renewed, persistent, and ultimately victorious focus by the left and right on economics. If Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn were to win national elections, if the Republican party were to expel Trump and return to its agenda of free trade and Reaganomics, then Fukuyama’s thesis would be in trouble. Neither seems likely as of this writing.

But if Fukuyama is right, and it’s all about identity now, why now? Why have so many people, in so many regions of the world, clamored for recognition nearly all at once? Fukuyama considers, and to some extent accepts, the analysis of Serbian-American economist Branko Milanovic, that the entry of developing countries into the world economy has cost the middle classes of the developed nations the growth in incomes to which they had become accustomed after World War II. The financial crisis of 2008, and the Great Recession that followed, also weakened everyone’s confidence in governments as managers of modern economies.

Ultimately, though, Fukuyama’s answer is not economic: It is about pent up forces that eventually were going to assert themselves anyway. In his telling, rather like Hegel’s, this history (the history of the West only, it must be admitted, for China and India make limited appearances) has an inevitable momentum. At some time or other, identity-politics had to eclipse alternate ways of framing political discourse. As Fukuyama reconstructs it, we have the (mis)fortune of living through that time.

Fusing Hegel with Plato, he also sees identity-politics as inevitable thanks to a universal craving for recognition within human nature. He is right in this respect, and he chooses the correct theory of our nature (Plato’s) to justify his presumption. But as I mentioned briefly at the beginning, he misunderstands this theory, overlooking the powerful role Plato correctly ascribed to reason in the search for the truly common good, the sort of goal around which people of rival identities could gather. This misunderstanding is important: without allegiance to some truly common good binding citizens together, they are bound to end up in a zero-sum competition for wealth and respect.

In the United States, for example, we await the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his associates. Should Mueller’s indictments lead to the president’s impeachment, as I suspect they will, the resulting bedlam will show how thin is the veneer of procedural justice and how weak is Americans’ desire for a truly common good. What will become clear, if it is not already, is the inability of most citizens to rise above the assumptions of their particular identities. As a result, the United States could face a constitutional crisis more serious than any in living memory.

Despite this, Fukuyama does not think identity politics is bad per se. Universal recognition is the political project of the West and should not be abandoned, only managed in a way that mitigates the danger of polarization. How can this be done? Among other suggestions, Fukuyama recommends a compulsory civilian service, in which Americans could develop a common allegiance to national projects.

But proponents of identity politics would protest predictably. If this civilian service were used to build Trump’s wall, for instance, proponents of leftist identity politics would object conscientiously. By contrast, if it were used for projects associated with the left, proponents of rightist identity politics would be up in arms. And which projects nowadays are not associated with one side or the other in our polarized national discourse? Rather than engendering common allegiance beyond identity politics, such recommendations would only exacerbate the problem.

With a common horizon of value, however, such recommendations could bring the nation together rather than tearing it further apart. Fukuyama began his important book with Plato, but ought to have brought it back to Plato in the end. What we need now, above all, is the truly common good he proposed.

 

Patrick Lee Miller is a philosopher teaching at Duquesne University. He is the author of Becoming God: Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy, and co-editor of Introductory Readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. His faculty page can be found here. 

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Patrick Lee Miller is a philosopher teaching at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Becoming God: Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2012), and co-editor of Introductory Readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy (Hackett, 2015). His recent philosophical writing uses Platonism to address current problems such as gender, sexuality, child psychology, pedagogy, virtual-reality, spirituality, indecision, honesty, and liberal government. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.duq.edu/academics/faculty/patrick-lee-miller

53 Comments

  1. Great article. Thank You!
    Articles like this stimulate in me thoughts of determinism and evolution.

    While my actual reading of Plato, Hegel, Kant and Marx are back in college days,( I’m in the sciences) they, especially Marx, are often referenced in a way that seems to assume that we are marching to an ultimate place of higher understanding, always getting better. There is posited some ultimate goal that we are unrelentingly marching towards.

    This deterministic attitude is also seen in how the idea of evolution is often understood – that each generation is “more evolved” towards some higher state and is therefore smarter and just better than the previous models.

    For the record, there is nothing to support this thinking. Organisms that survive in a particular environment are mostly just lucky to have those traits that allow survival and transmission of those genes to the next generation. While current knowledge of epigenetics and gene modulation may explain a more directional drive, slightly more Lamarkian than pure Darwinisn, survival of the organism does not require any idea of predetermination.

    While clearly not true in human genetics, the idea of somehow marching towards a higher consciousness is widely embraced in ideas of historical determinism. This seems to be a dangerous perspective for several reasons. First, if wrong, it precludes a clearer and possibly more effective way of understanding our social condition – we are less likely to make good decisions if our premises are wrong. Second, it permits an almost evangelical approach to social issues – anyone who does not agree is wrong and potentially “other.” Third, it can have larger social implications in validating authoritarian approaches to dealing with the non believing miscreants who clearly don’t get it.

    For a more modern perspective, there was an article recently (?on this site) discussing Karl Popper’s perspective on Plato’s vision of an ideal society. Popper felt that the thought of an “ideal” society is easily subject to imposition of political systems to help build that “better” idealized society. He added Plato’s ideal society to other forces that favored authoritarianism over open societies (very different from Mr. Soros’ open society concepts FWIW, which don’t strike me as so open).
    While I have just picked up and have yet to read “The open society and it’s enemies” I am familiar with Poppers work around science, and his work on distinguishing science from metaphysics. We have so many examples of bad science it can sometimes be hard to find science done well.

    Last, while I’m not exactly sure how one of the article’s the sub themes of cyclicity relates to ideas of determinism, I am reminded of “The fourth turning” by Strauss and Howe. While I don’t believe history repeats, I do believe, because human history involves humans, that it does largely rhyme. Fourth turnings are largely a specific point in the economic and political cycles we have as modern era humans. Characterized by crisis, destruction and rebuilding, this relates very much to what the author points out when he writes “we have the (mis)fortune of living through that time.”

    • It is nothing but an excuse to criticize trump. Obama, Clinton, JFK, LBJ,etc. all fit the same mold, but, not surprisingly, he fails to notice.

      • tito perdue says

        @ U NO HOO 🦉
        “I think it will be much more successful, because this one is aimed at adults”

        Kay I get it. You proved your point. 🙇🏻‍♂️

  2. Farris says

    This article spun nicely like a top, but eventually wobbled and fell on its side.

    Here is where the wobbling began:
    “Instead, these conservatives are claiming that their white, European identity has been ignored and disrespected by the elites (in media, academia, and politics) while other identities have been recognized and celebrated by that same elite. The roots, stem, and leaves of white nationalism are in the Confederacy, Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow south, but its sickly flower has indeed been pollinated by left-wing identity-politics.”

    I must object to this either or characterization. It is certainly possible that some whites object to race based preferences for anyone and would prefer to see meritocracy.

    “In the United States, for example, we await the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his associate. Should Mueller’s indictments lead to the president’s impeachment, as I suspect they will, the resulting bedlam will show how thin is the veneer of procedural justice and how weak is Americans’ desire for a truly common good.”

    Once again the author relies upon an either or diagnosis. Either the U.S. will recognize the truly common good of removing President Trump or reveal itself as weak on procedural justice.

    Finally the article goes from quoting Fukuyama to putting words into his mouth:
    “Against this objection, Fukuyama would argue that those closest to the mainstream are not saying (in the manner of John C. Calhoun) that whites are superior to other races and thus deserve to enslave them.”

    Fukuyama would argue…then why didn’t he and if he did why not quote him?

    • Harland says

      Today’s States Rights movement is a revival of a vile, outdated racist concept, with the full approval of all the right people. We have a state–California–engaging in rhetoric and action that would make John Calhoun’s heart swell with pride for its open defiance of any federal policy that might limit the flood gates that are swamping the labor market. Heck, we had the governor of Oregon boast that she would try to start what is tantamount to a mutiny in the National Guard by ordering them to disobey a federal deployment order.

    • “It is certainly possible that some whites object to race based preferences for anyone and would prefer to see meritocracy.”

      Only “some”?

      Only “possible”?

      This statement itself reeks of unconscious bias against white americans.

    • Stephanie says

      @ Farris, thank you for the insightful comment, as is your usual. I also took issue with the direction this column was going as soon as it conflated the modern American right with the old Democrats and Socialists. I would add that in my experience, at least, the people most ready to complain about the direction the West is going with cultural relativism are the immigrants and their descendents who fled exactly this sort of ethnically-based hierarchy. It is the desire to accommodate the people the previous generation of migrants and refugees are fleeing that got us to this point.

      Siding with the people and culture who created this place we are so privileged to have arrived to should not be conflated under any circumstances with white supremacy. What the great majority of the right is arguing for is an identity-blind approach. As happens far too often, the author’s desire to be perceived as equitable prevents him from making an intellectually honest analysis.

      • Farris says

        @Stephanie

        Thank you for your response. Referring to the right as white supremacist is intellectually lazy or in other words simply ignorant. People can in good faith oppose race based identity politics, question the notion white privilege or seek limitations on immigration without being a white supremacist. Some of those raising the questions above may not even be white. Believing that all challenges to your point of view come only Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacist, is childish narcissism, good guys v. bad guy or heroic savior complex. I guess once one begins tilting at windmills, it is inevitable he will himself as a knight in shining armor. Truth be told there aren’t enough white supremacist in the U.S. to fill a minor league baseball park. Ross Barnett, Bull Connor, George Wallace, Robert Byrd and other old white supremacists are all dead and none were ever members of the right.

  3. Constantin says

    I obviously did not read this book – nor to I intend to. Assuming that this description of it is somewhat faithful, no sane person should take a second dose of snake oil from Francis Fukuyama. It appears that he begins developing his thesis by postulating the existence of an empirical and true “inner self” that is not at all relative or positional as one would expect in a social animal. Accordingly, one’s dignity and self-worth, or self-esteem is independent of what the community thinks of him or her and can find itself aggrieved by insufficient recognition. Implicit in this structure is that being respected and accepted in society is not an earned proposition – but something to be demanded as a matter of right. The demand for recognition as opposed to a social animal yearning for recognition is the “engine of history”. In ancient Greece, Sophists recognized something called “thumos” (the desire for recognition), and never conceived of recognition as a personal right. They did, however, recognize that social recognition must be proportional to some real value returned to the community and that it would never be distributed “equitably” to use a modern term.
    I sincerely doubt that either “isothymia” or “megalothymia” were original Greek concepts. While grammatically correct, I suspect that they are invented by Mr. Fukuyama (most eager to coat his thesis with obscure terminology. I absolutely despise such cheap and transparent techniques used to pretend scholarship. If you want to coin a new concept in the 21st century – please do it in your language – thank you very much!
    We learned that “populists” are social animals thirsty for social recognition and seek it among disaffected masses. Trump. Putin, Erdogan, et Co. all are animated by an all consuming and selfish thirst for recognition above others (megalothymia – I guess). And here we get into the meat of the argument. A split occurred in the 20th Century or even earlier between individualized identity (divorced from social recognition) and collective identity – entirely dependent on social recognition. The implicit premise is that the identity divorced from the group recognition was the enlightened version drawing its roots from the internalized religion of Luther and Rousseau’s juxtaposition of inherent axiomatic individual goodness with the corrupting influence of society ( a concept that implies that Greek desire for recognition “thumos” is the path of corruption and the death of the soul). To seek to be liked and appreciated is to ingratiate oneself to the mob and to sell one’s soul to the Devil. Hence, Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban, etc. – Their electoral base is a multitude that lost a sense of belonging and self-worth and never “craved to rebel against the conformist group that raised them” (meaning – never aimed at dismantling their own societies.. Duh!) They cling to group identities (national, regional. cultural) and believe that it is a source of safety and stability. These are the identitarians of the Right that continue a fight with the identitarians of the Left. The later mount a concerted effort to emphasize highly divisive identitarian politics of grievance based on the pet issues of increasingly smaller fringe groups and in doing so have abandoned their original blue collar constituencies. Fukuyama then recognizes the fact that the Left appears to have abandoned the defence of the economic interests of the middle class and appear in fact to have aligned (intentionally or not) with the interests of a globalized economic elite happy to dismantle the political hegemony of the middle class and to purchase the cheapest labor available anywhere on the globe. Ironically, the champions of this curious reincarnation of the Left are billionaires. This discussion of the Left – is of course germane and worth having, but it is not the thesis of Mr. Fukuyama’s book. Continuing the misguided philosophy of Rousseau, Fukuyama believes that suicidal jihadists are acting because society refuses to acknowledge their inherent individual self-worth, and sees no contradiction between this thesis and the obvious quest for social recognition that Islamist self-sacrifice embodies. It looks like Mr. Fukuyama is arguing that identity conflicts are the engine of modern history (as opposed to economic interests). He might be dimply aware that the so called “populists” are focused on the economic interests of a rapidly disintegrating and socially discarded middle class and that the identitarian pet issues of the radical Left is supported by larger than life globalized economic interests of billionaires. Yet, somehow, the conflict is not economic – it is identitarian and it is a good thing, because it is the “political project of the West”. I would have thought that the “political project” of the West was constraining centralized political power and providing maximum space for self-realization, and not the cultivation of the empty notion of “self esteem” based on absolutely arbitrary introspection. That’s not it according to Fukuyama. The future is identitarian and must be funneled in a constructive direction via compulsory civilian service. Say that again! You hear this correctly. Apparently Mr. Fukuyama argues that the compulsory building of roads and bridges would develop a “common allegiance to national projects” – which I believe is an euphemism for a rearranged collective identity that is desirable. It’s impossible not to observe that Countries behind the Iron Curtain would have enjoyed an enormous head start in this same direction by the practice of collective enslavement for two years of compulsory military service, a large part of which was dedicated to civilian service tasks, such as harvesting collective farming crops and building infrastructure. Yet, somehow, an enlightened form of collectivism failed to materialize as a result. Granted, Mr. Fukuyama may envisage compulsory enslavement for civilian service purposes of much lengthier duration. Who wants to try? Should you even consider buying such a book?
    The author of this article raises the question of whether the results of the Mueller inquiry will unify the nation either behind an embattled but innocent President or, alternatively behind his impeachment if found “guilty”. He seems to be more concerned with a possible identitarian response from the “populist” Right in case of a successful impeachment, than with the alternative. He must know more than I do about American politics but I am already surrounded with Leftists literally melting down over the results of that inquiry. It makes me wonder who is more likely to act irrationally and divorced from the mythical “common good”. I can tell for a fact that the melting down types did not read Plato. LOL

    • Farris says

      Regarding compulsory public service, the U.S. once had a military draft. In the 1960’s we actually witnessed the drafts attempts at compulsory unification.

    • M Barclay says

      @ Constantin

      “I obviously did not read this book – nor to I intend to.”… is where I ended reading your rant. If you’d like to be respected, then try not to disrespect others. Perhaps if you’d like others to read your work, you’d first read what they have to say, then critique them.

      • Mal Reynolds says

        @ M Barclay

        I would encourage you to read and digest his thoughtful response to the article. It represents one possible rebuttal to Mr. Fukuyama’s work, and one that I find rings true given the recent yellow vest events.

      • Dale Smudlack says

        Exactly. Boasting of intellectual rigidity not a teaser for me reading his long paragraph. Skipped.

  4. rickoxo says

    I remember the day I read the article that was the first version of the End of History and what a mind blowing concept it was. It seemed way beyond just plausible–almost like it was prophetic. People were worried that globalization and McWorld were not just likely outcomes but unavoidable dangers.

    The few comments in the article about those being misinterpretations of Fukuyama’s work are disingenuous. He clearly thought we were on the cusp of liberal democratic capitalism taking over the world, not just as a theoretical “telos” but as an actual political reality.

    [28 years later …]

    The worst thing bad social scientists do is write a paper/article/book saying they understand the past and coming up with some great name, theory, argument that summarily encapsulates whatever period they’re looking at in whatever places. This is about as completely opposite of what Fukuyama did with End of History as possible. The End of History was all about describing the trajectory of economic development and what it’s implications were for the immediate future. Rough for Fukuyama, reality completely destroyed his predictions. This new book is all about trying to get on the bandwagon of coming up with a name and an explanation for what’s already happened with no meaningful predictions whatsoever.

    I don’t deny that identity is a pretty good name for what’s going on around the world politically, but the act of naming what’s already happened is a tiny shadow of understanding what’s going on so well that your theory or insights actually offer explanatory power and the ultimate test of explanatory power is making predictions that actually happen.

    Not sure if Fukuyama is just gun shy or if he knows he’s naming the past and his concept of identity has no real explanatory power. But it seems like Fukuyama is conceding that human beings are complicated, political structures are dynamic and multi-factored and the future is unknowable. We need another book to tell us that?

  5. “Like many political commentators, [Fukuyama] was surprised by the results of two elections in 2016: the victories for Brexit and for Donald Trump.”

    All kinds of people whose brains were not contaminated with ideology or whose heads were not stuck in the sands of academia were not surprised by the results of 2016. Professor Miller mentions Fukuyama referencing and apparently appropriating the ideas of the late Christopher Lasch for his new book. This is exquisitely ironic since Lasch’s title essay from his 1994 book The Revolt of the Elites is an uncannily prophetic understanding of the rise and flowering of populism. Christopher Lasch, or anybody who has read and digested his thinking, would not have been surprised by victories for Brexit and for Trump.

    In these days of “the end of meta narratives” Francis Fukuyama is to be commended for his apostasy in having the audacity to come up with a “master concept”. Too bad, despite his erudition and relatively clear prose, he doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of how history works or how people actually think. His misappropriation of Nietzsche in his influential The End of History and the Last Man helps explain Fukuyama’s inability to see and understand the emergence of the world wide forces which would challenge the apparent triumph of the last man.

    Looks like Fukuyama has saddled up again. Undeterred by the pesky realities of history, he’s hopped back on his Hobby Horse of “isothymia” . . . and he rides and he rides . . .

    • @CA
      “All kinds of people whose brains were not contaminated with ideology or whose heads were not stuck in the sands of academia were not surprised by the results of 2016.”

      I was somewhat surprised by both events, largely because I didn’t think the powers that be would’ve let it happen – but it did happen. Both Brexit and Trump are clearly related and both are reaction to mass immigration. It’s a quiet invasion aided by the elites and so-called educated.

      These snobs believe we (the riff raff) are just race supremacists filled with hate. They live in their cloistered all-white communities and look askance at those who live in the thick of it watching our neighborhoods change beyond recognition. The new immigrants do not choose to live “American” or “British”. This makes this era different than the past. I currently live next door to an unsanctioned junkyard.

      If reacting negatively to this development makes me a racist hater then so be it. I’ll bet Francis and the Mr. Miller wouldn’t put up with living next door to an immigrant junkyard,

  6. Fickle Pickle says

    A well argued balanced assessment of the situation.

    But who or what poses the greatest threat to our hard won freedoms?
    In my opinion the left has no real political power anywhere in the world.

    This essay lays bare the chilling totalitarian nature of right-wing identity politics.
    Claiming of course that their institution was founded by Jesus. And that by historical succession their “catholic” identity is both “god” given and that their applied “religious” identity politics transcends and includes ALL of the other possible modes of individual and collective identity.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2017/11/a-christian-strategy

    First Things does of course have very close connections to the highly political “traditionalist” outfit Opus Dei,
    Opus Dei also has very close connections to the very powerful right-wing think tanks such as The Heritage (lies,lies and more lies) Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, the Federalist Society etc etc. and so on.
    And of course to right wing magazines such as the National Review and the American Spectator.

    I suggest that everyone should read the truth-telling book by Chris Hedges titled American Fascists and American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips.
    Do a search on the topic the vatican and world politics

  7. Fickle Pickle says

    Yes, is identity politics really all that new?

    Everything that every one does is and always has been an expression of their identity.
    Their sex, male or female.
    Their age.
    Their economic circumstance and their position in the local power hierarchies of the place in which they live.
    Their race, religion, their village, town, city, county, state, nation. And combined with their religion their transnational religious identity too: Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu.

    In the case of religion further identities come into play;
    Christians Protestant or Catholic, “traditional” or progressive.
    The same with the others too especially Moslems via the never ending Shia versus Sunni animosity.

    One of the most pernicious forms of applied identity politics is the now common practice of political focus groups which are used to determine what policies will be promoted in election campaigns. Policies which more often than not appeal to peoples frustrations and fears and not the better angels of their human nature.

    The politics of fear always trumps hope.

    Trump of course appeals to, invokes and empowers the darkest aspects of our human nature. Which is why the zeitgeist of the times are becoming darker almost every day, especially in America It is impossible for anything comprehensively new and positive to emerge from such darkness.

    And of course everyones identity as a shop-therefore-I-am consumer, and more importantly, active participant in politics even if only via online political comments, is now used by corporations, political parties and governments too. Enabled by the now everywhere electronic tracking devices.

  8. Heike says

    None of this would have ever happened if American (and Western) elites had not decided to destroy their working and middle classes in pursuit of a global governance. If they had just taken care of business at home, they could have played international politics all they liked. But no. First NAFTA then WTO ruined the lives of hard-working Americans. This was first degree murder, premeditated, with the express goal of doing what it did. And it worked. Now the goal seems to be unlimited immigration to replace them with compliant voters who don’t know their rights and who are easily bought off. I am reminded of the poem Die Lösung:

    After the uprising of the 17th of June
    The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    • Peter from Oz says

      I am a trenchant Tory, but I can’t agree with the idea that somehow a bunch of lefties has purposely set out to destroy the workers. For a start, the left claims to support the workers and the disadvantaged. That support is in fact the whole point of leftism. The fact that in fact leftist policies have made things worse for the poor was not the intended result.
      The truth is that it is a complete myth about th decline of the middle class. The middle class is advancing everywhere. It is changing in character. What is declining is the type of work that used to qualify you as middle class.
      Further, since the 60s more and more middle class people have wanted to be “bohemian” and bourgeois at the same time. Many commentators somehow count these people as not being middle class. This is ridiculous. There is nothing more bourgeois than American lefties and hipsters.

      • Stephanie says

        @Peter from Oz, I suppose we shouldn’t assume malice when we could assume ignorance, but is it really likely the most educated segments of our society didn’t understand the economic effects of flooding the market with cheap labour?

      • So you are saying that the people wanted this and the “leaders” delivered? Leftists don’t give a rip about the poor and working class, they care about political power. History is clear about that.

    • ga gamba says

      But no. First NAFTA then WTO ruined the lives of hard-working Americans.

      I think you need go back further. In the US it was Kennedy’s decision to unilaterally reduce tariffs and quotas (Trade Expansion Act of 1962), starting with textiles, garments, footwear, and other labour-intensive low-value goods. This was the largest tariff cutting authority ever granted a President. This led to GATT’s Kennedy Round in 1964.

      Don’t get me wrong; I think international trade is proper and appropriate. Yet, the US failed its workers by not demanding immediate an quid pro quo from many of its trade partners. Yes, Americans would benefit from lower priced shoes, but what was to offset those displaced by factory closings? As imports of shoes increased, there should have been an increase in the export of more value-added goods such as appliances and vehicles. The expansion of these industries would have helped absorb those displaced textile workers. This didn’t happen. Developing countries not only wanted the shoe manufacturers, they also wanted to produce appliances and cars themselves in the future and insisted they be allowed to maintain prohibitive barriers. This flew in the face of Ricardian comparative advantage. Developing states were allowed to maximise their comparative advantages whilst denying the same to the developed world. “We’ll liberalise later after we’ve attained those valued-added skills and can beat you in those industries too.”

      • Me thinks that Democratic-union public schools are part of the problem and these have contributed to the failures of the present middle class and are contributing to more failure. Until the time comes that students and their educations are the priority, we will have a politically-based system that benefits politicians and unions not to mention PC indoctrination instead of learning to gather data and make intelligent assessments. For sure this isn’t the only thing, but it’s a significant part of our problem

  9. The Brexit & Trump ‘votes’ have been compared exhaustively as if they are of a ‘kind’, but this is and has always been a False Comparison. The Brexit vote was by a majority, however slim in the entire UK—albeit by a larger percentage in England, and could well be regarded as Anglo-centrism w/in the British polity.

    Trump did Not win the 2016 election, as we all know. He did in fact lose the popular vote and his base support continues steadily to be in the minority at ~40%.

    It is important to keep this in mind as a majority in the UK seek to shore up a certain historical jingoism, whereas in the US a majority actually rejects this. Apples to Oranges, I’m afraid.

    • Losing the popular vote in the U.S. is not that unheard of. As far as popularity ratings for sitting Presidents polling in the 40+% is common. This president is maintains pretty normal popularity ratings despite 90+% viciously negative media coverage (whether he deserves it or not) I think it’s pretty remarkable actually.

      The commonality between the two is that the elite masters and the media were clearly against both Brexit and Trump. Secondly, both were in some degree about a feeling of lost sovereignty and resistance to mass immigration.

  10. Roger Darce says

    “Fukuyama adds in the preface to his new book, “as an example of a fantastically ambitious individual whose desire for recognition had been safely channeled into a business (and later an entertainment) career.” Little did he know, as he himself admits, that with this man, “megalothymia and isothymia thus joined hands.””

    Further proof, if proof were needed, of the idiocy of Barack Obama humiliating Trump at the at the White House Correspondents’ dinner in 2011.

  11. Graig Williams,

    I should probably be more precise: By “not surprised” I mean: being aware that vast numbers of sensible people were quite upset with the way things were going. That Trump in particular won was somewhat of a surprise to me, though I had been following pollster Pat Caddel who seemed to have a sense something big was going to happen.

    As you suggested, our elites insist on caricaturing reasonable concerns, hence it’s difficult to take the author or Fukuyama seriously. Neither seems to take much effort to understand the nature of the revulsion. Any populist revolt can be exploited by demagogues, but all populist revolts are a warning that leaders are out of touch. Personally speaking, my concern that the rule of law is not followed, that the integrity of borders is not maintained etc. has nothing whatsoever to do with my “identity”.

  12. Robert Franklin says

    ” The Men’s Rights Movement has deep roots in the patriarchy” This is objectively untrue. The vast majority of MRAs want nothing more than equal rights, equal respect and equal treatment with women. Those are not patriarchal concepts. That those points of view are considered so extreme, so beyond the pale, says much about present-day society and culture. The desperate attempt by present-day society and culture to cram the MRM into the mold of patriarchy does too. It’s a strong indicator of the frank dishonesty of public discourse on the matter.

  13. TheSnark says

    The first outbreak of populism in the recent past was the Iranian revolution of 1979. It was caused by the same thing that that caused Trump’s election and Brexit: a sophisticated, educated, prosperous urban elite that not only had lost touch with the rest of their country, but too often actively scorned and mocked them. Add that to the economic stagnation of the non-elites, and the reaction by the non-elites is predictable. The immediate rally-cry might be immigration, religion, or something else, but the process and results are the same.

    Trump’s election did not surprise me.

  14. X. Citoyen says

    I don’t find Fukuyama’s master concept especially useful, assuming you’ve expounded it as well as it might be. Consider the following two counterpoints:

    1. Fukuyama claims the desire for ethnicity-based identity recognition has become the dominant concern of everyone in the West. But I wonder whether the majority of people lumped under the “white” identity, for example, might feel more like Kulaks, the class of people invented to explain the failure of Soviet collectivization. White identity, after all, seems to have been conjured into existence by the Cult of Progress, and then projected onto the non-progressive masses to explain progressive failures of progressive policies. In other words, white identity is not something that large numbers of nominally white-skinned people have seized onto; it is the new boogeyman in the Manichean progressive’s hive-mind.

    2. The identity-recognition-as-driver-of-politics interpretation would imply that members of identity groups are the ones agitating for recognition for their tribes. But that seems largely inaccurate when compared against (to pick one of many examples) that much-discussed survey about political correctness: Identity politics is driven, not by identity groups themselves, but by their self-appointed upper-middle class white allies.

    The first and second points suggest the following conclusion: The “isothymia” of the majority of people (of whatever group) is not the new driving force behind contemporary politics. Instead, the “megalothymia” of the elite members of the Cult of Progress who’ve dropped class in favour identity as the new telos (and political strategy in practical politics) is causing the appearance of a move toward identarianism because people have been forced into engaging in politics on their terms. In the simpler terms, we’re not all identarians now, we’re all Kulaks now.

    Regarding your Platonic analysis, I think you’ve omitted (here and in the paper you linked to) an important dynamic that would strengthen your case.

    Recall that the three different desires each manifest themselves more strongly in the three different kinds of people. We can ignore the philosophers (in whom reason dominates) because no one listens to us anyway. The two remaining kinds are those in which the appetitive or the spirited dominates. Most people belong to the first kind. They’re ruled by appetite and conceive of the good life as the life of family, friends, entertainment, wealth, and so on.

    The second kind, in whom spiritedness dominates, is much smaller and more dangerous to the state than the first. The fiction (“lie” is a more poetic but less accurate translation in context) the spirited class believes in will determine how well or how poorly the regime is governed because, at bottom, we are all ruled by the spirited and the spirited are ruled by their fiction.

    A large swath of our spirited class is ruled by one of the various strands of the secularized and immanentized form of Christianity that I (following others, more or less) will call here the Cult of Progress. This subgroup of the spirited class satisfies their “megalothymia” by acting as agents of Progress. And it is here—not in some generalized concept of identity—that you find the most important driver of contemporary politics—thanks to Plato, of course.

    • X.Citoyen- exactly: “We are all Kulaks now.” This reminds me of Harold Bloom’s quip about being in modern Academia: “We are all feminists now.”

      I think much of the shallowness of Fukuyama’s logic can be traced to his misunderstanding of Nietzsche’s “last man” – which is of course the second half of the title of his highly influential The End of History and the Last Man. This is Fukuyama’s “original sin” and he apparently has not repented. Indeed, he’s been a naughty boy again.

      Fukuyama acknowledges that the last man is shallow and smug – what you quite accurately refer to as the “progressive hive mind” – but where Fukuyama totally accepts the reality of the last man and the end of history, Nietzsche ridicules the last man as being deluded- deluded in believing he represents the end of history-

      “’Formerly all the world was mad’ say the most refined, and they blink.”

      To read Nietzche’s prophecy of the last man today is to read a perfect description of our smug educated elites –

      “What do they call that which makes them proud? Education they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds.”

      According to Fukuyama, we are all last men – there are simply those who know and accept this and those who are in denial –

      “No shepherd, one herd! Everyone wants the same, everyone is the same: whoever feels differently goes voluntarily into a madhouse. “

      Or, as you articulate: We are all identitarians now! Whoever thinks otherwise must go voluntarily to sensitivity training. Unfortunately there those of us who do not recognize our isothymia or are consumed by megalothymia. And the poisonous combination of both has resulted in the election of Donald Trump and Brexit.

      Fukuyama is incapable of understanding that our current nihilistic progressive vision is not the end of history but, in Nietzsche’s terms, “a pathological transitional stage.” The revulsion against this vision represents a healthy intuitive understanding of something being not right . . . not real.

  15. markbul says

    ““I actually mentioned Donald Trump … as an example of a fantastically ambitious individual …”

    As opposed to Hillary Clinton, the real-life Tracey Flick?

    • I mean Fukuyama and this reviewer seem to be saying really intelligent, deep things, and then the idea drops that it’s harmless (or good) to be a megalomaniac in business because it keeps you out of politics. So the problem with Trump is he got political, i.e. became a candidate. Because billionaires don’t normally influence politics in their normal line of work! 🤣

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  18. Jonathon Haidt’s “Why good people are divided….” covers the same ground as to what motivates people to move to “Right” or “Left” and how deeply felt these psychological drives are. He is also less prone to making judgement calls.

  19. David of Kirkland says

    Humans are violent.
    Humans hold grudges.
    Humans are greedy and jealous of others.
    Humans know they can band together to coerce others. Force works.
    Power corrupts.

  20. michael says

    Good, yet still the stench of leaning at a 45 degree angle Left in this twist of history, where the Left is to an extent excused for what the reviewer seems to see as their accidental and unintentional inspiration of “white nationalism” here: “The roots, stem, and leaves of white nationalism are in the Confederacy, Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow south, …” Really? Is the writer truly unaware that all these racist & fascistic “institutions” were originally sourced from liberal movements, with socialist roots, and “democratic” politics? All of which were supported and touted by liberals when they first bloomed? It’s true they were later – much later in most cases – adopted & adapted by more violent and race-focused adherents & leaders, but that does not make them the “roots, stems, and leaves.” What it makes them are the lumber jacks who used the poisonous wood to build poisonous edifices. Unintended perhaps, but Inevitable consequences. A path to Hell paved with idiots’ intentions.

  21. Lars Åhlin says

    Interesting book, and an interesting review of it. But I react to Fukuyama’s and Miller´s description of nationalism as an continuation of nazism and imperialism. Quite the contrary, modern nationalism (as opposed to a love of ones country and fellow countrymen, which has always been around, I guess) is a part of the leftist project, emerging in a large part from the French revolution and quest for liberty, equality and fraternity. In Europe, we see a struggle between an federalist vision of Europe governed as an unified entity like the United States, and a nationalist vision of a confederative Europe, with independent and free nation-states, managing a democratic governance internally, with the thrust and solidarity that we, at least in Scandinavia were I live, has had for so long.

  22. defmn says

    Thank you Mr. Miller for providing the link to your article in ‘Arc’. For me it was far more interesting for the reason you share with me. For all that he gets right Mr. Fukuyama simply does not understand Plato. As such he sees the target but his aim is off just that touch that he never quite gets it all.

    In your article in ‘Arc’ you point to his error as stemming from Hume’s conception of the soul. I won’t disagree with that but I will point out that all moderns – Hume included – miss the mark because they fall prey to Hobbe’s deliberate rhetorical diminishing of the value of thymos as part of his political science which he wishes to base upon what he correctly views (as does Plato) the most common desire of human nature upon which a stable political regime can be established.

    “The Passions that encline men to Peace, are Feare of Death; Desire of things as are necessary to commodious living; and a Hope by their Industry to obtain them.” Last paragraph of CH. 13 Leviathan.

    It is, of course, this leveling to the lowest common denominator that Nietzsche takes such exception to. Whether or not he realizes that this is only the political aspect of Hobbe’s writings or he understands that and still objects on the grounds that he doesn’t care about the lower echelons of human diversity is a reasonable question but Hobbes is the culprit.

    I am also surprised that you neglected to mention Plato’s famous image of the human soul – the chariot controlled by reason but drawn by two horses – thymos and eros. I suspect this is because it does not fit with your understanding as the soul composed of different parts of eros which is not quite correct, imo, as it muddies the waters between passions, desires and virtues.

    Incidentally there are 6 distinct desires corresponding to 6 distinct regimes identified in The Republic. ‘The War Lover’ by Leon Craig provides the best discussion I am aware of for an explanation of Plato’s psychology.

    Having detailed my ‘quibbles’ I want to end by thanking you again for sharing your knowledge. And you are correct that it is past time when those such as yourself descend into the fray and expose the post modernist for the bullshit that it is by offering an alternative that effectively indicates a bolt hole out of the maze that Nietzsche has walked us into without the courtesy of a GPS to help us find our way out. 😉

    Are you on twitter? @defmn

    • defmn

      Thanks for your intelligent comments. Bringing up Plato’s chariot is particularly relevent to critiques of Fukuyama. An excellent and profound exploration of this metaphor is to be found in Wallace Steven’s essay “The Noble Rider”. This, in my opinion, is one of the most profound statements on how human conscious works outside of the Vedas.

      I also agree that much of what we call postmodern thinking is “bullshit”. However, I have my own “quibble”. Diverging from what you seem to suggest, it is not so much a “maze” which Nietzsche has walked us into, rather it is a maze certain lesser minds have walked us into as they misread Nietzsche. Such is the origin of what I feel is our alarming need for hipboots.

      • defmn says

        Thanks for the kind words.

        I guess I could have been clearer about Nietzsche. I think he has walked us into a political maze – not a philosophical maze. He is as a philosopher as clear as the view from the tallest mountain. How that translates into a viable political vision that offers a place for the full diversity of human nature such as Hobbes does through his rhetoric while deliberately obscuring his true philosophical lessons is not clear imo.

        • defmn

          I think one reason Nietzsche is still relevent more than ever is his elemental distinction between what he called “the tragic world view” and “the theoretic world view”. In this regard all ideologies are theoretic world views. It is a great irony that postmodern thinkers, the most extreme manifestation of the theoretic world view, have adopted Nietzsche, a self proclaimed “tragic philosopher”, as their intellectual godfather.

  23. luvyoto says

    men should have equal rights. they dont have equal rights anywhere. this is egalitarian as fuck. the patriarchy doesnt want men to pay for half dates and not open doors.

  24. It seems to me “identity politics” misses the mark: what is at stake (at least in the US, with Trump’s election, and in Britain, with Brexit), is the question of self-governance: do people have the right to vote, or do global elites know better than ‘deplorables’?

    Should America be a sovereign nation based on the Constitution and deriving its legitimacy from the Declaration of Independence, or should America’s borders be dissolved and the people recognized as having no right to vote (or at least a right to vote conditional on voting “the right way”)?

    Of course there is argument over whether or not the identity issues are real, because they are the justification being used to deny what used to be taken as self-evident truths. We are told the last election is literally illegitimate because people did not vote the correct way, that American voters do not have the right to vote because they voted for Trump. The implication: anyone who would vote for Trump is by definition not worthy of the vote. The people pushing this are also pushing the notion that “white supremacists” are in favor of “identity politics”. This appears to be a distraction, not a coincidence – a tactic to not only discredit nationalism (where white supremacy is lumped in together with sovereignty in general) but perhaps also to provoke whites into becoming exactly what they are described as being. If we are all arguing over whether whites deserve equality we are not, by definition, arguing that it’s self-evident that skin color is irrelevant.

  25. Bill Bass. says

    Its a shame that what the article has to offer in its interpretation of Fukuyamas ideas cannot be cleansed from current US political implications , the ideas may find illustration in recent current political trends but too quickly todays passions cloud our understanding of the fundamentals of what Profesor Fukuyama is trying to tell us , to me the key idea that deserves attention is the existence of this natural inclination of men in all ages to the passionate pursuit of thymos ,something that is protean in its historical expression even if varies in pitch from time to time and from country to country and which make havoc of all the nice Enlightment ideas that suffuse most forms of classical liberalism.

  26. Jezza says

    What is this white supremacist nonsense? I am from English stock and therefore possess an innate ability to build empires which, I hasten to add, I have yet to exercise. I am quietly proud that I am one of the people on whose empire the sun never set. That was quite an achievement. How did we manage it? Well, we acquired control of various states by force of arms and kept control using our superior cunning while we fleeced them. “Going native” was looked down upon. That is not to say that subject people were held in contempt – that may have been the official stance, where it was warranted, but recognition of the quality of individuals by the lower echelons was not unknown. (You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din). There was affair amount of luck involved, too. Anyhow, I’m glad that I am who I am, and you are quite right to be sorry you are not.

  27. Thanks for the great review!

    Regarding “civilian service,” please be optimistic, and think locally. People have a “geographic identity.” The close to home projects need to get done, regardless of political ideology.

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