Francis Fukuyama

Ideology Is Out, Identity Is In

Stanford's Francis Fukuyama on the rise of populism in the West and how identity politics thwarted the end of history.

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In 1992, Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man, an extended argument that the combination of liberal democracy and market capitalism could represent the end state for the evolution of human governance.

The book was an influential, much-discussed hit, with its central idea—"the end of history"—becoming popular shorthand for the triumph of liberal democratic capitalism. In the process, Fukuyama became one of the nation's most widely recognized thinkers.

Fukuyama, notably, did not argue that other, more totalitarian forms of government could never return—only that in the very long term, market capitalism would prove more durable. Yet more than a quarter-century later, with the rise of populist political campaigns and democratic unrest throughout the Western world, some have wondered whether his most well-known idea remains relevant. In Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University and fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies tackles what he sees as one of the primary driving forces behind these challenges: the rise of identity politics.

In September, Fukuyama spoke with Reason's Nick Gillespie about his new book, the Donald Trump presidency, why economic gains aren't enough to hold a society together, and whether or not we've really reached the end of history.

Reason: Start by giving me the elevator pitch for Identity, which you say you wouldn't have written if Donald Trump hadn't won the 2016 election.

Fukuyama: My view is that the nature of global politics is shifting to an identity axis and away from the economic left-right axis of the 20th century that was defined largely by ideology. And by identity I mean these fixed characteristics that link us to certain groups, usually based on things like ethnicity, race, religion. It could be gender.

Sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation now in the United States and other developed countries. I think that that is not good for democracy, because these fixed characteristics are supposed to be determinative of your politics. And in a way, that's a problem in many countries like Iraq or Syria or Libya, where everyone is tied to a fixed identity group and therefore you can't have a modern political system.

Your book revolves around a couple of key concepts. Can you please explain them briefly?

Isothymia is the desire to be recognized as equal to other people. If you're disrespected or [treated as] invisible, you want to be recognized. In the United States context, that's the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal." And every marginalized group that says, "You don't see me as a human being," I think that's what's driving that.

Megalothymia is not a universal characteristic, but it's universal to almost every political order.…You get certain individuals who are not satisfied with equal recognition. They want to be better than everyone else. For a democratic political system that's a particular problem, because you've got to somehow limit the ability of an individual like that to hurt the rest of the political system.

Are you arguing in the book that certain identity groups are now taking on that role, where they're demanding to be recognized, or that their grievances be recognized, as separate and greater than other groups?

The first manifestation of modern identity politics was European nationalism. And there you start with the desire of the Germans [in the 19th century] to live within their own community, because they're all scattered around Central and Eastern Europe; they don't have a single state under which they're all ruled. And then they get that state.

So they just want to be recognized like other peoples, but then the isothymia evolves into megalothymia where they say, "Well, actually, we ought to dominate the Slavs and all these other people surrounding us."

"Certain individuals…are not satisfied with equal recognition. They want to be better than everyone else. For a democratic political system, that's a particular problem."

You have spent a lot of time studying the political philosopher Georg Hegel. How does that factor in when you talk about global identity politics?

Well, the part of Hegel that's critical to this is his observation that politics is driven by the desire for recognition. He doesn't get into the world that we live in where you've got this pluralistic recognition of all these little groups. He didn't live in that kind of society. What he saw were masters and slaves.

The masters wanted recognition from the slaves, but it wasn't a satisfying recognition, because you're only being recognized by a slave—somebody that's not a full human being. He saw this play out in the course of the French Revolution, where the slaves were rising up against the masters, and he said that ultimately, the only solution to this problem is universal recognition, where every human being recognizes every other human being as an equal. And that's basically the foundation for a liberal society.

What I think he didn't anticipate is all of these partial recognitions or smaller group recognitions that have become so important in the way that we think about ourselves today.

You write that a lot of political life is only weakly related to economic resources. What do you mean by that?

I think that dignity politics is not about an absolute level of resources. It really is your standing relative to other people. People hate being less than other people, and sometimes they want to be more than that. The reason we desire a lot of material resources is not that we really just have to have that beautiful Ferrari. But it shows that I am better than you because you've only got a Tesla or whatever.

But what happens when everybody can buy the car that they want? Or pretty close.

I think the nature of relative status is that it's a perpetual arms race that no one can ever win. We used to have millionaires. Now we've got billionaires, we've got multi-billionaires.

In the book you rely somewhat on work by Cornell economist Robert Frank, who talks a lot about "positional consumption," which is all about status. But I'm curious if that's actually an accurate reading of how most people live. Aren't most people just kind of happy to be able to live a variation of the life they want?

Flashy material resources are only one axis of status competition. There's plenty of others. How your kid is doing, whether they're the captain of the football team—there's so many ways in which you can demonstrate superior status. I think this is as true in poor communities as it is in rich ones. It's really not related to an absolute level of consumption.

"Distrust of government traps you in a kind of low-level equilibrium where you say, 'The government's not working. Why pay my taxes? Why give it more resources? Why give it more authority?' And then because it doesn't have resources or authority, it doesn't do a good job, and people say, 'Ah! See?'"

Take the case that recently went in front of the Supreme Court about the gay couple that wanted a Christian baker to bake them a wedding cake. Was that about dignity?

I think in general the gay marriage movement is dignity politics right from the get-go. Because if it were simply about resources, you could have joint property or survivorship inheritance under a civil union.…Conversely, I think the people that were opposed to it wanted to say, "We believe the traditional family should have more dignity than a gay or lesbian union." That's what the fight was about.

You argue that nationalism, and also to a certain degree religious identities, in the U.S. and Europe are tied to economic anxiety. Especially among an anxious American white middle class. Is there a disconnect between talking about economics and more symbolic, identity-focused political transactions?

I don't think so. My mentor, [the late political scientist] Samuel Huntington, made this observation back in Political Order in Changing Societies. He was actually extending an observation of Alexis de Tocqueville about the French Revolution. He said the most dangerous people are people that thought they were middle-class and are losing that status. They got fired from a job, they don't make as much money as their father, whatever. But the status loss is really what makes them angry—that they thought they were solidly representative of the average person in their country, and it turns out they're being dragged into an underclass.

I think that's really what distinguishes the populism that you see in North America and Northern Europe from the kind of populism you see in Latin America. Because in Latin America, the populism really is driven by poor people.

Stephane Grangier/Corbis via Getty Images

Exit poll data from 2016 showed that Trump lost among voters from households making less than $50,000. Hillary [Clinton] got them. So they're the poor in this context. And then he beat her among voters from households making between $50,000 and $200,000. Arguably that's the middle class, but that is an enormous range—$200,000 is a lot of money anywhere in the country.

Within that range there's really different motives. If you're a factory worker that lost your job because it was outsourced to China, you may be at the bottom of that range. That's different, I think, from a pretty secure middle-class professional making $150,000. But you can still be driven by cultural fears because you don't like the nature of the new society that's emerging around you where all these different people that don't look like Americans to you are suddenly being given, in your view, advantages and so forth.

You write that identity politics in America is primarily an attribute of the left. It's replaced a traditional focus on economic security and transfer of resources from the well-off to the desperately poor, a kind of class-based argument, with all of these different types of identities. What is driving that? You say in the book that this started happening in the '60s. What's interesting is that that was the tail-end for a lot of immigration. The Irish, the Italians, the Jews had either been assimilated or were about to be. But today, American Indians, Asian Americans, black Americans all have moved toward identity politics.

First of all, the thing is powered by actual injustice. These are all groups that are actually marginalized in various ways, disrespected, and so they have a perfectly reasonable demand that they be treated differently.

I think the process of identity group formation has its own logic, where you want to affirm not just that we're like everybody else but that we have our own characteristics and maybe, actually, we're better in some ways.

To me, Black Lives Matter makes total sense. I don't see them as saying, "We are superior to you." Which left-wing identity groups are saying, "Shut up and listen to me because I should be the only one talking"?

I don't think you've seen assertions of superiority in quite that fashion. But you certainly have seen assertions of cultural distinctness and then the demand that you respect those differences. That's true of both African Americans and women.

"My mentor, Samuel Huntington, made this observation.…He said the most dangerous people are people that thought they were middle-class and are losing that status."

Martin Luther King's demand was just to be treated like other Americans, like white Americans. But in the black power movement, there was a view that black culture is not white culture. It has its own virtues and it needs to be respected as a group identity, rather than individual black people being treated as Americans.

It's even more pronounced in the feminist movement, because right from the beginning there's a train of thought that says, "Yeah. Women really are fundamentally different, and in certain respects they're better. They're not violent, they're more empathetic, they have their own ways of approaching social cooperation. It's really the men that are imposing this very aggressive, violent, patriarchal culture on the rest of society."

You are not arguing that identity politics is just simply wrong.

Oh, no.

What you're arguing is that it's a problem when it gets to a point where it says, "Because of my group identity I should not be criticized. I should not be forced to submit to any kind of cultural norm." Where does identity politics cross a boundary?

There's a couple of different boundaries. The assertion that all cultural groups are basically equal is problematic. This has been a real issue with Muslim immigrant communities in Europe. I want to be very careful because this is kind of delicate ground. It is true that there's a culture in these communities that does not treat women well. It does not treat homosexuality the way that mainstream society does. There's anti-Semitism. All of these problems are embedded in their cultural values.

You can take one of two positions. You can say we live in a liberal society where our values are to respect the rights of individuals, or [you can say] we live in this kind of pluralistic, multicultural society in which all cultures are equally valuable, even if some of those cultures oppress individuals that are members. I just think in a liberal society you cannot possibly take that second position.

You write that identity politics are driving political correctness and the unwillingness—particularly on college campuses but we see this throughout public discourse—to have conversations. To interrogate or even just ask an honest question about somebody's assertion of an identity is to disrespect them. What are the ways that we get out of this stultifying moment that we're in?

Well, I have a very simple solution, which is we need to talk more about integrative identities and particularly national identity. In many cases, that actually means fixing the national identity.

In Europe, especially in continental Europe, you have identities that are tied to ethnicity. In Germany today, a German citizen of Turkish origin who doesn't speak a word of Turkish—only German—gets up and says, "I'm a German." People will look at him a little bit strangely and say, "Well, actually, you're not a German. You're a Turk." Culturally there still is not an acceptance of a non–ethnic German as a real German. That needs to change.

It's kind of a twofold thing. Immigration I think is positive. The diversity is very bracing and it stimulates a lot of creativity. But in the end, if you don't actually shape these groups to your basic underlying political values, then you're headed down a dangerous road.

One of the things that you touch on in the book is the role of new media. We live in a globalized, networked world where you can find people like you anywhere. But there's also a negative potential. How are the internet and social media driving fragmentation?

This whole idea of a filter bubble—that because you can search out people with identical views to your own and you can shut out, deliberately, other people's voices—it tends to amplify the [worrying] kind of group-oriented beliefs. And because the internet is so expansive, you can find the six people among the 6 billion out there in the world that actually believe the crazy things that you believe. But I think the underlying drivers started well before the internet and social media got going.

Part of what drives identity politics is a sense that "the government doesn't care about people like me."

There's a whole game theory background to this, where trust can arise in an iterated game, where you're constantly playing against the same people, and then certain people screw you so you stop cooperating with them, but other people are honest so you do cooperate with them, and so you develop a norm of trust spontaneously. And I think that could happen with the government as well.

Part of the reason I think there was such a high level of trust in the U.S. government in the early 1950s is they had gotten the United States out of the Depression; we won World War II; and you had these big public works projects like the Hoover Dam or the Golden Gate bridge or the Interstate Highway project.

Do you think the government might actually do what is needed to encourage trust and confidence—maybe not in its efficacy, but at least that people are acting in good faith?

Well, I think you'd need a different administration. [Trump] personally, I think, does everything he can to decrease trust in himself except for his core supporters.

It's hard for the federal government to do this. I think you could have that buildup of trust at lower levels of government, because there are a lot of municipal governments that do actually work pretty effectively, and so you might get some bottom-up movement in that respect.

"Immigration I think is positive.…But in the end, if you don't actually shape these groups to your basic underlying political values, then you're headed down a dangerous road."

Bill Clinton famously declared the end of the era of big government, but big government is kind of like General Motors. It'll never be the pace setter that it once was, but it'll continue on. Or is it more like Sears, where it just disappears because it can't reform itself?

You know, if you look around the world, there are other rich democracies that work pretty well. People trust their government. Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, most of Scandinavia. These have governments that are very big. They do a lot of stuff. But they're seen as doing it well.

I would like to think that libertarians won the argument that government is ineffective and bad most of the time. I write a lot about how that erosion of social trust, ironically, leads to calls for more government, because people in low-trust countries want more regulation of every aspect of their lives.

The distrust of government traps you in a kind of low-level equilibrium where you say, "The government's not working. Why pay my taxes? Why give it more resources? Why give it more authority?" And then because it doesn't have resources or authority, it doesn't do a good job, and people say, "Ah! See?"

But we are also at the end of the Bismarckian welfare state. It's just unsustainable from an economic point of view, unless you restrict immigration.

A lot of European countries, their welfare states are going to survive.

Well, we'll see how many Muslims are living in Sweden in another 10 years. Obviously the turn to identity politics starts before the Cold War. But after the Cold War ends, there's a sharp uptick on religious and nationalist grounds. How does that either contradict or validate your thesis in The End of History?

The last several chapters are really about identity. I talk about thymos, and I talk about megalothymia and isothymia as forces that could potentially upset this democratic end of history, because generic recognition as a human being, which is what democracies do, is not enough for people. They want special forms of recognition, and that's where I left the book. I said nationalism and religion are not going disappear and also we may not have solved the Donald Trump "great man" problem.

Are we making too much of Donald Trump's election? He won as narrowly as anybody has ever done in American history. I would say that Hillary blew the election. She really ran one of the worst possible campaigns. Is he a new force, or is he a weird emanation of old coalitional politics that have been breaking down?

I think he is both cause and effect. We were very polarized before he ever arrived on the scene. We had lots of government dysfunction. He's not the creator of this and it'll survive him.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have had a terrible time governing, because the Republicans would probably control a good part of Congress, and like Obama in his last six years, she wouldn't be able to do anything. There'd be all this back-and-forth really nasty hatred on both sides.

Could it have turned out like the first Clinton presidency, with people finding a lot of common ground?

The polarization got started in the Clinton years, but it's just so much worse now. I really doubt that that would have been an outcome from a Hillary Clinton victory. On the other hand, Trump is so intent on breaking every single norm of presidential behavior [and] of policy in every conceivable dimension. Some of those norms can be repaired relatively easily. But others I think will probably take a much longer time.

What's an example of a norm that's really consequential that he's breaking?

The one that obviously worries a lot of people, including me, the most is just his willingness to attack your own legal system and to try to delegitimize it just to save your own skin. The attacks on the press are something that's also being copied by a lot of dictators around the world. Duterte in the Philippines or Putin [in Russia] or Erdogan [in Turkey]. They all say, look, the U.S. president hates his opposition press too. We're just shutting it down. Those things I think are probably pretty damaging and lasting.

Other things? I'm actually kind of worried that, because he's such a norm violator, if the Democrats come into power, the pendulum is going to swing in completely the opposite direction, and they will put into formal law these norms that had [prior to Trump's election] just been informal. You'll end up with an excessively constrained president, and I actually think that executive power doesn't work without a certain amount of executive discretion.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and style. For an audio version, subscribe to the Reason Podcast.

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  1. So then this identity thing, what about intersectionality? Say, for example, that I am a transexual transpecies Mulsim AIDS virus that used to be species-specific for infecting hypocritical Christian gay-hating politicians (it’s good to be bad to the bad), but now I am become a polar-bear-infecting Christian American-flag-waving AIDS virus… Endangering an endangered animal is BAD, right? And being Christian and flag-waving is double-double-bad. But, supposed that, as this polar-bear-infecting, Christian flag-waving AIDS virus, I am also a black tranny? Am I good of bad?

    1. +10,000

      1. Identity is definitely in, and one thing we really need to keep working at is making sure we really pin these identities down. “Irony” is no longer permissible, no deviance from the plain meaning of names should ever be tolerated, and jail remains the appropriate punishment for anyone who violates these basic norms and presents any identity as something other than what it really is. Above all, anonymity and “satire,” both of which violate fundamental rules of literal identity, should be rapidly criminalized everywhere in this great nation. See, in regards to so many of these pressing needs, the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. +10,000

    3. Simple: you are bad because you are not me.

    4. Am I good or bad?
      Do you support the Democrats or satan the Republicans. Who you vote for determines virtue.

  2. As a gay bisexual transgender tri-racial Muslim lesbian hermaphrodite feminist peoples of many colors, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas !!!

    1. Hey! “Happy Holidays” to the likes of YEW!!!!

      1. “YEW”?

        We know what you mean by that, you Nazi!

        Dog whistles, friend.

    2. Isn’t that cultural imperialism though?

  3. Fuck your “norms”.

    1. Yes yes, SIV, we know what norms you embraced. Check your poultry megalothymia, before you wreck yourself.

      1. I’m pretty sure I saw SIV in a charged embrace with bithe Norm MacDonald, AND George Wendt (Norm from ‘Cheers’). Possibly as the prelude to a threesome.

  4. The first manifestation of modern identity politics was European nationalism. And there you start with the desire of the Germans [in the 19th century] to live within their own community, because they’re all scattered around Central and Eastern Europe; they don’t have a single state under which they’re all ruled.

    The Irish beg to differ:

    Ireland in 1558 was divided politically and culturally into English and Gaelic parts. The predominantly Gaelic west and north had a scanty, shifting population, with scattered, largely impermanent settlements, and a predominantly pastoral economy. A common legal system, social and cultural institutions also stretched across the North Channel into the Scottish highlands and islands, imparting some measure of unity. Yet Gaelic politics were intensely local, with the numerous rival clans and chieftaincies. This was, according to English officials, ‘a land of war’, inhabited by a rude and savage people (‘the wild Irish’) living in bogs and mountains.

    The smaller, more ‘civil’, ‘Englishry’ (the English Pale around Dublin and the south) contained numerous English-style towns and villages and prided itself on its Englishness and loyalty. Yet Gaelic practices and speech were spreading among those of English descent (the future Old English) and the costs of defending the queen’s subjects there had lately escalated alarmingly.

    1. Then came Cromwell, leader of a middle-class army that at one point had all the nobility of England against them, the royal Navy, the merchant class, the Catholics, the Irish, the Scotts, the peasants, and French mercenaries.

      Cromwell’s Roundheads kicked serious butt on all of them. That’s what happens when the “doers” of society get angry enough to go to war with the entitled classes and those looking for handouts.

      1. May Cromwell burn in hell tonight!

  5. Flashy material resources are only one axis of status competition. There’s plenty of others. How your kid is doing, whether they’re the captain of the football team?there’s so many ways in which you can demonstrate superior status. I think this is as true in poor communities as it is in rich ones. It’s really not related to an absolute level of consumption.

    Yep. My mom’s feminism evolved into a system for proving that she was better than her mother-in-law.

  6. In Europe, especially in continental Europe, you have identities that are tied to ethnicity. In Germany today, a German citizen of Turkish origin who doesn’t speak a word of Turkish?only German?gets up and says, “I’m a German.” People will look at him a little bit strangely and say, “Well, actually, you’re not a German. You’re a Turk.” Culturally there still is not an acceptance of a non?ethnic German as a real German. That needs to change.

    One can say the same thing about an immigrant moving to a Native American reservation. Immigration is fine and a certain amount of assimilation to core values is a necessary part of immigration. A new family eventually becomes a transracial part of their adopted nation. This is the ideal of the melting pot.

    1. One can say the same thing about an immigrant moving to a Native American reservation.

      Well, they have more of a cause of concern about immigration than most…

      1. Melting pot Schelting Schmot-Snot!!!! My Libertarian Theology is SOOOO Purely Pure, it is with GREAT effort that I can just barely drag myself to this half-worn-out old keyboard, and yet one again, try to elevate you impure, ignorant troglodytes and Pure-Libertarian-Wannabees!!!

        But, Happy Holidays to you and yours, anyway, despite your lake of purity!

        (Slinks away for another snorrfle of vodka and rainwater).

        1. I am the most Libertarian. I am WORKING for an OPPRESSIVE company that TRACKS YOUR MOVEMENTS for MONEY, not for the love of the job.

          (We actually do track your movements and keep tons of data on everybody, mind you).

          Happy Holidays and shit to all.

      2. What happened to the Native Americans during the 20th Century that did not happen to the Armenians?

        1. They had sports teams named after them?

    2. You really need to read the National Socialist platform before trying to read Germans. It’s barely over a thousand words, takes less than ten minutes to read, and says: “4. Only he who is a folk comrade can be a citizen. Only he who is of German blood, regardless of his church, can be a folk comrade.” Though the word “Jew” appears only once, their thinking is like a sorite or Venn diagram so: “5. He who is not a citizen shall live in Germany only as a guest and must be governed by the law for aliens. ” 6 by deduction bars Jews from certain jobs and 7 ends with “(non citizens) are to be expelled.” DNA itself was unknown but Mendelian inheritance fed collectivist expressions of German faith that altruism is an inborn trait. If Turkish descendants are only excluded, that’s an improvement. Back when Yanks were playing “Leisure Suit Larry” there were German-language video games where players shot Turks (formerly German allies) like recent zombie mayhem games.

      1. The exact same reasoning behind the NSDAP platform applies to the modern Turks (ask the Kurds, Greeks and Armenians), Chinese, Koreans, Zula, Japanese, Malays, Chechens, Uzbeks, Pastuns, Bantu, Hindi, Persians, Georgians, Serbs, Portuguese, Arab Egyptians, every First Nations group in North America, Xhosa, ad nauseam…
        “You may live among us, but you can never be us” is the dominant belief in all those identities.

        So many Yanks fail to understand how unique the melting pot cultures of Canada, Australia, Brazil, the United States and New Zealand truly are. Even in multi-ethnic countries like India, the UK, Argentina, Russia, Iran, Nigeria, etc. the idea of a national, rather than ethnic identity, only exists with their governments and their clerisy.

  7. “With the rise of populist political campaigns and democratic unrest throughout the Western world, some have wondered whether his most well-known idea remains relevant.”

    When will people understand that populists asserting themselves at the polls against elitists who are inflicting unpopular environmental and immigration policies on the people is well within the purview of pluralistic democracy?

    If populists asserting themselves at the polls and winning tells us anything about Fukuyama’s idea that pluralistic democracy is the end of history, it counts in favor of the idea. Why would average people asserting themselves at the polls suggest a failure of democracy–unless elitists only approve of “democracy” insofar as it legitimizes their authoritarian elitism?

    And isn’t that what’s really going on here? The elitists imagine democracy is when the people do as they’re told, and when that doesn’t happen, well, they’d rather hang onto the accouterments of the democracy that legitimizes their authoritarianism before they simply abandon it completely–but if that doesn’t work out in their favor, then all bets on pluralistic democracy are probably off.

    1. Problem is populist don’t only assert themselves against the elite. They are just as often to turn their ire towards the underclass, and the galvanization often leads to fascism or a complete fracturing of society. You see both elements in play currently, and oh boy does that have the potential to turn ugly quickly.

      The problem isn’t even the elites per se, but the inherent corruption of institutions. Most of the discussion isn’t on how to reform/defang them to be more just, but who gets to wield that power. And that usually doesn’t end well.

      1. Meh, when the transit workers went on strike during the 1970’s in New York City, people who road to work in limousines did not have nearly as many problems. People who depended on uninterrupted service because they live hand to mouth had to move out of the area.

      2. the problem isn’t the corruption (which is inherent) of the system, it’s the power given to the institutions

        1. One of the defining aspects of a corrupt system is that it takes power, even if surreptitiously. Not to mention several welfare states are among the most trusted world governments, so even power given to institutions isn’t a good indicator.

          I’m more inclined to agree that western democracy doesn’t scale well beyond a certain size, but even India knocks that idea down a few pegs.

          I could see diverse groups committed to process rather than identity possibly working well, but the US process is most definitely corrupt, with a few choke-points able to wield undue influence and a sense of disenfranchisement growing to even the majority.

      3. “Problem is populist don’t only assert themselves against the elite. They are just as often to turn their ire towards the underclass”

        I was talking about reality. Populists winning elections is not by itself a failure of democracy.

        I didn’t address your concerns about a slippery slope for a number of reasons, one of which is because slippery slope fallacies are fallacious.

        1. Um, by definition, anyone winning an democratic election is populist. It’s kind of baked into the process. Moving on…

          You mean the reality of making such a grand pronouncement based upon a single election? Do tell! And when the pendulum swings back, will you also proclaim that as “the will of the people” in solidarity? Or is that just reality falling short, again…

          When those populist decide to vote themselves full access to the treasury, that’s just democracy in action! Single-payer here we come! The canard about three wolves and a sheep is just needless fretting about nothing. But good of you to jump on that populist bandwagon.

          THE most prominent example of populism in the US isn’t Trump, but Roosevelt. But thank god all that New Deal thinking withered on the vine and wasn’t further expanded. Slippery slope? Never touch the stuff myself, thanks!

    2. What interests me is the elite response to the peasant revolt. You notice it’s never “what are we doing wrong, and how do we correct it?”, it’s always, “how do we keep the yokels happy and quiet while we continue doing what we’re already doing?”.

      I predict the guillotine will be making a comeback, sooner rather than later.

  8. Incidentally, the neoconservatives, with whom Fukayama is associated, have long shared with Marxism a belief in an elite revolutionary vanguard, whose job it is to push the masses (by various means) further than they’d want to go otherwise. Any libertarian who understands that the kind of representative democracy the neoconservatives champion is fundamentally inferior to the will of the people as expressed in markets and culture–should see straight through this strain of elitism they call “democracy”.

    They only care about democracy to the extent that it legitimizes their authority to inflict their will on the people.

  9. Right, the Democrats are going to look at how Trump is utilizing the power of the executive and act to limit its power. Because that has EVER happened before. They don’t want the government (any branch) to have less power, they just want to ensure that only they get to wield it. In the best of times they were OK with someone very like them who may disagree on tax policy to have a (short) turn, but that’s it.

    Is Fukiyama naive or lying? I’d vote naive based on his first book.

  10. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff in the discussion about assimilation vs. group identity (melting pot vs. salad bowl, if you will). One would think that total assimilation is ideal, meaning everyone is equal and there is no risk of cultural differences causing tension. But what I think can’t be dismissed is the fact that people assimilate to something that is equally as arbitrary and culturally specific as any minority practices. In short, in this country, it means acting like white heterosexuals.

    A truly enlightened society is one that tolerates and celebrates different cultural practices–as well as the mingling of them–so as not to leave anyone feeling less than fully vested in society, but also leaving room to just be chill and hang out as inevitable tensions happen.

    The Christian heterosexual white people get to make the first move since they have all the power. Hint: the first move is not whining that you don’t get to dominate 100% of culture all the time. You have a 100 ft fucking Xmas tree in the center of the world like a giant property-marking dookie. You’re doing fine.

    1. “A truly enlightened society is one that tolerates and celebrates different cultural practices”

      The United States (and Canada for what it’s worth) does this better than any nation on earth. All I see is the incorporation of faith and cultures. North America is about as good as it gets for this sort of stuff.

      1. Agreed. It barely has a choice, what with the natives being genocided. Merry Xmas.

        1. “Agreed. It barely has a choice, what with the natives being genocided.”

          And yet we now even tolerate thug lefty assholes like you.

        2. Not to give Europeans to little credit: they did try genociding themselves real good a coupla times last century.

          Peace on earth, good will toward men.

        3. We celebrate Merry Christmas on the blood of all genocided peoples!

        4. Thanks God for Liz Warren. She narrowly escaped the genocide.

        5. Tony, you might find this article interesting. I lean in favor of the Native Americans in this case.

      2. You are correct, there are still many countries where celebrating “cultural differences’ will get you killed, not here.

    2. I LMAS off at the dookie. So funny. Your best bet for a natural lifespan is still within the envelope of Judaeo-christian heritage. Otherwise it’s thunderdome for all of us.

    3. Tony, in a historical cmtext the Native Americans were treated far better than their counterparts in most parts of the world. Of course, you’re the sort to judge events from over a hundred years ago by modern standards.

      Merry Christmas buddy

    4. A truly enlightened society is one that tolerates and celebrates different cultural practices

      That’s why it’s important for an enlightened government to mandate under threat of severe punishment that people both tolerate (as in, allow to happen) and celebrate (as in, affirm the goodness of something happening) different cultural practices. It’s not sufficient for someone to refrain from grabbing pitchforks and torches over what someone else does, and just letting others be as they wish. You’d better bake that fucking cake too, or else.

    5. A truly enlightened society is one that tolerates and celebrates different cultural practices–as well as the mingling of them–so as not to leave anyone feeling less than fully vested in society, but also leaving room to just be chill and hang out as inevitable tensions happen.

      Where do you live? I imagine it must be strongly Progressive White enclave.

      Because the rest of the country is already doing this and has been doing so for a long time now. The rest of us non-Progressive white people aren’t whining about ‘not dominating the culture 100% of the time – we’re busy out here sampling other cultures and ‘culturally appropriating’ the best parts of them.

      Except for the parts about tolerating the cultural expressions that demand genital mutilation and ‘honor’ killing as means of maintaining control of women.

    6. You have a 100 ft fucking Xmas tree in the center of the world
      New York isn’t actually the fucking centre of the world, but the fact you think it is explains an awful lot.

      not whining that you don’t get to dominate 100% of culture all the time.
      You get to force those awful xtians to bake cakes celebrating the fact you hump other guys bums. Every glassy-eyed, coke-addled celebrity journalist screeches about how wonderful it is that mano on mano ass sex is now the exact same thing as a breeding pair and if someone disagrees they’re a monster. You’re identity comprises less than one percent of the population, but people routinely mistake your numbers for 15 to 20 percent from the sheer amount of positive press you get. And yet you’re whining that a massive 75% of the population is making you upset by celebrating their festival once a year like they have for centuries, and you want it suppressed? You’re allowed to have all your pride parades, gay festivals and shit now, but they’ve got to stop having their fun because you hate them.

      Listen Tony, you authoritarian fucking wretch; Fuck you, and fuck your enablers who’ve let you fucking think that you have the right to stamp your boot on the necks of the vast majority and suppress their joy. That you’re allowed to do everything, but they can now do nothing. Seriously go fuck yourself.

    7. A truly enlightened society is one that tolerates and celebrates different cultural practices–as well as the mingling of them–so as not to leave anyone feeling less than fully vested in society, but also leaving room to just be chill and hang out as inevitable tensions happen.

      Is it now?

      Then why are you complaining that an appropriated Semitic Middle Eastern Faith is being celebrated with a mingled northern pagan symbol in a city that mixes so many cultural practices that many of them have replaced the originals?

      You have a 100 ft fucking Xmas tree in the center of the world like a giant property-marking dookie.

      Quite honestly, it sounds like YOU are the one who thinks YOU need to dominate culture 100% of the time–because ‘The People’ seem to prefer things you find offensive.

      It seems like you and yours want all cultures strictly separated, made completely static, have all “mingling” declared criminal cultural appropriation and still act as if you’re virtuous.

    8. Truly Enlightened? societies need to be stomped off the face of the earth. I live for the day EnlightenmentWorld? Is burned to the ground, and the earth salted where it once stood.

    9. A truly enlightened society, like America , is where a culture of white people have welcomed peoples from all over the world to join them in freedom and democracy.
      This worked up and until there began to be peoples who did not want to join the existing peoples and their culture, but wanted to have the advantages of the new culture with out actually joining in to help. One political parties encourages the newbies to be unhappy with their new home and to demand endless special accommodations that no earlier immigrants demanded or received in order to capture their votes. This is how we get to where we are at today.
      There is not white privilege, but western civilization privilege, which is available to any human who tries to embrace its freedoms and norms.
      To say dominate the culture, shows a vast ignorance of what America’s culture is. If the values of western civilization do not dominate our culture, then what culture do we have??? .I do not think the disrespect you show for Christmas, ( not XMAS!!) would be acceptable to you on other subjects and cultures.
      It is certainly part of American culture to tolerate the different cultural practices of newbies, the hope is that they will adopt American values over time, NOT that we will adopt and celebrate all their practices, some of which made their homelands places they needed to escape from.

  11. Important #TrumpRussia update from Rachel Maddow!

    Russians launched pro-Jill Stein social media blitz to help Trump win election, reports say

    This confirms what I’ve been saying for months about third parties in US politics. Third party candidates who steal votes from Democrats are effectively pro-GOP spoilers. Stein should have dropped out early and endorsed Hillary Clinton.

    #StillWithHer
    #LibertariansForMaddow

  12. So National Socialist identity is the new collectivism? And this isn’t 1933?

  13. Yawn…and yet we’re still publishing Fukiyama’s pedestrian analyses…the comments here are more interesting

    1. The comments usually are.

      1. The comments are 99% of the reason to come here. No offense to the fine Reason journalists.

        1. Who are these fine Reason journalists of whom you speak?

      2. Yes…so if we send and extra contribution can we get Reason to upgrade to a good comment system then?

    2. Yeh, it was a nice interview, but it did leave me a bit ‘meh’.

  14. Ugh, this is so typical. Conservatives are pouncing on something Lebron James posted, accusing him of being anti-Semitic.

    Lebron James captioned a selfie with 21 Savage lyrics about “Jewish money,” angering conservative critics

    Didn’t people learn anything in college? Lebron James is a person of color. That means he has no institutional power in a white supremacist country like the US, and therefore cannot be an oppressor. Want to know what real anti-Semitism sounds like? Suggesting “Open Borders for Israel.” THAT is bigotry. Lebron’s selfie was harmless.

    #BlackPeopleCannotBeRacist
    #TakeASociologyClass

    1. #ShutUpAndDribble

      1. Wow, he’s still playing?
        #WhensHeGonnaRetire

      2. “#ShutUpAndDribble”

        LeBron dribbles?

  15. Boo hoo. Our precious “norms”. Trump is delegitimizing institutions the left wants to use to oppress people. How dare he?

    1. Hey now! Norm MacDonald is an international treasure. Not sure how Trump figures in though.

    2. Would those institutions be the federal legislators who have completely abdicated their responsibilities to pass budgets, declare war or control the debt? Or the supreme court that has eviscerated the 4th, 2nd and 10th amendments? Or the media that create a version of reality every day relying on unnamed sources? When exactly were these institutions legitimate and why should I feed these despots? Fuck your norms and fuck democracy. Just leave me alone.

  16. Anybody who wants to force me to take white privilege classes so I can feel guilty about all the unearned advantages I or most of my ancestral family have had in America sure as hell doesn’t know me or my family story.

    1. Clearly, everyone down at the trailer park needs to be rounded up and force bussed to facilities for just this sort of education.

  17. “To me, Black Lives Matter makes total sense. I don’t see them as saying, “We are superior to you.” Which left-wing identity groups are saying, “Shut up and listen to me because I should be the only one talking”?”

    Has Nick been reading Soave’s articles?

    “Are we making too much of Donald Trump’s election? He won as narrowly as anybody has ever done in American history. I would say that Hillary blew the election. She really ran one of the worst possible campaigns. Is he a new force, or is he a weird emanation of old coalitional politics that have been breaking down?”

    Well, then that means she wasn’t fit to lead a most powerful nation, no?

    “Could it have turned out like the first Clinton presidency, with people finding a lot of common ground?”

    I really hope Nick’s tongue was firmly pressed against his cheek when he asked this.

    1. “What’s an example of a norm that’s really consequential that he’s breaking?

      The one that obviously worries a lot of people, including me, the most is just his willingness to attack your own legal system and to try to delegitimize it just to save your own skin. The attacks on the press are something that’s also being copied by a lot of dictators around the world. Duterte in the Philippines or Putin [in Russia] or Erdogan [in Turkey]. They all say, look, the U.S. president hates his opposition press too. We’re just shutting it down. Those things I think are probably pretty damaging and lasting.”

      Obama is breaking his own norms post-presidency. Other than that, well, he kinda has a point about the legals system being so thoroughly and obviously corrupted. We see this, ironically, with Mueller’s banana republic investigation. As for the press, yeh, let’s ignore Bush and Obama on that front. The media has done nothing but abdicate its ‘objective’ stance (to the extent you believe they’re objective) and just gone off the rails.

      Good interview.

      Now give Peterson a shot, Nick. I’d love to see that dynamic between the two of you.

      1. “The one that obviously worries a lot of people, including me, the most is just his willingness to attack your own legal system and to try to delegitimize it just to save your own skin.”

        Separating noise from action, I’m not sure I’ve seen any effective action in this regard.
        He’s taken some actions regarding immigration which have been found by the courts to be illegal, and that’s been the end of that. Most POTUS do so.
        The ‘special prosecutor’ is clearly just a fishing operation; unconstitutional on the face of it, and should be stopped. He’s done nothing there.
        Have I missed something?

  18. Happy Birthday!

  19. Maybe confusing upward mobility status seeking with wanting a little tad bit of fuckingmoney in your pocket. Disposable income keeps going down because taxes keep going up. Add Obamacare premiums into the mix and it really starts looking like a tax hike on the working middle class (white or blue collar), especially small-medium sized business. I don’t know, all I read coming from the Democrats is a bigger government, new programs and higher taxes–double down on that shit.

  20. “You can take one of two positions. You can say we live in a liberal society where our values are to respect the rights of individuals, or [you can say] we live in this kind of pluralistic, multicultural society in which all cultures are equally valuable, even if some of those cultures oppress individuals that are members. I just think in a liberal society you cannot possibly take that second position.”
    I can take issue with this guy on details but this is the fundamental issue we face and he articulates it perfectly. Liberalism is being destroyed by “liberals” under the guise of “tolerance”,

    1. So the next logical step to prevent these issues would be identifying and eliminating/expelling the cultures that oppress their own members, correct?

      So goodbye Islam, conservative Christianity, and urban/rap culture?

      Fuck yes, sign me up

      1. “So the next logical step to prevent these issues would be identifying and eliminating/expelling the cultures that oppress their own members, correct?”

        The obvious issue regards the use of coercion.
        I find it proper to use coercion in protection from those who would cause me harm; the NAP.
        Anyone who uses it to ‘encourage’ favored behavior is beyond my ‘tolerance’ and would be ‘encouraged’ to fuck off. There is no doubt many “Islam, conservative Christianity, and urban/rap culture” will qualify, but then we also have Tony, the asshole rev and others who do not fall under those examples but who are equally willing to have their government representatives pull a gun to force us to do what they wish.
        Which is the reason I do NOT wish Tony et al a merry anything at all; fucking thugs are not due well-wishes; die a painful death, scumbag. I want to be very clear here: I have no desire, nor ability to call out armed thugs to cause their deaths. They hope to have that ability, and they would use it instantly if they did.
        So, to repeat, I have no ability to cause your deaths, but, given that you hope the worst for me, I hope you die a slow and painful death.

        1. (More)
          But as a counter example, I (an atheist) spent time in western China several years back; it was Muslim, but no one bothered me about their beliefs or mine. The seemed to be interested in whether I was going to buy something…
          (you can forget sweet-and-sour pork)
          To the rest of you who wish me nothing but a cheerful and prosperous holiday, I say “Back Atcha!” All the best!

          1. Had a wet Christmas, huh?

            You want to force me to live a life in your preferred form of society every bit as much as I do you. Your favored tax scheme is not some kind of goddamn default, and neither is your favored infrastructure scheme, free speech scheme, or any other scheme. You just slap a bumper sticker on your policy priorities that says “freedom.” Except I think my system results in billions of times more freedom than yours. The fact that you wish death on people who have different policy priorities from yours only reinforces the point I’m making here: you’re stupid, and dangerously so. Don’t get elected to office.

            1. Yes Tony, we know. In your preferred society freedom is slavery.

            2. Tony|12.26.18 @ 11:19AM|#
              “You want to force me to live a life in your preferred form of society every bit as much as I do you.”
              Fucking invented claim but idiot claimant.

              “Your favored tax scheme is not some kind of goddamn default, and neither is your favored infrastructure scheme, free speech scheme, or any other scheme.”
              Yes, it is. It takes miserable scumbag thugs like you to make it otherwise.

              You just slap a bumper sticker on your policy priorities that says “freedom.” Except I think my system results in billions of times more freedom than yours.”
              You claim to “think” and in the entire time I’ve read your drivel, there has never been a suggestion that you are capable of that activity. Nor that you have the slightest inkling of what “freedom” means. It’s not that you’re just an ignoramus; it’s that you are incapable of logic besides, and actually proud of it.
              Any sentient human would be embarrassed.

              “The fact that you wish death on people who have different policy priorities from yours only reinforces the point I’m making here: you’re stupid, and dangerously so.”
              I wish death on those whose intent is my death, you fucking lefty thug.

              “Don’t get elected to office.”
              Die in a SLOOOOOW fire; as you deserve.

            3. You want to force me to live a life in your preferred form of society every bit as much as I do you.

              In essence, this is true. In practice it becomes somewhat murky. Why? Because MY preferred form of society runs thusly–you do whatever you want, so long as you harm none against their will. This means that you can have your preferred type of society so long as you don’t force anyone to have it with you.

              Your preferred society has force as a building block and does not allow for others to do as they might.

              Your favored tax scheme is not some kind of goddamn default, and neither is your favored infrastructure scheme, free speech scheme, or any other scheme.

              Yes, it is. It is the form that most people desire, yourself included, in their heart of hearts.

              You just slap a bumper sticker on your policy priorities that says “freedom.” Except I think my system results in billions of times more freedom than yours.

              You, Tony, and your fellow travelers are the ones known for sloganeering and bumpersticker politics.

              But bumperstickers don’t alter the fact that suppressing speech, creating steep uncrossable barriers between races, cultures, faiths and classes, fomenting social divisions and undermining every market doesn’t offer freedom to anyone except those creating the restrictions–and that only until they, themselves, become a liability.

              con’t

              1. con’t

                The fact that you wish death on people who have different policy priorities from yours only reinforces the point I’m making here: you’re stupid, and dangerously so.

                Have you ever heard the word ‘projection’, Tony? Every thing you claim to want, every program, every policy has resulted in mass death when it’s been implemented. The things you desire bring only one kind of freedom–the freedom of death.

                At least with what we want, you’ve got a chance.

  21. Except the populists are leading a revolt against the totalitarianism of thought and conduct and control by the liberal democrat mandarin apparatchik (neo-communists for short).

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  23. A dim-bulb bot.

  24. I have never understood how scholars or critical thinkers could take Fukyurmama seriously. The end of history as a political-economic philosophy? Seriously? It buggers the imagination.

    1. Maybe he meant “written history”, when our ignorant children can no longer read or write after 12 years of schooling and 4 years of higher education!

  25. This guy says nothing new at all. The world is crazy. Orange man bad.

  26. “The attacks on the press are something that’s also being copied by a lot of dictators around the world”

    I’m sorry, but this is just utter bullshit. All of these leaders were doing this shit long before Trump, and the situation in America is entirely different, where the vast majority of Americans hate and dislike our trust because they know they are dishonest and biased. The PRESS needs to fix this, yet they have done absolutely zero introspection, and have even doubled down.

  27. Maybe there is hope that at both endpoints of the identity politics spectrum you end up with individualism.

    1. The following is pure comedy gold. When identity groups clash…
      http://www.sfexaminer.com/sb-8…..ers-color/

  28. “Immigration I think is positive.?But in the end, if you don’t actually shape these groups to your basic underlying political values, then you’re headed down a dangerous road.”

    Fall of the Roman Empire? Seems to be a cautionary tale as to what happens when those barbarians [who maintain a separate group identity and refuse to assimilate] get inside the gates. Not every one or group buys into the notion of a liberal democracy.

  29. Identity politics is bad for both sides! Think with your mind, not your skin color, or gender!
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

  30. I demand group respect from groups that I disrespect –dammit!

  31. I have one point of disagreement with Fukuyama’s “facts”. His statement that rich democracies such as Australia, Germany, Netherlands and the Scandinavians are still performing well can be challenged. The simple data points, as a check on the validity of his assertion, that can be used are the results of elections and the rise of protest, non-mainstream parties and candidates in all those countries.

  32. Australia and Germany will have a turbulent 2019, as idiotic green energy policies get rolled back because (1) the economic cost of going greening was dramatically under-estimated and came as a surprise because the governments in power and their colluding lefty media friends that apologize and stonewall for them didn’t tell all the truth about the transformations they intended to cram down everyone’s throats, and (2) the underlying scientific basis for attacking fossil fuels is increasingly exposed as shoddy, runaway junk science socially fashionable bandwagon propelled in great part by avalanches of climate scare headlines that were pure hyperbole from the same lefty mainstream legacy media people.

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