Since the publication of his 1989 essay "The End of History?," no political scientist has been more influential in discussions of global democracy than Francis Fukuyama. In the years since then, the Stanford professor has authored a shelf full of prescient and commanding texts, including The End of History and the Last Man, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creaton of Prosperity, and Our Post-Human Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. (In 2002, he debated biophysicist Gregory Stock in the pages at Reason on the advisability of human cloning; read their exchange here and here.)
Once a neoconservative who staunchly believed in military intervention and nation building, Fukuyama has been chastened by the failure of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 and has renounced his early support for the invasion and occupation in Iraq. In his new book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, he argues that the rise of populism, nationalism, and grievance cultures based on racial, ethnic, and gender identity both here and abroad are undermining the basis of liberal democracy and threaten economic prosperity and peace. "Every single one of these struggles is justified," Fukuyama told The Chronicle of Higher Education recently. "The problem is in the way we interpret injustice and how we try to solve it, which tends to fragment society."
I spoke with Fukuyama about Identity, whether it's possible to create a national identity that is capable of bringing Americans of all sorts together without becoming oppressive and stultifying, and why he believes that a Democratic win in the midterm elections is essential to checking what he sees as the authoritarian tendencies of Donald Trump.
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