Francis Fukuyama: Identity politics
The demand for dignity and the nation state’s future
7 March 2019 in Vienna. Francis Fukuyama
since 1989 or 1991, we had been living in a growing liberal international order.
The number of democracies in this period went from about 35 in 1970, and peaked at something like a 115 to a 120, depending on how you measure a democracy. By the early 2000s, the global output of the world economy quadrupled.
the rise of a couple of very self-confident and newly assertive authoritarian powers: Russia and China. But from my standpoint, the most disturbing thing was this emergence of populism within established democracies and in fact, within the two most established democracies: Britain and the US.
The first definition is an economic one: a populist is a leader, who promotes economic policies or social policies that are popular on the short run but disastrous on the long run.
The second definition is more of a political style than anything else: a populist leader tries to be charismatic and says: I have a direct connection with you, the people. And that is actually quite important because it makes a populist, I think, ipso facto anti-institutional.
A democracy is not just popular elections, it is also the protection of minority rights, it is also having a moderate government that really reflects the true will of the people. And populists tend to authoritarian politics because they do not like institutions getting in the way
The third definition is that a populist, when they say “I support the people”, often times do not mean the whole people. They mean a certain kind of person, usually defined by race or ethnicity. Often times in terms of traditional cultural values or as a traditional sense of national identity. And that does not correspond to the actual population that might live in that country.
Now we have a populist coalition in Italy, and Latin America elected its first Northern European style populist in Jair Bolsonaro. Most Latin American populists are like Southern European populists: they are left wing, they are not ethnically exclusive, they are more economic populists. But Latin America has decided to join the crowd, and so they elected a leader that is, you know, racially prejudiced, that has a fundamentalist Christian understanding of what Brasil should be about.
if you are a lower-skilled, less educated worker in a rich country, you are liable to lose out to a similarly skilled worker in a poor country.
Right from the beginning, the rap against democracy is that it produces weak government. Democracies cannot make decisions. there is a big desire on the part of a lot of ordinary people to have a strong man, a leader who can just cut through all this blather, make decisions and get things done.
The third reason is cultural, and that is the one that has to do with identity.
the word identity and Identity Politics was really not used commonly until the 1950s. A psychologist, Erik Erikson
the inner self is the one that is valuable, and the whole outside society has to change, and that is what is happening right now. Men are going through a cultural retraining, they are learning that actually their rules are not the right ones, and we need a different set of rules in relations between men and women that respect the dignity of the whole person in those kinds of relationships.
European Muslims, did not feel comfortable with their parents’ form of religiosity, they thought that it was too old fashioned and traditional, but they also did not feel well-integrated into the society, in which they were living.
“Strangers in Their Own Land” by sociologist Arlie Hochschild
more on Fukuyama in this IMS blog