In 2014, Francis Fukuyama wrote that American institutions were in decay, as the state was progressively captured by powerful interest groups. Two years later, his predictions were borne out by the rise to power of a series of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarian tendencies threatened to destabilize the entire international order. These populist nationalists seek direct charismatic connection to “the people,” who are usually defined in narrow identity terms that offer an irresistible call to an in-group and exclude large parts of the population as a whole.
Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. The universal recognition on which liberal democracy is based has been increasingly challenged by narrower forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender, which have resulted in anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious “identity liberalism” of college campuses, and the emergence of white nationalism. Populist nationalism, said to be rooted in economic motivation, actually springs from the demand for recognition and therefore cannot simply be satisfied by economic means. The demand for identity cannot be transcended; we must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.
Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment is an urgent and necessary book—a sharp warning that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we will doom ourselves to continuing conflict.
Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and the Mosbacher Director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. He is professor (by courtesy) of political science.
Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues in development and international politics. His book, The End of History and the Last Man,was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. Other books include America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, and Political Order and Political Decay. He will publish a new book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment in Sept. 2018.
Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation, and of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State. He previously taught at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University and at George Mason University's School of Public Policy. He served as a member of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.
Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He is a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, and a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for Global Development. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), Kansai University (Japan), Aarhus University (Denmark), and the Pardee Rand Graduate School. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and a member of the advisory board for the Journal of Democracy. He is also a member of the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council for International Affairs. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.