Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of


Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment [PDF / EPUB] Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment The New York Times bestselling author of The Origins of Political Order offers a provocative examination of modern identity politics its origins its effects and what it means for domestic and internat The New York Times bestselling author of The Demand for Kindle Ø Origins of Political Order offers a provocative examination of modern identity politics its origins its effects and what it means for domestic and international affairs of stateIn Francis Fukuyama Identity The eBook ì 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 The Demand for eBook ¸ 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 The Demand for Dignity and Epub / large parts of the population as a wholeDemand 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 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.


10 thoughts on “Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment

  1. says:

    5 stars for the first half 3 stars for the solution and a big 0 for a few chapters toward the end The book begins with a brisk walk thru Western civilization as it went from village life to industrial life and from Catholicism thru Reformation and then Nietzsche So far so good The thesis is that people started measuring themselves by their inner lives as opposed to their kin and village ties as society was fragmented Then he moves through the American founding and another super speedy synthesis of the tension between being a nation that embraces diversity or one that is rigidly white and Christian I really liked Fukuyama's Political Order and Political Decay it was 2 volumes of dense history that I thought was really illuminating I think he probably shortcuts too much of that in here but he's written it all before Louis Menand has a devastating New Yorker critiue of this part so maybe read that Then in his solutions it's fine I don't agree with all of it he's a HARD assimilationist no bilingual education public service reuirements military duties for immigrants etc but generally he thinks America should embrace its identity as a nation of immigrants but also take immigration reform seriously He says nothing at all about gender or race reform within the country which is curious given the point of the book is about identity politics and how we might fix it It's also hilarious that all these identity politics naysayers lump #metoo and BLM into identity politics because those have nothing at all to do with identity but are about very specific and identifiable wrongs but whateverHERE is where he is just flat out wrong and it was actually super interesting to read this part because I have long been bugged by the standard narrative of identity politics but Fukuyama helped me figure out exactly what the problem is at the core of the standard narrative THE HISTORY IS JUST WRONG The narrative of identity politics as proposed by Lilla Haidt Chua and repeated over and over by pundits is that the left took up identity politics at some point in the late 60s or maybe early 70s and they lost their coalitions of working people And now it's everywhere and it's metastasized all over the place and look what you did the right just picked up this beast you created and now we have Nazis Fukuyama tells the story of the Civil Rights movement as such MLK just wanted blacks to be treated eually to whites he wasn't demanding any sort of big change Then the black nationalists and the campus radicals ruined everything by demanding recognition of their dignity AS black people They drew attention to their specific racial grievances The black campus radicals objected to Stanford's core lit classes because they were mad it was all white men and they wanted to add blacks and women He uotes a speech by a spokesperson on this and the important inflection point for Fukuyama is that the whole argument hinges on FEELINGS Students of color will FEEL psychologically wounded by reading these things and their dignity will not be represented Haidt in his new book The Coddling of the American Mind and Lilla's older book go hard on this thread too that people were being irrational and focused on feelings and from then on everything went to hell because people couldn't be rational any And by people they mean mostly black people and women Ok let me take a breath because this part made me want to throw the book at the wall really hard which was a problem because I was listening to it as I was running so what I actually did was just channel my anger into running faster so yay for thatHere is the problem with this narrative1 MLK was not simply asking for blacks to be treated the same as whites You can either read the rest of the I Have a Dream Speech or literally any speech MLK gave before or after that one sentence that Reagan and everyone after Reagan liked to uote you know the one MLK was asking for justice and for redress He literally used the word redress He wanted America to make it right after having oppressed subjugated and enslaved the black population While Fukuyama is marching through history he never touches on this by the way uick TRIVIA How was slavery justified? You guessed it by RACIAL IDENTITY Note 2 How was Jim Crow and the Klan organized? Guessed it again RACIAL IDENTITY2 The black nationalists and the campus radicals may have said some uncomfortable things but their movements were also not based on FEELINGS of dignity as Fukuyama claims It is perfectly reasonable and rational to demand that other voices be included in the cannon Also perfectly reasonable to demand recognition for race based claims after centuries of exclusion based precisely on RACE3 Also and this is critical Demanding dignity was not new Black people and women have been demanding DIGNITY and RESPECT based on their IDENTITY as blacks for FOREVER It's just that before they were either killed or silenced when they did it The 60s was just the first time whites had to pay attention and apparently some of them did not like it one bit Frederick Douglass Sojourner Truth WEB Dubois on and on and on have been demanding dignity and justice Dubois writes The Soul of Black Folk he was the James Baldwin and the Ta Nahisi Coates of that era He talked a lot about white people and black people and he spoke of black people as a people whose claims of justice needed to be recognized Sorry for all the caps I am trying to highlight the words Fukuyama cares a lot about 4 It's also absurd to say that the left and minorities invented identity politics White identity politics has been conveniently deployed for generations especially in building coalitions of Southerners who had nothing else in common besides their whiteness They weren't even from the same places or classes they were white and that was it Literally crack a book about politics in the South between say 1800 to today Start with Slavery by another Name or Strange Career of Jim Crow if you prefer to read a book by white men ; Which brings me to my last point5 NIXON INVENTED IDENTITY POLITICS Don't believe me? Read my second book Color of Money Chapter 6 The Civil Rights coalitions' demands were all based on economics and ending segregation and addressing the wealth gap Actual economic policy MLK's last movement was a poor people's movement which was just class based and not at all race based In fact most of the black radicals were roaming around the world building coalitions among all sorts of races to build a class based revolution They were called communists So you might not like that but communism is hardly identity politics Nixon is the one that puts the kibosh on class based coalitions AGAIN using the white identity southern strategy just like after Reconstruction Nixon's plank on civil rights is black identity politics black power and black pride and black capitalism that's his campaign message I shit you not He forms an identity based coalition of real Americans white Americans that is still intact This is the thread that Palin and Trump pick up on but it was always there So lament identity politics all you want but get the freaking history right


  2. says:

    This is reuired reading because with this book Fukuyama is clearly on to something At the core he discusses how we can overcome political polarization and strenghten our democratic systems In order to grasp the underlying current that drives today's discussions and gave rise to Trumpism With regard to character it was hard to imagine an individual less suited to be President of the United States Fukuyama tackles identity politics and you know what? My guess it that most people who read this review will have a strong emotional response to the expression alone welcome to the heart of the problem To say it right at the beginning Fukuyama agrees that discrimination ineuality and injustice must be fought that the goals of #metoo #blacklivesmatter and comparable social movements deserve support No critiue of identity politcs should imply that these are not real and urgent problems that need concrete solutions His point is that on top of that we need to fight the particularization of society into a mere conglomerate of interest groups When the economically disenfranchised who are disregarded eg in the Rust Belt and those groups who have long been deprived of recognition and acceptance start to fight each other who will winähembigly? Democratic political entities need meta narratives that bring people together and these meta narratives must be based on ideals and virtues like the rule of law or the belief in human dignity concepts that people can share and incorporate in their identities no matter their personal background One does not have to deny the potentialities and lived experiences of individuals to recognize that they can also share values and aspirations with much broader circles of citizensThis is of course only the rough outline of Fukuyama's elaborate argument In a highly interesting chapter dedicated to the rise of identity politics Fukuyama shows how the concept of dignity is closely connected to the spread of modernity in the 19th century but was already discussed in Ancient Greece as an inherent urge in all people This deeply human factor is exploited by the politics of resentment In a wide variety of cases a political leader has mobilized followers around the perception that the group's dignity has been affronted disparaged or otherwise disregarded A humiliated group seeking restitution of its dignity carries far emotional weight than people simply pursuing their economic advantages Yes the rise of fascism radical Islamism and Trumpism are of course also rooted in identity politics and this touches on a neuralgic point People shouldn't get recognition simply for who they are for showing their inner self Fukuyama argues because this is the door through which radicals step to promote the politics of resentment Instead all people should be held up to certain moral standards And there's one argument that I'd like to point out here because I think it's a very important one The tendency of identity politics to focus on cultural issues has diverted energy and attention away from serious thinking on the part of progressives about how to reverse the thirty year trend in most liberal democracies toward greater socioeconomic ineuality That's true especially in the States and in Britain Has the left given up in the fight for a social economy? Has class been replaced by culture?There are many things that Fukuyama writes that I don't agree with eg I think that his derogative postulation of a new religion of psychotherapy is missing the potentials of therapy I don't share his skepticism regarding dual citizenship his assessment of postcolonial studies seems a little dubious and I think he misrepresents the debate about the Leitkultur leading culture in Germany and there is much But that's not the point here the point is that Fukuyama wrote a book that can propel the current discourse forward that brings up many ideas for discussion and that maintains that identity politics and solidarity are both important He aims to bridge the gap in order to defeat the politics of resentment and to save liberal democracy and we should listen to his ideas and debate them with people we agree with and especially with people we don't agree with


  3. says:

    The modern concept of identity unites three different phenomena The first is thymos a universal aspect of human personality that craves recognition The second is the distinction between the inner and the outer self and the raising of the moral valuation of the inner self over outer society This emerged only in early modern Europe The third is an evolving concept of dignity in which recognition is due not just to a narrow class of people but to everyone The broadening and universalization of dignity turns the private uest for self into a political project Referencing Socrates Rousseau Luther Kant Hegel et al Francis Fukuyama begins Identity with an overview of historical thought regarding identity dignity and the surprisingly late in human evolution notion that we were all created eual This notion uickly led to the rise of liberal democracies and with the end of the Cold War in the 1980s Fukuyama himself declared that we had reached “the end of history” and with liberal democracies actually in retreat around the world today Fukuyama stresses in a preface that people have misunderstood what he meant by terms like “history” and “the end of” Fukuyama explains that with the despotism of Communism made obvious to the West by the 1960s the progressive left abandoned their drive for economic redistribution and put their energy into the Civil Rights Women's Liberation and Gay Rights Movements thereby igniting today's identity wars The problem with the contemporary left is the particular forms of identity that it has increasingly chosen to celebrate Rather than building solidarity around large collectivities such as the working class or the economically exploited it has focused on ever smaller groups being marginalized in specific ways This is part of a larger story about the fate of modern liberalism in which the principle of universal and eual recognition has mutated into the special recognition of particular groups Because the spoils of Capitalism made possible within liberal democracies has over the past couple of decades disproportionately benefited those at the top and left many millions of people in stagnant or declining conditions this has created many millions of people who feel like their individual dignity has been disrespected This “politics of resentment” writes Fukuyama has been the catalyst for the Arab Spring the rise of ISIS the strengthening of Putin's hold on Russia Brexit and the populist movements that have seen right wing governments elected all around the world with particular attention paid to Trump's manipulation of identity politics to win the presidency of the United States Fukuyama's answer to this problem is increased nationalism since that's the level at which we all feel a unifying pride and since only an entity the size of a nation state can properly protect and care for its own citizens He makes the case that the EU should have put effort into creating a unifying “European” identity and that the EU is a good example of why we'll never have one global government and that the US and its “creedal” identity a melting pot of shared values is the blueprint for all liberal democracies This creedal understanding of American identity emerged as a result of a long struggle stretching over nearly two centuries and represented a decisive break with earlier versions of identity based on race ethnicity or religion Americans can be proud of this very substantive identity; it is based on belief in the common political principles of constitutionalism the rule of law democratic accountability and the principle that “all men are created eual” now interpreted to include all women These political ideas come directly out of the Enlightenment and are the only possible basis for unifying a modern liberal democracy that has become de facto multicultural To achieve an increased nationalism to replace divisive identity politics Fukuyama proposes the elimination of dual citizenships in the case of the EU he suggests a single European citizenship; better assimilation of immigrants to a nation's creedal identity; voters' rights only for full citizens; a universal reuirement for national service not necessarily military; and the right for nations to enforce their borders and set criteria for citizenship This will apparently help all citizens of a nation to remember “Identity can be used to divide but it can and has also been used to integrate That in the end will be the remedy for the populist politics of the present”After an interesting historical overview for the majority of this book I'm not ultimately convinced by Fukuyama's easy sounding remedy for populism; and what might work in the States doesn't sound like it will translate in Canada which has always prided itself on being the mosaic to America's melting pot; where to not parrot the official line that “diversity is our strength” makes one a pariah While the United States has benefited from diversity it cannot build its national identity around diversity as such Identity has to be related to substantive ideas such as constitutionalism rule of law and human euality Americans respect these ideas; the country is justified in excluding from citizenship those who reject them Well we in Canada do build our identity around “diversity as such” – not only were we founded as two distinct societies but further we encourage immigrant communities to celebrate their heritage throughout successive generations and every First Nation is supported in efforts to preserve their uniue and diverse identities; “assimilation” is the dirtiest of words in Canada and I rather think it would be the same for the idea of one pan European citizenship So while most of Fukuyama's writing here was interesting enough but not I suspect anything new for those who follow this sort of thing his “remedy” to identity politics and populism sort of falls flat Glad I read it can't widely recommend


  4. says:

    Let me cut to the uick there are three reasons why I felt this book was inadeuate 1 there was little new in it 2 the author wrongly argues both sides are to blame by appealing to false dichotomies and false framing and 3 his solutions provided would only exasperate the real problem and not make it betterFor item 1 every author should assume that a reader of their book is interested in the topic and wants to learn about the topic and is obligated to provide the reader something they don’t already know In the first third of the book the author breaks no new ground for those familiar with Charles Taylor’s ‘Sources of the Self’ Plato’s ‘Republic’ and for those who have listened to multiple Great Course Lectures on ‘identity’ and Martin Luther and who are intimately familiar with Rousseau and have read some of Freud read lots of Kant Nietzsche and Hegel or have vaguely already understood what identity means All of those items or people were presented within the first third of this book I’ll even say it’s okay to bring the all too familiar up if the author can provide a narrative or look at it from a different angle and make the reader see differently but this author did not Do not underestimate your reading audience Most of us want to really understand the world we live in and are doing what we can to the best of our abilities to learn about our worldCharles Taylor made Schopenhauer his main character in his book Fukuyama doesn’t mention Schopenhauer and he makes Rousseau his main character That’s fine I guess but there are connections that needed to be filled in that Fukuyama didn’t do for his reader and Rousseau’s dignity concept can be derived from Spinoza’s ‘conatus’ which led to Schopenhauer’s ‘will to live’ and Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ In the end it’s possible to describe Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ as self worth or one’s own self esteem this author makes dignity and respect self worth and self esteem of the individual pivotal The author is out of his field and expertise I think he is a political scientist and sometimes I felt he covered his topic superficially and to be brutally honest he should stick to topics he understands The author uses dignity as his focal point for rationalizing ones hate I’ll say that in order to feel superior to the other all one needs to do is hate them but in order to be superior all one needs to do is not hate the other Using the word ‘dignity’ does not change the fact that one is justifying their feelings over their reason The author appeals to ‘lived experiences’ and dignity as he strives to defend his ‘both siderism’ and the suishy middle which really does not exist when it comes to a reality that includes Nazis alt right and those who want a return to 1950s America which privileges the privileged over all others For item 2 when a Nazi runs a car into peaceful protesters the proper response is not ‘both sides are to blame’ That’s psychotic and an appeal to identity based on dignity doesn’t make it any less psychotic I want to be careful here the author is not advocating that response but he does rationalize it in some ways and he does not call it for the psychotic unacceptable behavior that it surely is Tolerance is not necessary when it comes to the ultimate purveyors of identity Nazis Diversity and tolerance are good but is not necessary when it comes to purveyors of hate or Nazis There were a lot of false euivalences and poor framing the author made in the middle part of the book The author seemed to justify mocking a disable person as candidate Trump did as a standing up to ‘political correctness’ and that doesn’t make the act itself any less hateful and wrong Shrouding ones hate with the label of anti ‘political correctness’ doesn’t lessen the cruelty of the act I always translate ‘political correctness’ into terms of ‘politeness’ Things which are impolite are politically incorrect All of our values and the golden rule can be derived from the politeness we show others Mocking somebody for a disability is never polite and one should not whine against those who criticize those who are that kind of cruel by invoking a tirade against political correctness as the author seems to try to do through a juxtaposition of his points as he comments on Trump’s actual behavior and defends his support for such behavior by fictionalizing an alienation of the individual because of their self perceived denial of dignity being thrust upon them by an imaginary elite other The author mocked changing the name of ‘manhole’ covers for the sake of political correctness He really seemed to be channeling the spirit of the ravings against political correctness as espoused in the Unabomber’s Manifesto I really recommend people read that trash not because of its stupid arguments but because that kind of thinking still prevails among the alt right and Trump followers and those who think ‘both sides are to blame’ when Nazis run their cars into peaceful demonstrators I think one of the most eye opening segments I’ve seen on TV was when an award show a couple of years ago pointed out how the word ‘actress’ is really sexist and that the ‘actors’ male and female would individually stand up and say ‘I am an actor’ sometimes ‘political correct’ polite behavior can make us aware of the ‘ism’ that lies within us such as sexism That made a difference for me and it changed how I speak and think because of that Morons still want to live in the 1950s and ‘make America great again’ as those supposedly ‘good old days’ by retaining the privileges of the privileged over everyone else who is not a member of the in tribe For item 3 the author’s solutions are the exact opposite from the ones I would recommend He wants to meld everyone’s identity and values into an amorphous blob that would best be characterized by that currently possessed by the privileged He wants to bring back unearned pride in one’s own culture and the belief that just because it is one’s own tradition that makes it superior and just than those of the others not part of the in tribe thus making it easier to exclude those who are different I think that one should never outsource ones beliefs and must appeal instead to rational justification evidence analysis and empirical reasoning Why is it that those with the power and the privileges never think they are motivated by identity? I’m being rhetorical and already know the answer but this book doesn’t seem to uestion that premise And why does he call out Muslims but not Mormons Evangelicals Catholics or other revealed religions all of which can have bigotry based beliefs on nothing than whim or faith For example to say ‘gays are going to hell and should not be allowed to get married because they insult my dignity’ is wrongheaded no matter what faith label you are hiding behind or your appeal to religious liberty based on nothing than your feelings for which you rationalized by putting the label ‘dignity’ onto it Our myths and traditions can bind us as readily as they separate us Those who want to learn nothing new and think both sides are to blame and want the status uo to remain will enjoy this book For the rest who really want to understand the sources of the self read or listen to the books the authors and the Great Courses alluded to in the second paragraph above


  5. says:

    DivIdentityAs the author states in his preface his book was mainly written because Donald Trump was elected president of the US in November 2016 and maybe a little bit because a majority of those taking part in the Brexit referendum were in favour of the UK’s leaving the EU Fukuyama under the impression of those two big surprises apparently wanted to explain how these two events were possible – two events which he regards as standing in need of an explanationIn his study Identity Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition Fukuyama undertakes to come up with an explanation of political developments that at first sight do not seem to have anything to do with each other but which are in fact two sides of one coin and which are all alarming Why is it right wing parties and movements that seem to profit most from the new social ineuality due to the failed promise of globalization when traditionally all those who see themselves as losers on the global market should look to left wing parties as champions for their interests? Why are liberal values and concepts under assault from both proponents of multiculturalism and dyed in the wool conservatives? Why are western societies breaking apart into a uilt of parallel societies defining themselves by religious or ethnic features rather than by adherence to the same abstract principles of democracy? Or by participation in the same global market? These are some of the uestions at the basis of Fukuyama’s study and it is obvious that the two events named at the beginning are stunning examples of the developments these uestions summarizeFukuyama by way of answer points out that human beings’ needs cannot be explained merely with a view to the economy ie a person’s material well being is not the only prereuisite for their overall satisfaction What they also need is social recognition and respect from others but also from themselves and this is where identity comes into play namely as people’s concept of what they are and what worth they therefore have in the world Fukuyama even offers two cool words in this context isothymia ie “the demand to be respected on an eual basis with other people” pxiii and megalothymia ie “the desire to be recognized as superior” ibd He then starts uite an impressive tour de force through western philosophy and politics in order to pinpoint when and how those two demands arose and shaped political thought We go among others from Plato to Luther and then alight on the fur hat wearer Rousseau who is not only responsible for the theoretical justification of fascism in his contrat social what would la terreur de la vertu have been without this book? but who also came up with the notion of there being an inner flower garden of identity within every person that has the right to be watered and admired by society because – although it should not be judged – it is good as such In other words Rousseau is also responsible in a way for the emergence of the Snowflake as a social and psychological norm One should think that fascism and rugged individualism which is not based on what I achieved and contributed to society good old JT Adams but on what I think makes me oh so special and interesting are two concepts that rule each other out and yet Rousseau still manages to hold them at the same time But you may well expect this elasticity of principles from a despicable man who writes a book on education but dumps his own five children into orphanages in order to save himself time and moneyHowever let’s return to Fukuyama As someone who has read Roger Scruton for instance the statement that humans are not merely homines oikonomici but that they also and maybe even basically define themselves with reference to their culture their history and whatever ties them to the region they live in was not too new to me so that I was already familiar with the starting point of Fukuyama’s argument However his distinction between the two major currents the uest for respect can follow was something that added to the thoughts of Scruton and others In the author’s own words ”understandings of dignity forked in two directions during the nineteenth century toward a liberal individualism that came to be embedded in the political rights of modern liberal democracies and toward collective identities that could be defined by either nation or religion” p91In his presentation of these two diverging developments Fukuyama never tires of showing the potential dangers of the collective identities because their proponents may “often play by democratic rules but harbour potentially illiberal tendencies due to their longings for unity and community” p69 His scepticism with regard to “white nationalism in Europe” even leads him to euate it with fascism as such cf p 121 Here at the latest I could not help wondering at Fukuyama’s readiness to simplify history in order to arrive at a point that may curry favour with some of his readers It is true that an extremely vitriolic variety of nationalism culminated in fascist regimes in various European countries but it is certainly a grossly rash conclusion to say that European nationalism “was called fascism” ibd What about countries like France and Great Britain which evinced a high degree of nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries but where fascism never stood a realistic chance? Apart from that if you go back in history and look at the origins of nationalism let’s say in Germany you will find that it was at first the twin brother of liberalism This is uite logical – and stands in contradiction to Fukuyama’s fine but simply academic discrimination between individualismliberalism and nationalismreligion – in that the early liberals who demanded basic civic rights from their governments had to base their claims on something that all those people who would benefit from these civic rights had in common This was their belonging to one nation If you no longer saw the state as the personal property of a dynasty but postulated the citizens’ right to have their say you would have to find some common ground to replace or complete people’s attachment to their feudal sovereign and this was the concept of nationWhat is in his final chapters – for me by the way the best of the whole book – Fukuyama himself comes to the conclusion that abstract legalistic loyalties like acknowledging the rule of law and diversity as a value as such will despite their importance not be sufficient to ensure the survival of democratic societies as we know them”A liberal democracy is an implicit contract between citizens and their government and among the citizens themselves under which they give up certain rights in order that the government protects other rights that are basic and important National identity is built around the legitimacy of this contract; if citizens do not believe they are part of the same polity the system will not function Citizens often have to accept outcomes they do not like or prefer in the interest of a common good; a culture of tolerance and mutual sympathy must override partisan passions” p130fThe concept of nationhood at the bottom of a liberal democracy may even make such a kind of government practicable ”Democracy means that the people are sovereign but if there is no way of delimiting who the people are they cannot exercise democratic choice” p139While reading the last three chapters of his book where Fukuyama shows fair judgment of the problems threatening modern democracies and by propagating a creedal national identity also offers a sensible solution to a lot of these problems I kept asking myself whether his clear cut distinction between liberalismindividualism and nationalismcommon ground is not at variance with the cleverest parts of his bookFukuyama also succeeds in explaining the renascent attraction right wing political groups exert on large numbers of people in Europe and North America and at the same time he points out one of the most fundamental mistakes the old left has made namely its complete change of focus from addressing social ineuality to concentrating on righting the wrongs of smaller interest groups that define themselves in terms of culture gender or sexual orientation Of course Fukuyama does not deny that there was actually some reason for addressing some of the issues these groups had and trying to set them right but he is also awake to the conseuences this had Large parts of the traditional working classes felt themselves and their values disrespected and became prone to looking for a political home on the other side of the party spectrum Apart from this too great a focus on whatever special rights certain interest groups might want to claim for themselves poses another principal problem namely that of discarding democratic and liberal principles In Fukuyama’s own words” Multiculturalism was a description of societies that were de facto diverse While classical liberalism sought to protect the autonomy of eual individuals the new ideology of multiculturalism promoted eual respect for cultures even if those cultures abridged the autonomy of the individuals who participated in them” p111One might also say “who – via birth – are made to participate in them” and then the dangers eg its long term tendency to undermine legal euality and the liberal constitution as such and injustices a naïve multiculturalism carries with it might become even clearer Even Fukuyama himself sometimes fails to see its dangers as for instance when he says that religious identity may ”take the innocuous form of wearing a hijab to work” p72 One should well think about what such a garment stands for and that in some countries it is imposed by a patriarch culture on its women who have no choice but to wear it and also that in certain Muslim communities in Europe every woman wearing a hijab adds to the social pressure exerted on those who do not and neither want to before one labels such a decision merely “innocuous” instead of admitting the complexity of the implications it hasThere are also other particulars in which I tend to disagree with Fukuyama wholly or by degrees for instance in his statement that the deleterious effects of the ideology of political correctness on free speech are greatly exaggerated cf p121 or his general acclaim for a European super state although he does address the lack of democratic structures in the EU bureaucracy and there was one passage I really found annoying namely this one ”And as a result of the bitter Israeli Palestinian conflict many Muslims displayed a kind of anti Semitism that Europe had been vigilant in suppressing since the end of World War II” p148 I would still say and I’m sure that Fukuyama would agree with me that it is the anti Semite himself that is to blame for his anti Semitism and not some excuse he may come up with So after all these lengthy considerations what do I have to say about this book? On the one hand it offers deep insight into the identity crises – I am deliberately using the plural here – we are going through and into why the Left is losing so much ground to the Right not a truly conservative right but often a plainly populistic one and it offers a sensible remedy to these our ailments The only problem being that people might not be overly ready to apply this remedy to their way of thinking People on the far right will not like to part with their exclusive concept of nationhood because it disguises their xenophobia and people on the left will not give up their concept of multiculturalism because in furthering it they get high on the impression of their own moral superiority cheaply for themselves but dearly at the expense of their own liberal society I cannot see all the parts of Fukuyama’s theoretical introduction really lead to the conclusions he draws as I’ve already said and neither do I agree fully with all his observations and assessments All in all for me the book was a mixed bag a rather full but still a mixed one The way Fukuyama presents his argument makes it impossible to tell whether he himself considers “white nationalism” fascist or whether he presents the perspective of its opponents the text being slightly ambiguous here


  6. says:

    Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Francis Fukuyama is an interesting book discussing the recent trends and growth in identity politics Fukuyama posits that this is a natural expression of liberal democracy as society continues to promote freedom and examine ways to bring concepts and concrete improvements to this in society Fukuyama looks at identity politics as one of the highest forms of expression In the past many countries existed as monarchies and aristocracies where the domain of politics free will expression and even self esteem were the domain of the ruling class The vast majority of people lived in small villages or towns where social and political hierarchy was static People worked long hours for their survival and this left little time for contemplation of self This began to change when figures like Martin Luther began to uestion the place of self in society Luther looked at Christianity and was critical of the Catholic Church for controlling how people interacted with God He posited that the domain of the spirit was within each individual and communicating with God was a deeply personal event that could not be controlled by an external hierarchy The development of Protestantism and its effect of Europe and eventually the United States has had a direct and tangible impact on how liberal democracy has emerged and is in some ways a central tenant of this political theory Liberal democracies however have not always been so focused on freedom Although the United States constitution as well as the rhetoric of its founding politicians clearly discusses the universal rights of man this definition was at the time very narrow Women renters the poor racial and sexual minorities indigenous peoples and many were excluded from this definition Instead the systems were built for white Anglo Saxon Protestant men of wealth This changed over time with the continued application of universal rights to and categories of people from women's suffragists to civil rights to sexual minorities and so on This process has yet to be completed fully and the increasingly numerous categories that people are dividing into is the topic of this book Fukuyama examines the concept of thymos which he attributes to the spirit This concept is justified in feelings of pride and respect feelings that most want to feel This concept also expands into demanding respect from others and to having respect than others or feeling superior This concept is looked at through a few lenses Fukuyama states that the first instances of this concept being challenged revolved around nationalism then religion States globally began to embrace concepts of pride superiority and respect in the creation of their states Germany and Italy amalgamated from small states that shared a common ethnicity France and Great Britain formed through the forcible absorption over time of neighbouring states with somewhat different cultures and languages Many of these nations emerged due to a groups feelings of repression or need to separate their own uniue identities from those of others Similarly this concept has been used to promote women's rights the rights of minorities within polities like the United States and Canada nations that have no real ethnic identity and within communities that share common characteristics like Muslim immigrants in Europe for example These concepts are mercurial Woman's minorities and sexual minorities rights are all important topics to be discussed and have legitimate concerns associated with them like sexual exploitation in the workplace or lacking rights that are a given to the majority group However this need for recognition and respect can also be destructive Nationalists racists the Islamic State and so on all utilize this rhetoricFukuyama looks at how identity politics has been damaging in some respects On the Left of the political spectrum tradition has it that these parties often promote the interest of the working class looking at class above other considerations However this has changed Much activism is being generated in terms of various individual groups demanding rights and respect This can be very positive but can also detract from those most in need A woman who is passed over for a coveted top position in a large company because of her sex is indeed a serious issue But this woman also exists at the top of the pay scale Regardless of whether she receives 10% less on her salary than her male counterpart this is a dispute between elite and does not address concerns about euality in society much To be totally clear I am not downplaying the importance of this topic women CEO's should receive the same salaries as their male counterparts no uestion The underclass of society continues to suffer from lack of resources but also a lack of thymos This rightly or wrongly contributes to attitudes that can be attributed to growing movements; white Republican voters in the US espousing racist nationalism anti immigrant autocrats in Poland and Hungary Brexiteers in the UK and so on Although this by no means downplays the pressing issues of euality in society the reaction to these discussions on identity have created an avenue where the extreme right has co opted the tactics and rhetoric of those on the left fighting for euality within specific groups to be used by a majority who may be experiencing the stressors of changing identities conceptions of their nations as well as the pressing concerns of ineuality poverty and warfare Fukuyama is clear that he does not agree with those on the right co opting this strategy and is uite insistent that they have the wrong idea in terms of rights Regardless feelings of disrespect and alienation clear hallmarks of a political left promoting greater recognition of traditionally oppressed identities is also a strategy being used by the right Fukuyama is reflecting on the dangers of this type of rhetoric and how it can divide societies into smaller and smaller groups that on paper should be getting along well but instead feel they are at odds The dangers of this rhetoric are clear The Islamic State used this type of identity politics to recruit among a wide range of Muslim's disaffected by Europe's failure to give them opportunities to contribute to their new homes White nationalists turn the tables on Black Live Matters co opting their demands for justice in society a strategy that white supremacists have used before Fukuyama sees the issues not as the fight for rights at all this is a noble and worthy cause but the fact that an overarching identity is not present He looks at the idea of an over culture possibly the principles of liberal democracy as one such solution An avenue for the promotion of rights for individual groups should exist but there should also be a recognition of a common identity that transcends in some respects any other identity Multiculturalism as a topic is discussed as a possibility where groups can express themselves however they like and are treated with eual respect and opportunity so long as the laws of the nation they are in is respected If someone can be who they want to be and focus on self esteem and thymos than so should everyone else This was an interesting book It is a very brief discussion on identity politics characterizing some of the positives and negatives of the rhetoric of these ideas I personally do not agree with all of Fukuyama's arguments for example he promotes freedom of speech in every case even where that speech may hurt or target others His example someone can be a holocaust denier all they want in their own mind or home and in public these ideas should be given an avenue for discussion even if most people would deride them and rightfully so In my mind someone's right to free speech ends when that speech causes harm to others if it incites violence promotes the demotion of rights dehumanizes and so on Even so this book offers an interesting perspective on identity politics and the complexity and controversial nature of the topic In the age of Donald Trump Putin Erdogan and so on this topic will increasingly become a theory to be tested and somehow integrated into our growing conceptions of liberal democracy The discussion here is interesting insightful and offers Fukuyama's thoughts on this complex issue It offers some grandscale solutions as well Worth a read for those interested in topics like nationalism current politics or identity politics


  7. says:

    This new book by Francis Fukuyama about the hot issue in the US and EU politics today – identity He doesn’t take neither left nor right side in the debate but shows that the debate itself maybe out of focusHe starts with Plato's The Republic and introduces concept of thymos third part of the soul first two are desires and reason roughly euivalent to id and ego concepts of Freud acts completely independently of the first two It is the seat of judgments of worth like a drug addict wants to be a productive employee or a loving mother Human beings crave positive judgments about their worth or dignity Those judgments can come from within but they are most often made by other people in the society around them who recognize their worth If they receive that positive judgment they feel pride and if they do not receive it they feel either anger when they think they are being undervalued or shame when they realize that they have not lived up to other people’s standards This leads to two concepts isothymia all people have eual worth and megalothymia some people are better Note that the latter case doesn’t mean only racist douchebags but everyone who thinks that eg it would be ok to kill Hitler or Stalin assuming some people are worse To some extent thymos is similar to virtues as described by Deirdre N McCloskey in The Bourgeois Virtues Ethics for an Age of CommerceThen the author discusses Martin Luther Jean Jacues Rousseau and Nietzsche who added to the modern concept of identity In the classical liberalism of the nineteenth century the state was held responsible for protecting basic rights such as freedom of speech and association for upholding a rule of law and for providing essential public services such as police roads and education The government “recognized” its citizens by granting them individual rights but the state was not seen as responsible for making each individual feel better about himself or herselfIn the second half of twentieth century the focus shifted “the triumph of the therapeutic” see Philip Rieff when the decline of a shared moral horizon defined by religion had left a huge void that was being filled by psychologists preaching a new religion of psychotherapy Traditional culture according to Rieff “is another name for a design of motive directing the self outward toward those communal purposes in which alone the self can be realized and satisfied” As such it played a therapeutic role giving purpose to individuals connecting them to others and teaching them their place in the universe But that outer culture had been denounced as an iron cage imprisoning the inner self; people were told to liberate their inner selves to be “authentic” and “committed” but without being told to what they should be committed Under the therapeutic model however an individual’s happiness depends on his or her self esteem and self esteem is a by product of public recognition Governments are readily able to give away public recognition in the way that they talk about and treat their citizens so modern liberal societies naturally and perhaps inevitably began to take on the responsibility for raising the self esteem of each and every one of their citizensThe disillusionment is classic left communists after the 1960s shifted the left from the industrial working class and Marxist revolution to the rights of minorities and immigrants the status of women environmentalism and the like This actually is one of the reasons that white blue collars voted for Trump or Brexit – they still have problems but the left care mainly about other issues It was easier to talk about respect and dignity than to come up with potentially costly plans that would concretely reduce ineuality The left continued to be defined by its passion for euality but that agenda shifted from its earlier emphasis on the conditions of the working class to the often psychological demands of an ever widening circle of marginalized groups Many activists came to see the old working class and their trade unions as a privileged stratum with little sympathy for the plight of groups such as immigrants or racial minorities worse off than they were Recognition struggles targeted newer groups and their rights as groups rather than the economic ineuality of individuals In the process the old working class was left behindAccording to Fukuyama the right currently hi jacked the left’s identity politics vocally protecting not the usual targets black women LGBT but native born workers and dominant long established cultural identities The latter can also feel threatened and it doesn’t matter whether there is a real fact under this threat – the identity is subjective by definitionWhat he suggests? He fully agrees that there is ineuality and a greater euality of opportunity is desirable He likes the idea of Bassam Tibi’s Leitkultur “leading culture” as the basis for a national identity which was defined in liberal Enlightenment terms as belief in euality and democratic values


  8. says:

    35After hearing about the book on NPR my husband suggested I read Identity The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Frances Fukuyama One thing I appreciated about this book is how the author presents his arguments explains them and before he moves on restates his case to that point It really makes it easier for the general reader because this is a theoretical book The author begins with a brief history of the development of identity from the ancient Greeks through the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment and revolutions in France and America to establish the rising concept of individual's need for dignity and personal recognition He discusses how democratic governments have failed to fully live up to their underlying ideals of freedom and euality with the violation of the rights of the poor and weaker citizens at the hand of the few rich and powerfulAnother aspect he traces is the rise of industrialization and cities which broke down traditional communities The social upheaval and adjustment to a blended society left a nostalgia for a remembered and idealized pastHe blames the contemporary left for focusing on ever smaller groups instead of large collectivities such as the working class or economically exploited He also blames the rise of self actualization as a form of narcissism He sees the rise of Multiculturalism as divisive Fukuyama calls for the need of a strong national identity with an official language and civics classes and share cultural values This need not negate diversity He writes 'National identities can be built around liberal and democratic political values and the common experiences that provide the connect tissue around which diverse communities can thrive He mentions India France Canada as countries who have successfully created a strong national identity that embraces a diverse populationFukuyama asks How do we translate these abstract ideas into concrete policies at the current movement? He continues We can start by trying to counter the specific abuses that have driven assertions of identity by protecting the rights of minorities and women and promoting creedal national identities based on the ideals of a liberal democracy He also calls for better assimilation of immigrantsMy frustration is that the policies presented are not easily or uickly accomplished This past week Democratic leaders were targeted with pipe bombs and a gunman walked into a synagogue and murdered Jewish worshippers A friend told me her coworkers believe that these events are hoaxes propagated by Democrats Considering the political leaders who are today in control of the American government I don't see implementation of any useful policies coming out of Washington DC These books were challenging reads and I am glad I read them They are interesting as a study of how we 'got to here' but I left with the need for something to hold on to something concrete that offers me real hope and surety


  9. says:

    Fukuyama's latest book is a relatively brief extended essay form work that focuses on the history of identity at the personal level and how it is reflected in larger social and political movements This is obviously a very timely subject on which to be writing as it seems everyone has an opinion on this concept and a series of articles and videos of their favorite speakers either railing against the very idea or explaining how all of their opposition just don't understand why someone would feel the need to bolster their identity as their repressors are the very larger identity who remain and have remained dominant for centuries In fact right now I imagine you have a favorite line of Jordan Peterson denouncing the cultural marxism of the academic left which has produced a generation fixated on divisions by race gender expression or sexual orientation; or perhaps you're recalling a stormy sermon from Michael Eric Dyson defending the concept of individual dignity and respect as reflected in larger group identity politics from those who over simplify and obscure because at the socio political level they want to remain at the top of the heap Given the passion and the vitriol with which this is normally discussed and freuently not actually discussed in said discussions Fukuyama's discussion here is very enjoyable even if his proposed solutions to the divide this concept has produced in our society might seem somewhat general Beginning with the origins of identity in the Greek word thymos which was the third part of the soul according to Socrates that seemed to operate free from reason and desire the other two parts Also this concept was actually thought only to belong to the warrior class in society who were actively defending everything else society held dear While not an exact parallel to today's notion of identity it can certainly be seen as a causal concept Also the larger societal notions of isothymia versus megalothymia terms borrowed from economists frame the debate between the human drive to be seen as just as good versus the human drive to be seen in comparison to everyone else Fukuyama then proceeds to give a brief outline of his own concept of identity Identity grows in the first place out of a distinction between one's true inner self and an outer world of social rules and norms that does not adeuately recognize that inner self's worth or dignityThis is later expanded to includeThe modern concept of identity unites three different phenomena The first is thymos a universal aspect of human personality that craves recognition The second is the distinction between the inner and the outer self and the raising of the moral valuation of the inner self over outer society The third is an evolving concept of dignity in which recognition is due not just to a narrow class of people but to everyoneThe suggestions for remedy of the divide caused by these issues start to center around a broader idea of societal identity free of jingoistic nationalism Where this discussion has spawned a ceaselessly stupid and deliberately obfuscating discussion about fighting against political correctness when freuently that is what's being talked about at all we thus get bloated morons who are respected for saying what they think especially if it goes against politically correct speech even if it has nothing to do with reality and the amount of thought they have actually put into those remarks is nonexistent Eually adept at giving criticism to the excesses of the left and right on this idea Fukuyama writes Identity politics for some progressives has become a cheap substitute for serious thinking about how to reverse the 30 year trend in most liberal democracies toward greater socioeconomic ineualityThat an argument is offensive to someone's self worth is often seen as sufficient to delegitimize it a trend encouraged by the kind of short form discourse propagated by social mediaEven though he deftly deals with the conflicts in the EU US global discussions of immigration and the conflict of nationalist politicians with under represented populations I can already hear the chorus of people saying that Fukuyama hasn't actually dealt with the issue itself or understood the true position of identity politics as if anyone has claim to the sole understanding of the idea however I find his conclusion rational and a reasonable goal to work towards even if at the moment it seems completely unattainableIdentity can be used to divide but it can and has also been used to integrate That in the end will be the remedy for the populist politics of the present


  10. says:

    I keep telling myself not to read books by privileged rich men about the problems of our world then I do exactly that I regret itThere are interesting concepts here some are somewhat useful in the debate on identity and some just drown in Fukuyama's desire to justify himself Let me elaborate There is a point where he goes on about how people misread his controversial and much criticised The End of History and the Last Man he is telling us how he was not wrong in saying that liberal democracy has won after the end of the Cold War and how we all should have finished reading the book and accepted its wisdom Then tells us about all the things that the said book hasn't predictedThat aside some of the concepts that I find useful include the use of Thumos Greek meaning spiritedness or as used here the human desire for recognition and branches it into isothumia I am as good as everyone else and megalothumia I am better than everyone else He is claiming that all modern concepts of identity come from here and they have the same roots whether they are fundamentalist Islamism hyper nationalism or other benign and oppressed identities such as those of women people of colour LGTB etcFukuyama goes on to tell us that worrying ourselves too much with the lived experience of the oppressed groups comes at the expense of the collective identity and is one of the reasons the left is failing to compete on the liberal democratic arena as it moved away from defending the working classes into defending increasingly smaller fragmented identities If only we could ignore all that lived experience by turning it into common experience which he before acknowledged cannot really be done how can a rich white man understand the struggle of a gay woman of colour for example and move towards non ethnic national identities that will unify us I don't believe this is doable And it would be harmful if it was feasible The unifying national identities even when not ethnic and openly bigoted will inevitably demand a common denominator imposed by those in power and ignoring the nuances of what people have to live with and suffer fromThis is the case because the solution Fukuyama suggests is only of the same trust liberalism enforce representative democracy as it is now enforce border control make migrants assimilate and hope for the bestI have rarely seen a case of head in the sand so severe but then reading the views of privilegedrich men is good it helps those of us who are not that; the non white European rich older straight in power men; know what thought of ideological battle we have to fight


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