Francis Fukuyama is the soothsayer of our age, and his The End of History was political science’s Book of Revelation. More recently, he warned of the consequences when state and institutions everywhere are corralled by interest groups. His predictions were borne out by the rise to power of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarian tendencies now threaten to destabilise the entire international order.
These new charismatic demagogues seek a direct connection to the people – defined in narrow identity terms – and appeal to a particular group by excluding large parts of the population as a whole. Forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender have in turn fueled anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of political Islam, the fractious environment of American college campuses, the emergence of white nationalism.
Identity politics is now entrenched on both sides of the political spectrum.
On the left it proliferates into ever-expanding categories, and new forms of exclusion. Outsiders are not allowed to share in the knowledge possessed by a group, because to do so is seen as cultural appropriation. The idea of universal human rights has been replaced by the demand for ‘recognition’ – not for inclusion within the fold, but for acknowledgment of group identity as the right to assert and maintain difference.
On the right, political tribalism in America has mobilized around the idea of whites as an endangered group, faced by the bleak demographic prospect of becoming a minority in their ‘own country’. And when everything is about identity politics, are we surprised that millions of Americans voted ‘white’ in 2016?
Join us and discover from Francis Fukuyama: is there still time to restore the dream of universal recognition and equality of rights upon which liberal democracy was founded?