Political scientist Francis Fukuyama thinks identity politics is a disease. The cure? It can come from the country.

Left-wingers may deride national identities and far right-wingers twist them to racist ends, but he argues there is hope for unifying people and giving them a broad sense of purpose. Francis Fukuyama is in favor of national identities based on creed, like the American one, rather than identities based on race or heritage. He is keen on national service and suspicious of dual citizenship.

From the review of his book in The New York Times

Fukuyama suggests that we are living in an era in which the sense of being dismissed, rather than material interest, is the locomotive of human affairs. The rulers of Russia, Hungary and China are driven by past national humiliations. Osama bin Laden was driven by the treatment of Palestinians. Black Lives Matter has been driven by the fatal disrespect of the police. And a large swath of the American right, which claims to loathe identity politics, is driven by its own perception of being dissed.

Unlike many avuncular critics of identity politics, Fukuyama is sympathetic to the good such politics does — above all, making the privileged aware of their effect on marginalized groups. “Outsiders to those groups often fail to perceive the harm they are doing by their actions,” he writes.

Fukuyama does have his criticisms, however. He fears identity politics “has become a cheap substitute for serious thinking about how to reverse the 30-year trend in most liberal democracies toward greater socioeconomic inequality.” Fukuyama worries that the “woker” the left gets on identity issues, the weaker it gets on offering a critique of capitalism.

But what might persuade society to steer away from the politics of resentment that has been many years in the making?

Produced by Denise Couture.

Guests

  • Francis Fukuyama Political scientist and senior fellow, Stanford University; author of "The End of History and the Last Man" and "Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment"; @FukuyamaFrancis

Excerpt from "Identity"

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