Dr. Francis Fukuyama

Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University

HITCHCOCK LECTURE: Identity and the Rise of Global Populism

About the Topic

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Twenty-five years ago, at the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama predicted the "end of history,” theorizing that free market liberal democracy would become the “final form of human government.” In his new book, Identity, Fukuyama has moved away from his original thesis and seeks to explain why liberal democracy is now in crisis, riven by deep polarization. He cites several causes: the rise of income inequality, immigration fears, middle-class stagnation, and a dwindling sense of personal dignity. The left’s fixation on individual identity groups, based on race, ethnicity, religion and other characteristics has provoked a strong counter-reaction on the right, as alienation spawned a surge of white nationalism. Moreover, populist leaders are fomenting movements against such institutions as legislatures, courts and the media. These deep political tensions have spread across the West. So, too, has the populist distrust of globalization, undermining international institutions critical to managing the liberal world order. Fukuyama believes that to survive, liberal democracies must build a common national identity, based on political ideas accessible to citizens of different cultural backgrounds. In the current political climate, is it possible that the U.S. will find its way to a common national identity? Will other countries follow the trend of our divisive politics?

About the Speaker

Francis Fukuyama is an acclaimed American philosopher, a political scientist, political economist, and author. He is also a senior fellow in International Relations at Stanford University and director of its Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. His most recent book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, examines the development and role of identity in contemporary politics. Previously, Dr. Fukuyama has written on issues concerning democratization and international political economy. His celebrated first book, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), appeared in over twenty foreign editions. Dr. Fukuyama holds a BA from Cornell University in classics and a Ph.D. from Harvard in political science.