Our web series, Wait Just a Minute, asks experts to answer complex questions about global affairs in 60 seconds. With midterm elections fast-approaching, professor and author Francis Fukuyama answers questions on the rise in identity politics, its effects on democracy, and how countries can build inclusive identities.
What drove you to write on identity politics?
The election of 2016 that brought Donald Trump into office and the Brexit vote in Britain. There's a sea change in global politics going on with the rise of populism, and that's really what's been driving a lot my interest over the last couple of years.
Why have we seen a surge in identity politics?
There's been a lot of cultural change, a lot of people moving across borders, and this is something that a lot of people find threatening to their identities. And that's, I think, the fundamental drive. It's a cultural thing, not an economic one.
Do identity politics threaten democracy?
Interpreted the wrong way it can, because if society divides itself into self-enclosed groups that really can’t communicate across those boundaries, and if those groups are fixed by biology, race, ethnicity, gender, and the like, then I do think it’s an obstacle to democratic community.
How can countries build inclusive national identities?
You have to have an identity that’s liberal. Basically, it has to accommodate the de facto multiculturalism of a society, but it also has to be based on substance, like rule of law, constitutionality, and the like.
What are you reading right now?
I read a lot of science fiction, a lot of dystopian science fiction.