By Chet Yarbrough
Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
By: Francis Fukuyama
Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
Francis Fukuyama (American author, political scientist, political economist, graduate of Cornell and Harvard.)
Having reviewed Francis Fukuyama’s “The Origins of Political Order” and “Political Order and Political Decay”, his view of “…Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” during the Trump years is important. Fukuyama’s earlier books offer impressive insight to the strengths of democratic government.
Fukuyama’s political support and participation in the Reagan administration and his association with neo-conservatism give weight to his opinion.
Though Fukuyama’s broad view of political “Identity” is mind-numbingly complex, his criticism of Trump shows how consequential democracy’s loss of “…Dignity…” is to America and nascent democracies.
Fukuyama shows how America has lost its way with the election of Donald Trump. Trump is not the cause of American democracy’s disruption, but he represents its symptoms.
Trump is shown as an unrepentant narcissist who panders to those who have been underserved, under-represented, and ignored by most Americans. The rising tide of violence and discontent of ignored Americans is ignited by a President concerned with personal power and prestige, not betterment of democracy or service to the unrepresented.
Fukuyama is not a bleeding-heart liberal that believes in handouts like a minimum wage for the underemployed or unemployed.
He endorses importance of work and fair pay for fair performance. He acknowledges the rising gap between haves and have nots in America but infers the answer is political reform that endorses dignity and discourages inequity.
“Identity” is lost among Americans who do not have jobs or are grossly underpaid for the work they do.
Fukuyama implies American culture has lost its way. With inequity, people revert to tribes that fight for tribal rather than national interests. Whether the tribe is a union of teachers or Starbucks’ employees who are underpaid or disrespected, they look to their tribe rather than the interest of their students, company executives, or owners.
However, Fukuyama notes there is another aspect of “Identity” that cannot be ignored. He strongly argues for acceptance of nationalist “Identity” by those who request citizenship. One who emigrates to a new country must learn to read and write the adopted country’s language, be willing to defend the country for which one accepts an oath of citizenship and must adhere to laws of the land.
Fukuyama notes concern for equal treatment within a country is as important as fair treatment between nations.
The rise of nationalism reaches a point of destruction when authoritarians like Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin invade other countries. What becomes clear from Fukuyama’s book is democracies can lose their way with an authoritarian, narcissistic leader. Leaders like Trump have no concern for equity.
The demand for equity and the rise of resentment splits people into tribes when not being addressed by government leaders. Fukuyama reaches into ancient and modern history to identify how “…Demand for Dignity…” is often accompanied by “…Resentment…” which leads to political unrest, or revolution.
Fukuyama reviews policies of government that mitigate the causes of “tribal” identity and resentment that roils America. Fukuyama’s ideas may be up for debate, but he clearly believes in democracy.
Fukuyama expresses some concern over “tribal” identity within America when it violates the interests of the country. He endorses diversity while indicting Trump for inciting “tribal” difference.
In the last chapter, Fukuyama addresses the effect of the internet on the “…Demand for Dignity…” and “…The Politics of Resentment…”. He argues the internet’s impact is both negative and positive. The negative is the internet’s use to spread falsehood and its potential for invading privacy. The positive is its potential for telling truth to power.
Fukuyama optimistically implies the internet’s spread of truth will outweigh its spread of lies.
Fukuyama implies the internet’s potential for gathering tribes for the betterment of government policy is greater than its present-day disruptions. This seems more likely in a democratic than authoritarian society.
The fundamental value of Fukuyama’s peregrination is that America has managed to survive and prosper for over 200 years, even in the face of “tribal” identity and resentment. Surely, America will survive Trump.