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The Big Answer


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Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment

a book by Francis Fukuyama

(our site's book review)

Demand for Recognition of One’s Identity Is a Master Concept That Explains a Lot

The Amazon blurb says that The New York Times bestselling author of The Origins of Political Order offers a provocative examination of modern identity politics: its origins, its effects, and what it means for domestic and international affairs of state.

In 2014, Francis Fukuyama wrote that American institutions were in decay, as the state was progressively captured by powerful interest groups. Two years later, his predictions were borne out by the rise to power of a series of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarian tendencies threatened to destabilize the entire international order. These populist nationalists seek direct charismatic connection to “the people,” who are usually defined in narrow identity terms that offer an irresistible call to an in-group and exclude large parts of the population as a whole.

Populist nationalists like Trump seek direct charismatic connection to the people—and his 'people' are Fox News watchers, so he spends evenings on the phone with Sean Hannity
Populist nationalists like Trump seek direct charismatic connection to the people—and his 'people' are Fox News watchers, so he spends evenings on the phone with Sean Hannity

Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. The universal recognition on which liberal democracy is based has been increasingly challenged by narrower forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender, which have resulted in anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious “identity liberalism” of college campuses, and the emergence of white nationalism. Populist nationalism, said to be rooted in economic motivation, actually springs from the demand for recognition and therefore cannot simply be satisfied by economic means. The demand for identity cannot be transcended; we must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.

Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment is an urgent and necessary book—a sharp warning that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we will doom ourselves to continuing conflict.


Liberal Colleges Radicalize Students Dogmatically So the Students Learn Resentment Politics

Antifa and the PC left feel that the liberals should get First Amendment rights but the conservatives should be stopped from speaking
Antifa and the PC left feel that the liberals should get First Amendment rights but the conservatives should be stopped from speaking

In our opinion, the undermining of democracy by political correctness has gotten to a critical level. Too many university students come out of college hating whites—the victimizers—and perceiving blacks as victims first, people second. Too many leftists have left respect for First Amendment rights behind—they now feel that the liberals should get such rights but the conservatives should be stopped from speaking since they have different beliefs than the liberals. Colleges must teach good civics and respect for law and order and respect for everyone's rights—not just our own rights or our own group's rights. But too often liberal colleges radicalize dogmatically so the students learn resentment politics, and they learn to be self-righteous, opinionated bigots.

Most teachers' view of education is that kids' brains are empty containers to fill
Most teachers' view of education is that kids' brains are empty containers to fill

The end result is that PC indoctrination threatens democracy. Who was the idiot who got the harebrained idea that schools should be indoctrination centers for liberal radicalism? Schools should teach critical thinking, they should inspire students to think and learn. What they should not do is push victimization agendas. What they should never ever do is to engage in brainwashing and even expelling students who don't buy their wacky PC ideas, and yet it has happened. Ciizens have the right to speak, to associate, to believe in whatever social, lifestyle, or religious beliefs they prefer.

Some Founders had slaves so let's deface their statues and portraits and excise them from history books for offending 2018 campus orthodoxies even though these race-obsessed values were not present in 1776; Founders are turning over in their graves
Some Founders had slaves so let's deface their statues and portraits and excise them from history books for offending 2018 campus orthodoxies even though these race-obsessed values were not present in 1776; Founders are turning over in their graves


Some Founders had slaves so let's deface their statues and portraits and excise them from history books for offending 2018 campus orthodoxies even though these race-obsessed values were not present in 1776
Some Founders had slaves so let's deface their statues and portraits and excise them from history books for offending 2018 campus orthodoxies even though these race-obsessed values were not present in 1776

And yet the PC left has decided tyrannically to deny the right to speak to the conservatives simply because they hold different beliefs—even to the point of violence. The Antifa folks feel justified is defecating on the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of conservative speakers simply because their words represent a different viewpoint from their own. Harrassing Nazis and KKK members is somewhat reasonable which is why the cops look the other way, but harrassing conservative speakers is dead wrong. If a democracy isn't big enough to hold different opinions and perspectives, it is not a democracy. We feel the victimology taught in universities is wrong-headed and unhealthy for students. It helps divide and polarize and enrage and should be halted and recognized as a serious mistake

We feel the victimology taught in universities is wrong-headed and unhealthy for students; Fukuyama says the left had become so politically correct that you can't talk about issues honestly—which hamstrings democracy
We feel the victimology taught in universities is wrong-headed and unhealthy for students; Fukuyama says the left had become so politically correct that you can't talk about issues honestly—which hamstrings democracy

Fukuyama Faults the Left for Failing to Construct Solidarity Around Big Collectivities Such as the Working Class

Fukuyama faults the left for failing to construct solidarity around big collectivities such as the working class, for instance. He faults them for concentrating on smaller marginalized groups. To counter this errant focus, Fukuyama advises that the successful assimilation of immigrants might stave off rampant populism. He says that required national service could encourage virtue and public spiritedness and social tolerance, and he points out that basic civics must become a strong part of public education to foster informed, open-minded citizens. But the more the leftists push PC, the more the right reacts with the push for traditionalist nationalist patriotism and populism, or even alt-right white supremacy (since PC dogma condemns whites as lowlife victimizers).

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-034-21, Warschau, Parade vor Adolf Hitler
Liberals goosestep in lockstep—it is demanded of them by the PC Police—the more radical the PC doctrine gets, the more the alt-right approaches fascism

Reviewers Mostly Find Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment to Be a Fine Book

"Around the world, identity politics is being blamed for deepening political divisions. From Budapest to Rome, London to Washington, every social, political, and economic debate is colored by identity. Where once differences in background and culture were celebrated as inspiring multiculturalism, our differences feed perceptions of unbreachable division. Where once immigration was seen as enriching Western societies, it is now considered a cause of distress. Whether it is class, race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, political leaders all over the world are mobilizing their followers around the idea that their dignity has been affronted and must be restored."

"As Professor Fukuyama writes: 'Identity politics has come to the fore. It has become our common culture, no longer the province of one party or side. It has entrenched both sides of the political spectrum, fueled populist nationalism, authoritarianism, religion conflict, and democratic decline.' I think that dignity actually lies as a basis of liberal democracies. We give our citizens dignity by giving them rights. They have the right to speak, to associate, to believe in what religious belief they want, and they have the right to participate in a democratic political system. . . . I think they [Trumpsters] were responding to this cultural complaint, that the left had become so politically correct that you couldn't talk about issues honestly. . ." (Source: Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, with Francis Fukuyama, Joanne Myers and Francis Fukuyama)

Black Lives Matter—today the Left promotes the interests of a wide variety of groups perceived as being marginalized, but we feel the whole Black Lives Matter movement is based on a lie
Black Lives Matter—today the Left promotes the interests of a wide variety of groups perceived as being marginalized, but we feel the whole Black Lives Matter movement is based on a lie

"The assertion of particular identities, and the insistence that respect be paid to them, is a hallmark of our age. And it is, in his telling, not because people are bad at reasoning or narrow, but because of how discombobulating our age has been. . . . But Fukuyama reminds us that across much of the West, people have suffered dislocation and elites have captured the fruits. . . . Today, the left concentrates on “promoting the interests of a wide variety of groups perceived as being marginalized,” whereas the right “is redefining itself as patriots who seek to protect traditional national identity . . . 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." (Source: What Is Identity?, Anand Giridharadas, NY Times)

But we feel that the Right is correct that identity politics does a lot more harm than it does good, and we feel that Fukuyama is wrong about its good side. Furthermore, it feels to us like Fukuyama is trying to curry favor with the Left by seeing a good side to the PC curse.

Fukuyama was a strong supporter of neoconservatism at first, but once Dubya turned it into an excuse for permanent war he changed his mind, said it was too much like Leninism, and started voting Democratic. "I'm voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. . . . As a general rule, democracies don't work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. . . . I think it would be a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale."

Death Dealing Dubya
Death Dealing Dubya

The best review of Identity is not a review but a brilliant article by the man himself: Francis Fukuyama. It is called Against Identity Politics: The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy. It could be thought of as a summary of Identity since it covers so much of the same ground. It follows below.

". . . The left focuses less on creating broad economic equality and more on promoting the interests of a wide variety of marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, women, and LGBT people. The right, meanwhile, has redefined its core mission as the patriotic protection of traditional national identity, which is often explicitly connected to race, ethnicity, or religion. . . . All over the world, political leaders have mobilized followers around the idea that their dignity has been affronted and must be restored. . . . But during the era of globalization, most left-wing parties shifted their strategy. Rather than build solidarity around large collectivities such as the working class or the economically exploited, they began to focus on ever-smaller groups that found themselves marginalized in specific and unique ways. The principle of universal and equal recognition mutated into calls for special recognition."

"Moreover, the left’s identity politics poses a threat to free speech and to the kind of rational discourse needed to sustain a democracy. . . . Left-wing activists focused on identity issues are seldom representative of the electorate as a whole; indeed, their concerns often alienate mainstream voters. . . . champions of identity politics have sought to undermine the legitimacy of the American national story by emphasizing victimization, insinuating in some cases that racism, gender discrimination, and other forms of systematic exclusion are in the country’s DNA. . . . and they must be confronted. But progressives should also tell a different version of U.S. history, one focused on how an ever-broadening circle of people have overcome barriers to achieve recognition of their dignity." (Source: Against Identity Politics: The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy, Francis Fukuyama, Foreign Affairs)

The shift towards identity politics threatens to fragment society by dividing people into zealous tribes, and the natives are restless
The shift towards identity politics threatens to fragment society by dividing people into zealous tribes, and the natives are restless

"The shift towards identity politics threatens to fragment society by dividing people into zealous tribes. If people no longer vote according to their values, such as an attachment to liberty, but by their identities, such as their faith, then democracy ceases to function. . . . Fukuyama ends his book with a brief set of recommendations on how to overcome the danger of identity politics. Just as they can be used to divide, the solution is to create broad, inclusive identities to bring people together . . . " (Source: Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Francis Fukuyama – review, Arjun Neil Alim, Evening Standard)

"[Fukuyama] does not view multiculturalism and the celebration of different ethnicities and sexual orientation as a step forward to more personal freedom. Instead, he sees these new demands for individual identity as destabilizing to modern nation states. . . . Fukuyama argues that the left has made a serious mistake in abandoning its traditional concerns with demanding economic equality and worker protections in favor of promoting “a wide variety of groups perceived as being marginalized…blacks, immigrants, women, the LGBT community.” In response, the right in many countries redefined itself as “patriots who seek to protect traditional national identity.” (Source: Review of Francis Fukuyama’s “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment”, James Thornton Harris, History News Network)


Cultural Self-Assertion of Marginal Groups and the Populist Resentment in Response Has Become the New Culture War

The neurotic do-gooder white elites have finally gone off the deep end, and while they tell black families they are helping them, they're actually leading them into a trap of permanent victimhood and unquenchable anger
The neurotic do-gooder white elites have finally gone off the deep end, and while they tell black families they are helping them, they're actually leading them into a trap of permanent victimhood and unquenchable anger

What is surprising is to see that cultural self-assertion of marginal groups and the populist resentment in response has become the new Culture War. See Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics In America.

The American creedal national identity is the best identity politics fix yet devised, and Fukuyama came up with it. It is kind of a dialectical synthesis of identity politics from the left and patriotism, nationalism, freedom of speech and traditionalism on the right. This creedal national identity would require such things as national service, speaking English, constitutionalism, the rule of law, teaching basic civics again in schools, immigration assimilation and control, border control, and human equality.


The So-Called Filter Bubble

The growth in information bandwidth has ended the dominance of the large American networks, leading to a factionalization of media spaces where people talk only to people like themselves—the so-called filter bubble
The growth in information bandwidth has ended the dominance of the large American networks, leading to a factionalization of media spaces where people talk only to people like themselves—the so-called filter bubble

"It is clear the growth in information bandwidth has ended the dominance of the large American networks and European public broadcasters, leading to a factionalization of media spaces where people talk only to people like themselves — the so-called filter bubble. In recent years, this has been vastly abetted by the business models of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, whose self-interest lies in virality, which is often fed by conspiracy theories and personal abuse. It is very hard to disentangle cause and effect here: Clearly, Americans would be polarized without social media, and yet the decline of trusted integrating institutions has also contributed to polarization." (Source: Francis Fukuyama: Identity politics is undermining democracy, Nathan Gardels, Washington Post)


We Must Coordinate the Resistance That Is Currently Siloed

Charles Derber says we must coordinate the resistance that is currently siloed and fragmented and disconnected in order to have it be effective
Charles Derber says we must coordinate the resistance that is currently siloed and fragmented and disconnected in order to have it be effective

After the 1960s, the Left fragmented and de-universalized, breaking into siloed groups organized into cultural identity movements of race and gender, and separate peace, labor as well as environmental movements. Unfortunately, by the 21st century, this evolved into a democracy smashing movement of political correctness wherein the left is violently repressive of thoughts, ideas, and speakers on the right that do not buy the PC narrative. They even sic their alt-left Antifa thugs on conservative speakers. All this PC nonsense needs to be discarded like moldy bread and replaced with peaceful dialogue between liberals and conservatives. Or as the author would say: “Identity can be used to divide, but it can and has also been used to integrate. That in the end will be the remedy for the populist politics of the present.”

Masked anarchists use force to block conservatives from speaking in public forums. The free speech crisis on and off campus will not be solved until the premises of victimology are challenged directly and exposed as fraudulent
Masked anarchists use force to block conservatives from speaking in public forums. The free speech crisis on and off campus will not be solved until the premises of victimology are challenged directly and exposed as fraudulent

Plantation Politics, Antifa, SJWs, Diversity, and the Politics of Guilt

See: