O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org. Para a maior parte de meus textos, ver minha página na plataforma Academia.edu, link: https://itamaraty.academia.edu/PauloRobertodeAlmeida;

Meu Twitter: https://twitter.com/PauloAlmeida53

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulobooks

Mostrando postagens com marcador Francis Fukuyama. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Francis Fukuyama. Mostrar todas as postagens

quarta-feira, 10 de junho de 2020

Pandemia: fascismo ou democracia? - Francis Fukuyama (Foreign Affairs)

Quando não se sabe bem como analisar, o que dizer de um fenômeno novo no cenário mundial, buscam-se analogias históricas com eventos ou processos passados, que geralmente são enganosos ou equivocados, e não servem para muita coisa, a não ser para encher páginas de um artigo para uma revista prestigiosa como a Foreign Affairs (que fará 100 anos em 2022).
Não partilho muito dessa análise de Fukuyama, a não ser a constatação óbvia de que os países que fizeram melhor no enfrentamento da pandemia foram aqueles que dispunham, ou dispõem de Estados melhor organizados, dotados de convergência de propósitos e de lideranças eficientes e sobretudo inteligentes.
Nas palavras de Fukuyama (e ele desenvolve depois essas ideias tanto para democracias, quanto oara Estados autoritários), estes são os dois casos “ideal-típicos”, se ouso dizer, de sucesso ou fracasso no enfrentamento da pandemia, embora os desenvolvimentos ulteriores, em termos de fascismo ou reforço da democracia sejam muito confusos:

The factors responsible for successful pandemic responses have been state capacity, social trust, and leadership. Countries with all three—a competent state apparatus, a government that citizens trust and listen to, and effective leaders—have performed impressively, limiting the damage they have suffered. Countries with dysfunctional states, polarized societies, or poor leadership have done badly, leaving their citizens and economies exposed and vulnerable. 

O Brasil, infelzmente, assim como os EUA, estão do “lado errado”, mas não acredito que as coisas se desenvolvam desse modo maniqueísta.

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
PS: Grato, uma vez mais, a meu colega e amigo Pedro Luiz Rodrigues pelo constante aprovisionamento em material de qualidade, para minha leitura diária.

The Pandemic and Political Order
It Takes a State
Francis Fukuyama
Foreign Affairs, July-August 2020

Major crises have major consequences, usually unforeseen. The Great Depression spurred isolationism, nationalism, fascism, and World War II—but also led to the New Deal, the rise of the United States as a global superpower, and eventually decolonization. The 9/11attacks produced two failed American interventions, the rise of Iran, and new forms of Islamic radicalism. The 2008 financial crisis generated a surge in antiestablishment populism that replaced leaders across the globe. Future historians will trace comparably large effects to the current coronavirus pandemic; the challenge is figuring them out ahead of time.
It is already clear why some countries have done better than others in dealing with the crisis so far, and there is every reason to think those trends will continue. It is not a matter of regime type. Some democracies have performed well, but others have not, and the same is true for autocracies. The factors responsible for successful pandemic responses have been state capacity, social trust, and leadership. Countries with all three—a competent state apparatus, a government that citizens trust and listen to, and effective leaders—have performed impressively, limiting the damage they have suffered. Countries with dysfunctional states, polarized societies, or poor leadership have done badly, leaving their citizens and economies exposed and vulnerable. 
The more that is learned about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the more it seems the crisis will be protracted, measured in years rather than quarters. The virus appears less deadly than feared, but very contagious and often transmitted asymptomatically. Ebola is highly lethal but hard to catch; victims die quickly, before they can pass it on.COVID-19 is the opposite, which means that people tend not to take it as seriously as they should, and so it has, and will continue to, spread widely across the globe, causing vast numbers of deaths. There will be no moment when countries will be able to declare victory over the disease; rather, economies will open up slowly and tentatively, with progress slowed by subsequent waves of infections. Hopes for a V-shaped recovery appear wildly optimistic. More likely is an L with a long tail curving upward or a series of Ws. The world economy will not go back to anything like its pre-COVID state anytime soon. 
Economically, a protracted crisis will mean more business failures and devastation for industries such as shopping malls, retail chains, and travel. Levels of market concentration in the U.S. economy had been rising steadily for decades, and the pandemic will push the trend still further. Only large companies with deep pockets will be able to ride out the storm, with the technology giants gaining most of all, as digital interactions become ever more important.
The political consequences could be even more significant. Populations can be summoned to heroic acts of collective self-sacrifice for a while, but not forever. A lingering epidemic combined with deep job losses, a prolonged recession, and an unprecedented debt burden will inevitably create tensions that turn into a political backlash—but against whom is as yet unclear.
The global distribution of power will continue to shift eastward, since East Asia has done better at managing the situation than Europe or the United States. Even though the pandemic originated in China and Beijing initially covered it up and allowed it to spread, China will benefit from the crisis, at least in relative terms. As it happened, other governments at first performed poorly and tried to cover it up, too, more visibly and with even deadlier consequences for their citizens. And at least Beijing has been able to regain control of the situation and is moving on to the next challenge, getting its economy back up to speed quickly and sustainably.
The United States, in contrast, has bungled its response badly and seen its prestige slip enormously. The country has vast potential state capacity and had built an impressive track record over previous epidemiological crises, but its current highly polarized society and incompetent leader blocked the state from functioning effectively. The president stoked division rather than promoting unity, politicized the distribution of aid, pushed responsibility onto governors for making key decisions while encouraging protests against them for protecting public health, and attacked international institutions rather than galvanizing them. The world can watch TV, too, and has stood by in amazement, with China quick to make the comparison clear.
Over the years to come, the pandemic could lead to the United States’ relative decline, the continued erosion of the liberal international order, and a resurgence of fascism around the globe. It could also lead to a rebirth of liberal democracy, a system that has confounded skeptics many times, showing remarkable powers of resilience and renewal. Elements of both visions will emerge, in different places. Unfortunately, unless current trends change dramatically, the general forecast is gloomy.


Pessimistic outcomes are easy to imagine. Nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia, and attacks on the liberal world order have been increasing for years, and that trend will only be accelerated by the pandemic. Governments in Hungary and the Philippines have used the crisis to give themselves emergency powers, moving them still further away from democracy. Many other countries, including China, El Salvador, and Uganda, have taken similar measures. Barriers to the movement of people have appeared everywhere, including within the heart of Europe; rather than cooperate constructively for their common benefit, countries have turned inward, bickered with one another, and made their rivals political scapegoats for their own failures.
The rise of nationalism will increase the possibility of international conflict. Leaders may see fights with foreigners as useful domestic political distractions, or they may be tempted by the weakness or preoccupation of their opponents and take advantage of the pandemic to destabilize favorite targets or create new facts on the ground. Still, given the continued stabilizing force of nuclear weapons and the common challenges facing all major players, international turbulence is less likely than domestic turbulence.
Poor countries with crowded cities and weak public health systems will be hit hard. Not just social distancing but even simple hygiene such as hand washing is extremely difficult in countries where many citizens have no regular access to clean water. And governments have often made matters worse rather than better—whether by design, by inciting communal tensions and undermining social cohesion, or by simple incompetence. India, for example, increased its vulnerability by declaring a sudden nationwide shutdown without thinking through the consequences for the tens of millions of migrant laborers who crowd into every large city. Many went to their rural homes, spreading the disease throughout the country; once the government reversed its position and began to restrict movement, a large number found themselves trapped in cities without work, shelter, or care.
Displacement caused by climate change was already a slow-moving crisis brewing in the global South. The pandemic will compound its effects, bringing large populations in developing countries ever closer to the edge of subsistence. And the crisis has crushed the hopes of hundreds of millions of people in poor countries who have been the beneficiaries of two decades of sustained economic growth. Popular outrage will grow, and dashing citizens’ rising expectations is ultimately a classic recipe for revolution. The desperate will seek to migrate, demagogic leaders will exploit the situation to seize power, corrupt politicians will take the opportunity to steal what they can, and many governments will clamp down or collapse. A new wave of attempted migration from the global South to the North, meanwhile, would be met with even less sympathy and more resistance this time around, since migrants could be accused more credibly now of bringing disease and chaos.
Finally, the appearances of so-called black swans are by definition unpredictable but increasingly likely the further out one looks. Past pandemics have fostered apocalyptic visions, cults, and new religions growing up around the extreme anxieties caused by prolonged hardship. Fascism, in fact, could be seen as one such cult, emerging from the violence and dislocation engendered by World War I and its aftermath. Conspiracy theories used to flourish in places such as the Middle East, where ordinary people were disempowered and felt they lacked agency. Today, they have spread widely throughout rich countries, as well, thanks in part to a fractured media environment caused by the Internet and social media, and sustained suffering is likely to provide rich material for populist demagogues to exploit.


Nevertheless, just as the Great Depression not only produced fascism but also reinvigorated liberal democracy, so the pandemic may produce some positive political outcomes, too. It has often taken just such a huge external shock to break sclerotic political systems out of their stasis and create the conditions for long-overdue structural reform, and that pattern is likely to play out again, at least in some places.
The practical realities of handling the pandemic favor professionalism and expertise; demagoguery and incompetence are readily exposed.This should ultimately create a beneficial selection effect, rewarding politicians and governments that do well and penalizing those that do poorly. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who has steadily hollowed out his country’s democratic institutions in recent years, tried to bluff his way through the crisis and is now floundering and presiding over a health disaster. Russia’s Vladimir Putin tried to play down the importance of the pandemic at first, then claimed that Russia had it under control, and will have to change his tune yet again as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country. Putin’s legitimacy was already weakening before the crisis, and that process may have accelerated.
The pandemic has shone a bright light on existing institutions everywhere, revealing their inadequacies and weaknesses. The gap between the rich and the poor, both people and countries, has been deepened by the crisis and will increase further during a prolonged economic stagnation. But along with the problems, the crisis has also revealed government’s ability to provide solutions, drawing on collective resources in the process. A lingering sense of “alone together” could boost social solidarity and drive the development of more generous social protections down the road, just as the common national sufferings of World War I and the Depression stimulated the growth of welfare states in the 1920s and 1930s.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the author of Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment.

Para acessar íntegra:

segunda-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2019

Francis Fukuyama's The End of History? 30 years later - Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Hoje, no curso de uma defesa de dissertação, o nome de Fukuyama e sua famosa tese sobre o Fim da História vieram à baila, o que me lembrou de um artigo que escrevi 20 depois de sua publicação original. Agora já são 30 anos, e eu talvez considere retomar o tema, para uma nova leitura e uma nova avaliação de como se apresenta o mundo com uma Rússia ressurgente e uma China decididamente assumida a desempenhar um papel mais assertivo não só em sua região mas no mundo.
Enquanto isso, aquela coisa que responde pelo título de presidente americano, manda parar o ônibus da globalização, retira os EUA dentro da geringonça caótica, e deixa o campo livre para chineses, russos, gregos e goianos se divertirem como crianças no salão. Mas o adulto não é exatamente aquele, e sim talvez os europeus. Pena que eles tenham tão pouco poder, mesmo tendo construído uma catedral gótica em Bruxelas, atualmente com problemas de manutenção e adesão (Brexit, populismos de direita, contestações nacionalistas, etc.).
Em todo caso, eis o que eu escrevi vinte anos atrás em torno do trabalho de Fukuyama:

O “Fim da História”, de Fukuyama, vinte anos depois: o que ficou?, por Paulo Roberto de Almeida

1. O que restou, vinte anos depois, da tese controversa de Fukuyama?
No verão de 1989, a revista americana National Interest publicava um ensaio teórico – mais exatamente de filosofia da História – do intelectual nipo-americano Francis Fukuyama sobre os sinais – até então simplesmente anunciadores – do fim da Guerra Fria, cujo título estava destinado a deslanchar um debate ainda hoje controverso: “The End of History?”.[1] Vinte anos depois, em vista das muitas críticas feitas naquela conjuntura – e ainda hoje –  às principais teses do autor, vale a pena retomar seus principais argumentos e verificar se eles ainda conservam alguma validade para nossos tempos, que poderiam ser considerados como de pós-Guerra Fria, mas que alguns interpretam, ou consideram efetivamente, como de volta à Guerra Fria, ainda que sob novas modalidades (com uma Rússia singularmente diminuída e uma China hesitante em se posicionar como contendor estratégico dos Estados Unidos).
Antes, contudo, de ingressar numa descrição linear desses argumentos, qualquer que seja sua validade relativa ou absoluta para o tema que nos interessa – qual seja, o da natureza das opções abertas aos países em termos de reforma e desenvolvimento paralelos do sistema econômico e do  regime político, que Fukuyama identificava com a redução dessas opções à democracia de mercado – cabe chamar a atenção para uma peculiaridade geralmente descurada no debate anterior (e talvez atual) sobre a validade das teses de Fukuyama, sobretudo por aqueles que recusavam, in limine, a essência mesma do argumento do autor. Esta peculiaridade tem a ver, basicamente, com um simples sinal diacrítico: o ponto de interrogação ao final do título, geralmente ignorado pelos críticos das teses de Fukuyama, e provavelmente também por aqueles que apóiam, em grande medida, o sentido dos seus argumentos. Ou seja, Fukuyama não fazia uma afirmação peremptória, mas levantava uma hipótese, a do final presumido da história, numa análise de corte essencialmente conceitual, ainda que fortemente embasada nos fatos históricos, e nunca pretendeu formular uma sentença de caráter terminativo, indicando um “congelamento” das formas possíveis de organização social, econômica e política. O interrogante básico de seu argumento tem a ver com a possibilidade de alternativas credíveis às democracias liberais de mercado, ponto.
O ponto de interrogação, por si só, tem o poder de desmantelar boa parte das críticas superficiais, embora ele não elimine uma discussão responsável sobre a essência de sua tese, que caberia discutir, após o resumo inicial de seus argumentos. A tese – vale a pena resumir desde o início – tem a ver com o caráter incontornável da democracia de mercado como sendo uma espécie de ‘horizonte insuperável de nossa época’, como poderia argumentar – mas a propósito do marxismo – Jean Paul Sartre, um dos estudantes, junto com Raymond Aron, da tese original de Hegel, através de Alexandre Kojève.
2. O que Fukuyama de fato escreveu?
Para ler este longo ensaio, veja este link: 
(Confirmo que vai ser longo...)

segunda-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2018

O Fim da Historia, de Fukuyama: 30 anos depois, o que ficou?

Escrevi este artigo vinte anos depois de sua publicação, como indica o título.
Research Gate acaba de me cumprimentar pelo fato de que ele alcançou a marca de 1.000 downloads.
Acho que seus argumentos principais merecem nova avaliação e consideração de sua validade substantiva, 30 anos depois da publicação original.
Verei se posso fazer...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Brasília, 24 de dezembro de 2018
Great job, Paulo!
Your article reached 1,000 reads

Eis a ficha original:

O Fim da História, de Fukuyama, vinte anos depois: o que ficou?

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Doutor em Ciências Sociais, Mestre em Planejamento Econômico.
Diplomata de carreira, professor de pós-graduação do Uniceub.
Publicado em Mundorama (21.01.2010;  link: http://www.mundorama.net/?article=o-fim-da-historia-de-fukuyama-vinte-anos-depois-o-que-ficou-por-paulo-roberto-de-almeida). Republicado no Meridiano 47 (n. 114, janeiro 2010). Relação de Publicados n. 949.

1. O que restou, vinte anos depois, da tese controversa de Fukuyama?
2. O que Fukuyama de fato escreveu?
3. Fukuyama tinha razão?
4. Do fim da História ao fim da Geografia
5. Existem opções aos órfãos do socialismo?

Resumo: Reavaliação das principais teses de Francis Fukuyama, em seu ensaio de teoria da história sobre a ausência de alternativas às democracias liberais de mercado, depois da derrocada dos sistemas socialistas e do início do processo de transição nos antigos Estados do sistema socialista, fenômeno equiparado por esse autor a um equivalente do ‘fim da História’ da tradição interpretativa hegeliana. A tese é válida em sua concepção geral, mas os processos concretos de transição não obedecem a um padrão único de organização política, econômica e social.
Palavras-chave: Francis Fukuyama, fim da História, socialismo, capitalismo.

(ler, no link acima)

terça-feira, 28 de agosto de 2018

Fukuyama and the NON end of History - Louis Menand (New Yorker)

Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History
The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.
The New Yorker, September 3, 2018

The desire for recognition, Fukuyama argues, is an essential threat to liberalism.
Illustration by Aude Van Ryn

In February, 1989, Francis Fukuyama gave a talk on international relations at the University of Chicago. Fukuyama was thirty-six years old, and on his way from a job at the rand Corporation, in Santa Monica, where he had worked as an expert on Soviet foreign policy, to a post as the deputy director of policy planning at the State Department, in Washington.
It was a good moment for talking about international relations, and a good moment for Soviet experts especially, because, two months earlier, on December 7, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev had announced, in a speech at the United Nations, that the Soviet Union would no longer intervene in the affairs of its Eastern European satellite states. Those nations could now become democratic. It was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
At rand, Fukuyama had produced focussed analyses of Soviet policy. In Chicago, he permitted himself to think big. His talk came to the attention of Owen Harries, an editor at a Washington journal called The National Interest,and Harries offered to publish it. The article was titled “The End of History?” It came out in the summer of 1989, and it turned the foreign-policy world on its ear.
Fukuyama’s argument was that, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the last ideological alternative to liberalism had been eliminated. Fascism had been killed off in the Second World War, and now Communism was imploding. In states, like China, that called themselves Communist, political and economic reforms were heading in the direction of a liberal order.
So, if you imagined history as the process by which liberal institutions—representative government, free markets, and consumerist culture—become universal, it might be possible to say that history had reached its goal. Stuff would still happen, obviously, and smaller states could be expected to experience ethnic and religious tensions and become home to illiberal ideas. But “it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso,” Fukuyama explained, “for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.”
Hegel, Fukuyama said, had written of a moment when a perfectly rational form of society and the state would become victorious. Now, with Communism vanquished and the major powers converging on a single political and economic model, Hegel’s prediction had finally been fulfilled. There would be a “Common Marketization” of international relations and the world would achieve homeostasis.
Even among little magazines, The National Interestwas little. Launched in 1985 by Irving Kristol, the leading figure in neoconservatism, it had by 1989 a circulation of six thousand. Fukuyama himself was virtually unknown outside the world of professional Sovietologists, people not given to eschatological reflection. But the “end of history” claim was picked up in the mainstream press, Fukuyama was profiled by James Atlas in the New York Times Magazine, and his article was debated in Britain and in France and translated into many languages, from Japanese to Icelandic. Some of the responses to “The End of History?” were dismissive; almost all of them were skeptical. But somehow the phrase found its way into post-Cold War thought, and it stuck.
One of the reasons for the stickiness was that Fukuyama was lucky. He got out about six months ahead of the curve—his article appearing before the Velvet Revolution, in Czechoslovakia, and before the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, in November, 1989. Fukuyama was betting on present trends continuing, always a high-risk gamble in the international-relations business.

Any number of things might have happened for Gorbachev’s promise not to cash out: political resistance within the Soviet Union, the refusal of the Eastern European puppet regimes to cede power, the United States misplaying its hand. But events in Europe unfolded more or less according to Fukuyama’s prediction, and, on December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence. The Cold War really was over.
Events in Asia were not so obliging. Fukuyama missed completely the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in China. There is no mention of the massacre in Tiananmen Squarein “The End of History?,” presumably because the piece was in production when it happened, in June, 1989. This does not seem to have made a difference to the article’s reception, however. Almost none of the initial responses to the piece mentioned Tiananmen, either—even though many people already believed that China, not Russia, was the power that liberal democracies would have to reckon with in the future. “The End of History?” was a little Eurocentric.
There was also a seductive twist to Fukuyama’s argument. At the end of the article, he suggested that life after history might be sad. When all political efforts were committed to “the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands” (sounds good to me), we might feel nostalgia for the “courage, imagination, and idealism” that animated the old struggles for liberalism and democracy. This speculative flourish recalled the famous question that John Stuart Mill said he asked himself as a young man: If all the political and social reforms you believe in came to pass, would it make you a happier human being? That is always an interesting question.
Another reason that Fukuyama’s article got noticed may have had to do with his new job title. The office of policy planning at State had been created in 1947 by George Kennan, who was its first chief. In July of that year, Kennan published the so-called X article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” in Foreign Affairs.It appeared anonymously—signed with an “X”—but once the press learned his identity the article was received as an official statement of American Cold War policy.
“The Sources of Soviet Conduct” defined the containment doctrine, according to which the aim of American policy was to keep the Soviet Union inside its box. The United States did not need to intervene in Soviet affairs, Kennan believed, because Communism was bound to collapse from its own inefficiency. Four decades later, when “The End of History?” appeared, that is exactly what seemed to be happening. That April, Kennan, then eighty-five, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to declare that the Cold War was over. He received a standing ovation. Fukuyama’s article could thus be seen as a bookend to Kennan’s.
It was not the bookend Kennan would have written. Containment is a realist doctrine. Realists think that a nation’s foreign policy should be guided by dispassionate consideration of its own interests, not by moral principles, or by a belief that nations share a “harmony of interests.” To Kennan, it was of no concern to the United States what the Soviets did inside their own box. The only thing that mattered was that Communism not be allowed to expand.
The National Interest,as the name proclaims, is a realist foreign-policy journal. But Fukuyama’s premise was that nations do share a harmony of interests, and that their convergence on liberal political and economic models was mutually beneficial. Realism imagines nations to be in perpetual competition with one another; Fukuyama was saying that this was no longer going to be the case. He offered Cold War realists a kind of valediction: their mission, though philosophically misconceived, had been accomplished. Now they were out of a job. “Frank thought that what was happening spelled the end of the Realpolitik world,” Harries later said. It must have tickled him to have published Fukuyama’s article.
Twenty-nine years later, it seems that the realists haven’t gone anywhere, and that history has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It turns out that liberal democracy and free trade may actually be rather fragile achievements. (Consumerism appears safe for now.) There is something out there that doesn’t like liberalism, and is making trouble for the survival of its institutions.
Fukuyama thinks he knows what that something is, and his answer is summed up in the title of his new book, “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The demand for recognition, Fukuyama says, is the “master concept” that explains all the contemporary dissatisfactions with the global liberal order: Vladimir Putin, Osama bin Laden, Xi Jinping, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, gay marriage, isis, Brexit, resurgent European nationalisms, anti-immigration political movements, campus identity politics, and the election of Donald Trump. It also explains the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, Chinese Communism, the civil-rights movement, the women’s movement, multiculturalism, and the thought of Luther, Rousseau, Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, and Simone de Beauvoir. Oh, and the whole business begins with Plato’s Republic. Fukuyama covers all of this in less than two hundred pages. How does he do it?
Not well. Some of the problem comes from misunderstanding figures like Beauvoir and Freud; some comes from reducing the work of complex writers like Rousseau and Nietzsche to a single philosophical bullet point. A lot comes from the astonishingly blasé assumption—which was also the astonishingly blasé assumption of “The End of History?”—that Western thought is universal thought. But the whole project, trying to fit Vladimir Putin into the same analytic paradigm as Black Lives Matter and tracing them both back to Martin Luther, is far-fetched. It’s a case of Great Booksism: history as a chain of paper dolls cut out of books that only a tiny fraction of human beings have even heard of. Fukuyama is a smart man, but no one could have made this argument work.
Why is the desire for recognition—or identity politics, as Fukuyama also calls it—a threat to liberalism? Because it cannot be satisfied by economic or procedural reforms. Having the same amount of wealth as everyone else or the same opportunity to acquire it is not a substitute for respect. Fukuyama thinks that political movements that appear to be about legal and economic equality—gay marriage, for example, or #MeToo—are really about recognition and respect. Women who are sexually harassed in the workplace feel that their dignity has been violated, that they are being treated as less than fully human.
Fukuyama gives this desire for recognition a Greek name, taken from Plato’s Republic: thymos. He says that thymosis “a universal aspect of human nature that has always existed.” In the Republic, thymosis distinct from the two other parts of the soul that Socrates names: reason and appetite. Appetites we share with animals; reason is what makes us human. Thymosis in between.
The term has been defined in various ways. “Passion” is one translation; “spirit,” as in “spiritedness,” is another. Fukuyama defines thymosas “the seat of judgments of worth.” This seems a semantic overreach. In the Republic, Socrates associates thymoswith children and dogs, beings whose reactions need to be controlled by reason. The term is generally taken to refer to our instinctive response when we feel we’re being disrespected. We bristle. We swell with amour propre. We honk the horn. We overreact.
Plato had Socrates divide the psyche into three parts in order to assign roles to the citizens of his imaginary republic. Appetite is the principal attribute of the plebes, passion of the warriors, and reason of the philosopher kings. The Republic is philosophy; it is not cognitive science. Yet Fukuyama adopts Plato’s heuristic and biologizes it. “Today we know that feelings of pride and self-esteem are related to levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain,” he says, and points to studies done with chimps (which Socrates would have counted as animals, but never mind).
But so what? Lots of feelings are related to changes in serotonin levels. In fact, every feeling we experience—lust, anger, depression, exasperation—has a corollary in brain chemistry. That’s how consciousness works. To say, as Fukuyama does, that “the desire for status—megalothymia—is rooted in human biology” is the academic equivalent of palmistry. You’re just making it up.
Fukuyama resorts to this tactic because he wants to do with the desire for recognition what he did with liberalism in “The End of History?” He wants to universalize it. This allows him to argue, for example, that the feelings that led to the rise of Vladimir Putin are exactly the same (albeit “on a larger scale”) as the feelings of a woman who complains that her potential is limited by gender discrimination. The woman can’t help it. She needs the serotonin, just like the Russians.
Hegel thought that the end of history would arrive when humans achieved perfect self-knowledge and self-mastery, when life was rational and transparent. Rationality and transparency are the values of classical liberalism. Rationality and transparency are supposed to be what make free markets and democratic elections work. People understand how the system functions, and that allows them to make rational choices.
The trouble with thymosis that it is not rational. People not only sacrifice worldly goods for recognition; they die for recognition. The choice to die is not rational. “Human psychology is much more complex than the rather simpleminded economic model suggests,” Fukuyama concludes.

But how was that model of the rational economic actor ever plausible? It’s not just that human beings are neurotic; it’s that, on the list of things human beings are neurotic about, money is close to the top. People hoard money; they squander it; they marry for it; they kill for it. Don’t economists ever read novels? Practically every realist novel, from Austen and Balzac to James and Wharton, is about people behaving badly around money. Free markets didn’t change that. They arguably made people even crazier.
And as with money so with most of life. The notion that we have some mental faculty called “reason” that functions independently of our needs, desires, anxieties, and superstitions is, well, Platonic. Right now, you are trying to decide whether to finish this piece or turn to the cartoon-caption contest. Which mental faculty are you using to make this decision? Which is responsible for your opinion of Donald Trump? How can you tell?
“Identity” can be read as a corrective to the position that Fukuyama staked out in “The End of History?” Universal liberalism isn’t impeded by ideology, like fascism or communism, but by passion. Liberalism remains the ideal political and economic system, but it needs to find ways to accommodate and neutralize this pesky desire for recognition. What is odd about Fukuyama’s dilemma is that, in the philosophical source for his original theory about the end of history, recognition was not a problem. Recognition was, in fact, the means to get there.
That source was not Hegel. As Fukuyama stated explicitly in “The End of History?,” he was adopting an interpretation of Hegel made in the nineteen-thirties by a semi-obscure intellectual adventurer named Alexandre Kojève. How, fifty years later, Kojève’s ideas got into the pages of a Washington policy journal is an unusual story of intellectual musical chairs.
Kojève was born in 1902 into a well-off Moscow family, and he was raised in a cultivated atmosphere. The painter Wassily Kandinsky was an uncle. Kojève was a prodigious intellect; by the time he was eighteen, he was fluent in Russian, German, French, and English, and read Latin. Later, he learned Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan in order to study Buddhism. In 1918, he went to prison for some sort of black-market transaction. After he got out, he and a friend managed to cross the closed Soviet border into Poland, where they were briefly jailed on suspicion of espionage. With the pointed encouragement of Polish authorities, Kojève left for Germany. He studied philosophy with Karl Jaspers at Heidelberg and lived as a bon vivant in Weimar Berlin. In 1926, he moved to Paris, where he continued to live the high life while writing a dissertation that dealt with quantum physics.
Kojève had invested his inheritance in the French company that made La Vache Qui Rit cheese, but he lost everything in the stock-market crash. In 1933, in need of income, he accepted a friend’s offer to take over a seminar on Hegel at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He ended up running the course for six years.
People who were around Kojève seem to have regarded him as a kind of magician. In the Hegel seminar, he taught just one text, “The Phenomenology of Spirit,” first published in 1807. He would read a passage aloud in German (the book had not been translated into French) and then, extemporaneously and in perfect French (with an enchanting Slavic accent), provide his own commentary. People found him eloquent, brilliant, mesmerizing. Enrollment was small, around twenty, but a number of future intellectual luminaries, like Hannah Arendtand Jacques Lacan, either took the class or sat in on it.
For Kojève, the key concept in Hegel’s “Phenomenology” was recognition. Human beings want the recognition of other human beings in order to become self-conscious—to know themselves as autonomous individuals. As Kojève put it, humans desire, and what they desire is either something that other humans desire or the desire of other humans. “Human history,” he said, “is the history of desired desires.” What makes this complicated is that in the struggle for recognition there are winners and losers. The terms Hegel used for these can be translated as lords and servants, but also as masters and slaves, which are the terms Kojève used. The master wins the recognition of the slave, but his satisfaction is empty, since he does not recognize the slave as human in turn. The slave, lacking recognition from the master, must seek it in some other way.
Kojève thought that the other way was through labor. The slave achieves his sense of self by work that transforms the natural world into a human world. But the slave is driven to labor in the first place because of the master’s refusal to recognize him. This “master-slave dialectic” is the motor of human history, and human history comes to an end when there are no more masters or slaves, and all are recognized equally.
This is the idea that Marx had adopted to describe history as the history of class struggle. That struggle also has winners and losers, and its penultimate phase was the struggle between property owners (the bourgeoisie) and workers (the proletariat). The struggle would come to an end with the overthrow of capitalism and the arrival of a classless society—communism. Kojève called himself, mischievously or not, a Communist, and people listening to him in the nineteen-thirties would have understood this to be the subtext of his commentary. Equality of recognition was history’s goal, whether that meant Communist equality or liberal equality. People would stop killing one another in the name of dignity and self-respect, and life would probably be boring.
After the war, Kojève’s lectures were published as “Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,” a book that went through many printings in France. By then, he had stopped teaching and had become an official in the French Ministry of Economic Affairs, where he played an influential behind-the-scenes role in establishing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (gatt) and the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union—in other words, Common Marketization. He liked to say that he was presiding over the end of history.
In 1953, Allan Bloom, then a graduate student at the University of Chicago, met Kojève in Paris, at his office in the ministry. (The connection was presumably made through the émigré political theorist Leo Strauss, who was teaching at Chicago and who carried on a long correspondence with Kojève.) “I was seduced,” Bloom later said. He began studying with Kojève, and their meetings continued until Kojève’s death, in 1968. In 1969, Bloom arranged for the publication of the first English translation of the Hegel lectures and contributed an introduction. He was then a professor at Cornell.
Fukuyama entered Cornell as a freshman in 1970. He lived in Telluride House, a selective academic society for students and faculty, where Bloom was a resident. Fukuyama enrolled in Bloom’s freshman course on Greek philosophy, and, according to Atlas, he and Bloom “shared meals and talked philosophy until all hours.”
As it happened, that was Bloom’s last year at Cornell. He resigned in disgust at the way the administration had handled the occupation of a university building by armed students from the Afro-American Society. Fukuyama graduated in 1974 with a degree in classics. Following an excursus into the world of poststructuralist theory at Yale and in Paris, he switched his field to political science and received his Ph.D. from Harvard’s government department. He graduated in 1979, and went to rand.
By then, Bloom was back at the University of Chicago, as a professor in the Committee on Social Thought. In 1982, he published an article on the condition of higher education in William F. Buckley’s National Review. He did not think the condition was good. Encouraged by his friend Saul Bellow, he decided to turn the article into a book. “The Closing of the American Mind,” which Simon & Schuster brought out in February, 1987, launched a campaign of criticism of American higher education that has taken little time off since.
“The Closing of the American Mind” is a Great Booksist attempt to account for the rise of cultural relativism, which Bloom thought was the bane of American higher education. Almost no one at Simon & Schuster had great hopes for sales. There is a story, possibly apocryphal, that when the editor who signed the book, Erwin Glikes, left the firm to run the Free Press he was invited to take Bloom’s book, not yet published, with him, and he declined.
If so, he missed out on one of the publishing phenomena of the decade. After a slow start, “The Closing of the American Mind” went to No. 1 on the Timesbest-seller list and stayed there for two and a half months. By March, 1988, it had sold a million hardcover copies in the United States alone. It made Bloom a rich man.
It was Bloom, along with another professor at Chicago, Nathan Tarcov, who invited Fukuyama to give his February, 1989, talk on international relations. If Fukuyama had not already been thinking about it, it is easy to imagine him deciding that, under the circumstances, it might be interesting to say something Kojèvean.
When “The End of History?” ran in TheNational Interestthat summer, Bloom had become a star in the neoconservative firmament, and his was the first of six responses that the magazine printed to accompany the article. Bloom called it “bold and brilliant.” Possibly seeing the way the wind was blowing, Glikes offered Fukuyama six hundred thousand dollars to turn his article into a book. “The End of History and the Last Man” was published by the Free Press in 1992.
The book was a best-seller, but not a huge one, maybe because the excitement about the end of the Cold War had cooled. Fukuyama had taken his time writing it. “The End of History and the Last Man” is not a journal article on steroids. It is a thoughtful examination of the questions raised by the piece in The National Interest, and one of those questions is the problem of thymos, which occupies much of the book. A lot of “Identity” is a recap of what Fukuyama had already said there.
The importance of recognition has been emphasized by writers other than Kojève. The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, for example, whose book “The Sources of the Self,” published in 1989, the same year as “The End of History?,” argued that the modern idea of the self involved a cultural shift from the concept of honor, which is something for the few, to dignity, which is aspired to by all. In 1992, in the essay “The Politics of Recognition,” Taylor analyzed the advent of multiculturalism in terms similar to the ones Fukuyama uses in “Identity.” (Taylor, too, is a Hegel expert.)
Fukuyama acknowledges that identity politics has done some good, and he says that people on the right exaggerate the prevalence of political correctness and the effects of affirmative action. He also thinks that people on the left have become obsessed with cultural and identitarian politics, and have abandoned social policy. But he has surprisingly few policy suggestions himself.
He has no interest in the solution that liberals typically adopt to accommodate diversity: pluralism and multiculturalism. Taylor, for example, has championed the right of the Québécois to pass laws preserving a French-language culture in their province. Fukuyama concedes that people need a sense of national identity, whether ethnic or creedal, but otherwise he remains an assimilationist and a universalist. He wants to iron out differences, not protect them. He suggests measures like a mandatory national-service requirement and a more meaningful path to citizenship for immigrants.
It’s unfortunate that Fukuyama has hung his authorial hat on meta-historical claims. In other books—notably “The Great Disruption” (1999) and a two-volume world history, “The Origins of Political Order” (2011) and “Political Order and Political Decay” (2014)—he distinguishes civilizational differences and uses empirical data to explain social trends. But thymosis too clumsy an instrument to be much help in understanding contemporary politics.
Wouldn’t it be important to distinguish people who ultimately don’t want differences to matter, like the people involved in #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, from people who ultimately do want them to matter, like isis militants, Brexit voters, or separatist nationalists? And what about people who are neither Mexican nor immigrants and who feel indignation at the treatment of Mexican immigrants? Black Americans risked their lives for civil rights, but so did white Americans. How would Socrates classify that behavior? Borrowed thymos?
It might also be good to replace the linear “if present trends continue” conception of history as a steady progression toward some stable state with the dialectical conception of history that Hegel and Kojève in fact used. Present trends don’t continue. They produce backlashes and reshufflings of the social deck. The identities that people embrace today are the identities their children will want to escape from tomorrow. History is somersaults all the way to the end. That’s why it’s so hard to write, and so hard to predict. Unless you’re lucky. ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the September 3, 2018, issue, with the headline “What Identity Demands.”
Louis Menand, a stawriter since 2001, was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016.