Fukuyama, today

The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor, February  9


Francis Fukuyama, an acclaimed American political philosopher, entered the global imagination at the end of the Cold War when he prophesied the „end of history” — a belief that, after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world’s „final form of human government.” Now, at a moment when liberal democracy seems to be in crisis across the West, Fukuyama, too, wonders about its future.

„Twenty five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward,” said Fukuyama in a phone interview. „And I think they clearly can.”

Fukuyama’s initial argument (which I’ve greatly over-simplified) framed the international zeitgeist for the past two decades. Globalization was the vehicle by which liberalism would spread across the globe. The rule of law and institutions would supplant power politics and tribal divisions. Supranational bodies like the European Union seemed to embody those ideals.

But if the havoc of the Great Recession and the growing clout of authoritarian states like China and Russia hadn’t already upset the story, Brexit and the election of President Trump last year certainly did.

Now the backlash of right-wing nationalism on both sides of the Atlantic is in full swing. This week, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen announced her candidacy for president with a scathing attack on the liberal status quo. „Our leaders chose globalization, which they wanted to be a happy thing. It turned out to be a horrible thing,” Le Pen thundered.

Fukuyama recognizes the crisis. „Globalization really does seem to produce these internal tensions within democracies that these institutions have some trouble reconciling,” he said. Combined with grievances over immigration and multiculturalism, it created room for the „demagogic populism” that catapulted Trump into the White House. That has Fukuyama deeply concerned.

„I have honestly never encountered anyone in political life who I thought had a less suitable personality to be president,” Fukuyama said of the new president. „Trump is so thin-skinned and insecure that he takes any kind of criticism or attack personally and then hits back.”

Fukuyama, like many other observers, worries about „a slow erosion of institutions” and a weakening of democratic norms under a president who seems willing to question the legitimacy of anything that may stand in his way — whether it’s the judiciary, his political opponents or the mainstream media.

But the problem isn’t just Trump and the polarization he stokes, argues Fukuyama. What the scholar finds „most troubling” on the American political scene is the extent to which the Republican Party has gerrymandered districts and established what amounts to de facto one-party rule in parts of the country.

„If you’ve tilted the playing field in the electoral system that it doesn’t allow you to boot parties out of power, then you’ve got a real problem,” said Fukuyama. „The Republicans have been at this for quite a while already and it’s going to accelerate in these four years.”

„When democracies start turning on themselves and undermining their own legitimacy, then you’re in much more serious trouble,” he said.

International institutions don’t seem to be faring any better. Fukuyama thinks the European Union is „definitely unraveling” due to a series of overlapping mistakes. The creation of the eurozone „was a disaster” and the continued inability to develop a collective policy on immigration has deepened discontent. Moreover, said Fukuyama, „there really was never any investment in building a shared sense of European identity.”

But while the West is lurching through a period of profound uncertainty, Fukuyama calls for patience, not panic.

„We don’t know how it’s all going to play out,” he said. The tide of right-wing nationalism may ebb if the results of major elections this year go against the Le Pens of the world. Fukuyama wonders whether Trump will eventually face a backlash from within his own party, particularly if he cozies up to an autocrat like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

„The Austrian election was actually interesting,” he said, referring to a presidential vote in which a far-right candidate narrowly lost last year. „It was as if people in Europe said, ‘Well, we don’t want be like these crude Americans and elect an idiot like Donald Trump.'”

The turbulence of the moment doesn’t have to be read as a rebuttal of his original thesis. The „end of history” was always more about ideas than events. For that reason, Fukuyama’s most vehement critics over the years were not right-wing nationalists but thinkers on the left who reject the dogma of free markets. Fukuyama himself always left the door open for future uncertainty and crisis.

„Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history,” he wrote more than two decades ago, „will serve to get history started once again.”

More on https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/fukuyama-francis-1952-0


You knew…

Just in case someone ready to vote DT reads this blog. Which is highly improbable…


You Knew Who Trump Was When You Endorsed Him, Republican Leaders

You will never live down what you’ve done.

You knew. You all knew. You knew the whole time who and what Donald Trump is.

Mike Pence. Paul Ryan. Mitch McConnell. Ted Cruz. Chris Christie. Newt Gingrich. Orrin Hatch. John McCain. Marco Rubio. Virtually all of you

You heard every terrible thing he said. You watched every inexcusable thing he did. You knew Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian con man. You knew about his insatiable appetite for power, his bottomless need for affirmation, his dangerous impulsiveness and uncontrollable temper. You knew he was a huckster who ruined businesses and lives. You knew he debased your party, and you personally. You knew.

You knew he waged a racist campaign against the president’s legitimacy. You knew he called immigrants rapists. You knew he advocated forbidding Muslims from American soil. You knew he said a federal judge wasn’t qualified because Mexican blood flowed through his veins. You knew he besmirched the parents of a dead soldier. You knew he mocked prisoners of war. You knew he courted white supremacists. You knew he admires dictators. You knew he incited violence. You knew he lies ― blatantly, shamelessly, ceaselessly.

You knew all of that, and you asked Americans to elect him president anyway. Shame on you. You knew.

Your condemnations are and have always been empty. Your sudden rush to abandon Trump ― after what’s merely the most recently uncovered manifestation of his hatred for women ― is motivated by the same venal cowardice that led you to support him in the first place.

You knew Hillary Clinton isn’t the monstrous caricature you spent decades depicting. You knew she is ― like each and every one of you ― an ordinary politician, in all the ways that word has positive and negative connotations. You knew she would govern in a perfectly normal way.

You knew this, but you told voters she was more dangerous than Trump. More evil. A greater threat to the republic. And this, after so many of you spent the presidential primary campaign warning the U.S. that Trump is exactly who he appears to be. But you fell in line. You knew, and you endorsed him anyway.

You did all of this in service of ideology. You did this because you believe Trump will enact the policies you favor to allow businesses to pump more pollution into our air and water, to take away food and medicine from the neediest among us, to disenfranchise minority voters, to slash taxes for the rich.

Your voters elevated Trump nearly to the White House, and he may yet make it there, in spite of everything. They did so because you have primed them for Trump for more than half a century. Half a century of barely concealed appeals to racism, of fomenting fear and hatred and coaxing the worst instincts out of enough voters to gain power. Years of nurturing ― on AM radio and cable TV and the internet ― a propaganda machine that encourages ignorance, mistrust and anger.

You have lost control of the golem you created.  

You made promises you knew you couldn’t keep, and your voters finally lost faith in you. Now, they’re turning on you.

They follow a man who doesn’t even share your beliefs. You’re learning just how little those voters cared about conservatism and how very much they cared about stomping their boots on the throats of people who don’t look like them or love like them or think like them. You made this possible by making villains out of African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ people, the poor.

When this is all over, you may win your own re-elections. You may retain control of Congress and of governors mansions, state legislatures, county councils and school boards all across the nation. You may sigh in relief that you survived. You may even ― and not terribly long from now ― regain the presidency and resume carrying out your agenda. Your own careers may be successful. 

But history will condemn you. History won’t forget your cravenness. Because you knew.

Caligula, again

From a blogger in Quora:

During the GWB Administration the unwritten motto of the Bush State Department was the same as that of Caligula of Rome: “Oderint dum Metuant” – Let Them Hate So Long As They Fear. At the time Bush believed that the US was strong enough to deal with any threat and that he could squash it like a cockroach. As Bush discovered, cockroaches are not that easy to kill. Bush was most certainly feared – but he was not respected anywhere in the world. Does anyone remember the episode where Bush molested Angela Merkel on live television? Was that a proud day for American respect?

What, then, can we expect from Trump? Will he engender respect by abrogating important and long standing treaties? Will he earn respect by pulling the rug out from our NATO allies at a critical point when Turkey is turning toward Putin? Will he earn respect when he turns a blind eye to any Putin transgression in the Ukraine or the Baltic? Does he earn respect when he is so ignorant of world affairs that he doesn’t realize the Crimea was a part of the Ukraine invaded by Putin? Does his constant lying and inability to stick to policy without changing it mid-sentence earn any kind of trust by our Allies?

It seems highly unlikely that Trump would earn anything but the derision of leaders and people all over the world. A man risked his life to throw shoes at Bush to show his disrespect. I can’t even imagine the horror of people all over the world if Trump is elected.

But would he be feared?

Yes. The entire world would be in total terror of the erratic and eccentric actions of Trump behind the wheel of a nuclear behemoth like the US. Based on his words, I would expect Trump to:

  • immediately move 30,000 troops into Iraq with ensuing combat and deaths, causing further instability and rage in the Muslim world
  • acquiesce on any action Putin wants to take in Syria
  • acquiesce on any violence, sabotage or outright invasion Putin employs in the Ukraine
  • acquiesce on any mischief, sabotage, cyberwarfare that Putin employs on the Baltic
  • remove all sanctions on Russia — the Republican Platform already calls for weakening them based on Trump’s insistence
  • antagonize Iran to the point that they abrogate the Obama Iran Nuclear deal and re-start their nuclear program
  • threaten wide-scale bombing of Iran and possibly carrying it out
  • threatening NATO allies if they don’t pay the US billions in extortion fees
  • turning Mexico even further against the US and hurting trade
  • nuclear weapons use against ISIS
  • step up torture of the guilty and the innocent alike

There’s no way to tell where his recklessness will lead us but it will be feared the way an errant 2 ton cannon is feared when it parts its breeches and rolls uncontrolled across the crowded deck of a Man of War.

The world will be rightfully terrified. I will be also, and ashamed to be an American. Again.

By Jay Bazzinotti