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Unherd: Lockdown TV – Francis Fukuyama: Trumpism came from the soul


30 October 2020

Since Aris Roussinos’s fantastic essay on UnHerd earlier this month, “Why Fukuyama was right all along, (… I’ve been getting to know the much-misunderstood thinker’s writing. It turns out that, far from the triumphalist credo of 1990s liberalism, The End of History is a disquieting, and prescient, sketch of what the liberal era would feel like, and how it would eventually go wrong. Much of Fukuyama’s writing since – from The Great Disruption (1999), through to his most recent book, Identity (2018) — has focused on the inadequacy of bland technocratic globalism. It’s not primarily an economic analysis: he describes how the part of the human soul (thymos) that seeks dignity and recognition of differences was suppressed by the global unanimity and so the populist waves of 2016 and beyond were inevitable. And yet he remains forcefully critical of precisely those populist governments that have challenged that consensus, recently writing how the ejection of Donald Trump from office next week is the most important political event of the past two generations. I wanted to explore that tension, and had a fascinating and enjoyable discussion from his home in Stanford, California.

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