• Eva Strnadová

Francis Fukuyama: Identity

In his book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and The Politics of Resentment, Francis Fukuyama, addresses the issues of identity politics.

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About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University. He is also a professor of Political Science. His research focuses on issues in the development and international politics.

Identity and Identity Politics Since 2016

Events of 2016 - Donald Trump became the President of the United States and the United Kingdom voted for Brexit - inspired multiple writers to address the question of identity and identity politics. They are:

  • Ian Bremmer, Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism (Portfolio: 2018).

  • Robert Peston, WTF (Hodder & Stoughton: 2017).

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Lies That Blind: Rethinking Identity (Liveright: 2019).


Fukuyama begins his inquiry into identity in Ancient Greece. For him, identity begins with the psychological phenomenon labelled thumos by Plato, which is usually translated as spiritedness.

It is the desire for other people to recognise our internal worth or dignity. This became a part of Western thought and developed into a sense of truth and legitimacy on the one hand. On the other hand, outer society is by default false and needs to change.

This becomes the basis for a lot of political movements because we want public recognition. We want other people to affirm our worth, and that has to be a political act.Francis Fukuyama

Fukuyama's argument is based on the premise that our connection to personal identities has disconnected us from the universal understandings of human dignity. For him, identity is fundamentally democratic and is a pillar of democracy. Nevertheless, a narrow definition and perception of identities can lead to conflicts and manipulate people’s ability to recognise or seek mutually inclusive solutions.

As a solution, he firstly proposes an open national identity. Secondly, he highlights the importance of a debate about assimilation or integration. Thirdly, identity can be fostered by national service, which would encourage people to recognise their citizenship.

Book reviewed: Francis Fukuyama, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and The Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2018).