Why National Identity Matters


Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow and Mosbacher Director at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. His new book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, from which this article is drawn, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September 2018.

I wentieth-century politics was organized along a left-right spectrum defined by economic issues, the left wanting more equality and the right demanding greater freedom. Progressive politics centered around workers, their trade unions, and social-democratic parties that sought better social protections and economic redistribution. The right, by contrast, was primarily interested in reducing the size of government and promoting the private sector. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, that spectrum appears to be giving way in many regions to one defined by identity. The left has focused less on broad economic equality and more on promoting the interests of a wide variety of groups perceived as being marginalized-blacks, immigrants, women, Hispanics, the LGBT community, refugees, and the like. The right, meanwhile, is redefining itself as a collection of patriots who seek to protect traditional national identity, an identity that is often explicitly connected to race, ethnicity, or religion.

A long tradition dating back at least as far as Karl Marx sees political struggles as a reflection of economic conflicts, essentially as fights over shares of the pie. Indeed, this is part of the story of the 2010s, with

lization producing significant numbers of people left behind by the overall growth that occurred around the world. But despite the importance of material self-interest, human beings are motivated by other things as well, motives that better explain the disparate events of the present. These motives give rise to what might be called the politics of resentment. In a wide variety of cases, a political leader has mobilized followers around the perception that a group’s dignity has been affronted, disparaged, or otherwise disregarded. This resentment engenders…

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SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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