Phi Beta Cons

Fukuyama: A Case of Mistaken Identity

In his new article, “Identity and Migration,” intellectual icon Francis Fukuyama fails to defend our American and Western identity as well as to identify the real roots of  jihadism.


So writes Lawrence Auster in a perspicacious critique of the piece, in which Fukuyama acknowledges that liberal theory ignores the significance of groups but then fails to make the connection between nation and culture, which traditionalist conservatives have been discussing for years. In Auster’s view, Fukuyama repeats here the same error he made earlier, regarding immigration policy. Thus Fukuyama  

… acknowledges that America is not simply based on belief in universalist ideas about democracy, but that America is also a culture, even a “Christian, Anglo-Saxon” culture. This appears to be a major concession to those conservatives who insist on American cultural particularity, especially as regards immigration policy. But then…[h]e identifies the essence of this newly discovered American culture as “family values,” i.e., as a set of behaviors which promote economic productivity… In other words, Mr. Fukuyama, having conceded that America is not just a political abstraction but a culture, reinterprets that culture itself as an abstraction.

Fukuyama is also oblivious of the reality of Islam. He facilely posits the Muslim identity crisis to be the only source of current jihadism and presents a false solution to Muslims’ failure to integrate (in Europe). As interpreted by Auster:

…the respective European countries need to give up their cultural corporatism and develop a common national identity, no longer based on ethnicity or religion, into which Muslims as well as the traditional Europeans can all belong…[This common identity will]… consist of…“certain obligations to observe standards of tolerance and equal respect”…In other words, Muslims, stripped of their customary, religiously based way of life…will instead find a satisfactory substitute for their lost culture in the shared belief in the equal dignity of all men…and thus they will no longer be drawn to jihadism…[But] what they’re missing is Islam, and since what alienates them is the non-Islamic, de-racinated Western society in which they live, how could the shallow slogans of liberalism ever provide them with the deeper meaning that they seek?

Read the rest of Auster’s commentary, complete with other remarks about Fukuyama’s article from important realists such as Andrew Bostom. The piece sheds light on the differences between traditionalist conservatives, neo-conservatives and (modern) liberals.