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Is all politics identity politics? And if so, then what does it mean to condemn identity politics in the first place?
That’s the subject of my discussion with Stanford political scientist Francis Fukuyama. In his new book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, he builds a theory of what identity means in modern societies and how spiraling demands for recognition are tearing at the fabric of our politics.
"The retreat on both sides into ever narrower identities threatens the possibility of deliberation and collective action by the society as a whole," he writes. "Down this road lies, ultimately, state breakdown and failure.” Yikes.
Fukuyama’s book revolves around a question I’ve become a bit obsessed by: When do we see political claims as identity politics, and when do we see them as just politics? What’s obscured in the passage from one boundary to another? Whose agendas are served by it? And in a country whose narrative of progress and perfection is inextricably bound up in the success of past moments of identity politics, how did this come to be such a vilified term today?
So I asked Fukuyama on the show to discuss it. This is a great conversation with one of the foremost political thinkers of our age.
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