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Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,777 ratings  ·  330 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Origins of Political Order offers a provocative examination of modern identity politics: its origins, its effects, and what it means for domestic and international affairs of state

In 2014, Francis Fukuyama wrote that American institutions were in decay, as the state was progressively captured by powerful interest groups. Two yea
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
5 stars for the first half, 3 stars for the solution and a big 0 for a few chapters toward the end. The book begins with a brisk walk thru Western civilization as it went from village life to industrial life and from Catholicism thru Reformation and then Nietzsche. So far so good. The thesis is that people started measuring themselves by their inner lives as opposed to their kin and village ties as society was fragmented. Then he moves through the American founding and another super speedy synth ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read, politics, uni, usa
This is required reading, because with this book, Fukuyama is clearly on to something. At the core, he discusses how we can overcome political polarization and strenghten our democratic systems. In order to grasp the underlying current that drives today's discussions and gave rise to Trumpism ("With regard to character, it was hard to imagine an individual less suited to be President of the United States." ), Fukuyama tackles identity politics - and you know what? My guess it that most people wh ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
The modern concept of identity unites three different phenomena. The first is thymos, a universal aspect of human personality that craves recognition. The second is the distinction between the inner and the outer self, and the raising of the moral valuation of the inner self over outer society. This emerged only in early modern Europe. The third is an evolving concept of dignity, in which recognition is due not just to a narrow class of people, but to everyone. The broadening and universaliza
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Let me cut to the quick, there are three reasons why I felt this book was inadequate: 1) there was little new in it, 2) the author wrongly argues both sides are to blame by appealing to false dichotomies and false framing and 3) his solutions provided would only exasperate the real problem and not make it better.

For item 1), every author should assume that a reader of their book is interested in the topic and wants to learn more about the topic and is obligated to provide the reader something th
Tristram Shandy
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics, sociology

As the author states in his preface, his book was mainly written because Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S. in November 2016, and maybe a little bit because a majority of those taking part in the Brexit referendum were in favour of the UK’s leaving the EU. Fukuyama, under the impression of those two big surprises, apparently wanted to explain how these two events were possible – two events which he regards as standing in need of an explanation.

In his study Identity. Contem
Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, by Francis Fukuyama, is an interesting book discussing the recent trends and growth in identity politics. Fukuyama posits that this is a natural expression of liberal democracy, as society continues to promote freedom and examine ways to bring concepts and concrete improvements to this in society. Fukuyama looks at identity politics as one of the highest forms of expression. In the past, many countries existed as monarchies and ari ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This new book by Francis Fukuyama about the hot issue in the US and EU politics today – identity. He doesn’t take neither left nor right side in the debate, but shows that the debate itself maybe out of focus.

He starts with Plato's The Republic and introduces concept of thymos - third part of the soul (first two are desires and reason, roughly equivalent to id and ego concepts of Freud) acts completely independently of the first two. It is the seat of judgments of worth: like a drug addict wants
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
After hearing about the book on NPR my husband suggested I read Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Frances Fukuyama.

One thing I appreciated about this book is how the author presents his arguments, explains them, and before he moves on restates his case to that point. It really makes it easier for the general reader because this is a theoretical book.

The author begins with a brief history of the development of identity, from the ancient Greeks through the Ref
Dan Graser
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fukuyama's latest book is a relatively brief, extended-essay form work, that focuses on the history of identity at the personal level and how it is reflected in larger social and political movements. This is obviously a very timely subject on which to be writing as it seems everyone has an opinion on this concept and a series of articles and videos of their favorite speakers either railing against the very idea or explaining how all of their opposition just don't understand why someone would fee ...more
Tammam Aloudat
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I keep telling myself not to read books by privileged rich men about the problems of our world, then I do exactly that. I regret it!

There are interesting concepts here, some are somewhat useful in the debate on identity and some just drown in Fukuyama's desire to justify himself. Let me elaborate. There is a point where he goes on about how people misread his controversial and much criticised The End of History and the Last Man, he is telling us how he was not wrong in saying that liberal democr
A Reader
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Every individual has an impulse to be respected and recognized, says Francis Fukuyama. Recognition is a deeply rooted human desire; it has been the cause of tyranny, conflicts, and wars, but at the same time, it also acts as a psychological foundation of many virtues, such as courage, justice and the spirit of citizenship.

This struggle for recognition, or what today we call identity politics, has become hugely important in the contemporary political discourse. Identity grows, writes Fukuyama, “o
David Wineberg
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Identifying is innate

Francis Fukuyama’ Identity starts off very badly, with a bizarre defense of his famous claim that the crumbling of the USSR and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall constituted “the end of history”. Like a Donald Trump (who gets more criticism than everyone else in the book combined), he doubles down on the statement by claiming what it says is nothing like what he meant. He claims to have used a completely different meaning for the word “end” as in “target” or “objective”. S
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Francis Fukuyama gets a bad rap from many people for being known as the guy who appeared to declare the “End of History” as the brief moment when liberal democracy prevailed over communism at the end of the Cold War. In large part I feel that his bad reputation on this subject is undeserved. His famous book, titled “The End of History and the Last Man,” never actually said that an end of history had arrived that would mean an end to events, only that, according to a Hegelian teleological view of ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“…the preoccupation with identity has clashed with the need for deliberative discourse”

This is a balanced and well-argued account of contemporary identity politics that starts with an explanation of its ancient roots: “Thymos is the part of the soul that craves recognition of dignity; isothymia is the demand to be respected on an equal basis with other people; while megalothymia is the desire to be recognised as superior. Modern liberal democracies promise and largely deliver a minimal degree of
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, politics
An okay, if superficial and generic, read. It is also pessimistic, but not pessimistic enough.
I do agree with the author that the real danger lurks on the extreme end of the alt-right, but I disagree with the casual treatment and an easy pass he gives to the excesses of the ctrl-left, and the role they play in the current mess. For better or for worse, they have been summoning into the existence that particular stinky bogeyman we all fear and would rather not see again.

To quote Titania McGrath,
Jim Crocker
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE ALIVE TODAY
Fascinating and deep stuff: an analysis of everything behind the curtain. Fukuyama show how everything hinges together -- dependencies, relationships, prerequisites, hierarchies, dynamics -- to produce the world we live in. He doesn't cherry-pick the data. Nobody is immune. It's all there: the good, bad and the ugly. At any moment, this is the outcome we get. The one we have to live with. The one we need to adapt to. The cards you get to play. Like it or not . . . what it is.

And from where I sit
Angie Boyter
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Required reading, and very readable
In Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Stanford political scientist Francis Fukuyama presents an impressively well-reasoned and lucid explanation of the phenomenon of identity politics, which is being increasingly recognized as a powerful force within the United States and world-wide. Although he acknowledges in the Preface that the 2016 U S presidential election was the inspiration for the book, Identity goes far beyond an analysis
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Combining Hegel's idea of the struggle for recognition and the identities which communities coalesce around and the problems this poses for a liberal state. Fukuyama poses the authoritarian threat of white nationalism in the wider theme of identity and the centrifugal and centripetal forces that work on a society. This a short outline of the problem of identity and its at once centripetal and then centrifugal elements which push and pull on a society. It doesn't go deep and give this topic the ...more
Thomas Dietert
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
As someone who admittedly spends very little time paying attention to and being involved in modern western politics, I appreciated the insight I gained from Fukuyama's analysis of why the modern western political climate seems to have soured or regressed in the past decade or two; In short, "identity politics", comprising nearly the entirety of the foundations of both the left and right wing populist movements of the past decades, is a nuanced beast that needs to be reigned in and practiced effe ...more
Rajesh Kandaswamy
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tr-again

This is among the necessary books to understand the basis of some of the recent dramatic move toward populism, nationalism and even religious fundamentalism in many parts of the world. This book argues that concerns around ones’ identity are the root of many of the radical political manifestations of the day, the leading examples being the election of Trump and Brexit. While this book explains identity politics, it looks deeper into the issue of identity over time, satisfyingly. While books such
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice fusion of philosophy, psychology, and political science. And you learn some new words like traduce and thymos. I had found his much publicized book on the end of history rather obtuse but this is much sharper although it does have some moments of dryness. It has a timeliness as well as an urgency too.

Identity as an individual has given way to shared identity by groups of like individuals. Nationalism and religion exploit these unions and social media has given them a disproportionate loud
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
The argument of this book consists of three parts: the need for social recognition is a major source of identity politics; the death of religion and the beginning of therapeutic culture in the West gave rise to the height of identity politics; and finally, we need to build a universal identity based on liberal democratic values (the rule of law, human equality, constitutionalism) to mitigate the downfalls of IP.

Overall, this book is disappointing. However, I point out that analysing the origin o
Andrew Howdle
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly, this is a thoughtful piece of research and the book's ideas are applied across the globe, a fact that gives it weight and validity.

Fukuyama's thesis in brief is that politics and identity are fused, a thought that has its origins in Plato and his concept of worth/value/dignitythymos. The USA edition has a title that fits the book better than its alternative: "The Demand for Dignity".

I found that book an interesting path, but its conclusions were somewhat disappointing. Surely, such a
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: interested in nationalism or islamism
Recommended to Lord_Humungus by: I follow Fukuyama since his "Political Order" series
Review in English (not my mother tongue) and Spanish (below).

This book deals with a very interesting topic for me but unfortunately does not bring too many new things. Most of the text consists of generalizations that will be familiar to anyone minimally acquainted with History, especially recent History. We all know a couple of things about Islam, the war in Syria, and the Arab Spring. The new things that have struck me most are the following:

1. The concept of "thymos", the place of the soul wh
C. Patrick G. Erker
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america
Absolutely fantastic book. Anyone wondering what the heck is going on in the western world - why it seems that polarization is at never-before-seen levels; why policymakers can't get anything done; why we have a President Trump; why Europe has had such trouble integrating its immigrant populations - should read this to better understand some of the root causes.

The simplicity of Fukuyama's assertion, that many of today's ills derive from a desire for dignity of self and of increasingly small grou
Bruce Katz
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short, smart and thoughtful look at how our notion of “identity” has changed over the centuries, from its origins in classical culture, through the upheavals of the Reformation and, centuries later, the Industrial Revolution, the post-war shifts that led to the civil rights and women's rights movements, and on to the identity politics of our time. Fukuyama casts a wide net, drawing from such diverse sources and influences as Plato, Martin Luther, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Herbert Marcuse, religion ...more
John Tyson
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fukuyama discusses certain merits and a list of drawbacks associated with identity politics, ultimately condemning them for the role they have played in the breakdown of civil public discourse and fracturing national identities.

I enjoyed more the second half of the book as he shifted away from framing his argument and toward real life examples about the EU, USA and other recent and modern case studies.

His thoughts are eloquently articulated, and it’s a quick read. He casually makes some fairly r
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very little new information. A large chunk of the book is a recap of the main thinkers on the topic (i.e. Rousseau), with Fukuyama in the latter part of the book linking these thoughts to Trump, Brexit etc. in a rather scattered way. There doesn't seem to be a clear idea running through the book, and Fukuyama has a pretty weak "solution" for populism, being that identity is flexible and it should adjust accordingly so we all have a collective unity. Not really very enlightening tbh.
Daniel Cunningham
3.5 stars: there is nothing really new here, and there is nothing horribly, terribly wrong here, either. I wish that there was a little more explicit attention paid to e.g. the history of "identity politics" as used to justify slavery, Jim Crow, etc. Then again, maybe Fukuyama felt that, especially in a short work, the obvious didn't need to be stated (if you don't understand that the power of white racism was nigh 100% expressed through identity politics, up to and including making it legal to ...more
Tom Walsh
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Identity Politics underlies the painful polarization Western Society is experiencing in the current decade. It is therefore critical that we come to some understanding of the idea and it’s history, current status and future. This is the theme of Fukuyama’s latest book.

He traces the notion from its roots in the shift from Hunter-Gatherer and Agrarian thru Industrial to Post-Industrial Societies and the incumbent upheavals caused by each. He traces the impact of philosophies of Rousseau, Kant, He
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Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.

Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese-American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church and received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fu

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“While classical liberalism sought to protect the autonomy of equal individuals, the new ideology of multiculturalism promoted equal respect for cultures, even if those cultures abridged the autonomy of the individuals who participated in them.” 1 likes
“The connection between economic interest and recognition was well understood by the founder of modern political economy, Adam Smith, in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Even in late-eighteenth-century Britain, he observed that the poor had basic necessities and did not suffer from gross material deprivation. They sought wealth for a different reason: To be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation, are all the advantages which we can propose to derive from it. It is the vanity, not the ease or the pleasure, which interests us. But vanity is always founded upon the belief of our being the object of attention and approbation. The rich man glories in his riches, because he feels that they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world, and that mankind are disposed to go along with him in all the agreeable emotions with which the advantages of his situation so readily inspire him … The poor man, on the contrary, is ashamed of his poverty. He feels that it either places him out of sight of mankind, or, that if they take any notice of him, they have, however, scarce any fellow-feeling with the misery and distress which he suffers.” 1 likes
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