“THE RE­TURN TO THE PAST”

FRAN­CIS FUKUYAMA’S The great thinker bleak pre­dic­tions.

Bulletin - - Contents - By Si­mon Brun­ner, Lu­cia Wald­ner (in­ter­view), and Car­los Chavar­ria (pho­tos)

Mr. Fukuyama, you are con­sid­ered one of the fore­most po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors on cur­rent events. What do you think of the world to­day?

I’m afraid we find our­selves in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. We are com­ing out of a decades-long pe­riod in which a lib­eral, in­ter­na­tional world or­der took shape. It was very suc­cess­ful, based on free and open eco­nomic re­gions and on lib­eral democ­racy as the form of govern­ment. These achieve­ments have been un­der at­tack for around a decade, and the pace has picked up in the last few years.

Where is that dis­cernible?

On the one hand, in au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes that vig­or­ously assert them­selves and pro­mote un­demo­cratic ideas. On the other hand, pop­ulism* is rais­ing its head in many Western democ­ra­cies. I in­clude the Brexit ref­er­en­dum here and the par­ties now gov­ern­ing Hun­gary, Poland and other Eastern Euro­pean coun­tries. But pop­ulism is also reach­ing Ger­many and France, and I would place our pres­i­dent here in the United States in this cat­e­gory too.

Most of these politi­cians were demo­crat­i­cally elected. Why do they nev­er­the­less pose a dan­ger to the rights of the peo­ple?

They are skep­ti­cal of in­sti­tu­tions and want to take power away from them. Fur­ther­more, they cat­e­go­rize peo­ple ac­cord­ing to eth­nic­ity or re­li­gion or race. In In­dia, the rul­ing BJP de­fines the coun­try as Hindu – de­spite the fact that far more than 150 mil­lion Mus­lims live there. There are these cur­rents in the Mid­dle East as well, where Is­lamic par­ties re­gard re­li­gion as a means to de­fine the po­lit­i­cal agenda in their fa­vor.

What ef­fect does this have on the global econ­omy?

These peo­ple are eco­nomic na­tion­al­ists. If the pro­tec­tion­ism that they of­ten threaten be­comes a re­al­ity, it will have bad eco­nomic con­se­quences. This is where we are now.

In one es­say*, you com­pare the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with the time af­ter 1930, the pe­riod lead­ing up to World War II. Isn’t that some­what ex­ag­ger­ated?

I’m not say­ing it will end up as it did then. Fas­cism and war were pos­si­ble be­cause democ­racy in Ger­many was still quite young – it had only ex­isted since 1919. Our in­sti­tu­tions to­day are on a solid foot­ing. But I do think there will be an ero­sion of demo­cratic norms. And the risk for the global econ­omy is real.

But the econ­omy is boom­ing at an al­most un­prece­dented level.

The cur­rent changes are still rel­a­tively fresh; just wait a while longer. But you are right in­so­far as the United States is now in its ninth year of growth since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Ac­cord­ing to all in­di­ca­tors, we are do­ing very well. Never- the­less, Don­ald Trump was elected with the claim that the Amer­i­can econ­omy was in ru­ins.

There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween macroe­co­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions and the fate of the in­di­vid­ual.

That’s true. Not ev­ery­one ben­e­fited from the up­turn. In the more pros­per­ous coun­tries, many peo­ple, and specif­i­cally older peo­ple, lost their jobs when pro­duc­tion was out­sourced to poorer coun­tries. But the cul­tural di­men­sion is also im­por­tant: Al­most ev­ery Western coun­try has ex­pe­ri­enced an un­prece­dented wave of im­mi­gra­tion in the past ten to fif­teen years. This comes as a shock to many cit­i­zens, and they fear that their na­tional iden­tity is be­ing lost. This is es­pe­cially the case for peo­ple from what was the mid­dle class, who in­creas­ingly bear the brunt of it.

Pop­ulist par­ties are cur­rently at­tract­ing sup­port from young vot­ers as well. Why?

Many of the coun­tries in eastern Europe have rel­a­tively young pop­u­la­tion struc­tures; most peo­ple were born af­ter the Wall fell, and they haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced commu-

“The risk for the global econ­omy is real.”

* Ac­cord­ing to Fukuyama, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists lack a con­sen­sus about the defini­tion of pop­ulism, but three char­ac­ter­is­tics have of­ten been iden­ti­fied: Po­lit­i­cally, pop­ulists pur­sue mea­sures that are pop­u­lar in the short run; their regimes would ex­clude cer­tain seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion ac­cord­ing to eth­nic, re­li­gious or racial cri­te­ria; and they tend to de­velop a lead­er­ship style based on a cult of per­son­al­ity and a di­rect re­la­tion­ship with “the peo­ple.” His es­say about pop­ulists can be down­loaded here: credit-suisse.com / Re­searchin­sti­tute “The Fu­ture of Pol­i­tics” .

nism or dic­ta­tors. These young peo­ple have no ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Euro­pean Union and democ­racy. In the United States as well, stud­ies show that the younger gen­er­a­tion gen­er­ally have less faith in democ­racy than their parents do. This wor­ries me.

If you were the pres­i­dent of an imag­i­nary Western coun­try, how would you ap­proach the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion?

The ad­van­tages of di­ver­sity come into ef­fect only if the for­eign­ers adapt to our open, lib­eral cul­ture. This in­cludes the demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and the rule of law. It is im­por­tant to de­fine and im­ple­ment such an iden­tity.

You are a good ex­am­ple of suc­cess­ful im­mi­gra­tion.

Right. My grand­fa­ther em­i­grated from Ja­pan to the United States at the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury. My father grew up here, and he still spoke some Ja­panese. I can’t speak a word of it any more (laughs). Cer­tain coun­tries make it very dif­fi­cult for some­one to be­come a ci­ti­zen, or they im­pose eth­nic el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments. In other coun­tries, the classes in school are com­posed ac­cord­ing to re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion. These are ob­sta­cles to in­te­gra­tion.

There is also the the­ory that here in the west, “democ­racy fa­tigue” pre­vails be­cause the sys­tems are slug­gish and in­ef­fi­cient. Do you agree?

Yes. The rise of the pop­ulists can cer­tainly be linked to the fact that our democ­ra­cies have not al­ways pro­duced such good re­sults – I’m think­ing here of the US, of Italy, Ja­pan or In­dia. In all of these coun­tries, the re­sult is a long­ing for the “strong man.” Some­body who takes charge and cleans house.

Would some­what less pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion and a bit more tech­noc­racy, à la Sin­ga­pore, be a pos­si­bil­ity for western coun­tries?

Some­what more tech­noc­racy would cer­tainly be good. Un­for­tu­nately, the pop­ulists mostly tend in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion: They cor­rupt the qual­ity of their gov­ern­ments and ap­point their friends and loy­al­ists to po­si­tions of power.

Is there a con­cept that will re­place glob­al­iza­tion?

If you lis­ten to cer­tain politi­cians, their an­swer is clear: na­tion­al­ism. It is a re­turn to the past. Granted, it’s not an in­ter­na­tional move­ment, like com­mu­nism in its day, be­cause each coun­try has its own past and uses that to ori­ent it­self. But there is a com­mon thread. It is the re­jec­tion of what the pop­ulists mean by glob­al­ism: the open, con­nected world and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

What role does Switzer­land have in a less glob­al­ized world? The coun­try has no do­mes­tic mar­ket to speak of, and it re­lies on ex­ports.

The an­swer is short: Switzer­land’s very large com­pa­nies will not sur­vive in a more na­tion­al­is­tic world.

Is this a real dan­ger?

Yes. More pro­tec­tion­ism in the world will hit Switzer­land very hard, and very soon.

What are the po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences?

I know that there are also pop­ulist ten­den­cies in Switzer­land. But it is a coun­try that has his­tor­i­cally ben­e­fited greatly from open­ness, and that ac­tu­ally rep­re­sents the orig­i­nal model of eth­nic di­ver­sity. I hope it can main­tain this tra­di­tion.

What role does Europe play in the world?

It must re­main the an­chor for democ­racy and for lib­eral val­ues.

You be­came world-fa­mous in 1992 with your book “The End of His­tory.” There, you put for­ward the the­sis that the prin­ci­ples of lib­er­al­ism, namely democ­racy and the mar­ket econ­omy, will ul­ti­mately pre­vail ev­ery­where. How has your view of the world changed since then?

I later wrote a two-vol­ume book about the po­lit­i­cal world, in an ef­fort to re­vise “The End of His­tory and the Last Man.” There are a few fun­da­men­tally new things, for ex­am­ple the con­cept of po­lit­i­cal dis­in­te­gra­tion. I am now much more aware that democ­ra­cies can also regress. And I have a greater un­der­stand­ing of how frag­ile modern states are. His­tory shows how unbelievably dif­fi­cult it was to cre­ate our na­tion states. But it is much eas­ier to de­stroy them. This was not as clear to me 25 years ago as it is to­day.

Fran­cis Fukuyama, 65, is a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity in Cal­i­for­nia. The Wash­ing­ton Post lists him as one of the five most im­por­tant in­tel­lec­tu­als in Amer­ica. Fukuyama is mar­ried and has three chil­dren.

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