“In the 1990s and early 2000s, it looked like I was ahead, but after Sept. 11, people started arguing he was right,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s conclusive that I’m going to lose.”
Liberal democracy, he believes, isn’t just an accidental, culturally contingent byproduct of a particular historical moment, as some of his critics have argued. “I do believe there’s an arc of history, and it bends toward some form of justice,” he said.
In his new book, released on Tuesday by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Fukuyama argues that liberalism is threatened not by a rival ideology, but by “absolutized” versions of its own principles. On the right, the promoters of neoliberal economics have turned the ideal of individual autonomy and the free market into a religion, warping the economy and leading to dangerous systemic instability. And on the left, he argues, progressives have abandoned individual autonomy and free speech in favor of claims of group rights that threaten national cohesion.
“The answer to these discontents,” he writes, “isn’t to abandon liberalism, but to moderate it.”
Fukuyama said that Eric Chinski, his editor at Farrar, Straus, pushed him to engage with the most thoughtful critics of race-blind liberal individualism, like the Black philosopher Charles W. Mills, rather than the latest media-driven outrage stoked by anti-critical race theory activists.
He may disagree with them, but many critical race theorists in the academy, Fukuyama said, “are making serious arguments” in response to liberalism’s historical, and continuing, failure to fully extend equal rights to all.
He’s more scathing about the “postliberal” intellectuals of the American right, with their admiration for Hungary’s Viktor Orban, like the legal scholar Adrian Vermeule (whom he describes as having “flirted with the idea of overtly authoritarian government”) and the political scientist Patrick Deneen.