A dangerous text: Francis Fukuyama’s mischaracterisation of identity, recognition and right-wing nationalism

Kochi, Tarik (2021) A dangerous text: Francis Fukuyama’s mischaracterisation of identity, recognition and right-wing nationalism. Borderlands e-Journal, 20 (2). ISSN 1447-0810

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Francis Fukuyama’s work on contemporary problems of identity and recognition portrays national and international liberalism as now under significant threat by the global rise of a reactionary and exclusionary identity politics. For Fukuyama contemporary identity politics, taking place as struggles for recognition and manifestations of resentment, are emerging as dangerous, illiberal forms of right-wing populist nationalism. In critiquing Fukuyama’s position I demonstrate how he appropriates the concepts of ‘identity’ and ‘recognition’ and puts these to use to sustain a version of neoliberal rationality and neoliberal politics. Such an appropriation denies the transformative and radical potential of intersubjective recognition and depoliticises and delegitimises any non-liberal claims and struggles of identity politics that might threaten to disrupt neoliberal political order, security and capitalist accumulation. Further, I argue that Fukuyama’s account of identity is dangerous in the way that it legitimises a right-wing nationalist discourse of blame targeted at the mischaracterisation of minority and left-wing ‘identity’ politics. His account is dangerous also in the manner that he detaches a contemporary extremist and right-wing nationalist discourse from the history of a less extreme, though very similar, neoliberal nationalist discourse which, since the 1980s, has mobilised the language of identity politics as a political strategy and weapon against progressive political movements and against the welfare state.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
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Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 07:10
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2022 10:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/93776

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