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Interview with Dr. Francis Fukuyama
Interview with Dr. Francis Fukuyama   Taqrir Washington Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning political and economic development. His book, The End
Wednesday, November 23,2005 00:00
by WR

Interview with Dr. Francis Fukuyama
 


Taqrir Washington

Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning political and economic development. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. It made the bestseller lists in the United States, France, Japan, and Chile.
Francis Fukuyama was born on October 27, 1952, in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science.

Fukuyama
Islamic Threats is more Serious in Europe not in the United States

Taqrir Washington
With the tragedy of the September 11 attacks on America, the world is said to have changed overnight. Several years ago you wrote a book entitled The End of History and the Last Man in which you explained that capitalist liberal democracy was the endpoint in history. Is liberalism now clashing with radical Islam?

Fukuyama
I think that we are clearly in a difficult period right now, in which this spread of democracy and liberal ideas have in a way peaked, sometime in the 1990’s, and now it’s been under attack in a lot of areas. Radical Islam represents one version of that. But also in Latin America and Russia itself, there has been a retreat from the kind of democratic impulse that existed in the past decade. Now, my view is that despite the current difficulties… my basic thesis is still very much valid, which is to say that if you want to be a modern society, you really don’t have much alternative than a market economy and a democratic political system. I think the challenge that is posed by Islam is one that we have to take seriously only in two respects.
It’s not because it represents a highly attractive civilization that anyone in a developed society wants to live in. Nobody wants to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban or Saudi Arabia… they’re not Russians, they’re not Americans, they’re not Japanese that favor that sort of thing. It’s potentially powerful for two reasons: one is weapons of mass destruction – the potential that even a marginal political group can inflict great damage on great powers; and the second is more applicable to Europe and Russia than the United States, which is the existence of Muslim minorities who seem to be much more difficult to assimilate than other kinds of ethnic minorities.
Those are two serious challenges, but I think that ultimately liberal societies are the only viable… we all in effect live in multicultural societies these days…. Globalization simply increases the degree of de facto multiculturalism. It seems to me there is no other way for these groups to live in peace than to try to create some form of liberal and tolerant society.

Taqrir Washington
We receive dozens of letters from former Soviet readers and I would just like to pose a couple of them to you. For example, there is a very popular theory that liberal societies and democracy are inhuman. Because, for example, the lower fertility rates among industrialized countries, homosexuals, drug epidemic, AIDS, etc. Muslim countries are supposedly free of these problems and fertility rates in these countries are extremely high. And Islam is the future because democracy killed itself within 200 or 300 years by supporting this kind of activity. What do you think about this view?

Fukuyama
It’s a kind of selective measure of the success of the society. The whole of the Arab world… they may produce a lot of babies, but in terms of GDP they don’t collectively produce as much as Spain does, apart from the oil-rich ones. They don’t produce very happy political life; they are all authoritarian. There are no opportunities for political participation. They are all blocked societies in many respects. So, if producing large numbers of babies is your main measure of the success of the society and not the vibrancy of its artistic life or creative life, the level of technology, productivity, if those don’t matter, then you are right; Muslin societies are very successful. But I think that most people would say that by most measures of success, those societies really are not doing well. Further proof of that is just how people, so to speak, vote with their feet. There is a huge migration from Muslin countries into Western Europe and the United States, and other developed societies, and there is no movement of people in the other direction. This indicates to me that when people have a free choice they much rather choose Western societies with their lower birth rates than Muslim ones.

Taqrir Washington
Over the last couple of years, were there any events that surprised or shocked you or were particularly interesting to you as a scholar, philosopher and scientist?

Fukuyama
September 11 was… for me, as it was for most other people, quite a shock. I remember coming into my office right here in Washington, and you could look out the window and see the smoke rising from the Pentagon. I think it’s something that no one expected and it’s really transformed world politics in quite a lot of ways. The other thing that has been quite surprising is the gulf that has appeared between the United States and Western Europe over the Iraq War. The depth of that division is something I didn’t anticipate. And I think it is not going to go away anytime soon…

Taqrir Washington
Why do you think that is?

Fukuyama
I think there are certain important value differences between Europe and the United States: Europeans value equality and social solidarity over freedom, unlike Americans; they have a different idea about sovereignty (they are engaged in this project to transcend sovereignty and that is not something Americans are particularly interested in.) There are differences over issues like the death penalty, and probably one of the most important ones has to do with attitudes toward military power; Americans, for the most part, think that it can be used for moral purposes, whereas Europeans don’t. So, all of those, I think, are issues that existed during the Cold War, but because of the structure of politics in the Cold War it was something that never became terribly divisive. But now that it is over, it is going to lead to a continued division between Europe and America.


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