Release to refresh
Ask Francis Fukuyama a question!
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Francis Fukuyama is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford.

He is known for his books: “The End of History and the Last Man,” and “Trust: Social Virtues and Creation of Prosperity” modified his earlier position to acknowledge that culture cannot be cleanly separated from economics.
This Q&A took place between 8/14/15 and 8/21/15. Unanswered questions have been hidden
17 questions
Frank, your "End of History" had people talking and thinking worldwide, and I recognize that you were foreseeing the end of only one kind of historical ebb and flow. But I wonder if you have second thoughts today. Countries like China aren't still arguing for Marxism or Maoism, but there are still profound ideological differences about human rights, about individual vs collective values, about the benefits of democracy, about how to weight the tradeoffs between freedom and security, and so on. Would you write that essay any differently today?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
The thesis of the end of history was not that everyone agreed on liberal democracy, but that the modernization process pointed to democracy as its end point, and that there were no clear alternatives that seemed to be higher. The only alternative model out there today that poses real competition is that of China. But in the end there are real questions about the sustainability of the China model, both in its economic and political dimensions. Further, very few countries outside of East Asia can hope to emulate China, so it is not a model that is likely to become universal.
I've learned quite a number of things since 1989 which are reflected in my last two political order books. One has to do with the difficulty of establishing modern institutions, their accidental nature, and fragility. The second has to do with political decay: modern institutions can go backwards as well as forwards, and I argued that the US is suffering from decay.
Given that we cannot even pass a transportation bill, is American now a fully fledged "Vetocracy," as you have called it, and can we ever escape from this paralysis?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Tom, you're right that we can't decide on anything today; this is caused by polarization meeting the American system of checks and balances.
There are two potential ways out: one party could gain control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency and hold on to them for two or three terms. In the long run this is more likely to be the Democrats given demographic trends. But that will take a long time.
The other alternative is some form of external shock or crisis that wakes everyone up to the need for reform--an attack, war, financial crisis, breakdown of major systems. Unfortunately reform often has to await an event of this sort for the system to be knocked off its equilibrium.
Dr Fukuyama, thank you for sharing your insights with us. How have events like the 2007-8 Global Financial Crisis changed your thinking on the resilience of free market capitalism?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Julia, the financial crisis demonstrated not the fragility of capitalism per se but of the unregulated Anglo-American version of it. We got carried away in our enthusiasm for free markets in the 1990s and dismantled what was left of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall regime, which then allowed the banks to take undue risks knowing they they would ultimately be bailed out. The system is resilient in the sense that it is re-regulating itself, though there are is so much extra capital sloshing around the globe that future shocks are probably inevitable.
Communicatons Director of Harvard College Democrats
In your work "End of History," you postulate that liberal democracy is the endpoint for political ideologies. How do stable illiberal Islamic governments in the Middle East, for example Saudi Arabia, fit in to your paper?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
I think that the Arab Spring has demonstrated the fragility of Arab dictatorships. Egypt seemed to be very stable up until 2011, as did Tunisia, Syria, Libya, etc. The traditional monarchies can call on other sources of legitimacy, but they are heavily dependent on oil and I suspect are quite fragile in the absence of an ability to buy off their populations. The problem is getting to an agreement on alternative, more legitimate forms of government.
International Human Rights Researcher & Advocate
What are your thoughts on President Obama's current position of favoring regional stability over democracy in Africa? Does a Presidential visit to Ethiopia with a "tough-love message" justify his legitimizing of a dictator?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
There are other countries in Africa I would have visited before Ethiopia, and I certainly wouldn't have called it a "democracy" while there.
Dr. Fukuyama, thank you for taking the time to answer questions! Given your expertise on the origins of political order, I'm wondering if you see a sort of global or political order manifesting itself in the cyber domain, and how such an order (or lack thereof) might affect the way states interact, particularly with respect to national and security interests?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
We are very far from having an international regime in cyber, despite the fact that most big countries have a interest in putting some limits on what they do in this domain. It is hard to negotiate on this because it is very non-transparent; there is a big disparity in capabilities (which makes the US reluctant to bind itself); and the technology moves very fast and is hard to verify. So it will take a long time....
Researcher @ Harvard | Parlio community manager
Thank you Dr. Fukuyama for your time. The success of Singapore, some argue, challenges the notion that democracy is the best form of governance. What do you make of Singapore's economic growth and domestic satisfaction of its political leadership against the idea that democracy is the best form of governance?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Most of the young Singaporeans I've talked to are quite fed up with the paternalism of their parents' generation. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the PAP lost an election in the coming decade.
What forms of global government, if any, can you envision emerging in the next 100 years?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
I don't think we will ever have global government; the world is too big and diverse for that. What we are evolving is multi-multi-lateralism, a set of partial international regimes that sometimes collaborate and are sometimes competitive. It's not very elegant but it works in many cases.
Thank you for taking our questions. I wanted to get your opinion on the decreasing ideological diversity and movement to silence dissent on American university campuses, particularly given what happened to Condoleezza Rice and Christine Lagarde this past year. How can universities better safeguard free expression from activists who want to curtail it in service of a particular agenda?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
I'm distressed as well that universities have restricted free speech in the name of protecting the feelings of students. People need to toughen up a bit and realize that they will often hear disagreeable things.
International Market Research - Snapchat
Because most of the ideology in "The End of History" is based off of Hegel and Kojeve—essentially believing that democracy best satisfies man’s “desire for recognition” resulting in wars/conflict etc—which according to the theories, these aggressive tendencies of man represents the ripples in history while liberal democracy brings about the end of history. But how would this relate to a uniquely politically structured government such as Mainland China? As a whole the Chinese have both achieved a liberal democracy (in the late nineteenth century) as well as having reversed to becoming a full fledge communist party. Would you say the same theory applies in this cultural setting?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
I think Chinese people want recognition of their dignity as much as anyone else. The problem is that it often takes the form of group recognition (i.e., nationalism) rather that a demand for recognition of individual dignity. But as people become richer and better educated, I think those demands will follow. We can see this happening already in things like the reaction to the Tianjin explosion.
In contrast to a liberal democracy, China is becoming a global superpower with a system of authoritative state capitalism. How can the 'end of history' concept be defended in light of China's meteoric rise with state capitalism?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
The question is the sustainability of the China model, both economically and politically. China has unleashed enormous social forces and tries to satisfy them without permitting real political participation. In the long run I don't think that this will work. But I admit that their model has been much more durable that many, myself included, thought.
PhD candidate at George Mason University
Thanks Professor for such opportunity! I read your question to Farid Zakaria about the conservative American pessimism when it comes to looking at the enemy, in the context of Iran nuke deal assessment. That brought to my mind your past neo-conservative approach you used to hold through out some part of your academic career. Hence, I want to take this opportunity to ask you, how such shift has happened to you?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
It happened during the year preceding and following the Iraq War in 2003, when it became evident that the neo-conservatives inside and outside the administration had given zero thought to what would happen to Iraq on the day after the invasion. They thought democracy would blossom spontaneously, rather than being built laboriously over time.
If you were to tell your 20 year old self three pieces of advice, what would you say?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Wayne, I'd say (1) don't let yourself get too boxed in by disciplines and careerism; (2) pay attention to big questions of the sort usually posed by philosophy; and (3) teach yourself new tricks on a regular basis.
Senior Lecturer at Bush School of Texas A&M University
Is state building more of a 'local' responsibility? If so then what is the U.S. role?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Yes, ultimately all political institutions have to rely on local capacity and legitimacy. One of our problems is that we try to do everything for the local parties, which gives them no incentive to create their own institutions. This is why we need to resist calls to take over the fight against ISIS in Iraq--if they don't create an army capable of defeating it, there's no lasting solution to the threat it poses.
After the end of the communist utopia, do you recognize the end of the free market utopia, and the need for a fair market that implies regulations beyond self-regulations?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Markets have always needed regulation and an underlying structure of institutions like property rights, law, and basic social stability. American policymakers made huge mistakes in the 1980s and 90s believing that the state was only an obstacle to growth; having a properly functioning government is a necessary precondition for market economies to flourish.
Product Guy / Fellow @ Harvard Ash Center
What is your reaction to Donald Trump's leading the GOP surveys? Have you expected it? What does that indicate? Do you think he will end up becoming the GOP nominee?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
Trump's candidacy tells us a lot about the Republican base. It's a lot like some of the populist parties on the right in Europe, people who are fed up with the elites and their policies but don't really have a coherent alternative to them. He won't survive, though, because too many Republicans want to win.
Professor, I live in Cairo, researching & forecasting the Middle East & North African economies and political outlook. Almost all the young people I know in the MENA region have given up on the West's governments standing up for the values which they believed they had when it comes to dealing with their own countries and leaders and they have been losing hope. Do you think governments in the West are now unable/incapable of holding firm on values when dealing with governments that are not beneficent with their citizens and, if so, do you think this can change / what might be the trigger for that change?
Stanford Prof, Author: The End of History & The Last Man
It's certainly the case that the US has followed its interests rather than its principles in the region. Obama has been no better than his predecessors in that regard. This might change if a truly attractive democratic government came to power, but even then, I worry about Washington's short attention span and Europe's distraction with its internal affairs.