BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Francis Fukuyama, author of the book, "The End of History and the Last Man." What's it all about?
Mr. FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, AUTHOR, "THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN": Well, it's an imposing title. The book is about the question of whether there exists such a thing as what I would call History, with a capital `H.' We usually associate history with just the routine flow of events, you know, the war in the Persian Gulf, the fall of the Berlin Wall. But my book tries to ask a larger question, whether there is such a thing as a history of human society, taking into account the experiences of all peoples and virtually all times and whether there's a kind of coherent evolution in the nature of those societies as they progress from, you know, very primitive, agricultural, tribal societies up through various monarchies and aristocracies up to the kind of liberal democracy and technologically-driven capitalism that we have today.
And "The End of History" refers to the--what I think still remains, the question of whether that process is one that can terminate, whether that evolution, you know, finally culminates in a certain kind of civilization that, in a certain sense, will be the, you know, the last civilization that mankind will achieve because, in a certain sense, it's the--you know, it's the right one; it's the one that fits human nature in an appropriate way.
And what I've--what I argue in the book is that liberal democracy comes much closer to fitting human nature in that sense than virtually any type of prior, you know, form of government or political organization or social organization.
LAMB: You can't pick up a review of your book or some other books--and as a matter of fact, the reason I say some other books is I'm looking at a book review of Graham Fuller's book, "The Democracy Trap: Perils of the Post-Cold War World." And Paul Johnson, the historian, writes about you, instead of Graham Fuller, as this point. He says, "I doubt if"--let me jump that sentence--"that Francis Fukuyama's thesis about the end of history was one of the silliest ever propounded, and the fuss it caused was inexplicable." What was the fuss all about, and where did it start?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, you know, I think part of the problem is simply a matter of misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what, you know, what "The End of History" represented.
You know, the book that I've written grew out of an article that I published in the--in a small magazine called National Interest two years ago, just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall when all of these great events were happening in--in the Soviet Bloc. And, you know, what I was referring to was, really, the growth of a kind of universal consensus on the, you know, the justice-- he justness or the rightness of the principles of liberal democracy, that that was really the remarkable fact about our world and certainly not that events would somehow, you know, cease to happen.
But I'm afraid that, you know, what happened was a lot of people, perhaps including people like Paul Johnson, you know, simply saw the title, and they said, `Well, what's this? It's absurd, you know. History's not going to end, you know. We still have wars and poverty and, you know, a lot of struggle in the Third World and things of that sort, so, you know, prima facie, it's--it's an absurd thing.' And there was a lot of controversy simply over, I think, the misinterpretation.
But underneath that, there really is a more serious question that, you know, it used to be that there were many alternative forms of government monarchies and fascist dictatorships, and, you know, for many years we thought communism was our, you know, major rival and alternative type of civilization. And one by one, in this century, everyone of those has collapsed. And, you now, not every country is a liberal democracy; there are many dictatorships to the right and the left remaining.
But, you know, as a systematic idea that has some dynamics, some real vitality, liberal democracy is really all there is now, and we've seen that now in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe that communism was, in a sense, undermined by the fact that people did not believe, you know, that was a viable form of government, that it had no legitimacy, and that, in fact, democratic ideas were, you know, the primary ones that--that people found, you know, exciting and--and just and, you know, worthy of adulation.
LAMB: When you say `liberal democracy,' what do you mean by `liberal' democracy?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, it's--it's an important distinction. I mean, democracy--we have a good sense of it. It means something like elections-- multiparty, secret-ballot elections. But the kind of society we live in is a liberal democracy. It's elections plus guarantees of certain, you know, fundamental rights of individuals like freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of political association, and, most importantly, the freedom to participate in the political system.
And so, you know, true liberal democracy has to have both the election side of t and the constitutional or legal guarantees of--of individual rights. And when those are brought together, I think you have the essence of contemporary political systems.
LAMB: Can you name a democracy that wouldn't--you wouldn't put `liberal' in front of?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Oh, sure, there--in fact, there are a number of them now appearing in the Islamic world. For instance, you know, Iran now--Khomeini's Iran or the post-Khomeini Iran, you know, I think can claim the title to being a more or less democratic country. They have elections of sorts. They're not the fairest elections, but there are elections. But, you know, there--it's absolutely an illiberal country. The women don't have rights; they can't participate in the political process. There's no freedom of religion. There's certainly no freedom of speech.
It's a real, you know, problem in many parts of the Arab world. For instance, in Algeria right now, you're having the struggle between an Islamic or fundamentalist Islamic group that really, I think, is--is very likely and is expected to win a majority in the election that was taking place. Now, democratically, they were elected, but their program is not liberal. I mean, they have no intentions of guaranteeing things like freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and it's a real, you know, problem in that kind of society. If they're elected to power, the first thing they're going to do is to disenfranchise a certain part of the population.
And so it's very important that democracies be liberal democracies as well as, you know, simply based on popular sovereignty.
LAMB: Where were you born?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:I was born in Chicago.
LAMB: What year?
LAMB: How long did you live there?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Only--only two years. I really grew up in New York City, and then, at that point, began wandering to various places like a lot of Americans. I went to school at Cornell and graduate school at Harvard.
LAMB: What did you take? What was the subject matter?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I--as an undergraduate, I had a very unusual major. I majored in classics. I spent five years learning Greek essentially to be able to read Plato and Aristotle in the original and studied a great deal of political--political philosophy at that time.
LAMB: You got a master's and Ph.D. at Harvard?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:No, I got--I got a Ph.D. at Harvard. But at that point I had switched fields, and so I was in political science in the government department there.
LAMB: What was your dissertation on?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, it was a very unphilosophical subject. I wrote on Soviet foreign policy or Soviet foreign policy in the Middle East.
LAMB: And you were born in Chicago, moved to New York. What did your mother
and father do for a living?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, my--my father worked for many years in the National Board of the United Church of Christ. He is, you know, by background a minister, and then later he became a professor of religious studies at Penn State and then went on to the Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, so he had gone to the University of Chicago originally and then returned full circle in a certain sense towards the end of his career.
And my mother, you know, met him originally at the University of Chicago, but at that--you know, later was a mother and a housewife.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:I live in Washington.
LAMB: What do you do now?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I--I've spent the last couple of years writing this book. I'm a resident consultant at the RAND Corporation which is one of the oldest think tanks doing, you know, foreign policy, national security, you know, kinds of studies. And soj--and that's where I worked before--before I moved to Washington where I did studies of Soviet foreign policy and Middle Eastern politics and that sort of thing.
LAMB: Beside your Ph.D. and political science at Harvard and working for the RAND Corporation, what else have you done?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I have worked in the State Department. I was there twice. I was there in the early '80s on the policy planning staff which is--it's a small office attached to the office of the secretary of state that's supposed to give advice on, you know, long-term foreign policy, you know, ideas. So I--I was there in the early '80s and then I returned in 1989,and I was a deputy director in that same policy planning staff, but my second State Department career was cut a little bit short by republication of the original article, "The End of History," which led me to--to write the book.
LAMB: Was it cut short by your decision or by the decision of the State Department?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Oh, no, the State Department had nothing to do with it. It was a--it was a completely voluntary decision. I simply thought that, you know, writing the book would be an opportunity, in a certain sense, that would be very hard to--hard to pass up, whereas you can be a bureaucrat any time you want.
LAMB: When you wrote the article, "The End of History," and published it, were you still a member of the State Department staff?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I had written the article actually when I was at the RAND Corporation before coming to the State Department, and it was in the works when I, you know, came to State. And then, all of a sudden in the summer of '89 when I was serving officially, it was published and then all the, you know, the hoopla and then reactions to it started, so I was in the department at that point.
LAMB: Did you have any pressure when you were in the department that said, `Look, this is too hot a deal. It would be better off if you'd--you weren't here'?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:No, no. It--I was working indirectly for Secretary Baker at the time, and he took a very, I think, tolerant attitude, as did my immediate boss there.
LAMB: Is Fukuyama Japanese by ancestry?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:By ancestry, yes.
LAMB: How far back do you go before you have people that were born in Japan?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, my mother was born in Japan, and she came to this country in 1949. And my father was born in Los Angeles, and his father came in 1905, so it depends on which side of the family you go back to.
LAMB: Back to the book, you have a chart. I don't know if we can get a close-up on it or not. I should have waited until the camera was on you so they could get real close on it. But this chart, basically, is what?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, it's a table showing the growth in the number of liberal democracies around the world all the way back to the 18th century. And it really shows a kind of long-term and, I think, very widespread, you know, spread of democratic institutions.
LAMB: Right here, this line along here is 1990.
Mr. FUKUYAMA:That's right.
LAMB: And all those countries are now liberal democracies. You can see out here in this area they were not. You can even switch the page here and see some more of them on this page. And, again, almost all of them are liberal democracies. What's left?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, what's left is most of Africa, most of the Middle East, and the--really the southern two-thirds of Asia, and then you have China and Russia, you know, or the former Soviet Union which is going through a very, you know, traumatic process of--of democratization.
But, you know, altogether I count something in the range--it depends a little bit on how you define a democracy, but something in the order of 60 to 63 democracies in the world which is about something like 2.2 billion people, about 40 percent--a little more than 40 percent of the world's population. And that compares in 1790 to only three democracies: France, the United States, and Switzerland.
So the progress of the spread of democracy, you know, if you take a sufficiently long-term view of it, has been really quite remarkable. And, you know, it's a progress that has not been linear or uniform because we've had, you know, tremendous setbacks like in the '30s under the impact of the Depression and the looming, you know, outbreak of fascism. Many democracies were overthrown in Europe and elsewhere and again in the 1960s and '70s in Latin America. You had many democracies overthrown.
But what--you know, what the table, I think, shows is that, you know, we--we tend to take a short-term look at the little, you know, peaks and valleys, but if you take a longer term view that looks at the last two or 300 years, it's very clear that there's a worldwide trend towards democratic government.
LAMB: Now what's causing that?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I really have two very separate explanations that I go into in the book. The first, really, has to do in a way with economics, that if you look around the world there's an extremely high correlation between, you know, stable democracy and prosperity in the highest levels of, you know, economic development. So if you look at Western Europe, Japan, North America, these are all areas that are both, you know, highly advanced, technological, capitalist countries, and they're also very stable democracies, and that indicates that there is some kind of a correlation between, you know, a country's ability to industrialize in an advanced way and its ability to sustain a democracy.
And I think you can account for a lot of the, you know, the underlying cause of many of the recent transitions to democracy in Spain and Portugal and, you know, in many parts of Latin America, certainly in the Soviet Union, you know, does have to do with the fact that as economic development occurs, as a country industrializes, as it becomes more urban, it becomes, therefore, more educated. You create a certain kind of middle class that, you know, is--is--is raised and trained, you know, to be literate, to, you know, take an understanding of their own affairs.
And, you know, ultimately, I think, people like that, you know, a middle class society like that begins to demand a certain degree of democratic participation. And you can see it in a variety of countries around the world. In South Korea, you know, the military dictatorship was finally overthrown in the late 1980s, and that came at the end of the period where it had gone through a remarkable, you know, period of economic development. It developed, you know, in its--say, 10, 15 years behind Japan in terms of turning itself into a modern, you know, consumer society. And I think at a certain point, people in Korea started to say themselves, `Well, it's ridiculous that we have this kind of, you know, military government. We want to be able to participate and to, you know, be a democracy like the rest of the developed world.' And, you know, there are other cases of that.
So that's one explanation that, you know, forms one of the pillars, in a sense, of--of my argument, but, you know, the other one is a--is a, in a way, a more philosophical one and somewhat--and somewhat more difficult to understand. You know, these economic explanations for democracy, I think, ultimately are not really satisfying because, you know, in the last analysis, people don't want democracy for economic reasons. I mean, you can have, you know, a high-growth society without a lot of political freedom. I mean, there are a lot of countries in Asia, in Singapore and Thailand and so forth that are like that.
And I think that if you look more deeply at what it is that--that drives societies to want democracy, you always end up with an uneconomic cause, and for that reason I--in the book, I go back to the German philosopher Hegel rather than, you know, to Karl Marx with his economic theories of history. And, you know, the reason for going back to Hegel is that Hegel had a theory of history, a theory of how human societies progress and evolve into a higher, you know, forms of organization. It was based, not on economics, but on what he called the struggle for recognition, that is to say a completely non-economical--that we as human beings want to be recognized as, you know, as human beings with a certain dignity and human freedom.
And it is that, you know, search for recognition that leads to the relationship of masters and slaves. It's the path that lies behind, in a certain way, religion and, you know, movements like nationalism. But that ultimately--you know, that's also the way to explain democracy. That's why we want democracy. It's not that it, you know, creates capitalist prosperity for us, but that it is the political system that, by giving us individual rights, you know, recognized our dignity as human beings, and this is the essential driving force behind democratic revolutions, whether they take place in Eastern Europe or in Asia or in Latin America.
LAMB: When did Hegel live?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, he lived in the early part of the 19th century and eventually rose to be a professor of philosophy in Berlin in the 1820s. But his life really corresponded to the period of Napol--you know, the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars.
LAMB: French Revolution was when?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:1789--or it began in 1789 and culminated finally in Waterloo in 1815.
LAMB: You mentioned it a lot in the book.
LAMB: For what reason?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, the French Revolution for Hegel really represented the--it was the coming of the end of history, so to speak. Now, by the French Revolution, we don't mean just the limited historical event; what we mean is the emergence of what we understand as modern liberal democracy because in the French Revolution, ultimately, you know, what it was about was a revolution in favor of the principles of liberty and equality. Now, you know, you could substitute the American Revolution for that because, I think, you know, in that kind of ideological sense, those two revolutions were--were equivalent. I mean, they were both, you know, revolutions to create, you know, what I earlier defined as a liberal democracy, you know, as a--as a political system based on popular sovereignty with, you know, guarantees of--of individual rights.
And for Hegel, the coming of the French Revolution was, you know, the event that heralded the end of history because it meant that the principles of liberty and equality on which, you know, modern liberal democracy is based had finally been discovered and had been implemented, you know, only in a small corner of Europe but, you know, back in the late 18th century. But at least the principle was established. And I think the modern Hegelians would argue that what's happened in the 200 years since the French Revolution is, you know, simply the implementation of those principles around the world. In other words, we haven't progressed, you know, in any fundamental sense since the French Revolution.
LAMB: You--at some point, you decided that you were going to write this book and tie it around a lot of historical figures and philosophy, historians: Kant, Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Hobbes, Locke. For someone like me, it's a--I'm scrambling back to the old days when I first read all this stuff. Why did you decide to do that, and who are all these people?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, the reason I decided to do that was that, you know, it
all began, really, with the real world. I mean, we had these remarkable events, you know, that we've been living through in the last few years: the collapse of communism. But, you know, before that, you had a whole series of democratic revolutions in, you know, in Latin America, in Southern Europe, and so forth. And, you know, it raises certain fundamental questions about
whether there is such a thing as a, you know, direction to history and whether, you know, there's some larger process that somehow the newspapers, you know, miss in their day-to-day commentary.
And, you know, it turns out that these questions have all been addressed in the past, and they've been addressed by, you know, the greatest minds or the greatest thinkers of the past. And, you know, a philosopher like Hegel has thought about the question of history. I mean, he's thought about the question of whether there's such a thing as progress, you know, whether we can
see human society, you know, evolving through a series of stages. And, you know, it's for that reason that I thought that, you know, now in 1992 it's appropriate to go back to, you know, a dead philosopher from a couple hundred years ago because he's the one that really posed the question most acutely and provided a certain answer to it.
LAMB: Did you have to go refresh yourself on what they all said, or is that--do you have it all tucked away up there?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, of course, I--you know, in the course of writing the book I had to--you know, I had to go back to--to the original text. A lot of them I hadn't really read since--since I was in graduate school. You know, when I was a graduate student, I was very much interested in political philosophy, and these were all very live authors, you know, for me in many ways. And so I had lived with them in a certain sense, you know, in all the years when I was doing very, you know, day-to-day, you know, policy-oriented things and the sort of things they do here in Washington.
But, really, one of the pleasures of writing the book was the opportunity to go back and reread some of these political philosophers and, indeed, to read a number of books that I hadn't read previously and to, you know, to actually learn something in the process.
LAMB: Besides Hegel, who--who of that list that I gave are--are the most interesting to you?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I think the other--you know, the other towering figure that is--is really by far the most important was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and it's from him that the part of the title, "The Last Man," comes because he, in a certain sense, was the philosopher that argued that, well, yes, if there's been historical progress, perhaps, but it's led not to, you know, greater human happiness, but to a total disaster. And in a way, the book is about the, you might say, a dialogue between these two philosophers as to how, you know, we ought to evaluate the goodness and--and, you know, how satisfactory is--you know, is our society at the end of history.
LAMB: How about your own political philosophy at this stage? What would you call yourself?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I call myself a liberal in the classical sense. That is I believe in, you know, in--in liberal democracy. I believe, you know, very firmly in--in, you know, the need for human beings to govern themselves according to the rules of--of, you know, constitutional governments. And, you know, in temporary American politics, you know, in a sense, we're all, you
know, liberal Democrats, but I would say that, you know, I tend to--I tend to favor a kind of strict, you know, sense of that that the power of the state ought to be limited in both, you know, politics and in economics.
LAMB: In your acknowledgments, you mention a number of people that the
audience may recognize, and I just--I bring them up to ask you if there's a
certain thread of philosophy here: Allan Bloom, from Chicago, John M.
Olim--John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of
Democracy at the University of Chicago. You know who Olin was?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, he was a--he was a philanthropist, and there's a
foundation that he--that was established in his name that has funded the--the
Center for the Study of--essentially, it's, you know, the relationship between
political philosophy and real world, you know, politics at the University of
Chicago that's headed by Professor Bloom.
LAMB: You also thank Owen Harries, the editor of the journal The National
Interest. Who owns The National Interest?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, The National Interest is a very small magazine devoted
to foreign policy, and that is published by Irving Kristol. There are two
companion journals: The Public Interest and The National Interest. The
Public Interest deals with domestic policy questions, and The National
Interest deals with foreign policy.
LAMB: And how would you describe Irving Kristol's philosophy?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, it's, you know, I think he's generally thought of as a
so-called neo-conservative, that is someone who became a conservative, in a
certain sense, you know, I think largely for foreign policy reasons, you know,
in the course of the '60s and '70s. And that's largely the perspective of The
National Interest as well.
LAMB: You also say `most important of these has been Abram Shulsky who will
find many of his ideas and insights recorded here.' These are people that
you've had conversations with. Who is Abram Shulsky?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, he was also a student, like I was, of Allan Bloom's back
at Cornell and--and then he went to the University of Chicago and he is a, you
know, close friend of mine who currently works for the--for the US Government
here in Washington. But you know, there's a--in a certain sense, quite a few
of us here in Washington that you know, have this kind of common background
where we're involved in, you know, nitty-gritty policy issues, you know, in
our, you know, quote, unquote, "real lives." I mean, that's what our jobs are
about, but we've had a background in political philosophy and we, you know,
think that those issues are very important and we want to, you
know--and--and--it--it's very good having that kind of a support group in a
certain sense because you know, you have people that you can bounce these more
philosophical ideas off of.
LAMB: You dedicate this book to Julia and David. Who are they?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:My--my daughter and my son.
LAMB: How old are they?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Just three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half at the moment.
LAMB: And who did you write the book for? What--what level of understanding?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, that is a very--that was a very hard thing to do
in--in--in writing this book because on the one hand, I wanted to address the,
you know, very difficult philosophical issues, I mean the question of, you
know, whether there's a universal history; whether history has a
directionality; whether you--we can say that there's such a thing as the end
of history, but on the other hand, I had wanted to you know, make the book
accessible to a, you know, general reader who was educated, you know, broadly
speaking, but not a specialist in either philosophy or political science or
any of the topics that I--I cover and so, in a way, I had to--I had a rather
schizophrenic sense of my audience that you know, on the one hand it was this
general audience, but on the other hand I knew that there'd be a whole battery
of specialists, you know, specialists in Hegel, and specialists in development
theory and economists and sociologists that would also be, you know, there
with a microscope analysing the different, you know, parts of the book that
dealt with those specialists as well, so it was a, you know, it was a very
challenging thing to do. I think one of the ways that I tried to deal with it
is simply by putting the stuff for the fes--the specialists in the--the
footnotes so that, you know, a general reader doesn't have to be bothered
with, you know, references and complicated counterarguments and that sort of
thing. So a lot of those are--there's a big apparatus as far as that's
concerned, but I tried to stick more to the, you know, to the broad arguments
that are, you know, more generally accessible in the text itself.
LAMB: Let me ask you, this is off the wall, but Paul Johnson criticized you
in that review.
LAMB: Paul Johnson--do you know him?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:No, I don't. I--I know his books but I don't know him
LAMB: OK. I remember reading the Broder-Woodward series on the vice
president and the vice president said the book that he has spent the most time
with is Paul Johnson's "Modern Times."
LAMB: When you hear that as someone who pays attention to words closely, what
does that say to you?
LAMB: Paul Johnson's criticizing you; the vice president is reading his book.
Is there a philosophy there that Paul Johnson has that--that we should know
Mr. FUKUYAMA:No. I--I don't think so. You know, I must say, I mean, from
the moment my article was published, it was criticized, you know, virtually
by--by everybody; I said some of it on the basis of, I think, simple
misunderstanding, but there was no particular, you know, political bias to
the--to the criticism, that is to say, conservatives, and liberals and people
in the center and all--you know, took issue with different aspects of it. You
know, back in, you know, with the original article, I think conservatives
tended to say `Well, you know, you shouldn't count communism out, you know,
prematurely, they're still a powerful force in the world,' and that sort of
thing. And--and liberals, or people more on the left tended to say `Well, you
know, this is an inappropriate self-congratulation of, you know, the United
States or of liberal democracy, or of, you know, the West in general and it's
not really such a perfect society, and you know, we have a lot of problems yet
and that sort of thing. So it's--it's very hard to, you know, to
overinterpret the--the fact that the, you know, the vice president is reading,
you know, someone like Paul Johnson and drawing different conclusions because
you know, there--there are all sorts of political standpoints from which you
can come at it.
LAMB: Does someone like you who has steeped in political science and history
and philosophy sit back and watch the world go by saying `Well, that's not a
surprise that--you know, that was written about 212 years ago and I remember
where it was and there's nothing new in the world'?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, you know, I wish I could say that, but I've--you know
the--the course of world events has been just absolutely remarkable and--and
totally unpredictable in the last five or 10 years. You know, I--if you had
asked me 10 years ago, you know, when I was training as a professional, you
know, Sovietologist or specialist in that part of the world, `Is it possible
that communism could collapse, you know, by the year 1992, not only communism
but the Soviet Union itself,' I would have said `absolutely ridiculous. You
know, it represents a viable, legitimate, alternative form of you know, of
government. It's a very strong, you know, internally strong, and you know, I
expect it to be around the rest of my lifetime,' and I think virtually
everyone else did. And you know, that's one of the wonderful things about the
world right now is that all of these developments are happening that nobody
really anticipated what happened. And as a result, you know, world politics
has just you know, careened off in--in--in new directions. I mean, right now
in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, you're seeing a very major
geopolitical transformation and I don't think anyone can really predict you
know, what's going to come out at the other end of that.
LAMB: You write a lot about something called the struggle for recognition.
LAMB: What's that all about?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, the struggle for recognition is in my view the
motor--the motor that drives this process of--of human history, and it's a
concept that comes from Hegel. But I don't think you really need to read
Hegel to, you know, to understand it, because there's a very, you know,
commonplace, you know, way that it can be understood. That is to say all
human beings, you know, want to be recognized. That is to say they want other
human beings to, you know, affirm their value or their goodness or their
dignity or you know, their freedom. And you know, according to a philosopher
like Hegel, you know, history starts because of a struggle which begins with a
battle, a conflict over recognition, where, you know, in a sense, one caveman
gets up and says to the next caveman, you know, `I want you to recognize me,
you know, that I'm, you know, I'm greater than you, I'm your lord and master,'
and they fight over that. And, you know, according to Hegel, the result of
that is a relationship of master and slave because one, you know, one of these
early men submits, and the other, you know, wins the victory and so you have
this very unequal relation--relationship of--of lord and master that--on the
one hand and slave on the other, that, you know, that grows up.
But all of the major phenomenon of, you know, human history can be understood
in a certain sense as a--as a form of recognition. I mean, we all want
recognition of our own value. For instance, something like contemporary
nationalism is not driven by any kind of economic motive, it's driven by the
nationalist's desire that his nation, you know, his group, his ethnic group,
whatever it be, is recognized as a nation among others. So Lithuania, for
example, you've just seen, you know, a very vivid recent example of this,
that, you know, the Lithuanians didn't want, you know, greater wealth or in
fact, you know, their--their na--their struggle for national independence cost
them a lot, you know, in terms of, you know, their wealth and their economic
development. What they wanted was recognition of their status as an equal,
you know, among other nations. And it's an extremely powerful force. I mean,
you can see it, you know, tearing apart Yugoslavia today, that the Croats and
the Slovians, you know, want nation recognition, the Serbs in those areas
want, you know, recognition for themselves. And so, you know, I think you can
see much of the 20th century, all these, you know, nationalist wars as--as in
a way, a manifestation of the basic desire for recognition--you know, for
human recognition. And so it stands at the--at the core of a lot of what's,
you know, evil and unjust and--and you know, leads to violence in our world.
A religion, in a certain sense, can be understood as a form of recognition
because a religious believer wants, you know, other people to be--to recognize
his gods and his idols and his, you know, sacred practices...
LAMB: Does everybody want to be recognized?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I think that, you know, that is the argument, tht--that
it is at the core of our humanity, that a--in a certain sense, that is what
makes us human beings much more so than, you know, other aspects. And for
instance, we have an animal side, you know, we all want--we need to sleep, we
need to eat, we need shelter, you know, sex, we need a lot of biological, you
know, sorts of things, but what makes us uniquely human is our desire to be
recognized by other people and you know, this is ultimately, you know, what
leads us into political life, because politics is really about recognition.
It's a struggle for recognition.
LAMB: You got a paragraph taking about the end of history and I'll read a
little bit of it. "The end of history would mean the end of wars and bloody
revolutions. Agreeing on ends, men would have no large causes for which to
fight. They would satisfy their needs through economic activity, but they
would no longer have to risk their lives in battle. They would in other words
become animals again as they were--as they were before the bloody battle that
began history. A dog is content to sleep in the sun all day provided he is
fed, because he is not to sleep in the sun all day"--no, "because he is not
dissatisfied with what he is. He does not worry that other dogs are doing
better than him, or that his career as a dog is stagnated or that dogs are
being oppressed in a distant part of the world. If man reaches a society in
which he has succeeded in abolishing injustice, his life will become--it will
resemble that of a dog." Finally, "Human life then involves a curious paradox.
It seems to require an injustice, for the struggle against injustice is what
calls forth what is highest in man."
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, that's right. That is an essential paradox of, you know,
human life, because in a certain sense, if we can achieve, you know, what we
all want, a perfectly just society where all men are recognized, you know, and
treated equally in which there's great material prosperity, in a certain way,
that robs us of, you know, a very important side of life which is the side
that wants to struggle, you know, that wants great causes, that wants to act
and to live and to die for ideals, you know, for--for higher causes or that
somehow wants to transcend you know, just the satisfaction of--of--you know,
the body and of its needs and that sort of thing. So I think that's, you
know, the essential paradox of, you know, the end of history, or the, you
know, the good life, the good society at the end of history that, you know, by
its very success it robs man of something that's very important to him.
LAMB: Do you examine yourself as you--I mean, you're talking about human
beings in this, and as you're going about your task, do you say `I fit in
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, sure. I think...
LAMB: I mean, what's your need for recognition?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I--it's a, you know, as I said, it's universal, and of
course it applies, you know, to me as well as any--anyone else. Now, you
know, I don't struggle for recognition by getting into, you know, battles, you
know, literally violent battles. I mean, we're at a different stage of
civilization on that, but you can struggle for all sorts of things. I mean,
you can struggle to write, you know, the most serious book on politics and
philosophy, you know, or, you know, the struggle for recognition I think
permeates any--everything, and what makes it important is it's really the
basis for any kind of human excellence. That is to say, you don't become, you
know, a great pianist or an opera singer, unless you in some sense want to be
recognized as that. You know, that's really the--the underlying motive that
drives people to, you know, to spend all that time and disciplining themselves
and practicing and doing things that are extremely difficult.
LAMB: When you wrote the original article that got everybody interested a
couple of years ago, did--did you like that? Did you like the--the reaction?
I mean, here you were getting recognition for your--your talents.
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well--sure. Well, you know, the--that gets into another
complicated issue which is the quality of recognition because, you know, you
can be recognized for all sorts of things. I mean, you can be recognized as a
pop star or you can be recognized as, you know, the greatest you know, serial
killer in--in North America. I mean, there are all sorts of forms of
recognition, and you know, in the end, you know, you have to ask the question,
are there certain forms of recognition that are, you know, inherently more
pleasing or more satisfactory than other kinds. And I think that, you know,
of course, it's gratifying to be recognized, you know, in--in the popular
press or by the media, or to go on, you know, television, that--that sort of
thing. But you know, there's really a higher form of recognition that comes
from, you know, a recognition by people that really understand your argument,
that can interact with it, that can, you know, appreciate, you know, all of
the nuances and the structure, and--and the detail, you know, that sort of
thing, and I think that's really the form of recognition that, you know, if
you're writing a book of the sort, that--that you know, I've done, I mean,
that's what will be important unless the, you know, the kind of immediate, you
know, sort of pop, you know, pop culture media kind of recognition.
LAMB: What--what do you think of the reaction to the reviewers and the press
and all about the book so far?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, it's still, you know, at this moment, a little bit early
to say. I think that they're--at least, you know, one thing that I've been
happy about is--is that there has been a certain recognition that what I'm
trying to do is--is not, you know, simply rehash arguments from a couple of
years ago, you know, the question of whether democracy is really breaking out
all over the world and that sort of thing because that's, you know, I think
that's a--a somewhat old argument, but to, you know, move the discussion to,
you know, the question of what, you know, what is the meaning of our democracy
now. I mean, should we be happy with it and what is the reason that we desire
democracy and to move to questions like the struggles for recognition. Is
that an appropriate way to understand, you know, what's going on in the world,
and why, you know, there've been these democratic revolutions in, you know, in
different parts of the world?
LAMB: How do you like this cover?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:It's not bad.
LAMB: Do you have any sense of why they decided to do a black cover with red
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I think the idea was that is would simply be a striking
jacket that would be quickly--quickly recognizable and it has a
certain--certain seriousness to it.
LAMB: Do you have a plan from here as to how to continue the discussion on
what you're writing about?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I--not--not really a plan. I'm--I'm going to be talking
about this book, you know, in this country, and then it's--it's being
published in--in about 14 foreign countries, you know, at the same time, and
so there are going to be little--I mean, that's one of the interesting things
about this particular idea is it stirred a, you know, comparable degree of
debate and--and controversy in--in a lot of places outside the United States
as well, and I think that, you know, that's going to preoccupy me, but I will
be, you know, continue to be interested in this general problem of democracy,
you know, where it fits into our contemporary world.
LAMB: Tell me if I'm pronouncing this right, because you use this a lot, is
Mr FUKUYAMA: Thymos.
LAMB: I knew I'd have it wrong. Megalo...
LAMB: Megalothymia. What is it?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Uh-huh. Well, thymos is a--it's a Greek word that comes from
Plato that represents a certain part of the soul that--it is a part of the
soul, or you know, to put it in modern terms, it's a part of the personality,
or a part of the human psyche that precisely demands recognition. And you
know, according to Plato, there are three parts of the soul: There's the
desiring parts, and we understand what that it, it's like the--you know, the
part that desires food and water and--and so forth, and there's reason, you
know, human capacity to calculate, and to, you know, to make decisions based
on--on--on, you know, fundamental logic, this sort of thing, but Plato says
that there's a third part of the soul which is thymos, which essentially is,
in a way, it's a source of self-esteem, it's the valuing part of the soul.
It's the part of the soul that says `Yes, I am a human being. I have a
certain dignity of worth and I am proud of that worth.' And it's impossible
really to reduce, you know, any understanding of human psychology simply to
desire and reason alone, and you know, there's a very important assertive side
of human personality that, you know, that wants recognition and--and demands,
you know, that other people recognize me at, you know, at my worth, at my
understanding of what I'm worth.
Now megalothymia is a word, it's another Greek word, but one that I made up
myself. Megalos in Greece means great and thymia, you know, refers to--to
thymos and megalothymia means the desire to be recognized as greater than
other people, and in my view, this is, you know, in a way the sense of--of
both things that are good about politics and the things that are bad about it
because a tyrant is, you know, in a way, a prototype of the person that wants
to be recognized as greater.
LAMB: You get specific on page 316 here, and you're talking about capitalism
and you say "At the level at which entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, Andrew
Carnegie or Ted Turner operate, consumption is not a meaningful motive; one
can only have so many houses and cars and wives before one loses count. Such
people of course are greedy in wanting even larger amounts of money, but the
money is more a token or symbol of their ability as entrepreneurs rather than
a means to acquire goods for personal consumption."
Mr. FUKUYAMA:That's right. I mean, I think, you know, when you understand,
you know, these great entrepreneurs or you know, founders of big industrial
empires, you know, what's going on is not, you know, simply you know, as--as
is commonly portrayed, you know, greedy people wanting more and more, I mean
it really comes out of this part of the soul that's called thymos, I mean we
You know, a guy like Ted Turner, you know, at this point, I mean, in his
career, you know, he has all the money that he can possibly use, I mean, what
he wants is, you know, I don't know if it's being Time's Man of the Year
exactly, but you know, he wants people to think of him in a certain way, that
you know, he's the man that founded CNN, that created an entirely new media
business, that, you know, has done something that the networks could never do.
I mean that's--that's pure recognition.
LAMB: You also write later on--it says "It is in the very design of
democratic capitalist countries like the United States, that the most talented
and ambitious natures should tend to go into business rather than into
politics, the military, universities or the church."
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I think that's right, because you know, if you say that,
you know, we are potentially threatened by would-be tyrants that have this
megalothymia, that want to be recognized as greater, it is much safer if they
become Ted Turners than if they become, you know, let's say politicians or
military, you know, people, that will, you know, turn their desire to be
recognized as greater into, you know, some political, you know, movement or
cause, or in a way, it would have been much better if, you know, if Hitler had
stayed out of politics and gone into the sign painting business and then
become the Ted Turner of, you know, of house painting in Germany in the 1920s
and he would have made a lot of money, he may have gotten quite recognized as
a very innovative, you know, house painter, whatever, and we would have been
spared, you know, a lot of the fascist politics of that period. And I think
that, you know, one of the--part of the wisdom of--of the America founding was
an understanding that, you know, this kind of business activity would be able
to absorb the talents and ambitions of, you know, of--of people that were
inclined in that fashion but turned it to a kind of public good, so that, you
know, they produce wealth for, you know, the rest of society, but the main
thing is that they're--they're kept in an occupation that uses their ambitions
and talents and gives it a certain outlet without creating a political tyranny
an--as a result.
LAMB: Later on I'm going to leave something out here, you might want to fill
in the blanks.
LAMB: "The result is that modern leaders seldom rule": colon, "They react and
manage and steer, but are institutionally restricted in their field of action
so that it is hard for them to leave their personal imprint on the people they
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Uh-huh. Well, I think you can see that, you know, in our
country, that we--we have a constitutional system that is essentially designed to constrain ambitious people. It's--it's designed to constrain people with megalothymia and you know, the Napoleon, or the--or the Stalin or the Saddam
Hussein, that, you know, would enter American politics and want to, you know,turn it into some kind of a, you know, dictatorship and that's why we have this system of checks and balances and the three branches of government and
the--and--and that sort of thing, to constrain political ambition. First of all, you know, ambition is--is pushed into the area of business and--and economic activity, and for those that are not satisfied by it, they have, you know, the system where they have to go around, as they're doing in New Hampshire, kissing babies and--and you know, promising, you know, voters, you
know, that they'll deliver on certain goods, but completely constrained by a system of law, you know, that forces their, you know, their political energies into a certain very safe, you know, and--and--and--in--well, perhaps not productive, but at least not terribly harmful directions and that's in a way, the genius of our political system.
LAMB: When you got into politics back here in--why did you get in politics in the '80s?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, because, you know, I--I was really a foreign policy
specialist, and it seemed to me that the greatest issues, you know, at that
time were those of war and peace, you know, US-Soviet relations, the arms
race, instability in the Middle East, that sort of thing.
LAMB: How close did you work to George Shultz?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I worked, you know, several bureaucratic layers down from
him, but I was a member of the policy planning staff and worked on--at that
time, on--mostly on Middle Eastern issues.
LAMB: What about Jim Baker?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I--I was one level up, but in a way, in a--in a more, you
know, sinful role because I was working on, you know, Soviet--US-Soviet
relations and German unification and a variety of issues like that.
LAMB: Do you have any desire to take another couple of jumps up? I mean, are
you going to stay with this stuff for a long time?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I don't know. I--you know, when I quit the government to write this book, I had always intended to go back into government, you know, when it was over, but in a certain way, I've had such a good time writing it, that, you know, I think that maybe that, you know, I'd like to do more of it.
LAMB: Well--I forgot my train of thought. I had a question I wanted to ask you. I want to go to another chapter. Why the chapter titled "A Vacation in Bulgaria"?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, that is a, you know, it's a chapter that is in the section that describes, you know, what the struggle for recognition is and the, you know, important point that I was trying to make, you know, in that section is that in a way, the, you know, the real problem with communism--with communist societies was not that they were economically inefficient or didn't,
you know, produce a West German standard of living for East Germans, the problem was a--a kind of moral one, that it forces people to make compromises with themselves, with, you know, their thymos, in a way was--was--was compromised, they could not rise above themselves precisely because these communist governments dangled a kind of consumer culture in front of them. It wasn't a very rich consumer culture, but they dangled things like, you know, a better apartment or a refrigerator, or possibly a car or a vacation in Bulgaria, I mean, that's their equivalent of, you know, the Grand Bahamas, you know, in front of people and it said `Look, if you people want to be part of this system, if you want to have a successful career, if you want to get along, if you want your vacation in Bulgaria, then you have to sign this petition denouncing your colleagues; you have to shut up, you know, when you see somebody, you know, being unjustly persecuted by the party, that sort of thing. And you know, I think if you look at the writings of--of someone like Vaclav Havel, you know, you'll see that that's precisely what he identifies as the real evil of the system. I mean, it wasn't that, you know, it produced shoddy goods and you know, no food on the shelves, it was that morally it was a bankrupt system because it--it really made people accept this Fustian bargain, in a sense, to trade away their souls for the sake of a few, you know, meager consumer goods.
LAMB: You--you use the green grocer story with Mr. Havel to--to make a point.
LAMB: What was it?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, he tells this very, you know, amusing story in--in an essay that he wrote while he was still in jail called "The Power of the Powerless" in which a green grocer hangs a sign in front of his window that says "Workers of the World, Unite!" And Havel goes into some of the psychology behind why he should do a thing like that and he said `Well, does he really believe that the workers of the world should unite?' And he says `Well, no.' You know, the real reason that the green grocer did it is that he's afraid. He's afraid that if he doesn't put that sign in his window then the communist authorities will come and, you know, they will harass him or--or you know, threaten him with jail or various other, you know, terrible things that they could do to him. And Havel says, you know, what the sign really says if you can look beneath the surface is not "Workers of the World, United," it is "I am afraid." You know, I am a humble green grocer living in this political system and I know that if I don't go along, you know, I will suffer the consequences, and therefore I am obedient and I want to show my superiors that I'm obedient. And so in a way, I mean, this is a way of his demonstrating you know, the, you know, the moral complicity of what was required to, you know, live in that kind of a society. And he said that, you know, people could avoid facing up to that because they put up a high-minded slogan like "Workers of the World, Unite" and they, you know, because of ideology they could tell themselves, `Well, I'm not really compromising moral worth, what I'm doing is, you know, displaying some high-minded slogan, but nonetheless I compromise existing. That was the real, you know, that was the evil of the system.
LAMB: You said that you learned a lot of Greek and you were able to read
Greek. Can you still read it?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:No. I haven't, you know, I haven't used any of my Greek in
probably 10 years now.
LAMB: Were you fl--could you speak if or just...
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well with, you know, what I learned was not modern Greek, but
attic Greece which was the Greek that they used in the fifth century Athens,
and today nobody really know how--how that was pronounced or spoken. It's
quite a bit different from modern Greek but I could--I could read it pretty
LAMB: How many languages can you speak?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I can speak French and a bit of Russian, and then I know,
you know, some a smattering of other--other languages, you know.
LAMB: We're about out of time. Given your knowledge of Russia, what do you
think's going to happen? What's your guess?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, I, you know, I think that they are in for a terrible
time, not on a political level, because I think that, you know, with the
decline--or the de--you know, the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the
emergence of Russia and these other republics, they've achieved a certain, you
know, a certain way, a kind of pre--you know, precondition for the emergence
of real democracy in that region. But the real problem is going to be this
terrible, terrible economic transition, you know, that I think everybody has
agreed in that part of the world that they would like to be, you know, a
capitalist, a prosperous capitalist country like West Germany or France. The
trouble is that to get from here to there requires, you know, now this period
of price, you know, liberalization and inflation in a country that doesn't
have any, you know, food on the table. So I am actually rather pessimistic in
the short run as to, you know, what's going to happen in that part of the
world. I--I expect that there could well be, you know, many further political
explosions as people, you know, simply don't have a way to feed their
LAMB: Do you think the end of history is upon us?
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Well, if you understand it in the specific sense that I have,
yes, it's certainly been here, but it's been here for a good 200 years and we
just haven't realized it.
LAMB: The book is called "The End of History and the Last Man" and our guest has been Francis Fukuyama, the author. Thank you for joining us.
Mr. FUKUYAMA:Thank you.
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