LIBERALISM — THE IDEA that the purpose of government is to guarantee individuals the freedom to shape their own lives — is, Francis Fukuyama observes, “under severe threat around the world today.” Political rights and civil liberties became more widespread in the late 20th century, but have since been in retreat. His new book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, is a shrewd and concise anatomy and critique of the new authoritarian alternatives: neoliberalism on the right and identity politics on the left.
Some think his most recent work retreats from the triumphalism of his bestselling 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. In fact, he hasn’t budged an inch. Nor should he. There he argued that with the advent of liberal democracy, mankind “achieved a form of society that satisfied its deepest and most fundamental longings” as much as any political principle could. Liberty and equality “are not accidents or the results of ethnocentric prejudice, but are in fact discoveries about the nature of man as man.” His core claim in his new work is that, despite recent setbacks, he was right the first time: the rivals are variant…Read More
Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University, is the author of “Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed” (St. Martin’s Press, forthcoming). Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoppelman.