Liberalism and Its Discontents

Farrar. May 2022. 192p. ISBN 9780374606718. $26. POL SCI
In his latest book, political scientist Fukuyama (Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment) identifies and formulates responses to criticisms of the liberal world order. First, he defines “liberalism” as the classical liberalism originally expressed by John Locke and other thinkers of the Enlightenment era, with its focus on individual rights and rule of law. He argues that the excesses of late 20th-century neoliberalism (identity politics; the cult of economic freedom) have triggered backlash against liberalism from both the left and the right. While there are many leftist critiques of liberalism, Fukuyama identifies the right as the more serious threat to liberalism, giving the examples of Putin in Russia, Orban in Hungary, and Trump in the United States; he argues that all three figures are willing to undermine liberal institutions, such as an independent judiciary and a free press, to expand their own power.
VERDICT Essential reading for all students of political science. Fukuyama’s scholarly, yet approachable work is highly recommended for any reader interested in understanding the current political environment.
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