Francis Fukuyama

Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (/ˌfkˈjɑːmə, -kəˈ-/, Japanese: [ɸɯ̥kɯjama]; born October 27, 1952) is an American political scientist, political economist, and writer. Fukuyama is known for his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which argued that the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free-market capitalism of the West and its lifestyle may signal the end point of humanity's sociocultural evolution and become the final form of human government. However, his subsequent book Trust: Social Virtues and Creation of Prosperity (1995) modified his earlier position to acknowledge that culture cannot be cleanly separated from economics. Fukuyama is also associated with the rise of the neoconservative movement,[2] from which he has since distanced himself.[3]

Francis Fukuyama
Fukuyama in 2015
Born (1952-10-27) October 27, 1952
Alma mater
InstitutionsGeorge Mason University[1]
Johns Hopkins University
Stanford University
Main interests
Developing nations
International political economy
Nation-building and democratization
Strategic and security issues
Notable ideas
End of history

Fukuyama has been a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies since July 2010 and a Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.[4] In August 2019 he was named director of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy at Stanford.[5]

Before that, he served as a professor and director of the International Development program at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University.[4]

He is a council member of the International Forum for Democratic Studies founded by the National Endowment for Democracy and was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation.[6]

Early life

Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His paternal grandfather fled the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and started a shop on the west coast before being interned in the Second World War.[7] His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church, received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, and taught religious studies.[8][9][10] His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fukuyama, was born in Kyoto, Japan, and was the daughter of Shiro Kawata, founder of the Economics Department of Kyoto University and first president of Osaka City University.[11] Francis grew up in Manhattan as an only child, had little contact with Japanese culture, and did not learn Japanese.[8][9] His family moved to State College, Pennsylvania, in 1967.[11]


Fukuyama received his Bachelor of Arts degree in classics from Cornell University, where he studied political philosophy under Allan Bloom.[9][12] He initially pursued graduate studies in comparative literature at Yale University, going to Paris for six months to study under Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida but became disillusioned and switched to political science at Harvard University.[9] There, he studied with Samuel P. Huntington and Harvey Mansfield, among others. He earned his Ph.D. in political science at Harvard for his thesis on Soviet threats to intervene in the Middle East.[9][12] In 1979, he joined the global policy think tank RAND Corporation.[9]

Fukuyama lived at the Telluride House and has been affiliated with the Telluride Association since his undergraduate years at Cornell, an education enterprise that was home to other significant leaders and intellectuals, including Steven Weinberg, Paul Wolfowitz and Kathleen Sullivan.

Fukuyama was the Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University from 1996 to 2000. Until July 10, 2010, he was the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the International Development Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He is now Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow and resident in the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University,[12] and director of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy at Stanford.[5]


Fukuyama is best known as the author of The End of History and the Last Man, in which he argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such.... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

Authors like Ralf Dahrendorf argued in 1990 that the essay gave Fukuyama his 15 minutes of fame, which will be followed by a slide into obscurity.[13][14] He continued to remain a relevant and cited public intellectual leading American communitarian Amitai Etzioni to declare him "one of the few enduring public intellectuals. They are often media stars who are eaten up and spat out after their 15 minutes. But he has lasted."[15]

According to Fukuyama, one of the main reasons for the massive criticism against The End of History was the aggressive stance that it took towards postmodernism. Postmodern philosophy had, in Fukuyama's opinion, undermined the ideology behind liberal democracy, leaving the western world in a potentially weaker position.[16] The fact that Marxism and fascism had been proven untenable for practical use while liberal democracy still thrived was reason enough to embrace the hopeful attitude of the Progressive era, as this hope for the future was what made a society worth struggling to maintain. Postmodernism, which, by this time, had become embedded in the cultural consciousness, offered no hope and nothing to sustain a necessary sense of community, instead relying only on lofty intellectual premises.[17] Being a work that both praised the ideals of a group that had fallen out of favor and challenged the premises of the group that had replaced them, it was bound to create some controversy.

Fukuyama has written a number of other books, among them Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity and Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. In the latter, he qualified his original "end of history" thesis, arguing that since biotechnology increasingly allows humans to control their own evolution, it may allow humans to alter human nature, thereby putting liberal democracy at risk.[18] One possible outcome could be that an altered human nature could end in radical inequality. He is a fierce enemy of transhumanism, an intellectual movement asserting that posthumanity is a desirable goal.

In another work, The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order, Fukuyama explores the origins of social norms, and analyses the current disruptions in the fabric of our moral traditions, which he considers as arising from a shift from the manufacturing to the information age. This shift is, he thinks, normal and will prove self-correcting, given the intrinsic human need for social norms and rules.

In 2006, in America at the Crossroads, Fukuyama discusses the history of neoconservatism, with particular focus on its major tenets and political implications. He outlines his rationale for supporting the Bush administration, as well as where he believes it has gone wrong.

In 2008, Fukuyama published the book Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States, which resulted from research and a conference funded by Grupo Mayan to gain understanding on why Latin America, once far wealthier than North America, fell behind in terms of development in only a matter of centuries. Discussing this book at a 2009 conference, Fukuyama outlined his belief that inequality within Latin American nations is a key impediment to growth. An unequal distribution of wealth, he stated, leads to social upheaval, which then results in stunted growth.[19]


As a key Reagan Administration contributor to the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine, Fukuyama is an important figure in the rise of neoconservatism, although his works came out years after Irving Kristol's 1972 book crystallized neoconservatism.[20] Fukuyama was active in the Project for the New American Century think tank starting in 1997, and as a member co-signed the organization's 1998 letter recommending that President Bill Clinton support Iraqi insurgencies in the overthrow of then-President of Iraq Saddam Hussein.[21] He was also among forty co-signers of William Kristol's September 20, 2001 letter to President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks that suggested the U.S. not only "capture or kill Osama bin Laden", but also embark upon "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq".[22]

In a New York Times article from February 2006, Fukuyama, in considering the ongoing Iraq War, stated: "What American foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a 'realistic Wilsonianism' that better matches means to ends."[23] In regard to neoconservatism he went on to say: "What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world – ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about."[23]

Current views

Fukuyama began to distance himself from the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration, citing its excessive militarism and embrace of unilateral armed intervention, particularly in the Middle East. By late 2003, Fukuyama had voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War[24] and called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.[25]

At an annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute in February 2004, Dick Cheney and Charles Krauthammer declared the beginning of a unipolar era under American hegemony. "All of these people around me were cheering wildly,"[26] Fukuyama remembers. He believes that the Iraq War was being blundered. "All of my friends had taken leave of reality."[26] He has not spoken to Paul Wolfowitz (previously a good friend) since.[26]

Fukuyama declared he would not be voting for Bush,[27] and that the Bush administration had made three mistakes:[28]

  • Overstating the threat of Islamic extremism to the US
  • Failing to foresee the fierce negative reaction to its "benevolent hegemony". From the very beginning showing a negative attitude toward the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations and not seeing that it would increase anti-Americanism in other countries
  • Misjudging what was needed to bring peace in Iraq and being overly optimistic about the success with which social engineering of western values could be applied to Iraq and the Middle East in general.

Fukuyama believes the US has a right to promote its own values in the world, but more along the lines of what he calls "realistic Wilsonianism", with military intervention only as a last resort and only in addition to other measures. A latent military force is more likely to have an effect than actual deployment. The US spends 43% of global military spending,[29] but Iraq shows there are limits to its effectiveness.

The US should instead stimulate political and economic development and gain a better understanding of what happens in other countries. The best instruments are setting a good example and providing education and, in many cases, money. The secret of development, be it political or economic, is that it never comes from outsiders, but always from people in the country itself. One thing the US proved to have excelled in during the aftermath of World War II was the formation of international institutions. A return to support for these structures would combine American power with international legitimacy. But such measures require a lot of patience. This is the central thesis of his 2006 work America at the Crossroads.

In a 2006 essay in The New York Times Magazine strongly critical of the invasion, he identified neoconservatism with Leninism. He wrote that neoconservatives:[30]

believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

Fukuyama announced the end of the neoconservative moment and argued for the demilitarization of the War on Terrorism:[30]

[W]ar is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a "long, twilight struggle" [quoting John F. Kennedy's inaugural address] whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world.

Fukuyama endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 US presidential election. He states:[31]

I'm voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don't work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would be a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.

In a 2018 interview with New Statesman, when asked about his views on the resurgence of socialist politics in the United States and the United Kingdom, he responded:[32]

It all depends on what you mean by socialism. Ownership of the means of production – except in areas where it's clearly called for, like public utilities – I don't think that's going to work. If you mean redistributive programmes that try to redress this big imbalance in both incomes and wealth that has emerged then, yes, I think not only can it come back, it ought to come back. This extended period, which started with Reagan and Thatcher, in which a certain set of ideas about the benefits of unregulated markets took hold, in many ways it's had a disastrous effect. At this juncture, it seems to me that certain things Karl Marx said are turning out to be true. He talked about the crisis of overproduction… that workers would be impoverished and there would be insufficient demand.


Personal life

Fukuyama is a part-time photographer. He also has a keen interest in early-American furniture, which he reproduces by hand.[36] He is keenly interested in sound recording and reproduction, saying, "These days I seem to spend as much time thinking about gear as I do analyzing politics for my day job."[26]

Fukuyama is married to Laura Holmgren, whom he met when she was a UCLA graduate student after he started working for the RAND Corporation.[9][12] He dedicated his book Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity to her. They live in California, with their three children, Julia, David, and John.

He is the first cousin to crime novelist Joe Ide. Francis helped him get his first book published.[37]

Selected bibliography

Scholarly works (partial list)


External video
Booknotes interview with Fukuyama on The End of History and the Last Man, February 9, 1992, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on The Great Disruption, June 10, 1999, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on The Great Disruption, April 19, 2000, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on Our Posthuman Future, May 9, 2002, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on State-Building, May 21, 2004, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on The Origins of Political Order, April 25, 2011, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on Political Order and Political Decay, October 25, 2014, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on Identity, September 20, 2018, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fukuyama on Identity, October 28, 2018, C-SPAN
  • The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press, 1992. ISBN 0-02-910975-2
  • Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. Free Press, 1995. ISBN 0-02-910976-0
  • The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order. Free Press. 1999. ISBN 0-684-84530-X[38]
  • Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2002. ISBN 0-374-23643-7
  • State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-8014-4292-3
  • America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-300-11399-4 US edition
    After the Neo Cons: Where the Right went Wrong. London: Profile Books. 2006. ISBN 1-86197-922-3 UK edition
  • Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States (editor). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-536882-6
  • The Origins of Political Order. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2012. ISBN 978-1-846-68256-8
  • Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Present Day. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2015. ISBN 978-0-374-22735-7
  • Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2018. (pub. date September 2018)


See also


  1. "The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University". Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  2. Thies, Clifford (2011-06-24) The End of Hystery? Francis Fukuyama's Review of The Constitution of Liberty, Mises Institute
  3. "Interview with Ex-Neocon Francis Fukuyama: "A Model Democracy Is not Emerging in Iraq"". Spiegel Online. March 22, 2006. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  4. "Francis Fukuyama". Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
  5. "Francis Fukuyama to lead the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy Program". Stanford News. July 21, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  6. "Francis Fukuyama – International Forum for Democratic Studies Research Council Member". National Endowment for Democracy. Archived from the original on July 8, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  7. Moss, Stephen (May 23, 2011). "Francis Fukuyama: 'Americans are not very good at nation-building'". the Guardian. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  8. Wade, Nicholas (April 2, 2002). "A Dim View of a 'Posthuman Future'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  9. Wroe, Nicholas (May 11, 2002). "History's pallbearer". The Guardian. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  10. Fukuyama, Francis (October 7, 1999). "Fukuyama 101". Think Tank (Interview). Interviewed by Ben Wattenberg. Washington, DC: PBS. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  11. "Ford-Grilliparzer". Encyclopedia of World Biography. 6 (2nd ed.). Detroit, MI: Gale Research. 1998. ISBN 978-0-7876-2546-7. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  12. "Francis Fukuyama". The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Stanford University. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  13. Dahrendorf (1990) Reflections on the revolution in Europe p. 37
  14. Luciano Canfora La grande illusione del capitalismo eterno preface to Ercolani, Paolo La storia infinita. Marx, il liberalismo e la maledizione di Nietzsche quotation:
    Quanto detto sin qui può forse bastare a non prendere sul serio saggi troppo fortunati (ma già quasi avviati al dimenticatoio) come La fine della storia del nippo-statunitense Fukuyama. Libro che, comunque, è stato ampiamente stroncato per le sciocchezze che contiene: e non già da tardi epigoni del marxismo-leninismo, ma da filosofi 'liberal' come Dahrendorf, il quale ha anche avuto il buon senso di elencare gli errori di fatto (tali da mettere in forse il conseguimento della "maturità classica"!) che il troppo fortunato libretto contiene.
  15. Wroe, Nicholas (May 10, 2002). "History's Pallbearer". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.
  16. 'Francis Fukuyama, "Reflections on the End of History, Five Years Later", History and Theory 34, 2: "World Historians and Their Critics" (May 1995): 43.
  17. 'Francis Fukuyama, "Reflections on the End of History, Five Years Later", History and Theory 34, 2: World Historians and Their Critics (May 1995): 36.
  18. For a critical analysis of Fukuyama's bioethical argument, see: Jordaan, D. W. (2009). "Antipromethean Fallacies: A Critique of Fukuyama's Bioethics". Biotechnology Law Report. 28 (5): 577–590. doi:10.1089/blr.2009.9915.
  19. Ryan Weddle (February 18, 2009). "Fukuyama: "Social Agenda" Needed to Combat Poverty in Latin America". Devex. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  20. Irving Kristol (1972), On the Democratic Idea in America, New York: Harper.
  21. Abrams, Elliott; et al. (January 26, 1998). "Letter to President Clinton on Iraq". Archived from the original (PDF) on September 9, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  22. "Letter to President Bush on the War on Terrorism". Project for the New American Century. Archived from the original on December 30, 2004.
  23. Fukuyama, Francis (February 19, 2006). "After Neoconservatism". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  24. Francis Fukuyama (June 1, 2004). "The Neoconservative Moment" (PDF). The National Interest. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 10, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  25. "Fukuyama Withdraws Bush Support". Today's Zaman. July 14, 2004. Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  26. Bast, Andrew (April 10, 2011). "The Beginning of History". Newsweek. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  27. Andrew Billen (July 14, 2004). "Why I won't vote for George Bush". The Times. London. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  28. "Francis Fukuyama on Neo-Cons, Foreign Policy". NPR. March 1, 2006.
  29. "The 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2009". Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  30. Francis Fukuyama (February 19, 2006). "After Neoconservatism". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  31. Francis Fukuyama (November 3, 2008). "Francis Fukuyama". The American Conservative. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  32. George Eaton (October 17, 2018). "Francis Fukuyama interview: "Socialism ought to come back"". New Statesman America. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  33. Pilkington, Ed (March 4, 2011). "US firm Monitor Group admits mistakes over $3m Gaddafi deal". Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  34. Lewis, Neil A. (February 3, 2006). "Defense Fund Raises Money in Libby Case". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  35. Pyle Center for Northeast Asian Studies, the National Bureau of Asian Research.
  36. Fukuyama, Francis (June 7, 2009). "Making Things Work". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  37. Beckerman, Gal (September 28, 2018). "Raised in South Central, Joe Ide Expands the Territory of L.A. Noir". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  38. Gottlieb, Anthony (July 4, 1999). "The Postindustrial Revolution". The New York Times on the Web.
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