👓 Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History | The New Yorker

Read Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History by Louis MenandLouis Menand (The New Yorker)
The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

I can’t help but wonder what Jonah Goldberg’s review of this book will be given his prior effort earlier this year?

I’m also reminded here of Mark Granovetter’s ideas that getting a job is more closely tied to who you know. One’s job is often very closely tied to their identity, and even more so when the link that got them their job was through a friend or acquaintance.

I suspect that Fukuyama has a relatively useful thesis, but perhaps it’s not tied together as logically and historically as Menand would prefer. The difficult thing here is that levels of personal identity on large scales is relatively unknown for most of human history. Tribalism and individuality are certainly pulling at the threads of liberal democracy lately. Perhaps it’s because of unfulfilled promises (in America at least) of the two party system? Now that we’ve reached a summit of economic plenty much quicker than the rest of the world (and they’re usurping some of our stability as the rest of the world tries to equilibrate), we need to add some additional security nets for the lesser advantaged. It really doesn’t cost very much and in turn does so much more for the greater good of the broader society.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Fukuyama’s argument was that, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the last ideological alternative to liberalism had been eliminated.  

“Last” in the sense of a big, modern threat. We’re still facing the threats of tribalism, which apparently have a strong pull.
August 27, 2018 at 10:26AM

There would be a “Common Marketization” of international relations and the world would achieve homeostasis.  

Famous last words, right?!

These are the types of statements one must try very hard not to make unless there is 100% certainty.

I find myself wondering how can liberal democracy and capitalism manage to fight and make the case the the small tribes (everywhere, including within the US) that it can, could and should be doing more for them.
August 27, 2018 at 10:29AM

But events in Europe unfolded more or less according to Fukuyama’s prediction, and, on December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence. The Cold War really was over.  

Or ostensibly, until a strong man came to power in Russia and began its downturn into something else. It definitely doesn’t seem to be a liberal democracy, so we’re still fighting against it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:32AM

This speculative flourish recalled the famous question that John Stuart Mill said he asked himself as a young man: If all the political and social reforms you believe in came to pass, would it make you a happier human being? That is always an interesting question.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

George Kennan, who was its first chief. In July of that year, Kennan published the so-called X article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” in Foreign Affairs. It appeared anonymously—signed with an “X”—but once the press learned his identity the article was received as an official statement of American Cold War policy.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

Fukuyama’s article could thus be seen as a bookend to Kennan’s.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:36AM

The National Interest, as the name proclaims, is a realist foreign-policy journal. But Fukuyama’s premise was that nations do share a harmony of interests, and that their convergence on liberal political and economic models was mutually beneficial. Realism imagines nations to be in perpetual competition with one another; Fukuyama was saying that this was no longer going to be the case.  

And here is a bit of the flaw. Countries are still at least in competition with each other economically, at least until they’re all on equal footing from a modernity perspective.

We are definitely still in completion with China and large parts of Europe.
August 27, 2018 at 10:38AM

Fukuyama thinks he knows what that something is, and his answer is summed up in the title of his new book, “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  

Get a copy of this to read.
August 27, 2018 at 10:39AM

The demand for recognition, Fukuyama says, is the “master concept”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:40AM

Fukuyama covers all of this in less than two hundred pages. How does he do it? Not well.  

Scathing!

Now I have to read it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:41AM

Fukuyama gives this desire for recognition a Greek name, taken from Plato’s Republic: thymos. He says that thymos is “a universal aspect of human nature that has always existed.”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:43AM

To say, as Fukuyama does, that “the desire for status—megalothymia—is rooted in human biology” is the academic equivalent of palmistry. You’re just making it up.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:45AM

Rationality and transparency are the values of classical liberalism. Rationality and transparency are supposed to be what make free markets and democratic elections work. People understand how the system functions, and that allows them to make rational choices.  

But economically, we know there isn’t perfect knowledge or perfect rationality (see Tversky and Khaneman). There is rarely even perfect transparency either which makes things much harder, especially in a post-truth society apparenlty.
August 27, 2018 at 10:48AM

Liberalism remains the ideal political and economic system, but it needs to find ways to accommodate and neutralize this pesky desire for recognition.   

August 27, 2018 at 10:50AM

Enrollment was small, around twenty, but a number of future intellectual luminaries, like Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan, either took the class or sat in on it.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:52AM

For Kojève, the key concept in Hegel’s “Phenomenology” was recognition. Human beings want the recognition of other human beings in order to become self-conscious—to know themselves as autonomous individuals.  

This is very reminiscent of Valerie Alexander’s talk last week about recognizing employees at work. How can liberal democracy take advantage of this?
August 27, 2018 at 10:53AM

Kojève thought that the other way was through labor. The slave achieves his sense of self by work that transforms the natural world into a human world. But the slave is driven to labor in the first place because of the master’s refusal to recognize him. This “master-slave dialectic” is the motor of human history, and human history comes to an end when there are no more masters or slaves, and all are recognized equally.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:55AM

Kojève’s lectures were published as “Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,” a book that went through many printings in France.  

Maybe it was Kojève and not Covfefe that Trump was referencing?! 😛
August 27, 2018 at 10:56AM

Encouraged by his friend Saul Bellow, he decided to turn the article into a book. “The Closing of the American Mind,” which Simon & Schuster brought out in February, 1987, launched a campaign of criticism of American higher education that has taken little time off since.  

August 27, 2018 at 11:00AM

In 1992, in the essay “The Politics of Recognition,” Taylor analyzed the advent of multiculturalism in terms similar to the ones Fukuyama uses in “Identity.”  

August 27, 2018 at 11:03AM

Fukuyama acknowledges that identity politics has done some good, and he says that people on the right exaggerate the prevalence of political correctness and the effects of affirmative action.  

There’s a reference to voting theory about people not voting their particular views, but that they’re asking themselves, “Who would someone like me vote for?” Perhaps it’s George Lakoff? I should look this up and tie it in here somewhere.
August 27, 2018 at 11:05AM

He has no interest in the solution that liberals typically adopt to accommodate diversity: pluralism and multiculturalism.  

Interesting to see an IndieWeb principle pop up here! How do other parts dovetail perhaps? What about other movements?
August 27, 2018 at 11:06AM

Fukuyama concedes that people need a sense of national identity, whether ethnic or creedal, but otherwise he remains an assimilationist and a universalist.  

Is it a “national” identity they need? Why not a cultural one, or a personal one? Why not all the identities? What about the broader idea of many publics? Recognition and identity touch on many of these publics for a variety of reasons.
August 27, 2018 at 11:08AM

He wants to iron out differences, not protect them. He suggests measures like a mandatory national-service requirement and a more meaningful path to citizenship for immigrants.  

What if we look at the shrinking number of languages as a microcosm of identity. Are people forced to lose language? Do they not care? What are the other similarities and differences.

Cross reference: https://boffosocko.com/2015/06/08/a-world-of-languages-and-how-many-speak-them-infographic/
August 27, 2018 at 11:10AM

Wouldn’t it be important to distinguish people who ultimately don’t want differences to matter, like the people involved in #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, from people who ultimately do want them to matter, like ISIS militants, Brexit voters, or separatist nationalists? And what about people who are neither Mexican nor immigrants and who feel indignation at the treatment of Mexican immigrants? Black Americans risked their lives for civil rights, but so did white Americans. How would Socrates classify that behavior? Borrowed thymos?  

Some importatnt questions here. They give me some ideas…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

History is somersaults all the way to the end. That’s why it’s so hard to write, and so hard to predict. Unless you’re lucky. ♦  

This is definitely more of a Big History approach…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

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BIRS Workshop: Advances and Challenges in Protein-RNA: Recognition, Regulation and Prediction (15w5063)

Bookmarked 15w5063: Advances and Challenges in Protein-RNA: Recognition, Regulation and Prediction (Banff International Research Station | birs.ca)
BIRS 5 day worksop, arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, June 7 and departing Friday, June 12, 2015

In the years since the first assembly of the human genome, the complex and vital role of RNA and RNA binding proteins in regulation of the genome expression has expanded through the discovery of RNA-binding proteins and large classes of non-coding RNA that control many developmental decisions as part of protein- RNA complexes. Our molecular level understanding of RNA regulation has dramatically improved as many new structures of RNA–protein complexes have been determined and new sophisticated experimental technologies and dedicated computational modeling have emerged to investigate these interactions at the whole-genome level. Further deep insight on the molecular mechanisms that underline genome expression regulation is critical for understanding fundamental biology and disease progression towards the discovery of new approaches to interfere with disease progression.

The proposed workshop will bring together experts in RNA biology with structural biologists that focus on RNA-protein complexes, as well as computational biologists who seek to model and develop predictive tools based on the confluence of these experimental advances. The workshop intends to foster new collaborations between experimental and computational biologists and catalyze the development of new and improved technologies (such as single cell binding methods) that merge experimental analysis with novel mathematical and computational techniques to better understand the rules of protein-RNA recognition and RNA-based biological regulation.

The organizers of the workshop are both leaders in the field of protein-RNA recognition and interactions: Yael Mandel-Gutfreund has been working in the field of protein-Nucleic Acids interactions since 1994. Her main research interest is protein-RNA recognition and regulation. She has developed several tools and web servers for predicting RNA binding proteins and RNA binding motifs. Yael is the head to the computational molecular laboratory at the Technion and the president of the Israeli society of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Gabriele Varani has been working in the field of RNA structure and protein-RNA interactions since 1987. His main research interest is the structural basis for protein-RNA recognition and the prediction and design of RNA-binding proteins. He determined some of the first few structures of protein-RNA complexes and developed computational tools to analyze and predict the specificity of RNA -binding proteins. His group applies these tools to design RNA-binding proteins with new specificity to control gene expression. Our invitation to participate in the workshop has been met with great enthusiasm by the researchers. More than 20 principle investigators have already confirmed their interest in attending. Six of the confirmed participants are female scientists including the organizer Yael Mandel-Gutfreund as well as Traci Hall, Lynne Maquat, Elena Conti, Susan Jones, Drena Dobbs. We also have invited and confirmed the participation of young and promising researchers including Markus Landthaler, Gene Yeo, Jernej Ule, Uwe Ohler and others. Our confirmed participants come from many different countries: US, Canada, UK, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Poland and Israel. Two confirmed participants as well as the organizer have attended the BIRS workshops in the past.

A key objective of the workshop is to bring together researchers with experimental, mathematical and computational background to share results and discuss the main advances and challenges in the prediction, analysis and control of RNA-protein recognition and RNA-based regulation of gene expression. Towards this aim, we plan to adopt the format of previous BIRS meetings in which invited participants (including selected students) will present relatively short presentations of 20 minutes plus 10 minutes of active discussions. This format will leave aside ample time for informal discussions to foster exchanges between participants. To stress the collaborative, multidisciplinary nature of the workshop, we plan to dedicate each of the workshop sessions to a specific topic that will comprise presentations of structural, experimental and computational approaches, rather than create session focused on a particular approach. Each session we will include at least one lecture from a young scientist/postdoctoral fellow/student to be chosen among attendees by the organizers.

Suggested preliminary schedule:

  • Day 1: Modeling and high throughput approaches to genome-wide analysis of protein-RNA interactions
  • Day 2: Predicting and designing new RNA binding proteins
  • Day 3: Generating and modeling RNA-based regulatory networks
  • Day 4: Principles of RNA regulation by RNA binding proteins
  • Day 5: Conclusion round table discussion on the present and future challenges of the field
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