The weekend before Oxford, I facilitated a music concert inside the prison for a volunteer organization. The team wore t-shirts with “Orange Lives Matter,” Referring to the Inmates’ orange uniforms. Inmates were so excited by the gesture that they also matter and deserve dignity.
In “The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment,” Francis Fukuyama, an author who has proven very knowledgeable in Science and Politics, brings to light the complex relationships between dignity, identity, and politics in the modern world. Given his extensive research, Fukuyama is one of the voices worth my undivided attention as he touches on our worst political challenges.
This is at the heart of all conflicts.
Fukuyama’s introduction to the concept of dignity and its importance to human societies is spot on. He argues that the desire for recognition and respect is fundamental to human nature.
At the heart of all conflicts and resentment, as the author said, is the feeling of indignity. The author brings up the rise of populist movements across the globe, starting with the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, and many other places. He explains that these movements are all driven by a sense of loss and a desire to reclaim a perceived lost dignity. Due to his great work of research, examining several countries, the author provides a comprehensive analysis of the underlying factors that have caused these movements to rise to power.
The author also explains how globalization and economic inequality have contributed to a growing sense of indignity among certain groups, loss of jobs, and cultural displacement have left many marginalized and resentful.
A number of authoritarian countries, led by China and Russia, became much more self-confident and assertive: China began promoting its “China model” as a path to development and wealth that was distinctly undemocratic, while Russia attacked the liberal decadence of the European Union and the United States.
Looking at the cause of popularity, Fukuyama explains that some of these leaders have succeeded due to their ability to tap into marginalized groups’ grievances and use social media to bypass traditional channels.
“Beginning in the mid-2000s, the momentum toward an increasingly open and liberal world order began to falter, then went into reverse.”
Fukuyama reiterates the importance of dignity in politics and the need for political leaders to address the underlying causes of indignity and resentment. He emphasizes the dangers of populism and identity politics while acknowledging marginalized groups’ legitimate grievances.
Is there a solution?
Fukuyama calls for a more inclusive and responsive political system promoting social cohesion and a shared national identity. He highlights the potential future trajectories of dignity politics and the role of education and technology in shaping the political landscape.
I agree with the author in advocating for dignity politics and facilitating education and technology, which would make a huge difference, lifting many from poverty and providing social mobility. The author showcases the case study of Education and Social Mobility in Finland, where the Finnish education system invested in equality and social mobility. Investing in education and skills training can help address the underlying causes of indignity and resentment.
 Francis Fukuyama, Identity (S.I.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018).