Yascha Mounk in Persuasion:
Yascha Mounk: I’ve just read a draft of your next book. Though there have been many defenses of liberalism in the last few years, there haven’t been any so far which I felt made the thoughtful but also full-throated defense of liberalism that we need. But in my opinion, your book succeeds.
What is this tradition called liberalism?
Francis Fukuyama: It’s a really old doctrine. And I think there are several reasons that it’s been around for such a long time: A pragmatic, political reason; a moral reason; and then there’s a very powerful economic one.
The practical one, I think, is one that we’ve lost sight of, which is that liberalism is really a doctrine meant to deal with diversity. When people really don’t agree on some fundamental issues, how do you get them to live peacefully with one another? That’s related to liberalism’s origin: It came out of the wars of religion in Europe following the Protestant Reformation, when Protestants and Catholics spent 150 years killing each other. And the founders of liberalism basically said, “Look, if we’re going to base a society on some religious doctrine of some particular sect, we’re never going to live in peace, because nobody agrees on those. And so let’s detune politics and agree that we all need to live together and push religion into the private sphere. So you can worship whatever you want, but you’re not going to impose it on anyone else.”