On Thursday, 25 September, in a small group setting, Erasmus University College students had the opportunity to speak to Francis Fukuyama, one of the most influential political philosophers of this day and age.

Francis Fukuyama (1952), author of the bestseller The End of History (1992) and philosophical advisor to various American governments, was invited as keynote speaker to the ‘Metamodernism’ symposium held in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The symposium, which discussed politics after the collapse of major ideologies, was organised with the help of Rotterdam’s University College. For that reason, EUC students were given the exclusive opportunity to speak one-on-one with the great master Fukuyama.

Russia, China and the Middle East

While enjoying a cup of tea, the students grilled Fukuyama for some 90 minutes. Many of the questions focused on the danger of rising superpowers like Putin’s Russia and the quickly industrialising China. Another hot topic was ISIS and terrorism in the Middle East. Although Fukuyama was known for some time as an advocate of interventions in Iraq, he now condemns the American military policy in Iraq. He now argues for military restraint from Obama. Fukuyama says it is a mistake for Obama to promise now to root out ISIS after keeping his distance from the issue for so long. ‘He can’t live up to that promise,’ Fukuyama says, adding that it is better not to let ISIS get too strong. Fukuyama currently advocates for the free market and liberal democracy.

Life lesson

Nineteen-year-old student Roan Laenen asked the final question: what life lesson would Fukuyama like to share with young students like those present? Fukuyama said that he enjoyed a classical education in philosophy, with a lot of Greek and Latin. But he now wonders if that would be enough to get a job in the United States today. ‘You also need to specialise in a practical subject.’ The proud father in him adds: ‘My daughters are studying to become engineers.’ DR (photo: Koen Wies)