RFE/RL: Some time ago, you wrote that Ukrainians believe that the strongest nongovernmental organization in their country is the mafia. What, in your opinion, has changed in the past few years?
Francis Fukuyama: What's been very impressive about Ukraine has been the emergence of Ukrainian civil society. I think in Russia in the 1990s you had some evidence of civil society in terms of free media, civic groups, and so forth. Ukraine had relatively less of that, but then all of a sudden with the Orange Revolution it became apparent that there were a lot of groups out there that were willing to participate politically to the point that you could actually force the second election and a change in the outcome. I think that's a positive form of social capital, as opposed to the negative form of social capital as presented by the mafias.
RFE/RL: But many people in Ukraine are now disappointed in the Orange Revolution and they mistrust the government. The parties that led the Orange Revolution have gone to the opposition. So what happened to civil society?
Fukuyama: I think that the expectations that were created by the Orange Revolution were probably unrealistic, that you would have the transformation of Ukraine overnight into a well-functioning liberal democracy. I think that really takes time. And there were conflicts of interest within the Orange coalition and problems in leadership and all of that sort of thing. It's not surprising that things haven't gone as well as people hoped back then. I think the important question for the long term is whether people can remain mobilized so that there continues to be pressure on the government to reflect the wishes of the Ukrainian people. I don't think you're at the point yet where you can say everyone is simply going to back to being passive.
Building A Civil Society
RFE/RL: The crucial question is how to build social capital. Is it possible to build up social capital from top to bottom, or from abroad?
Fukuyama: No, I think that social capital is almost always built from the bottom up, through people working together, the way they're trained and educated and so forth. Governments can only create a framework in which people can create social capital for themselves, and so the government has to avoid being too interventionist in controlling everything. People have to be allowed freedom to associate and to work with each other. But the government has to provide the basic security stability, social order, and political order. That's also another necessary condition for social capital to arise.
RFE/RL: And what about foreign governments or foreign sponsors or international organizations trying to sponsor NGOs in certain countries?
Fukuyama: I think you have to put that into the broader context of globalization. It's simply the case that a lot of things move across international borders -- money, ideas, communication, information. So I think it's inevitable that people look to foreign models and ideas, they get funding from outside in shaping their own society. But in the end it is the people in the society that create civil society, they create social capital, they create democracy. It's not something that can really be done by any group of outsiders.
RFE/RL: You have often been criticized for cultural determinism. This is an important issue for Ukraine, because in its history, Ukraine has been torn between different empires and now the unity of the country is still a test that people have to face. What is your advice on this? How do you close the cultural gaps within a country?
Fukuyama: I think that cultures change over time. Right now you have a very different global condition where you have influences that don't come just from the neighborhood, they come from all over the place, from Europe, from America. I think the important thing is to remain open to those other types of ideas and models. Also the way that people get training and knowledge, that has a big effect on culture. So all of these I think will affect Ukrainian culture in the future.
RFE/RL: Professor Fukuyama, some of your critics say that your ideas about the primacy of liberal democracy created a climate suitable for the self-assured behavior of the U.S. government in world affairs. Do you feel responsible to any extent for this?
Fukuyama: Well, no. I think that the Bush administration, to the extent that they thought they were using my ideas, really misunderstood them.... They were really Leninists because they believe that they would use power to advance democracy. And I have always been more of a Marxist, in the sense that I believe that democracy comes about as a result of a long-term process of modernization that's driven by forces within each society but that you can't speed up that process from the outside. And so to the extent that they thought that 's what I was arguing, I think they misunderstood what I was saying.
AT THE MICROPHONE. RFE/RL frequently conducts in-depth interviews with leading newsmakers and analysts from throughout its broadcast region. Transcripts of many of these interviews have been gathered on a special archive page.