This is the last time you will set eyes on a new issue of Prospect that looks like this one. Next month the magazine gets its first serious facelift in 11 and a half years. Most of us are reactionaries when it comes to the look of familiar things like newspapers and magazines. I hope that the redesign will not jangle the nerves of too many of you who like Prospect as it is; rest assured that the essential character of the magazine will remain the same. We do, however, want to reach a bigger audience. Changing into a livelier set of clothes will not in itself make us a better or more attractive magazine. But it is a chance both to draw attention to ourselves and to look self-critically at everything we do: to blow away some cobwebs.
It is appropriate to mark the end of this stage in Prospect’s history with a big essay on one of our hobbyhorse themes—identity, migration and citizenship—by one of the west’s leading public intellectuals. Francis Fukuyama paints on a provocatively large canvas—from the identity-shaped hole in liberal political theory, through Muslim extremism as identity politics, to the problems created by the weak identities and valuelessness of modern liberal states in Europe and North America. Fukuyama’s big-picture view inevitably misreads some of the detail. But he does spot the European paradox that, from the point of view of integrating new citizens, we are both too nationalistic and not nationalistic enough. We are old societies, with relatively strong states and ethnic, or community, attachments that create somewhat higher hurdles to integration than a more individualistic, mobile settler society like America. At the same time, the post-national values of most European elites have prevented us, until recently, from thinking and speaking clearly about the nature of national citizenship and what we expect of new citizens.
Many economic and cultural trends are pulling Europe in an American direction, but most Europeans, including ethnic-minority Europeans, want to hold on to our higher levels of social solidarity (as Timothy Garton Ash reminds us inside). Because of that solidarity aspiration, Europe makes a more ambitious offer of equal citizenship than balkanised America, and in doing so often seems to set itself up to fail. At least, as Fukuyama acknowledges, Europe is now starting to have an open, cross-border discussion about these themes.