Iggy Azalea Loves Francis Fukuyama. No, Really.

The Australian rapper reveals she's reading Fukyama's "The Origins of Political Order."


At the outset of her chart-topping single “Fancy,” Australian rapper Iggy Azalea declares, “First things first, I’m the realest.” But could that in fact be nothing but an utter mondegreen? Might Azalea in fact be declaring her loyalty to the “realist” camp in foreign policy thought?

Before you dismiss that question outright, consider this: Azalea has described herself as something of a fan of Francis Fukuyama. Seriously.

In an interview with Paper, Azalea reveals that she’s wading her way through Fukuyama’s recent doorstopper, The Origins of Political Order.

“I like to read,” she told Paper. “I’m currently reading The Origins of Political Order. It starts at the beginning of time and goes up to the French Revolution. It’s about how religion turned into politics and politics turned into religion. Actually, it’s really informed how I look at the music industry.”

What might Azalea have learned from this book to gain insight into the music business? For most of his career, Fukuyama was an avowed neoconservative, but the Iraq war changed all that, leading Fukuyama to repudiate his views and fall back on a line of thinking still concerned with the spread of liberty but less willing to use American military force to promote it.

Asked by Der Spiegel in 2006 what happened to lead him to renounce a set of ideas he had once championed, Fukuyama replied: “Iraq happened. The process of distancing myself from neo-conservatism happened four years ago really. I had decided the war wasn’t a good idea some time in 2002 as we were approaching the invasion of Iraq.”

Fukuyama shot to fame on the back of his “End of History” thesis, the idea that the grand political battles of the past have reached their end point in man’s evolution toward liberal democracy. Written just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Fukuyama’s thesis emerged as a dominant frame through which to view the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent spread of democratic regimes. Liberal democracy, it was assumed, had triumphed over communism, and with that victory, many of the battles that had defined “history” no longer had ground upon which to be fought.

In The Origins of Political Order, Fukuyama is concerned with many of the same ideas — namely how one arrives at this perfect endpoint of liberal democracy — and offers a grand sketch of history. Fukuyama suggests that the key lies in balancing power between the state, an independent judiciary, and accountability to groups outside the state. A key juncture on the road to this balance, according to Fukuyama, lies in eliminating patrimonialism, or disconnecting the power of the state from the ruler’s family.

In short, Fukuyama is concerned with the exercise of power and how it can be directed toward the construction of an effective, accountable state. It is perhaps this idea of balance in the exercise of power that Azalea feels has given her insight into the music business.

With this in mind, there is another classic work of political theory that might interest Azalea, who, after all, likes to profess that she is in the “murda bizniss”: Charles Tilly’s 1985 classic, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime.”

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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