Utah Gov. Spencer Cox fired off a quick commentary on the chaotic scene playing out across American college campuses on Thursday.

Grabbing a snapshot from Francis Fukuyama’s landmark work of post-Cold War political philosophy — “The End of History and the Last Man” — Cox implied it was boredom, not oppression, that caused young people to fight against the institutions of liberal democracy.

For over two weeks, student protests calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas have rocked college campuses and dominated headlines. Entire buildings have been occupied, dozens of fights have broken out and thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been arrested.

The observation from Cox, a prolific social media poster, quickly resonated with thousands, including activist investor Bill Ackman, family policy scholar Timothy Carney and Atlantic writer Derek Thompson. The post was viewed 1.5 million times by Friday morning.

“Can’t stop thinking about this Francis Fukuyama paragraph from The End of History,” was all Cox wrote to caption a paragraph from the book’s final chapter.

Cox’s highlighted passage predicted that even once the world had filled up with democratic countries that respected civil liberties, people living in peaceful and prosperous places would invent tyrannical forces to oppose, including struggling “against that peace and prosperity, and against democracy.”

“Experience suggests that if men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier generation, then they will struggle against the just cause,” the quote reads. “They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: for they cannot imagine living in a world without struggle.”

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Ackman, a Harvard graduate and successful hedge fund manager, has placed the blame for antisemitism and violence on college campuses at the feet of progressive ideologies, including diversity, equity and inclusion programs, that teach a worldview that divides Americans into groups of oppressors and the oppressed.

He shared Cox’s post on Thursday, saying, “This is brilliant.”

Carney, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Deseret News contributor, said one way to engage oneself in a just cause, even if you live in a country as peaceful and prosperous as the United States, is to invest in your family and neighborhood.

“You know what gives you struggle daily without having to look for it?” he asked. “Raising young kids. Or volunteering in your community.”

Thompson, who has written about the need for an “abundance agenda” and the importance of church attendance, got even more philosophical than Cox, quoting the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In his “Notes from Underground,” the 19th-century author writes that humans need obstacles to overcome or else they will feel powerless.

Former Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent also commented in response to Cox’s post, pointing to a conversation he had with Fukuyama in 2022. In the interview, the political scientist agreed that a sense of boredom with their own success, and “a lot of pent-up idealism,” were at least partially responsible for the huge outpouring of support for Ukraine across Western democracies. That same combination of comfort and a desire for idealistic struggle was also behind the resurgence of “right-wing populism,” Fukuyama said.

“I do think people like the idea of struggling for a just cause,” he said at the time, “and they really haven’t had anything other than consumerism and mindless middle-class pursuits in the last 30 years.”

Utah attorney James Bramble pushed back on the consensus from Cox, Ackman and others.

“Definitely interesting,” he commented. “But in reality there is oppression, poverty, civilizations being decimated. Plenty of real issues. It’s easy in our comfortable suburbs with 2 cars and food to choose from in the fridge to forget that most people in the world do not have it so easy.”

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