Frontlist | Pankaj Mishra’s ‘Bland Fanatics’, hard hitting critique to west
Following his much acclaimed book The Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra is back with another book titled Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race and Empire. This book is a collection of sixteen essays which have appeared over the course of a decade i.e. from 2008-2019 and published mainly in leading journals in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The book discusses wide ranging themes like the rise of Donald Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic, Salman Rushdie, Jordan Peterson, The Economists magazine and Brexit etc. In discussing topics from politics to culture, liberalism to the end of liberalism and imperialism to neo-imperialism, the author moves from Delhi to Mumbai to Cairo, Washington to Paris to Beijing and traverses from the eighteenth to the twenty first century.
Despite covering a broad range of topics distributed over a wide time period, the articles in the book are unified through ideas like liberalism, race and empire which is also the subtitle of the book. The book discusses and traces their history, contemporarily and future trajectory in the most forceful manner. Just like Mishra’s other works, Bland Fanatics takes you on an intellectual override and in the course of doing so digs out a wealth of interesting and often surprising information and connections.
Mishra shows that the political ideology of liberalism is intertwined with the ideology of race and colonialism and that they are not only intertwined but all are a product of one single concern i.e. the maintenance of White supremacy across the Globe. The ideology of liberalism was actually just born in response to the communist threat in the aftermath of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution.
The principle of ‘Free Market’ – which essentially is a disguise for White supremacy – considered as the harbinger of peace and prosperity, was only pushed through armed occupation and gunboat diplomacy in former colonial countries. This colonial legacy keeps itself intact, as the United States and the NATO, the self-proclaimed champions of democracy, fought countless wars to batter down several countries in the name of development and democracy. Vietnam, Yugoslavia, the Gulf War, toppling of several Latin American governments are just a few examples of the continued legacy of gunboat diplomacy from the era of high colonialism.
Exposing the hypocrisy of rich, racist and power hungry liberals, the author shows that liberalism, which is “flatteringly identified with cosmopolitan tolerance, has long been more at home with nationalism, imperialism and even racialism”.
Source: National Herald