Korybko to Pankaj Mishra: The West has neo-imperial hubris, not a so-called “India Problem”
by Andrew Korybko on 04 Oct 2023 1 Comment

The paradigm through which the West’s liberal-globalist policymakers and their supporters like Mishra perceive International Relations is fundamentally flawed since it wrongly assumes Western “exceptionalism” and correspondingly implies that all non-Western societies must bend to its will.


Bloomberg’s Pankaj Mishra just published an inflammatory op-ed about how “The West’s India Problem Isn’t Getting Any Easier”, which portrays that country’s growing confidence on the world stage as supposedly being a challenge for the West’s so-called rules-based order. According to him, its government and society are becoming increasingly nationalistic, with their unified response to Canada’s allegation that Delhi assassinated a Sikh separatist being a perfect case in point.


Aware of his targeted Western audience’s biases, Mishra unconvincingly tries to compare India and Prime Minister Modi to Russia and President Putin, albeit in the worst ways possible, of course. To that end, he attempts to manipulate their perceptions about the Indian-Canadian dispute to make it seem like this South Asian state is now assassinating dissidents abroad with impunity like Russia was earlier accused of doing. Unaware readers are left with the impression that India is becoming a rogue state.


Accordingly, the subtext is that India will inevitably pose an equal challenge to the West’s rules-based order one day as Russia presently does, which in turn implies that a multi-dimensional containment policy is required to prevent this from happening or at least manage it as best as possible. The preceding observations from Mishra’s piece strongly suggest that he’s influenced by the West’s neo-imperial hubris, which is the real problem, not India’s rise and its newly confident behaviour on the world stage.


This New Cold War bloc tacitly knows that its prior monopoly on global affairs has ended, but instead of going with the flow by responsibly finding its place in the emerging Multipolar World Order, it wants to aggressively cling to its fading dominance by hook or by crook. In pursuit of this goal, its liberal-globalist policymaking faction and those of its supporters in the media like Mishra are exploiting the Indian-Canadian dispute to fearmonger about the future of their cherished rules-based order.


About that, this misleadingly worded concept actually refers to the arbitrary implementation of double-standards designed to give the West an edge over others, which in this case takes the form of framing India’s unified response to Canada’s allegation as something for average Westerners to be afraid of. The innuendo is that non-Western societies are supposed to take Western accusations against their governments at face value and dutifully condemn their leaders instead of rallying in support of them.


By contrast, only Western societies are allowed to rally behind their governments whenever others make allegations of them since it’s supposedly taken for granted that the West is such an “exceptional” civilization that it never does anything worth condemning. This particular double standard is designed to gaslight foreign societies into thinking that they’re automatically guilty solely because they’re non-Western and that the only way to atone for this is to do whatever the West demands of them.


In the analyzed example of the Indian-Canadian dispute, the West expected that anti-government sentiment would surge across the world’s most populous country, but the exact opposite happened because its people’s confidence is finally commensurate with their state’s newfound global status. They broke the West’s psychological shackles that had hitherto enabled that bloc to control them through information warfare, which is the real reason why the liberal-globalists are so furious at their response.


Neo-imperial hubris blinded these ideologues to the fact that non-Western societies are no longer slavishly doing the West’s bidding, which poses a threat to their subjectively defined rules-based order since it can’t be taken for granted anymore that the Global South will abide by it. The actual problem therefore isn’t India or any other developing country, but Western hegemony and this bloc’s failure to adapt to the irreversible multipolar processes connected to the ongoing global systemic transition.


The paradigm through which its liberal-globalist policymakers and their supporters like Mishra perceive International Relations is fundamentally flawed since it wrongly assumes Western “exceptionalism” and correspondingly implies that all non-Western societies must bend to its will. Those like Russia, China, and Iran that hitherto refused to do so are smeared as anti-democratic rogue states which supposedly pose serious challenges to the Western-centric rules-based order and should thus be contained at all costs.


India’s refusal to comply with the West’s expectations in its dispute with Canada discredits the liberal-globalists’ paradigm more than those others’ prior examples did since its governing model is similar to the West’s democratic one and it’s in a military-strategic partnership with the West’s US leader. Never before has a non-Western country with those credentials defied the West like this on such a sensitive issue, which infuriates that faction to no end and explains why it’s now fearmongering about India.


The example set by that country could serve to inspire other developing ones to follow in its footsteps, thus setting into motion a chain reaction whereby the entire Global South liberates itself from the West’s psychological shackles and therefore neutralizes one of the most pernicious means of control over them. The subjectively defined rules-based order would then cease to be a relevant concept in International Relations, thereby disarming one of the West’s most potent weapons over the rest of the world. 


Without any pretense to moral superiority like it used to have in the minds of many immediately after the end of the Old Cold War during the brief unipolar era, the West is exposed as just one of several poles in the emerging Multipolar World Order instead of anything “exceptional”. Double standards of the sort that it used to wantonly apply with impunity on that false basis will no longer escape scrutiny. Rather, they’ll become soft power liabilities as the world increasingly condemns them as neo-imperialist.


Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently alluded to precisely that when speaking at the UNGA. In his words, “those who have institutional influence or historical influence have actually weaponized a lot of those capabilities as well. They will all mouth the right things, but the reality is still today, it’s a world very much of double standards.” It’s this proud example set by India that strikes fear in the hearts of liberal-globalists like Mishra since it confirms the end of Western hegemony.


Circling back to his inflammatory op-ed, he and those like him are so blinded by neo-imperial hubris that they’re unable to accept that the world has changed. The West can no longer successfully gaslight foreign populations into doing its bidding as proven by Indian society’s unified response to Canada’s allegation. By maliciously smearing the world’s most populous country instead of respecting its sovereign right to defend itself, Mishra and his ideological ilk are only accelerating the end of Western hegemony.




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