Blog post

Bélen Fernández and Pankaj Mishra on Thomas Friedman

Jose Martinez-Flores10 September 2012

Recently in Al Jazeera, Belén Fernández, author of the searing critique The Imperial Messenger, interviewed award-winning author and essayist Pankaj Mishra about his new book From The Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. In his book, Mishra discusses the political awakening of Asia and challenges Western-centric narratives, referencing Thomas Friedman’s own delusions of Western grandeur as a prime example of neo-colonial journalism:

The other thing that influenced me was the post-9/11 political climate in the West. How such a wide range of politicians, policymakers, journalists and columnists could re-embrace the delusions of empire—those you thought had been effectively shattered by decolonisation 50-60 years ago; how they could bring themselves to believe that the Afghans and the Iraqis were just longing to suck on the big sticks proffered to them by American soldiers, as Thomas Friedman inimitably recommended...

In conversation with Fernandez, he goes on to offer further criticism of Friedman’s support for free trade as a be-all and end-all cure for poverty, stating:

I think to answer that one has to examine, in addition to individual trajectories of journalists like Friedman, the synergies that developed between politicians, businessmen, academics and journalists in recent decades: how each of these figures came to boost the other, how policymaking and opinion-making came to be complementary, how intellectuals came to be professionalised, Davos-ed and Aspen-ised and ended up whispering advice to power, and how defective but profit-maximising knowledge was produced and then widely disseminated.

 Visit Al Jazeera to read the interview in full.