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In England and America, faltering economies at home and failed wars abroad have generated a political and intellectual hysteria. It is a derangement manifested in a number of ways: imperial atavism, xenophobic paranoia, and denunciations of an allegedly intolerant left. These symptoms can be found even among the most intelligent of Anglo-America. In Bland Fanatics, Pankaj Mishra examines the politics and culture of this hysteria, anatomizing the dominant establishment discourses of our times.
In essays that grapple with the meaning and content of Anglo-American liberalism, its relations with colonialism, the Global South, Islam, and “humanitarian” war, Mishra confronts writers such as Jordan Peterson, Niall Ferguson, and Salman Rushdie. He describes the doubling-down of an intelligentsia against a background of weakening Anglo-American hegemony; he explores the commitments of Ta-Nehisi Coates and the ideological determinations of the Economist. These essays provide a vantage point from which to understand the current crisis and its deep origins.
Bland Fanatics is not available from Verso Books in the United States and Canada.
“Dazzling … an extraordinarly powerful argument, by a writer of powerful and perhaps even remorseless conviction, for the case that we need first to rethink our past in order to reshape our future.”
“An important and illuminating critic of liberalism and globalisation.”
“The Anglo-American commentariat is full of lofty egos. Pankaj Mishra has developed a reputation as their great deflater … Mishra’s analysis of Anglo-American barbarism is cutting.”
“Every sentence is assembled with meticulous thought … What the English have often flattered themselves saying they did, Mishra, as an English writer, really does: his duty. His careful discipline shows him to stand clear of the crisis of the Anglo intellectual that he narrates.”
“Lacerating … Mishra artfully pummels liberalism’s Grand Narrative.”
“Mishra excels at calling out intellectual vapidities … [he] invariably knows where the bodies are buried and how to use the incriminating detail to good effect.”