Ellan Read

sometimes witty book reviews

Has The West Lost It? A Provocation


First published: 2018

Found: On mum’s bedside table

Pages/read time: 112, 3 nights of before-bed reading


With this little book Kishore Mahbubani is saying a lot of things that a lot of people want to hear, and a lot thing that a lot of people don’t don’t want to hear. But at no point, unlike so many other contemporary commentaries, did I feel a sense of soul-crushing existential dread. Mahbubani has done the extraordinary – he has conveyed a sense of hope for humanity through sound economic reasoning.

It’s not scholarly, it’s not groundbreaking literature, but it is a stunning little epitaph to the end of Western condescension. China and India, argues Mahbubani, will soon lead the global order and the only people with anything to dread are those so ‘caged in’ with their own fear that they cannot see the good in the world: i.e. anybody living in a Western society. Chiefly American and European societies, both of which feel they are under threat from two major factors: 1) China, 2) the Islamic world. But to what extent and why is where Mahbubani really shows off his diplomatic discourse.

In his opinion, gained through years of working deep within the world’s highest levels of diplomacy, Mahbubani states that

As long as liberal Americans believe that they have the most liberal minds in the world, they will never wake up and understand the closed mental universes they have boxed themselves into. Liberalism has created an attitude of intellectual superiority, especially towards the rest of the world.

Of Europeans, he states,

Most European Intellectuals, who are more aware of their own troubled history and the damage that European colonisation did to the world, do not share the messianic impulse of American intellectuals. Nonetheless, there is a similar reluctance to accept the new reality that Europe must also make structural adjustments to cope with a resurgent Rest.

Living in China as I currently do, as a Western-raised, white-skinned, Anglo-cultural individual, I am frequently confronted with the sheer magnitude of China’s success, but also, the sheer magnitude of it’s optimism for its journey into the future – an optimism that people in my country and of my generation in particular do not have. This book may be difficult to those in the West as yet still oblivious to the rise of Asia and in particular India, China and Indonesia, but it is a gentle and hopeful introduction to the coming new world order.

Reading suggestions: I can’t give you much more info on India, but on China I definitely can: click here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 10, 2018 by in Non-Fiction, political and tagged , , , , , , .


Currently Reading


Reading Wishlist

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 186 other followers

%d bloggers like this: