India is considered to be a part of the Anglo-sphere, which is usually accounted to its English-speaking population and the transaction of English as a working language of the Republic of India, ranging from the governments to the academia and even other relevant sectors. Now, there is no deniability that India has mastered English and certain other components of the Anglosphere in her own right.
The BCCI rules the ICC in Cricket already, and in Foreign Policy even, India is gaining strategic autonomy under PM Modi and Dr S Jaishankar. However, the larger loss of the cultural critical mass, which India as a federal civilisation has suffered comes from the way its policies are drafted and even thought of.
If you see the recent developments in Afghanistan, Indian representatives’ statements in events like the Bled Strategic Forum 2021, the UN Security Council Session on Afghanistan in August under the Indian presidency, and even PM Modi’s remarks on US Vice President Kamala Harris, you will surely see that a sense of multi-alignment does persevere in India’s diplomacy. That sense of true strategic autonomy is rising, and certainly would not deplete in future.
However, on the other hand, the defeatist angle does still exist, either residually, or by the view of some characteristic juxtaposition. For example, the recent controversy with the Cowin App-generated Vaccination Certificates for Indian citizens who are vaccinated via the Covishield Vaccine shows two important things — (1) that racism is just 1 angle of the real problem; and (2) the UK, like many Anglophone countries, has not achieved that reckoning of their colonial hangover against India and even other former colonies for that matter. That kind of approach restricts even the West to control and consider as to why cancel culture and post-modernism is problematic for them.
There is no doubt that even the United States, like France and the United Kingdom, to some extent, acknowledge, how post-modernism, in strategic affairs as well as in the domain of public policy, for individual dignity, is baseless, policy-less and screwed. Yet, they are unable to counter the conflict polities and economies fostered by their own academia and even corporations.
The claim that the governments in these countries have funded such agendas and counterproductive activities is definitely not flawed, and has reasonable merits. Indirect funding and even indirect “binary” support in the name of equilibrium politics, or what Western academics call — “the Overton Window” has damaged the whole system of the West, where they believe to create longing artificial binaries, which then lead to creating policy consensus. In line of agreement with Shri Sanjeev Sanyal, I call it “equilibrium politics”, similar to Newtonian form of economics, which has zero value in a multipolar neorealist world.
Now, interestingly, we have the same problem in India, due to coloniality, and whenever we talk about it, it is considered that any kind of past mistakes and even guilty actions are being repressed. That mentality again comes from a society and even a polity, which assumes these things:
- That our graph of progress stems from the policy ecosystem of linear consequentiality, i.e., we need a collision-based approach to grow in a linear way. That has been the case of the West, but certainly not the East.
- That due to post-coloniality, we should completely ignore the history.
Since, moral relativism is not to be even defended, as the purpose of this article is to address real policy issues, let us kindly assume that moral relativism is a thing of history, and should always be ignored, as the argument is not even surviving under this school of thought at all.
Now, India, ironically has been, since the 20th century, trying to reconcile the problems we faced, acknowledge them, and then ignoring moral relativism, innovating or at least trying to innovate beyond the downward spiral of post-coloniality long back. We see that in various works of authors, artists and even thinkers within the Indic fold.
The larger issues we always had were related to economy, technology ethics, cultural intelligence & infamously, strategic affairs. Since, we have achieved some sense and are trying to come up with innovative models, it must be made clear from Day 1, whether in dealing with the Anglosphere, are we really asking for ideological autonomy, or Sampoorna civilisational autonomy. The former means to create duplicitous ideological conundrums to buttress the “shared values” and “liberalism” charade. If we are interested in that, then it is unfortunate.
Hence, to Indianise the global commons from a perspective of sanity and representation, it becomes important for India to delink its soft power dimensionality — completely or at least optimally which seeks damage control from the Anglosphere. This has to be understood very clearly because — the soft power proxies who are keen on any odd or even day to heckle people in Eurasia, starting from the Russians to the Indians, and these days, even Germans, the Anglosphere is acting pretty feudal in their caricatures of reason and logic.
The United Kingdom acknowledges the mess they are in, but unlike France under Emmanuel Macron, they just do not know how to tackle such a problem, because of the problem of “Overton Window” and the downward spiral of post-coloniality.
In case if anyone thinks that the West has not suffered from its own actions of modernity, post-coloniality and even for that matter, decoloniality and post-modernism, then those Anglosceptics must think differently.
Hence, India and the Indian people are in their absolute right to question everything. They should never justify any Anglo-Saxon tendency in the domain of soft power, which is designed (if not default) to mock and even denigrate the Indian people, since there is virtually a huge lack of communicability for the Indian people as relevant stakeholders. This is not a Joke. Why it is not? Let us figure that out.
Imagine India interacting with Iran on Pakistan’s ISI being involved with the Taliban Government against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Of course, from a hard power and security perspective, it does affect the Indian people. I am not going to even get into the blatant rhetoric of “absolute democratic feedbacks” because that too is quite frivolous and naive. Yet, why is it that India took so much time and kept tilted towards the US when it comes to Afghanistan? Was India unsure of the devastating impact of the Withdrawal of the US Army from Afghanistan? Then what is the strategic purpose of the Indo-US intelligence relationship if a long-run vision even cannot stand out?
This is why I have constantly argued that most of these strategic thinkers in India, especially from Delhi, who are interested in getting jobs at some fishy think tank or university in the Anglo-sphere, validate and seek cross-validation from the soft power elite in the United States. It does not matter even if in strategic affairs, they are correct in some terms, because they are deluded, cannot have the courage to interact with Indic and nuanced minds (and by that I do not mean any groupist stack of partisan people from any political parties), who could have different approaches per se.
Ironically, the Soft power elite in the US does not care if their media factions mock the Indian people in the name of any X or Y person or group. They say — “Have some thick skin”. This assumption ironically is based on a binary — generalist and even reconciliatory look towards Asia (especially India and China) that these people must or might have some “flaws” or mistakes, so let us just exploit that. It is like harassing a cancer patient or a COVID patient by constantly mocking them, or let us say, harassing any normal person, who is cured of cancer/COVID but since the person suffered, that alone makes the stereotypical ground to mock them.
Is that just? Is that truly open? Is that multicultural? No. Frankly, it does not make sense at all. There are people who do not see things like others.
This is not just an imagery issue for the Anglophone countries. Even Europe, Russia and Africa have severe disagreements with the Anglophone countries. Europeans are regularly misled by the American academia and corporations (including media), funded such conflict economy agendas in various European countries. Europe has now realised that it has to attain some cultural and even strategic autonomy too. That must not be confused with the deep failures of the European Commission and the European Council at all. EU member states have independent mindsets too.
France, Netherlands, Switzerland have already thought of it. Sadly, that is not the case in the Scandinavian countries, but Eastern Europe (not just usually Hungary) led by Ukraine, Czechia and even Slovenia are reviewing their policy conundrums. Russia under Putin is concerned as well.
African countries are mired and tangled in the socio-economic problems as well as the religion-binary problem which causes unrest in their own regions. Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE do not seek such conflict economy agendas at all as well. Their problems like those of the African people regionally are unique, but even they are getting fatigued by the Anglophone countries.
Japan also has resisted the tendencies of the Anglophone countries as well for long. Yes, they have been compromised a little, but they still have come up with nuanced approaches to tackle the issues. Someday, even Indonesia and other South-east Asian countries would resolve their problems.
It is therefore important to acknowledge that the problems exist.
What are the systemic and distinct issues?
In soft power, the problem of binary politicisation of the state affairs, in English-speaking and dominating countries, is a matter of growing concern. What could be earlier considered a “normal” way of engaging to homogenise and oversimplify is now becoming problematic. Here are the key issues being addressed:
- Lack of Coherence to Enculture
- Conflict Economy Problem
- Regulatory Sovereignty Issues
- Who even leads the Anglosphere?
Lack of coherence to enculture
Enculturation matters for a society, because that is how generations learn and develop the relationships and avenues for social, economic and even national cooperation. Anglosphere countries are lacking that because of their approach to spread globalism. Now, globalisation is a civilisational reality, and is common for all civilisations. However, it does not mean this reality dilutes civilisational consciousness and even social serenity.
The Anglophone countries’ soft power actors, specifically, have been engaged in not adapting with the diversity of the global commons they brag about. English and Westernisation could be a reasonable way to engage with everyone, especially when it comes to multiculturalism. However, that does not justify binary approaches, which are constructed to create conflict economies and polities.
In reality, there will never be a state when conflict economics and development economics would not exist together. Both cannot stay alone themselves in their own right while the other one is diminished. It is virtually impossible in a realpolitik. However, culture’s role becomes important because it shapes the way people lead and make things better according to their needs.
Every country has the right to decide that. This is why each Democracy has its own form of particularisms.
India, for example has a feudal form of Westminster state machinery. However, despite common law systems, India is utterly democratic because for a large populace, trying to achieve the status of an emerging developmental economy, is something which cannot be ignored. Many democracies fail in achieving that and suffer from the exploitation of federalism and even secessionism. India has border issues, but since the 1990s too, India has risen pretty well. That is undeniable.
In the US, the Electoral College system is an utter mess and even the voting mechanisms are screwed. The vaccination and COVID management situation in the West is systemically orchestrated (perhaps not by the political parties, or maybe perhaps but) by the state machineries who run the countries. Law and order is no good there too, and they are even facing issues which, they might not expect to happen since they assume only some “third world” countries would suffer.
Whether the Global South countries should review their policies is another matter and must not be compared here at all. This shows a clear lack of reckoning, which these countries’ soft power actors and their voters have to do someday. Or else it would be sufferable for their own interests and not of those who are being attacked.
Conflict Economy Problem
Now, development and conflict, both exist together — not to form equilibriums, but to generate amorphous forms of evolution and growth, howsoever it is measured. They can be political and economic exclusively as well as mutually. The problem with the academia and the corporations (including the media) there is that the approach they adopt towards binary partisanship or even for that matter — creating binaries of discourses, they generally adopt discourses, which are linear consequentialist, meant to create ripples of conflict economies. That is bound to happen since their approach has been designed in that very ingenious way. Now, we should ask these:
- Can it be averted completely? No.
- Can it be paused phase-by-phase? Maybe or perhaps YES.
- Was it stopped? In many cases, No.
Hence, the larger issue in policy for the Anglophone countries is the third question itself. Yes, colonial apologists must be condemned. However, policy instrumentalism has to be absorbed with a cyclic sense, and not through a sense of savagery towards anyone. That if not is prevented, causes problems.
Please also remember that the West is also post-colonial and modern at the same time, because in a global commons, the post-coloniality, which naturally due to diversions or artificially due to influence vectors imposed on the decolonised — does leave a larger imprint on the West too.
China had suffered from semi-colonisation and even Japan to some extent. Are they not post-colonial? Well, yes. However, are they not a part of modern realities as what they are and not what is being assumed? This question is something which is not answered. It does matter that subjective experiences are affected and the impact is resourceful for the coloniser. It yet does not justify how much post-coloniality and modernity have been lubricated completely, because of the kind of globalised world we live in. Ideology definitely, along with some theology had a role to play. It yet does not completely answer the question, which means, research is a need in this area.
For the “colonised” — the dilemma is the limit of their own idea of modernity (because yes, exhaustion happens with the West) and for the “decolonised”, the problem is how much “immortal” they should be actually. It reminds me of the classic Indo-UK relationship. Hence, it becomes important to estimate that the downward spiral of post-coloniality is dangerous for both the West and the East. If the West thinks it will save itself through post-modernism and futuristic ambitions, then it would not happen because the world does not work like that. Ideologies shape innovation but not the realpolitik as well as the realities social animals, according to their language, live in. If the East assumes that absolute decoloniality is the solution, then it would not happen because there are severe costs. Then, it is counterproductive for the same cultures which sought some limited revival in the 20th and the 21st centuries due to globalisation and liberalisation, because they forget that Japan, Singapore, Israel and even China exist as the models of development and growth. For cultural economies and ecosystems, the larger questions would be the following:
- How they shape their strategic autonomy per se
- How they participate in two important things — global supply chains and global information chains
- How they shape their own global contributions as well as the global approach they are not asked to do, but to at least embark upon it
- How they shape the perennial and important relationship between the individual and the collective
- How their uniqueness grows beyond ideological obscuration
- How they shape innovation ethics and evolve around multiculturally in a globalised world
- How they contribute to form some optimal-level consensus on global matters, and not just everyone’s near dear HUMAN RIGHTS!
I am certainly not a decoloniality scholar, but I can vouch for Strategic Decoloniality, which is to say that:
In specific areas, which pan from individual/distinctive to umbrella/comprehensive matters, specific decolonisation is a must, based on questioning them, and reengineering them the way that convergence becomes possible. Please remember that whenever any national leader says — This X or Y is a GLOBAL PROBLEM, it clearly means it is not a GLOBALIST problem, but is a GLOBAL PROBLEM according to THEIR PERSPECTIVE.
This is exactly how public international law despite its earlier Christian biases was formed — accepting that natural morality and legal positivism (according to Martti Koskenniemi), should be balanced. Since, we do not live in the ages of equilibrium, I would even propose something better:
Multipolarity and multi alignment leads to neorealism and a natural, anarchic form of peace. Multilateralism-based bipolarity and unipolarity backed by neoliberalism lead to artificial peace.
Agreeing with investor Balaji S. Srinivasan, a Multipolar West is an emanation of the Multipolar World. In fact, we are quite fortunate as a global commons that we have reached the stage of neorealism, which is healthier and disruptive. There is nothing unjust in that because then making things better would take time. Well as a global community, cannot we afford that?
We also forget that multiculturalism can only happen when civilisational plurality (not ideological pluralism) and sovereignty exist together. Without that, forget contemporary serenity among people, and forget even individual dignity. The wrong assumption which is always made is that individuality (not ideological individualism) would be completely lost. History shows it has not happened. The collective has more critical mass, when it comes to its role to shape civilisations than the individual. But a cohesive collective cannot be made without serene adaptations and enculturation of individual dignity and uniqueness.
Period. Next time anyone gets into that same fear psychosis, please don’t. The West therefore has to stop fetishising the individual and even the collective for sheer, unbridled and uncertain weaponisation of whatever they implement as soft power, if it wants some natural peace based on armed neutrality.
Regulatory Sovereignty Issues
This is also an interesting issue. So, regulatory sovereignty, is in this century, not necessarily colonial by nature. It is a post-colonial construct, which is mastered by the European Union, for example. What we see that economic and policy realities plus the way to adapt and manoeuvre them shapes European sovereignty. Now, for India to become relevant, it has to adopt its own way of regulatory sovereignty too. Private actors can induce and help in the decentralised issues of culture, tech sourcing and disruptions, private int’l law, knowledge economy and others.
However, there must be a strategic consensus, which should be innovative, as if even if the strings of a Veena or a Violin are breaking down, the sovereign artist still is playing the serene hymn of regularisation, as a mark of respect for the “global commons” and even showering their own melody and beauty in that musical performance, as if Krishna guides Arjuna to paint a larger canvas of realisation.
Regulatory sovereignty can work out well when cyclic consequentiality is achievable. It is generally not easy to do so, because as said, conflict economies and polities & developmental economies and polities exist together, not to balance each other, but because they just frankly do. I had a fascinating discussion with Roger Brownsword, KCL — which people can look at considering the transformation of soft law in the domain of AI and Law. No country can avoid these 2 fundamental realities:
- Avoiding issues that compromise their sovereignty and cultural strategic autonomy, by design and in practice
- Avoiding global realities and forgetting to even contribute into them
The best way to be a global actor is to shape better, build better and think differently. If India needs to adopt a cyclic consequentialist approach, it has to not just look beyond, but participate, through public actors and private actors, via shaping things. Multipolarity already is competent enough to shape the realities in a way that cultural autonomy can preserve. What should people do is not my job to tell about. Best I can do is to suggest how much honest we can be to ourselves.
Who even leads the Anglosphere?
India is of course not a leader of the Anglosphere, but a rising power in some terms. We have only 2 choices in the soft power domain:
- Either leave the ecosystem
- Or Lead the same
I have a third option to propose. We can optimally dissociate, and shape the cultural and technological vectors of the Anglophone countries, if we master in our own right. Indianising things would not complete the journey, and that is exactly where decoloniality would lose its relevance post-achieving the state of horizon. It could become relevant to remind and even continue specific cyclic revivals of who we are as a federal civilisation. It however does not mean that the journey is over. In fact, it becomes more interesting than before.
So, the Anglosphere is already fatigued by post modernism. Europe is suffering from strategic paralysis and even the NAM-ish situation they are really in. The West would need India anyways. Should we consider to be too kind to be altruistic? Not at all. We should instead dominate and even transform the chains of economy, information and technology on which the West has thrived for long.
We can expand our Indo-European civilisational connect with Pagans across the globe, and that can be very much policy-nuanced, ranging from Delhi to Jerusalem to Czechia, and even Kolkata to Bali to Tokyo (to maybe even Vladivostok, who knows). Cultural economics is essential with developing an environmentally cognizant and naturalistic approach to such things.
If we are the “immortal” civilisation, then become autonomous in the Anglosphere, make the path we need and question the path we are being forced to walk on. Walking the talk is a necessity anyways for Bharata.
How we counter our own Moore’s Law component in cultural economy and strategic autonomy will be a major challenge for India and the Bhartiya commons.
I hope that by next time I write something on this, I say that something has even begun.
–By Abhivardhan (Host, Indus Think | Founder of Think Tanks & Journals | AI-Global Law Futurist | YouTuber)
(This article was first published on industhink.medium.com and has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.)