What does the Western world, in its political, economic, and civilizational aspects, look like from the perspective of countries of the East and the South? This is a question that has long interested the Slavophile tradition as well as Indic traditions (especially Gandhi, and also in more recent years, J.C. Kapur who was one of the founding figures of the World Public forum) but it is particularly pertinent today in addressing some of the mimicry of Western ideas assumed to have a wholesale, universal application, with a willful amnesia about local folk and spiritual traditions of thought about society, culture and politics outside of the cognitive orbit of the West.
Are there conceptual resources within these traditions which offer the basis of a critique of the standard assumptions of orthodox, Western liberal thought regarding the economy, political governance, and cultural and social life? And do they provide the basis for conceptualizing alternative forms of modernity than the modernity that has been shaped by the 'liberal' doctrines of the West that became enshrined in the orthodox ideals of the Enlightenment? Can these intellectual resources, however limited or even defective they may be in some respects, form at least a partial basis for criticism of both contemporary Northern societies as well as the societies of the countries of the South which have been forced into a false form of integration with the former via financialized forms of globalization and its effects more broadly on culture? Are there truer, less shallow, forms of globalization that might emerge 'from below', as it were, if we focus on these local traditions in the South and integrate them with the longstanding dissenting traditions through the intellectual and political history of the West and the North?