Haroon Sheikh, lead researcher at Freedomlab, was interviewed by Belgian publication Knack as part of a series where prominent thinkers with non-western perspectives were asked: Is the West in decline and should Europe and the U.S. resign themselves to this new state of affairs?
In the interview, Sheikh filters the hypocrisy of the West in its current self-assigned role of setting international standards and norms, through a historical lens applied to a multi-polar world scenario. A perspective emerges that shows how the West’s current geopolitical paradigm influences our reality; how the way we perceive the world today, and the way we assume the world should be ideally, is a social construct that will unwind as the balance of power disperses and shifts to the east.
Namely, the West’s dominance has transferred to a determinant role across a range of standards. Sheikh describes how a multipolar world is likely to engender a shift in these standards, from societal norms, to our understanding of effective government, sound economic policy, and even the definition of human rights. The West will have to come to terms with the fact that different cultures require different standards.
Sheikh illustrates a scenario of what the West should do as its hegemonic position in the world is increasingly supplanted, and specifically how Europe should position itself in an envisioned future resembling a Concert des Nations of the early 19th century.
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