Is Western civilization “satanic,” as Mahatma Gandhi once contended? The essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra clearly thinks so, and has written From the Ruins of Empire to persuade us that the West is so vile that quite literally any system of government and ethics is superior to it. Fortunately, in the course of his polemic, Mishra so contradicts himself, so overreaches himself, and makes so many errors of fact, that admirers of Western civilization needn’t worry that they might be secret Satanists.

Mr. Mishra believes that it was the philosophies of various Asian intellectuals that principally doomed the European empires in Asia in the middle years of the twentieth century. He argues that these philosophies were so superior to the greed and exploitation of the evil Westerners that the power of the white man could not survive the great truths that were being revealed to the Asian...

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