Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Individual vs the Collective

I came across this article in the NY Times, of all the conservative writers, I do tend to respect David Brook's opinions more than say those of William Kristol, who pens ideological blatherings for the NY Times.

With the Olympics, you can't avoid all the writing about China's geo-political and cultural differences. However, I found his latest article about the differences between Western and Eastern mind-set rather interesting.

It is true that there is a different way of thinking between the two groups, that the Eastern philosphy is that of the collective, thinking of the group as more important than the individual, vs Western philosophy where the individualistic originality tends to be more inherent.

However, I would disagree with David Brook's inherent conclusion that there isn't a sense of collectivism in the US. Nor can we infer that the opening ceremonies show a true picture of a country in harmony. I think the social norms we have today in our neighborhood, the idea of working together for a greater good is evident everyday in the US. Every country has it's moment where an ideal or mission can bring it together for a nationalistic or collective effort.

But at the same time, in Western cultures, we recognize the unique rewards that individualism can bring as well. Throughout history, it's because of individual and creative innovators, that we were able to bring advancement. When you have a collective society all working in harmony, for sure you will have the productivity, but you don't have the creativity to produce something unique and jump start advancements in technology and ultimately your economy.

The opening ceremonies were impressive to be sure, and with so many displaying national pride and given the vast population, China did have the resources to pull off such an amazing show, but we need to keep in mind, that it was just that - a show.
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1 comment:

Rick98C said...

So conservatives are now lauding the glories of communism? Very interesting indeed.