The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 2/5

December 18, 2012

Even in individualist countries/cultures, we find collectivism at work. In business, the collective society is often seen in corporate structure.

New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki argues, “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”

An example used by Surowiecki shows that “the TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 92 percent of the time, compared to ‘experts’ who guess only 65 percent correctly.” Source: Co-Society.com

What Surowiecki says explains why China’s top few-hundred officials use the “Red Machine”, an encrypted communication system, for making quick collective decisions.

In The Collective Will, I mentioned the author of a Wall Street Journal piece as an example of how most people in the West have trouble understanding what goes on in China.

Most Chinese understand their government’s  actions and decisions even if a Westerner from an individualist culture doesn’t.

Some Chinese may not like it. Others may not agree with it.

However, Westerners are not always happy with their governments either. Just look at America to understand what I mean.

Continued on December 19, 2012 in Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China and India’s Mutual Collectivism and History

December 28, 2011

There appears to be an obsession in the West that India, since it is a democracy, is the developing country to counterbalance China’s economic and military growth.

The American Interest published a piece in their May/June 2010 issue – The Return of the Raj, which points out that where G. W. Bush failed to build an Indo-U.S. defense pact, Secretary of State Clinton in a visit to India in July 2009 did open the door to significant arms transfers from the U.S. to India.

If the United States and India can together rediscover and revive the Indian military’s expeditionary tradition, they will have a solid basis for strategic cooperation not only between themselves but also with the rest of the world’s democracies. Source: The American Interest

In another piece, A Himalayan rivalry, The Economist focuses on the 1962 conflict between India and China saying, “Memoires of a war between India and China are still vivid in the Tawang valley…”

However, memoires aren’t everything. There is also knowledge, and China is not the same country it was in 1962.

In 1962, some of the factors that led to the war between India and China were linked to Mao’s policies, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The Maoists were removed from power in the 1980s, and China is not the same socialist nation it was then.

Unlike India, China’s one party political system allows for quick decisions that often benefit the country.

Another important factor to remember is that China is still a collectivist nation as India is.

Due to this fact, China and India have more in common than India and America.

It does not matter that India is considered the world’s largest democracy, because to counter that, India also has a large bureaucracy that makes it difficult to get things done.

However, in India, the bureaucracy has a reputation for being tremendously arrogant and corrupt. It is a truism that Indian bureaucrats are generally smug and supercilious… source: Open India

Indian bureaucracy has often been criticized for being cumbersome and stretching procedures to sanction projects. Source: Meri News

A friend, Tom Carter, while shooting his next book in India, discovered that it was easier to travel and stay in China than India.

A study of individualist and collectivist orientations across occupational groups in India by Anjali Ghosh where he refers to a study by Sinha & Verma (1994) … that masters-level university students express more idiocentric (individualist) orientations than allocentric (collectivist) due to Western influence, immediate life concerns and exposure to mass media.

However, Verma & Triandis (1999) observed that Indian students were more vertical collectivist than U.S. students were.

Another fact is that China and India both have ancient civilizations more than 5,000 years old and they are next-door neighbors as Canada and the US are.

Note: This revised and edited post first appeared as a two-part series on September 10, 2010 as China and India’s Mutual Collectivism and Shared History – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Bullying China over North Korea is a Mistake

December 5, 2010

I keep reading in the Western media and on the Internet that China is the bad boy for not taming North Korea even as WikiLeaks shows that China doesn’t have that much influence over the Hermit Kingdom.

One example comes from Jack Kim, a reporter in Seoul working for Reuters, who writes, “China, pushed again by Washington to bring North Korea to heel after last week’s artillery attack on the South, told Pyongyang their relationship had withstood international ‘tempests’.”

If everything we hear about the Hermit Kingdom is true, I must admit this is one country I wouldn’t want to visit.

However, why is China being bullied by the West to tame a beast it cannot control?

The answer is “Humanitarianism”, a concept born among the West’s democracies.

Remaking the World by Michael Barnett says, “Religious beliefs and organizations, most notably those influenced by Christian theology and ethics, helped to create modern humanitarianism in the early nineteenth century and have shaped its expanding scale, scope, and significance ever since.”

At Helium.com, I learned that “Humanitarianism” is the belief that the person was the most important aspect of society, and that it was important to value the individual over the group.

However, in Asia, especially China and North Korea, the group is valued above the individual. After all, China and North Korea along with other Asian nations are collective cultures.

This means that the West’s concept of “Humanitarianism” may not work in most of Asia.

Here’s what a definition for “Humanitarianism” in Asia might say—The belief that the group is the most important aspect of society and that it is important to value the group over the individual.

It this definition is correct, it would explain the death sentence rate in China and harsh punishments for individuals that threaten “Collective Humanitarianism”.

In fact, the real risk to the survival of humanity may be when Westerners take their beliefs to the extreme resulting in “Armed Humanitarianism”.

Top Feed News says, “Armed Humanitarians (by Nathan Hodge) traces how the concepts of nation-building came into vogue, and how, evangelized through think tanks, government seminars, and the press, this new doctrine took root inside the Pentagon and the State Department. Following this extraordinary experiment in armed social work as it plays out from Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa and Haiti…”

The Huffington Post says, “Nathan Hodge is no neophyte on security issues. He has reported from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and a number of other countries in the Middle East and former Soviet Union. For years he blogged on Wired magazine’s well known Danger Room blog and now reports on the defense industry for the Wall Street Journal.”

What happens if the West influences China to leave Confucian collectivism behind and to embrace the West’s humanitarian beliefs as flawed as they may have become?

Maybe an individualist, humanitarian China would become America’s partner in “Armed Humanitarianism” and divide the globe into a pie chart eventually leading to a third world war between China and the US to see who eats the whole pie.

Then hundreds of millions will die and the earth’s environment would be devastated to protect the rights of the individual.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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