TODAY -

The Modern Conflicts between "Individualism" and " Collectivism"

Chalamba Kshetri *



Do you admire people who do not care about social expectation? Do you think people have the right to do whatever they want? The one which violates traditional values? Or Do you think such people are immature, selfish, sinful, of anti-social?

Individualism is spreading across the Globe and Culture plays a pivotal role in conceptualizing and influence on how people think and behave.

What is Individualism?

Individualism is believing in individuality, diversity, and freedom over authority and conformity. Individualism emphasizes the separateness, independence and uniqueness of different people. Hardcore Individualists support selfishness, social inequality or the destruction of social and political institutions.

Individualism is an idea that can be conceptualized in many aspects. Perhaps the biggest difference among the philosophies or oneself or for all individual.

For a long time, Western Nations have been moving away from values that emphasize family ties and fitting in, and toward more individualistic values such as independence, uniqueness and personal choice.

In the case of the United States and European Countries, their Culture is one of the self-driven success was relying on groups or community is totally looked down upon. People move out of parents houses by age 20, which in turn people are focussed on their own goals and wealth and how to achieve their ideal of success by themselves.

In order to understand the complex theory of Individualism, it would be correct to discuss the concept of Collectivist and Individualist Cultures.

Concept of Individualist and Collectivist Cultures -

Individualistic cultures are those that stress the needs of the individual over the needs of the group as a whole. In this type of culture, people are seen as Independent and Autonomous. For example, workers in an Individualist Culture are more likely to value their own well being over the good of the groups.

Individualistic cultures laid that people should be able to solve their problems or accomplish goals on their own without having to rely on assistance.

On the other hand, Collectivism underlines the importance of the group and social cooperation were people in Collectivist Culture might be more likely to turn to family and friends for support during difficult times. People might sacrifice their own comfort for the greater good of everyone else.

Individualism versus Collectivism -

Collectivism prioritises Groups over Individuals and has dominated East Asia, mainland China and North Korea are probably the most Collectivist Society today. Collectivism is not necessarily associated with Communism or Totalitarian.

However, their association is natural, since Collectivist does not see Democracy or Individual freedoms as important compared to the success of the state. In my concept, Chinese people do not want Democracy.

They are more concerned with the economic success of mainland China as a whole, which has been accomplished more swiftly by their totalitarian government than it probably could have been in a Democracy. It is true that many forms of Individuality are socially or legally suppressed in China, such as freedom of art, speech and information, freedom of personal style and livelihoods.

But Modern China has lifted billions out of Poverty and Ignorance become a major World Power in a short time. Chinese people tend to see Individualism as attractive but immature. Most of them want to be individualistic in style but not politically where they value their membership in Chinese Civilization over Individuality.

Other Asian societies, such as Japan and India, while more Collectivist than the West, have become increasingly Individualistic with their exposure to western culture, suggesting that Individualism is the wave of the future for some time.

One the other hand, the highly successful socialist democracies of Northern Europe such as Sweden embody more Collectivist values than America, with the system in place to reduce income differences among citizens and with the aim to not being self-centred.

Societies may lead to light on the spectrum between Individualism and total Collectivism.

Impact of Coronavirus on Individualistic Nations -

I had been analysing the American and Western Nation's handling of the Pandemic Coronavirus for quite some time. Countries with a more Collectivist Culture are making progress flattening the curve, while Individualistic Cultures Nation like the United States have increased the speeds which the virus spreads.

Meanwhile, South Korea had its first confirmed case the same day as the United States which is January the 20th,2020. While Trump administration called the virus a 'hoax' and panicked for several weeks that it would threaten the economy during an election year, the South Korean

government took swift, united actions and initiated an aggressive testing program. South Korea is a Collectivist Culture and Citizens act with a constant awareness of how their behaviour affects others.

Three months after the initial outbreak, South Korean has weakened the virus and reduce it to almost zero cases and life is slowly returning to normal.

The United States, on the other hand, the President and his advisors present only a 'War of Words' against China and the World Health Organization (W.H.O )for COVID-19 situations. It is a matter of fact that Collectivism wins over Individualism in this particular complex dilemma.

I cannot assert that Individualism is all toxic or awful. To be self-reliant is a respectable virtue, a trait that all human species should harness and develop.

On the other perspective, too much Individualism, the type that depressed the larger masses and support system is dangerous. It creates an isolated society that is obsessed with individual success rather than community well-being.


* Chalamba Kshetri wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at chalambakshetrimayum3(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 05 2020.



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