Collective v Individualistic

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It’s a tough time to be the leader of a western democracy. Having been elected by being friendly, popular and generous, which involved making promises of handouts and a better future, combined with headline-grabbing slogans (e.g. “Make America Great Again”) they now find themselves communicating increasingly bad news, imposing strict controls on personal freedoms, and working all hours to manage the crisis, whilst trying to stay healthy themselves and get re-elected. Meanwhile, the rest of us are debating how to fit a trip to the shops within the definition of “essential travel” and, like children who are only 1 hour into a 5 hour car journey, asking “are we there yet?!”

China didn’t have this problem in January, and they still don’t have it today. As a “collective society”, Chinese people are born with the need to prioritise the good of society over the welfare of the individual, and (with only a few exceptions) they followed orders from their leaders on the basis that it was in everyone’s best interests. I was speaking to some of my friends in China earlier today and they are now in their twelfth week of lockdown. We’re only into our third week (after a very pleasant long Easter weekend) and it seems that many aren’t coping well at all.

China and the Asian region will come out of this crisis in a relatively strong position because of this collective responsibility. It helps that they respect hierarchy, including their Government and political leaders, and are willing to sacrifice their personal freedoms for the benefit of society as a whole. Western leaders have, on many occasions, complained about the lack of human rights in China and the power of the State. They won’t be worrying about that now!

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