Reality is Leftist
umair haque

I guess I don’t see “being socially responsible to one’s community” as a left-right thing. This polarization is mostly a rhetoric phantom created in the US to divide-and-conquer by elites and others who’d rather exploit (the same who were/are responsible for slavery/segregation/stagnation as you describe in your articles). For instance, I wouldn’t call East Asian countries “left” and yet they are far more socially conscious simply because of something else that isn’t a left or right thing. The latter is a bizarro-world filter Americans put on everything that doesn’t really exist or have anything to do with anything.

The more correct categorization might be to cast it as “(hyper)individualism vs. social cohesion/harmony”. The US is the former. East Asian cultures are the latter — as in “the group is more important than the individual”. So many of the infrastructure miracles of East Asia are trivially due to this cultural difference.

Having lived in Asia, there is also an aspect of “top-down” vs. “bottom-up” hierarchal structure — the US is the former (and in a disturbing sense, a totalitarian form of it despite the rhetoric of democracy and freedom — much of which is now just mentally disturbed “projection”) while East Asia is far more the latter. This extends from sociological to economic to political structure.

I think this US individualism also results in an extreme form of “externalities” — where anything beyond the individual (or individual corporation) is treated as a commons that isn’t important to the same individual. In the US, everything not about the indidivual is an externality that is “someone else’s problem”. Who’s problem isn’t a concern but in reality it’s everyone’s problem but no one takes that responsibility.

Which brings us back to the transition from “citizen responsibility” to “citizen rights” (with no responsibilities to anyone or anything — just “stuff I’m owed” simply by living/being American) to “citizen victimhood” (with paranoid persumptions of persecution at every turn, with the Imperial Conquest of the War on Terror being closely tied to this) in the US. A sense of responsibility would temper treating everything else beyond the individual as an externality. That used to exist in the US — I personally remember it being that way once.

At this point, it’s really going to take people taking steps of leadership that doesn’t involve “boiling the oceans” but just fixing their corner of the world. I agree with your recent post that “big problems require big fixes” but bootstrapping that takes a level of courage that is hard for humans but can start with a few stepping up. Centralized bureaucracies, corporations, media, etc. will NEVER solve this because there is zero incentive for them to do so.

Thanks for your articles BTW. Always enjoy them!