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Societal Alienation In Nations Based On Individualism

February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 178

'There is no such thing as society' is a pronouncement ascribed to Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain. On the contrary, society is that highly organised and integrated collective of individuals, organisations and institutions which, in any civilisation, has specified roles, functions, and responsibilities to enable arms of that civilisation to operate as efficiently as possible, while offering security, social stability, good governance, and practices for the furtherance of its youth into useful future roles, within an evolving environment which is necessarily potentially destabilising.

Without such a structured entity, humanity would probably operate in a chaotic manner. Unlike the physical and chemical world, where there can be found coherent patterns of stability within the observed chaos, there is no basis for assuming that similar stability would underpin any chaos of humanity. Indeed human chaos is underpinned by social instability through unfettered selfishness. The events of recent history throughout the world support such a conclusion.

Francis Fukuyama, an American scholar of renown, wrote in depth of the deterioration of society in the USA, a civilised nation. It is also a leading member of those nations created in relatively recent centuries over the seas by immigrants from Europe. These nations are thereby ruled by the ethos of individualism, instead of the communalism of the more established nations of Asia and Europe. Individual rights seem to be proliferating in these nations (which can therefore be termed the Ultra-West) except in those areas of interest to the Vatican - a strange contrast.

Without extended family support in these new territories, self-sufficiency and individualism necessarily prevailed. This is in contrast with the time-tested communitarian values of Asian societies. These values have been defined by some Asian leaders as reflecting 'Asian values.' Yet, immigrants from the Mediterranean in Australia celebrate the same values: individuals and nuclear families being supported by their extended families, respect for one's elders and authorised leaders, and a sense of belonging to a tribe with defensible boundaries, especially when integrated into a conglomeration of multi-ethnic peoples.

This spirit of individualism seems to have engendered claims for more and more personal rights. Taken to extremes, traditional respect for others may be diminished, if not ignored. Conflicts over relative individual rights can occur. In Australia today, surnames and addresses indicating respect for age, position, or relationship have given way to the universal use of first names.

Rights breed rights - even in the open! The proliferation of claimed rights, aided by those using the courts to acquire yet more rights (even for unlawful asylum seekers) can be juxtaposed with the reality that rights are not set out in the Constitution, or a Bill of Rights, or official policy statements in Australia. This results in all manner of societal difficulties, primarily because of a lack of corresponding or counter-balancing personal responsibilities towards the collective.

Some consequential effects of enhanced access to claimed personal rights are the suffering caused to children through the impermanence of marriage and cohabitation, a fear of empty streets (casually brutal attacks by louts or a threat to children), the serious abuse of generous welfare and free medical services, a denial of personal responsibility (eg. acquiring skills to enable employment or to re-locate to centres offering employment), and escalating demands by the well-off for 'middle class welfare.'

In the light of the above, the unavoidable conclusion is that, at least in the USA and Australia, modern society does not generally offer the cohesion and mutual kin and community support of traditional societies. Does not such support implicate a certain spirituality inherent in mankind to look after one another? Unless governments step into the vacant shoes of extended family, could not escalating personal rights without matching responsibilities be seen to lead to social alienation and to the deterioration of these societies?

Would not weak social bonds and an uncertain sense of community indicate a diminution of valuable social capital?

The author Raja Arasa Ratnam was formed culturally in the communalism of Asia, but adapted successfully, in an operational sense, to the individualism of Australia. Refer his book 'Musings at Death's Door' (available at http://www.inspiringbookshop.com ) and his memoir 'The Dance of Destiny' (http://www.dragonraj.com)

Source: EzineArticles
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Individualism

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Communalism

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Deterioration Of Society

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Ultra West Nations

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Asian Values

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