Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are social order and individualism mutually exclusive?

Singapore Street Art
Like many parents, I dream of my children attending highly-regarded universities whose graduates go on to fascinating careers and change the world. But then, I realize they will be taught by people that write and publish the following:
Singapore is tiny compared to the United States (and most other countries, for that matter), but that doesn't mean it can't be a model. Barack Obama keeps saying that we need to buckle down and work hard to build an economy based on real production, not hollow financial chicanery. We need a little more social order, and a little less individualism [emphasis mine]. Singapore has already pulled off both objectives, and continues to provide a good example of good judgment for the United States and the rest of the world.
HarvardBusiness.org: Singapore: A Model of Judgment for the United States?

Actually, the article is pretty good and resonates perfectly with conversations I've had with colleagues overseas. Singapore is a fascinating place. But, that last paragraph sure did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I would argue we need more individualism, more of the thinkers, creators, and builders that will create The Next Big Thing and solve The Big Problems. I'm not so sure that Singapore doesn't encourage individualism; I suspect the author may be mistaken. I also don't agree that social order and individualism are mutually exclusive.

Your thoughts?

Creative Commons License photo credit: koalazymonkey

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