Monday, February 17, 2014

Why the elite in the Rest yearn for the West

I've become an old hand in the developing world since I've done a fair bit of travelling.

I've noticed that elites throughout the world (and middle classes) dream of the West even when they lead fairly prosperous lives at home.

I could never really fathom why this was the case because if one has money (and lots of it) what's the functional difference between Bombay and London (also the advantage being in the developing markets one can be part of the elite class at much lower wealth levels, which are not possible in the West).

I've realised that it's all to do with self-actualisation and the stress of individuality that seems to be the distinctive hall mark of Western culture. In the East & global South the collective spirits is so strong that people take human connections for granted.

In the West self-actualisation is so pronounced that human ties take a very secondary role to the life of the individual (reality is far more blurred but this is the ideal).

So when Hollywood and Cable Tv bombard images of well turned-out successful Western individuals it takes a hold on the national imagination. Hence the global developing elites aren't necessarily yearning for personal prosperity but the dream of becoming one's own self that only seems possible in broadly prosperous and largely middle class societies (even if the US may be among the more unequal societies the huge size of its middle class still holds pronounced cultural sway).