American culture has a lot of flattering attributes. Extreme individualism – not one of them.
Individualism was the core of the border mentality. The pioneers were largely independent and self-sufficient. At the same time, the early Americans is also very aware of the common good. This awareness has been strengthened by the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. However ekspansivnastsi end of the 20th century, and especially in the last few years, human rights have won the responsibility to the group. While every society struggles to balance the human freedom with the common good, America has lost balance. Now our survival depends on the recovery.
I had the great opportunity to travel to 48 countries and teach in eight of them. I am a graduate student and had a cross-cultural study of 28 of these countries. We compared the association of eleven general social priorities, including the "freedom of the individual." Social priorities vary greatly from country to country, and our different analysis did not always give the same result. However, in the world there is a belief that the "freedom of the individual" in the US is too high.
While people of other cultures see our individualism as dangerous, we are proud of it. We are proud of this, as he suras & # 39; ozna not hurt the common financial system, on which we all depend. Then we are angry that the government, as the defender of the common good, does not prevent such a destructive personality.
Mess on Wall Stryi – a logical extension of the unlimited American individualism, which we love so much. Heads of affairs simply pushed the pendulum away from the center when they demanded obscene salaries and risk with other people money, taking into account only their personal wealth, power and ego. Because of their position, their extreme greed has had a dramatic negative impact on the common good.
CEOs in other cultures act differently. For example, in 2005, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, CEO of British Petroleum (BP – the second largest oil company in the world) earned $ 5.6 million outstanding Director General of Royal Dutch Shell (the third-largest oil company) earned outstanding 4. , $ 1 million. CEO of the largest oil company Exxon Mobil (US) grossed $ 69.7 million, and the average salary of US oil companies amounted to 33 million dollars. This discrepancy represents a huge cultural difference between the US and Europe.
Comparison with Japan even more surprising. American leaders in recent years, earning about 400 times the average salary of its employees. In other words, the CEO makes every day more than the employee earns in a year. Japanese executives earn only 11 times what their employees earn.
No one who has traveled a lot, do not claim that the European and Japanese managers are less competent than American leaders. The difference lies not in intelligence, training or experience; It is ethics respective cultures – in balance human rights and the common good.
Candidates for this election differ regarding the appropriate balance between individualism and the common good. One of the candidates (McCain) recognizes the need to put "country first", but generally begins his sentences with "I", to focus on his personal history as a war hero and politician. Another candidate (Obama) says very little about himself, focusing on "we", our moment in history and our common future. Then McCain chooses partnerships with Palin from Alaska – America's last frontier with rugged individualism and independence. Palin has a strong focus on individualism of any national candidate in my life, strong for Barry Golduoter, which I supported in 1964.
None of these candidates does not justify the excesses that have become common with the & # 39; true on Wall Street. However, McCain and Palin can not deny his Republican affiliation and attachment to excessive individualism, for example, the deregulation of the banking system. They are saddled with the most cultural curse that causes the destruction of our financial system – too many "I" and not enough "we."
Note to editors: The study referred to by the article was published in the Journal of Human Values 5: 1 (1999)