Collective Blindness

Are Victims of Racism and Discrimination the Victims of a Universalist Worldview?

During my many travels, I have found that especially travelers from strongly collectivist backgrounds sometimes fail to adjust to new environments. Whether they are Indians from India or Indians from the United States, whether they are Asians from China or Asians from Britain, the collectivist nature of their mother civilization has still left an indelible impression on their thinking.

This inability to adjust, I believe, rests on the false assumption that one’s own life experiences must be universal and that, therefore, the other must change his ways to be assimilated into our collective. If the other refuses to do so, and if he happens to be white, he is being ‘racist’, i.e. rebellious. Since a collectivist has been conditioned to believe that his own culture is the Right One, he cannot adopt new ways that either differ or even contradict his own.

What migrants to the West experience as ‘discrimination’ and ‘racism’ may, therefore, be the consequence of having a false, universal worldview, namely their own. Migrants from collectivist backgrounds—e.g from Asia, India, the Middle East, Northern Africa and Latin America—fail to compete with Westerners because the former believe opportunity is something to be allocated to them (by some authority), whereas the latter believe opportunity is something to be seized (by oneself).

A historical example of this passive attitude can be found in the book The Open Veins of Latin America, a Marxist favorite. Its author, Eduardo Galeano, laments page after page how the European conquerors robbed, sacked, raped, pillaged and enslaved his continent. His analysis is correct. Not a word of his treatise is a deliberate lie. Galeano even admits to the technological flaws of Incan and Mayan civilization, which, for example, had never invented the wheel.

But in his own blindness, the author failed to reveal the reason why Europeans were able to take over so easily: Incan and Mayan societies were themselves strictly authoritarian, centrist, and collectivist, and had been so for thousands of years. They were ruled by families who claimed a divine ancestry, organized like a social pyramid with a pharaoh on top, in this case, Emperor Atahualpa. All that the colonial Europeans had to do was replace the presiding ruling family with either a European administrator or a local vassal. And so, no more than a few thousand Conquistadores subjugated an entire continent.

To the common people of Latin America, though, not much changed. They submitted to European rulers willingly because they had been conditioned into obedience by their own divine masters. Today, such inbred obedience still governs most of the world, including the oldest surviving civilization on Earth, namely China and its satellite states. Reading Confucius’s Analects, one cannot escape the repetitive calls to obey a higher authority. For at least two thousand years, Chinese people have been coaxed into obedience by its emperors and prime ministers.

People raised in collectivist households also raise their children to be collectivists. The many migrants from collectivist backgrounds who have moved to Europe or to the United States have failed to become free-thinking individuals. Instead, they and their offspring have remained collectivist and centrist, waiting for opportunity to be allocated to them by some socialist authority. A belief in personal competence is wholly absent. In my view, the majority of our human species has long been domesticated by ‘divine’ ruling families. Their people’s slavish condition only became apparent once white colonials took over, such as the British in India.

Collectivist blindness may also explain the socialist worldview, which has sided with the ‘oppressed victims’ against the ‘oppressive West’. Socialists, too, describe the world in terms of authority and power, with the exception that socialist leaders known they want to crown themselves humanity’s divine allocators. Left-wing and right-wing politics fight each other for the right to exploit the people. Neither wing gives a damn about you.

Regardless, the colonial success of the Europeans relied on this distinction between individualists and collectivists. While the more collectivist parts of the world were slaving in purgatory, eternally waiting for opportunity to come to them, the more individualistic Europeans broke free and seized it.

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