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December 9, 2005

social equivalence in a collectivist society

I have found that in general collectivist and hard-to-live societies such as India, there is less equivalence in social talks. All social talks assume differences in people based on their efficiency in their function (often translating to their standing (often financial) in the society), and people dont talk to others as if everybody is equal.

This has big implications when there is cross-societal interaction.

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Do you think there can be a universal (trans-cultural and trans-national) tradition of human rights where it is assumed in theory that everybody (or everything alive) is equal? Aren't there such traditions in India -- or is it somehow a uniquely American idea (conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition...etc)? Does religion in India presuppose a brahmin caste as its basis of reference or can it be extended? I think in America there is much lip service given to the idea of radical universal equality but there are yet subtle social and institutional practices that are designed to put people in their place.

Hi Ben,

Wont you think it will be difficult to practically implement a trans-cultural and trans-national tradition of human rights? I agree that America has a more equal treatment of people (atleast as compared to India), but I think that does not hold very well even for Americans' outlook towards people from underdeveloped countries.

Hell, now I think that the equality here might be a result of history...maybe the assumed notion of all being superior in this race/country than others, might have given a sense of equality among the people here. Anyway, I am going too irrational here.

In India, spirtually, religiously, and culturally, all people are viewed equal, and in fact part of the same brahman; bu in practice, the distinction between people in terms of rich/poor class, educated/uneducated class overpowers this philoshopy of equality.

I think in other developing countries too, there may be possible distinctions between people based on some sense of their success or something.

Yes, there seems to always be a huge unbridgeable gap between high minded spiritual principles and their implementation in reality. But I wonder if the best spiritual and moral ideas are necessarily the struggle of a priveleged class of people (unequals) to somehow empty themselves of their privelege to benefit those they perceive are beneath them? And where are we in this arrangement? What position do we occupy in the chain of hierarchies? Do we scurry for the crumbs after the gods feast, or do we seek to secure the best tables and the best food, leaving others to pick at our leavings. My question is if anybody can share, not out of obligation or guilt but simply out of a perception of solidarity and brotherhood-- or are there some things that simply cannot or should not be shared, some gifts that are simply the wrong kind, good for few or some but bad for most or others.

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