The Reign of the Collective

Surely there must be politics behind what Rushdie, Kamal, Ashis, and scores others go through. But if you want to understand the wellspring of intolerance that's frequently unleashed in India, you have to look hard and deep at the role culture plays in fostering such a mood.

Any culture that's collectivistic in its orientation advocates stripping the individual of rights. Especially those that may seem to threaten the collective's sensibilities. What's more, the collective also dictates social strictures that make its way into law. Such laws are crafted to allow the collective to lord over the individual. Its stipulation to the individuals center around saying, 'you, the individual exists for us'.

Cultures that take to individualism advocate just the opposite. They mandate the collective to be subject to the individual. They design and allow the collective, so individual rights can be better protected. In collective cultures like India, individuals don't stand much of a chance. They will in the end after a brief struggle bow to the collective. Rushdie won't come to Calcutta. Kamal will snip away part of his movie, and Ashis will 'clarify'. That's the way it'll go.

The taking to a liberty-denying collective, I believe is a byproduct of insecurity. Secure people tend to like to be on their own, and even if they take to collectives, they will only to those that are subject to the rights of an individual.

Cultural orientations are of of grave importance to marketers. Positioning in global markets necessitates the understanding of cultural orientation. So if you are in India, and want to sell carbonated bottled colored water, you better have your communique pandering to collective sensibilities. In America, you probably may want to associate the drink to individualistic desires. 


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