After I reviewed the article "Japan-refutation-of-neoliberalism," it dawned on me that many Western scholars do forget that the "national psychology’ of a nation/people differs from that of other people. The term "national psychology" is my (new) term.
I am from South Korea. Therefore we South Koreans have frequent and close opportunities to look into the different characteristics of Japanese people in comparison with that of Korean people.
Japanese people are order-respecting people. This is particularly conspicuous characteristics of Japanese people. We South Koreans are quite liberal compared to Japanese people.
When Japanese tourists come to South Korea, we South Koreans are marveled at their order-keeping spirit. They follow their leaders as ducklings follow their mom as if their mom is the only life line. They never make disorder. In contrast, when South Koreans come to Japan as tourists, we Koreans scatter and do not follow order as much as possible if I add some exaggeration here; so the leaders have very hard time to control them.
We South Koreans self-criticize that we are orderless people while we admire the order and law-keeping spirit of Japanese people. South Koreans see that such a characteristics of Japanese people came from their long tradition of absolute authority of government plus the custom of loyal submissive people. “Samurai” or word-man spirit was the basis of such culture. Any one who was not in order was beheaded then and there. This was the law of Samurai culture. Being loyal and order-keeping was the only way for common people to survive.
I once heard from a Japanese friend that Japanese people are afraid of being different from others. She meant that they lack the challenging spirit. In this respect, many Japanese people envy South Korean people who are quite liberal, energetic, and challenging (this has to do with orderlessness) in the view point of Japanese people.
Historically, both Korea and Japan were influenced by Confucianism and Buddhism. But the general colors of national psychologies of these two peoples are quite different.
After the rise of South Korean economy after ’80 and ’90, Japanese people began to envy or worry the energy and challenge of South Korean people. Many Japanese people worry that they might be passed by South Koreans and Chinese. In some areas, Japan industries were passed by South Korean or Chinese industries.
Sorry, for long prelude. My point is this: Each nation has its strong point and weak point in national psychology. The strong points of Japanese style cannot be the role model of other nations. Americans and Europeans will never learn or mimic Japanese-style of economy or social system. It is like geese will never learn the strong point of cats or horses.
We should not expect any ideal model of one country can be carbon-copied by all other nations. American style of freedom, democracy, creativeness and challenging spirit cannot be imitated by other nations.
George W. Bush thought he could make Iraq an American- style democratic nation overnight by free election. The national psychology of Iraqi people was formed not in a day. It cannot be changed in a day.
Many American leftists seem to think that the northern European socialist welfare system is the solution. Northern Europeans’ national psychology is different from that of America. Population size, cultural tradition, and components of people of northern European nations are quite different from that of America.
I think American spirit of freedom and challenge came from its immigration tradition. Those who came to America were the people who sought freedom; The long and dangerous journey from their home countries to the new world was not a easy challegne for common people. They were the people of freedom, challenge, courage, and creative idea.
America is unique in human history in the point that she has succeeded in bulding the most democratic and free and affluent society. She has made some mistakes. But there are no nations that have not made mistakes.
The cause of economic failure of America is that she has micked the socialistic welfare policy. Americans will not solve their problem by mimicking the socialistic system. And I foresee that northern European welfare system will not long run. Socialist system has its seed of self-destruction within itself.
Brian Ahn (email@example.com)