Why the elite in the Rest yearn for the West

I’ve become an old hand in the developing world since I’ve done a fair bit of travelling.

I’ve noticed that elites throughout the world (and middle classes) dream of the West even when they lead fairly prosperous lives at home.
I could never really fathom why this was the case because if one has money (and lots of it) what’s the functional difference between Bombay and London (also the advantage being in the developing markets one can be part of the elite class at much lower wealth levels, which are not possible in the West).
I’ve realised that it’s all to do with self-actualisation and the stress of individuality that seems to be the distinctive hall mark of Western culture. In the East & global South the collective spirits is so strong that people take human connections for granted.
In the West self-actualisation is so pronounced that human ties take a very secondary role to the life of the individual (reality is far more blurred but this is the ideal).
So when Hollywood and Cable Tv bombard images of well turned-out successful Western individuals it takes a hold on the national imagination. Hence the global developing elites aren’t necessarily yearning for personal prosperity but the dream of becoming one’s own self that only seems possible in broadly prosperous and largely middle class societies (even if the US may be among the more unequal societies the huge size of its middle class still holds pronounced cultural sway).
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3 Replies to “Why the elite in the Rest yearn for the West”

  1. "I've noticed that elites throughout the world (and middle classes) dream of the West even when they lead fairly prosperous lives at home."

    "Dream of the west" or "Dream of Living in the west" or "Dream of creating a slice of west in the rest"?

    "elites throughout the world (and middle classes)" do not dream of living in the west. In Latin America, elites have no such dreams. They wish to slat away their money in the west, and vacation in Miami. So do the elite in say, malaysia or Singapore or Hongkong or japan.

    "elites in India" are a very tiny number, say no more than 10 million. They do no, I assure you, have the capability to live or work in the west, where they have to work and do everything themselves. In fact, the elite of India cannot survive without a large colonial hangover coterie of Ayahs, drivers, peons and clerical staff. They will not survive more than a few months in the west. See Khobragade or such ilk.

    What the elite want to do is to create a slice of the west in India, with a colonial hangover coterie.

    What the middle class of India want is something entirely different. For over 40 years after independence, things like consumer goods, cheap credit, available housing, were in short supply due to central planning policies. They want a slice of consumerist life. This is entirely different from what elite want. The middle class will survive in the west or the east. A significant part of middle class want a job that pays western-level salaries in India.

    However, more than 90% of the Indian population is poor. What they want is ajob that they c an use to provide food and shelter to the families. This is not a "western" yearning.

    I don't understand how the idea of self-actualization and individuality, is even particularly relevant in any conversation in India. I dont think the country has evolved to that level of thinking. In any case, change away from family ties has been ongoing for the last thirty years in India due to reduction in fertility. It is possible that your perspectives of family ties are colored by your family and fiancee's. People who are not of a small minority community have gently drifted away from large family ties, at least in South India in the 1980-2010 period.

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  2. one thing happening in India is the traditional connections for business families are working for small wholesalers and traders; but being ripped apart for the bigger families. The arrival of the stock market and lending from banks and bonds, is ripping these families in the middle. In e sense, one family member progresses, whereas the other becomes too leveraged and toxic. Family ties are for small business; when the business gets bigger, interest rate and level of leverage gets too much to keep the family intact.

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