David Brooks: "Americans are not hierarchical"
As an expat American living in "Dynamic Korea," and it is dynamic, I think a great deal about what makes a society successful because Korea is so different from America, and in ways that Americans think shouldn't work -- and we mean that not only descriptively, but even prescriptively! -- yet it does work. Counterintuitively, it does.
I still think the American system preferable, however, and for the reasons given by NYT columnist Davd Brooks in "The Crossroads Nation" (November 8, 2010) on why the place to be now and in the future is America:
You'll want to be there because American institutions are relatively free from corruption. Intellectual property is protected. Huge venture capital funds already exist.Each of these points makes for more flexible, creative thinking within the context of a culture of discussion that can catch errors before they wreak havoc. In Korea, the opposite is true for every one of these points. So how does Korea succeed, and succeed so well?
Moreover, the United States is a universal nation. There are already people there with connections all over the world. A nation of immigrants is more permeable than say, Chinese society.
You also observe that America hosts the right kind of networks -- ones that are flexible and intense. Study after study suggests that America is one of those societies with high social trust. Americans build large, efficient organizations that are not bound by the circles of kinship and clan. Study after study finds that Americans are not hierarchical. American children are raised to challenge their parents. American underlings are relatively free to challenge their bosses. In this country you're less likely to have to submit to authority.
That's what I want to know.