There must be some way to protect society from rogue (i.e. damaging) individualism while at the same time allowing for some measure of individual agency. I suppose that has always been the problem—deciding where individual agency ends and harm to others begins. I fall on the side of the latter; any harm to others is too much.
Maybe that makes me a totalitarian. Maybe China has it right, more than I realize. All I know is that the things that people so unreflectively take as social goods here so often seem to me to be absolute social ills.
The older I get, the more I feel as though I think like my father. When I was younger, I thought he needed to finally mentally “arrive” in America. The older I get, the more I think that he was and is right about a great many things.
Maybe what 4,000 years gets you is wisdom. The west doesn’t strike me as having ever been particularly wise, much less so America, which is only a couple hundred years old. Sometimes I think that what China has as a collective is the wisdom to know what must be done even though it is painful and to know when to self-sacrifice even if it feels oppressive. The wisdom that comes from thousands of years of struggle with such problems and that comes from having to manage the largest population on earth.