George Will writes:
For only the third time in 72 years (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980), the [Olympic] Games are being hosted by a tyrannical regime, the mind of which was displayed in the opening ceremonies featuring thousands of drummers, each face contorted with the same grotesquesly frozen grin. It was a tableau of the miniaturization of the individual and the subordination of individuality to the collective. Not since the Nazi's Nuremberg rally, which Leni Riefenstahl turned into the film "Triumph of the Will," has tyranny been so brazenly tarted up as art.
A worldwide audience of billions swooned over the Beijing ceremony. Who remembers 1934? Or anything.
David Brooks writes:
Surely the most striking features were the images of thousands of Chinese moving as one--drumming as one, dancing as one, sprinting on precise formations without ever stumbling or colliding. We've seen mass displays before, but this was collectivism of the present--a high-tech vision of the harmonious society performed in the context of China's miraculous growth.
If Asia's success reopens the debate between individualism and collectivism (which seemed closed after the cold war), then it's unlikely that the forces of individualism will sweep the field or even gain an edge...
For one thing, there are relatively few individualistic societies on earth. For another, the essence of a lot of the latest scientific research is that the Western idea of individual choice is an illusion and the Chinese are right to put first emphasis on social conexts. ...
The rise of China isn't only an economic event. It's a cultural one. The ideal of the harmonious colllective may turn out to be as attractive as the ideal of the American Dream.