Regarding Getironic’s May 11 letter, “Ego therapy, collectivism or something else”: It’s equally as tempting to psychoanalyze the desire to conform, wear polo shirts and listen to Kenny G [as it is to psychoanalyze the desire for a tattoo].

The conformity of the mainstream is by far the most common manifestation of the need to associate with the supposed achievements of others. This is particularly evident in the typical Brits and Americans encountered in Japan, who tend to identify with the alleged achievements of their countries and their neoliberal economics and business practices.

Such conformists typically berate a person for listening to non-mainstream music, dressing in anything other than a polo shirt or expressing any opinion that differs from the received wisdom of the herd. While I don’t have tattoos myself, I have no doubt that the need to psychoanalyze people with tattoos is yet another aspect of this same phenomenon.

Ever since the Thatcher/Reagan years, there seems to be a peculiar Anglo-Saxon obsession with the words collectivism and individualism, almost always used in ways that show scant understanding of what the words mean or of the realities of the world in general.

In truth, what could be more collectivistic — in the negative sense of the word — than everybody wearing the same suits and polo shirts, listening to Kenny G and being “GRRRREEAATT!!!” — like Tony Tiger — when greeted?

Not to mention everyone living in fear of their jobs the whole time, because “individualists” collectively know that unions and protections are such evil “collectivism”!

Such a pusillanimous mindset — along with the concomitant need to attack anyone who differs in any way — seems to be the ultimate ego replacement and weakness of character.

jim makin

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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