Individualism vs. Collectivism

Looking at this experience on a people scale and how they integrate into society after BM program, many issues have came up. Baan Mankong takes a communitarian approach, where every action is collective, such as collective savings, collective decision making, and collective upgrading schemes. In order to repay those loans communities have taken out, what we have seen in one community is that more people in the community have to get jobs, including women. As people are drawn into and start integrating into this capitalistic society the community turns into an individualistic society. One of the questions raised in our group discussion is whether we actually want to prevent this emergence of a capitalistic society. Does integration into the common global society reverse what BM preaches in community action? On one hand, people have the opportunity to be integrated into bigger society and have equal rights to the city. On the other hand, to what extent do people have a choice in choosing what system fits their community or individual needs? And is there a system that does not force people into a capitalistic society. It seems that the driver of that change is in the loan system. Can a collective strategy be adopted to maintain community dynamics and livelihood conditions?

Many of our emerging issues in our group seemed to go back to knowledge production and knowledge sharing. How do people share knowledge? We have found that NULICO has created a website to share information with the communities on housing improvement and social development. Through current events, we have seen how the internet, facebook and twitter, have become major drivers of political and social change. However, this reliance on internet as a source of information is excluding a big number of people, as much as written information excludes the illiterate individuals in society.  But again, is this knowledge sharing scheme, which has gotten common in today’s society, forcing those people into a system that they don’t want to engage in to begin with? On the other hand, here we are assuming that people don’t want to engage into a capitalistic society.

In conclusion, the tension between individualism and collectivism is evident and criticizes the whole system that we all live in today. The question regarding BM in this context is, if BM starts off as a communitarian system, should it continue being communitarian after people have reached their scale? If yes, how?

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