We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I think he is wrong. Seems to me that the unleashing of individual enterprise and free markets (combined with free markets for labor, lower business taxes than the US, and globalization) are what have unleashed China's belated industrial revolution. In other words, individualism. But I am no expert on the subject (and neither is Brooks).
Furthermore, I wonder whether this whole subject of Asian collectivism is a myth. Police state-enforced collectivist "harmony" can give the appearance of a collectivist ethos - but only the appearance.
Prosper? In the short run possibly. I suppose it all depends how one defines 'prosperity'. Top-down economic structures are notorious for short term, skewed thinking confused by the interests of those holding power versus the general interest. Price/market distortions are the rule and in the long term there will be hell to pay without authentic liberalization. Brooks should at least mention the level of corruption always present is such arrangements.
Having spent only 6 days in southern China two years ago, my sense was that of a thriving, hungry population, eager to participate in their own individual ways. I didn't see any police or state propaganda, and I didn't hear anyone talking about the common good. Just people going to work, learning new things, trying to get more. It was entirely capitalistic.
The Asian collectivism harmony is a myth. The more Asians who toss off their inner Uriah Heep and embrace capitalism, the harder it's going to be for the governments to stop a democratic process. Marx just didn't get the whole human nature thing, and what a price it has cost humanity. Having a democratic, capitalistic Iraq sitting in the midst of its surrounding nations is going to prove that. Let's hope it spreads.