The Wheel of Life:
Eastern vs. Western View
Cultural Auras: Styles
of Selected World Cultures
By: Thomas Chou. Used by permission.
Ancient Rome - 8
Ancient Greece - 1 + 7
China - 9w1, moving toward 3
United States - 3 + 1
Others: England, France, Democrats and Republicans.
Ancient Rome began as a few city states on the
Italian peninsula, but eventually expanded to include much of modern-day Spain,
France, Turkey, Greece, the Middle East, and North Africa. From the
beginning, their culture was driven by conquest, military power, and expansion,
which are values of ambitious 8s. One of ancient Rome's most prominent
leaders, Julius Caesar, was also an 8. The Romans gave considerable
cultural autonomy to the lands they conquered – as long as they paid taxes and
recognized Roman authority. Again, many 8s are like this – demanding
loyalty but granting remarkable autonomy within certain absolute boundaries.
Roman culture borrowed (some would say stole) heavily from others; for example,
their religion was taken first from the Greeks, and later from the early
Christians, and their architecture also borrowed heavily from ancient Greece.
When Rome ran out of new territories to conquer, the society lost some of its
sense of mission and began to lose discipline. Without new conquests to
bring in more money and resources, the strain of defending its vast territory
against myriad outsiders took an enormous financial toll on the empire, which
slowly declined until 476 A.D. when the Western portion of the empire collapsed.
Greece: 1 + 7
Ancient Greek culture was competitive, and valued
high achievement. This in itself is not unusual for a Western culture, but
the ancient Greeks also idealized perfection, beauty, symmetry, and order.
These ideals were incorporated into their architecture, government, mathematics,
philosophy, athletics, sculpture and art, all of which stressed high ideals,
virtue, and aesthetic order. Greek mathematicians invented the "golden
ratio" (1.618...), which they believed to be the ideal proportions for almost
everything, from architectural structures to paintings to natural organisms.
Greek culture also prized rationality, and kept secret their own mathematical
discovery of "irrational numbers" (numbers that cannot be expressed as a ratio
of two integers) - this was practically a heretical idea.
Of course, no
is monolithic, and there were other sub-elements of Ancient Greek culture that
do not seem 1-ish. For example, the Greeks worshiped Gods that were
essentially like men, only with more terrifying powers. Their Gods were
not particularly rational, righteous, detail-oriented, or in any way 1-like as
far as I can tell.
Ancient Chinese literature, poetry, religious, and
social beliefs heavily emphasized social harmony, as well as harmony with
nature. Much more than Western poetry, classical Chinese poetry almost
obsessively dwells on the wonders of nature, as do classic Chinese paintings.
9 cultures generally dislike continuous conflict and power struggle, which may
be one reason why the rigid Confucian social ideals were so widely accepted in
China for the last two millennia. Confucious (probably a 1) defined an age
and gender-based social hierarchy with the emperor at the top, and everyone else
below in a fixed ranking. Chinese society unified itself culturally and
politically in 221 B.C., far earlier than any other region of similar size.
Unity remains a national goal today.
Ancient China had a strong self-preservationist
cast. The country has been economically self-sufficient for almost all of
its history. The Great Wall was designed to keep China's neighbor's out,
and represents another self-preservationist defense mechanism. The Wall's
construction began about 2000 years ago, and at its peak involved the labor of
almost 70% of the male population of China.
Inertia is a characteristic vice of Enneagram style
9, and Chinese society's early precocious advances fell victim to a similar form
of stagnation. It is a great historical mystery how China, from the year
221 B.C. to the year 1900, went from being one of the world's most advanced
nations to one of the most impoverished and backward. The 9-like culture
might be one reason.
Modern China: moving toward 3, with
a 6-ish government
Modern Chinese culture still retains 9-ish desires
for stability, unity, and continuity with its own past. But business,
profit, and money are increasingly important, motivated partly by a desire to
recover lost prestige, to catch up to the West, and avenge their humiliating
treatment by Western powers in the 19th century. China is increasingly
concerned with how it is viewed by the rest of the world. However, the
government of China is still totalitarian, deeply conservative, resistant to
major change, and also contains some strong unhealthy 6-ish elements.
United States: a 3 society with 1 and 7 influences
3-ish elements in America are quite plain to see:
American culture is competitive and goal-oriented, and Americans worship success
and winning. The quintessentially American institutions of Hollywood and
Madison Avenue are both focused almost exclusively on image-creation. A
puritannical 1-ish streak was also present from the early years of this nation.
Many 19th century presidents were 1s, including George Washington, James
Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Grover Cleveland. American views on sexual
openness, drug use, and other social issues are also quite puritannical compared
to the European countries from which most Americans trace their roots.
However, there is also a sex-drugs-rock and roll element which could be seen as
Other contemporary cultures
England: 1 moving toward 4. Some say 8 moving toward 5.
(1-ish aspects include being the birthplace of representative
government, the Magna Carta, and constitutional monarchy, but
England was also a major colonial power, suggestive of 8).
France: 4+7 (fine food and wine, romance, and a disdain for anyone not
The Democratic party in America: 7 -
more open to new ideas and diversity than the Republicans, but perpetually prone
to fragmentation and a lack of discipline. The party preaches inclusivity,
and for the most part practices it. The Democrat party consists of labor
unions, most ethnic minorities, intellectual elites, Hollywood, trial lawyers,
women, and professionals. All of these groups currently lean toward the
democratic party, even though their interests are often greatly at odds with
The Republican party in America: 6 -
concerned with security issues, national defense, morality, but also with a
frighteningly dogmatic right wing. Traditionally, the Republican party has
been better at coordination and working together as a group than Democrats.
This cohesion is partly due to the party's domination by a small demographic
group: white, male, affluent, heterosexual Christians. The party is
generally indifferent or actively hostile toward those who are not white,
affluent, Christian, or heterosexual.