Wednesday, October 19, 2011

VOR’s Turn: Maybe We Should Take The Concept of A Sociopath More Seriously. It Would Explain A Great Deal.

Reading books makes me think; writing them even more so.

And since I have only recently completed the manuscript of book HOW EAGLE & CUCKOO SAVED AMERICA: A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE MESS WE ARE IN, I have been giving considerable thought to the notion that sociopathic behavior may lie at the root of many of our present troubles.

Could it be that we regularly promote, elect, or otherwise appoint such people to positions of power, authority and influence. Could it be that many of corporate CEOs, politicians, and other mover-and-shakers are sociopaths.

Certainly, much of the evidence supports this hypothesis. Yet, here’s an odd thing. We make absolutely no effort at all to screen those we chose to be our leaders for sociopathy.

When you think about it, that makes no sense at all because sociopaths are innately untrustworthy and dangerous. And their actions are likely to have adverse consequences.

But, what is a sociopath? Definitions vary slightly, but in essence it is someone who is:

  • Superficially charming
  • Manipulative
  • Narcissistic
  • Lacking in empathy
  • Amoral – lacking in remorse, shame or guilt
  • Deceitful
  • Untrustworthy
  • Prone to socially damaging behavior

The 2003 documentary THE CORPORATION made the point that much of the behavior of the modern U.S. corporation is sociopathic, both because such an organization is focused solely on profit, and because of its pattern of behavior.

Since it defies both commonsense and decency for a corporation not to factor in its obligations to its personnel, suppliers, customers, and society as a whole – yet such is the case - I found its arguments persuasive.

This is not an argument against capitalism. It is an argument against the particular form of capitalism that is currently the norm in the U.S. right now.

It is particularly prevalent in the financial sector. Here we have a group of people who have laid waste to the economies of much of the developed world, and who have fought every attempt to reform their behavior, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. Further, they have displayed virtually no remorse at all. Meanwhile, as a direct consequence of their behavior, the vast majority of the jobs that were lost during The Great Recession have not been regained, and the earnings of the average American family are in decline. The damage to the U.S. as a whole, both financially, and in terms of human suffering, is incalculable. This Great Nation has been set back a decade economically, and, quite possibly, has been pushed into permanent decline.

But have such people suffered any consequences? In the main, the answer is: No.

Why not? Well, they have corrupted both the political process, and those who are legally empowered to regulate them. They have bought enough of our political system to render themselves immune from legal consequences. The Constitution has been suborned.

Apart from Occupy Wall Street, outrage over this man made economic and social disaster has been extraordinarily muted, and does not speak well of the health of this democracy. The sociopaths are clearly in the ascendant.

It might be wise to reflect upon one simple statistic. According to official figures, the amount that the U.S. Government has pledged to support the U.S. financial sector so far exceeds $16 trillion dollars. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are being thrown out of their homes, legitimate businesses can’t get credit, the number of unemployed and underemployed people is around 25 million, and our infrastructure is crumbling.

Perhaps we should take all of that as a hint that sociopaths are, indeed, dangerous; and do something about it.




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