Why Does the World Feel Wrong?
by Will Groves
Exclusive to STR
January 27, 2009
Consider these events:
2. Meanwhile, the same populace that has intimate experience with lying politicians appears utterly smitten with a smooth-talking new president promising change and demanding sacrifice.
3. The Congress, which had an approval rate of 14% and which just passed a $700 billion bailout over the objections of a majority of Americans, had a re-election rate exceeding 95%.
4. Untold millions of Americans voice support of military troops as these very people are needlessly killed, injured, and separated from their families and productive work at home.
5. A general populace believed that buying unproductive assets, like housing, could make them wealthy, forever, without any coherent explanation why.
6. Researchers who pursue alternative explanations for AIDS and cancer get their funding cut and have the results of their research squelched, while others who try to improve life by providing healthful foods find themselves under attack.
Overt criminality by leaders and passive, unclear thinking by the proles have become the norm. The two go together, creating a symbiotic ecosystem of tyranny. Fraud, theft, and murder have become widespread, just as the scale of lies told and believed have reached new heights. Irresponsibility has become socialized while people in the honest pursuit of good get thwarted.
Those of us who want little more than peace and freedom don’t run the world. Pursuing freedom contradicts controlling others, so we can reason that people who pursue power have some motivations separate from our own.
I have not fully comprehended the implications of this until recently. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I had assumed that the people who wield power feel similarly about moral issues as I do—I just couldn’t see why they commit and justify unethical behavior. I already knew that states operate according to a code that the rest of us don’t follow in our own lives. Nevertheless, I assumed that a man who acts without regard to moral laws must feel guilty about it. Then, one day, I stumbled onto this idea: Suppose he doesn’t.
With only small ambitions, he probably behaves like a common criminal, a predator. He lies to gain advantage, uses force to get his way, and steals without conscience. Not feeling guilty about unethical behavior motivates him to instigate further criminal acts.
Small crime operations have one big problem, namely, the risk of getting caught. The prospect of prison appears unappealing, yet even with the high likelihood of arrest and capture during a career, common criminals approach their field with little sophistication and often pay the price. Other like-minded people see ways to avoid these problems. Just as normal people develop interests growing up and figure out how to pursue them at higher levels, a criminal mind can do the same. With greater intelligence and patience, he can pursue an ambitious career of criminality. With this objective in sight, one can easily see the state as the most expedient means to accomplish it.
Once a criminal joins forces with the state by becoming an employee, he can lie to his advantage, use force to get his way, and steal without conscience, just as the small-time operator does. The opportunities for mischief have no limits through thoughtful job selection. For example, if a man took pleasure in making innocent people squirm, he could become a police officer and plant evidence. For another, if he wanted to murder people, he could become a military officer and “accidentally” call in the coordinates of a house he’d like to see bombed. Whatever they do, the state shields them from the natural consequences of their actions. In all likelihood, if smart, they never get caught, never get punished, and probably get commended.
Too often, I have assumed that the people working for the state take the jobs only because of the easy hours and good pay, benefits, and retirement. For the predator, though, it offers all these things with the appetizing fringe benefit of satisfying their criminal urges without the risk of retribution.
It turns out this personality type has a scientific name: psychopathic. Lest you think I merely kid you, I quote from Scientific American:
Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses.
This seems like a nearly perfect description of those who seek political power. That same article goes on to say that fields over-represented by psychopaths may include “politics, business and entertainment. Yet the scientific evidence for this intriguing conjecture is preliminary.” It turns out that much stronger evidence for this exists than the article lets on.