Psychopaths and Authoritarians

David Schwartz writes about The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths:

Since psychopaths are usually very smart, they can be quite competent at impersonating regular human beings in positions of power. Since they don’t care how their actions affect people, they can rise to great height in enterprises dealing with power and money. They can manufacture bombs or run hospitals. Whatever the undertaking, it is all the same to them. It’s just business.

The economic system that remains after the destruction of American local cultures has created an excellent employment picture for psychopaths. But the opportunities open to them are now so vast that there is apparently now an actual labor shortage. At least that is the only explanation I can find for the rise of a cadre of psychopathic leaders who resemble the usual type in all ways but one: they’re simply not that smart. One has only to look at right-wing not-so-Christian fundamentalists to see the peculiar emergence of a second-string of psychopaths.

The US has been endowed with abundant resources, and there have always been a more than sufficient supply of psychopaths of the first intellectual grade to supply corporate suites and their subsidiary, the Congress. Why is there now a downgrade to the dumb ones, like the lowering of standards for military recruits to deal with a shortage of cannon fodder?

It is no secret that the Koch brothers and others of the super-rich seem to have undertaken a final push to consolidate control through the conversion of a marginally democratic to an essentially fascist state; extreme right-wing, authoritarian, and demagogic. This kind of government is ideal for control of a populace by the moneyed elite. To carry this out requires the employment of many ‘kept’ politicians to excite and misdirect scared and angry – and ignorant – voters. Lest the citizenry realize who stole their money and storm their castles with torches, the rapacious elite need politicians who will carry out the work of re-directing anger at teachers, or labor unions, or the poor. I can only conclude that the people who now own the country couldn’t find any first-rate psychopaths to carry out their work. Or maybe the smart ones were all occupied. So they had to go to second-stringers, people who could actually believe what they were told to say.

We are a country who has become second-best, even in the quality of our psychopaths.

I quite agree, but to really understand what is going on in present-day America—where we have nothing short of a protofascist state—you must read two books:

Conservatives Without Conscience
John Dean’s excellent book about authoritarianism in the Republican Party.
The Psychopath Test
Jon Ronson’s disturbing look at the psychopaths who run our world.

Ronson presents statistics that show that 1% of the population are psychopaths while 4% of the CEOs of major corporations are. I think we can assume the same can be said of politicians. Dean’s analysis looks at authoritarian leaders and followers and finds much the same thing. It doesn’t matter what system you use to describe it: the world is not run by the good. Much less great:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Psychopaths and Authoritarians

  1. Right wing-left wing are misleading and outdated 18th century terms. It is not about any kind of political orientation. It is about power. Any centralized society, regardless of its orientation, attracts psychopaths. It is dangerous to assume that leftst mentality contradicts psychopathic disorder in any way.

  2. hschmidt: I used to find such libertarian thinking very compelling. However, over time, I began to see that the libertarian ideal of freedom was largely a sham: consumerism elevated to philosophy. What’s more, it is completely dependent upon a perfect legal system–and we know how perfect legal systems are. I encourage you to read Dean’s book. For one thing, you will see that while liberals may suffer from many problems, authoritarianism (as leader and follower) is not one of them. Libertarianism is a useful philosophy, but its seeming perfection blinds its adherents to real political solutions that practically increase real freedom. I have been meaning to write about this in more detail. Hopefully you have spurred me closer.

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