Straws are a distraction: how the plastics industry successfully got you to blame yourself for pollution https://boingboing.net/2019/10/03/recycling-isnt-enough.html
“40 years of Reaganomic sociopathy has managed to convince hundreds of millions of otherwise sensible people that big, social problems are caused by their personal choices, and not (say) by rapacious corporations that corrupt the regulatory process in order to get away with literal and figurative murder.”
While psychopaths have probably always been around us, in feudalist societies it would have been much harder for them to rise to positions of wealth and power. Unless you were born into the nobility, it was pretty tough to get out of your class circumstances and engineer yourself into a place where you could rise above.
Think about it this way – if, as guys like Robert Hale suggest, about one percent of the population rank highly on the psychopath test – and, if this has always been true – then up until the Industrial Revolution, if you were born a psychopath but were not a member of the aristocracy or nobility, let’s say you were the son of a blacksmith, then what could you do? You didn’t have much chance of putting together an army or rising above your stations in terms of wealth creation opportunities.
If you were a plebeian in the Roman Republic, your chances of rising to power were kept in check by the tools of the aristocracy – the Senate, the army and paid mobs. During the Roman Empire, a few plebs made it to become generals and even Emperors, but they were few and far between. A number of centurions of plebeian extraction were rewarded by Augustus after his civil war with Antony with property and suddenly found themselves as the nouveau riche and a seat in the Senate – but again, these stories were rare.
Oh sure – if you were a Hun in the 5th century, you could brawl it out with some other guys to see who would be the king of the tribe, and go from there. But in the Middle Ages, these opportunities were scarce. You might be someone like Francesco Sforza who, in the early 1400s, managed to turn his father’s private army of mercantile soldiers into becoming the Duke of Milan by winning some battles and marrying his illegitimate daughter – but again, those stories are quite rare in the annals of history.
For most of history, if you were born poor, for the most part, you stayed poor.
So if 1% of the population were psychopaths, and 99% of the population were poor, that means 99% of the psychopaths were poor and, while they probably caused trouble for their immediate family and village, they never went further than that.
However – then the Industrial Revolution came along and we entered the rise of capitalism. Now those 99% have a much better shot at unleashing their psychopathy on the world. They could get an education, get a job, and use their inherent psychopathy to climb the ladder of power inside an organisation – business, political, religious, academia or military. Suddenly, after 1000 years of being kept down in their villages, the psychopaths had a ladder to wealth and power unlike anything before.
Studies show that most people who are born poor continue to stay poor, it’s true. But we live in a world where the psychopaths who are born poor, and have no qualms about fucking other people over in their march towards power – who care as much about committing an unethical act as you or I do about what we ate for breakfast a week ago – have an open playing field. Capitalism has unleashed the psychopaths on the world.
Now our job is to figure out how to ring fence them and keep them in check before they destroy the planet and all of us on it.
This article on the neuroscience of trust raises some interesting questions regarding testosterone and psychopathic behaviour. One of the key characteristics of psychopaths is their lack of empathy which, as it turns out, is also a side-effect of high testosterone:
High testosterone convinces the brain that others find you desirable and socially powerful. It also inhibits the brain’s release of oxytocin, reducing empathy and the desire to collaborate. What’s more, testosterone’s aggression is contagious, inhibiting oxytocin and trust in team members.
In my book “The Psychopath Economy”, I don’t get much into what makes people psychopaths, I just assume they do, and will always, exist. But this article made me do some further reading on the link between psychopaths and testosterone. At least one study in the last decade concluded that “psychopathy scores were associated with an increased ratio of testosterone (baseline) to cortisol responsivity to a stressor. Psychopathy was not associated with either of these measures independently, or with baseline cortisol levels. These findings suggest that these highly interconnected hormone systems may work in concert to predispose to psychopathy.”
Another recent study looking at emotional control found that “people with psychopathy, and especially in patients with high endogenous testosterone levels” demonstrated “significantly less activity in the prefrontal brain regions and less communication between the prefrontal brain and the amygdala was observed”.
Four Corners has a story about slavery in our supply chain. Do Western manufacturers know (or care) about the practices of their supply chain? Should Western governments do something about it? According to Four Corners the Australian government recently passed something called The Modern Slavery Act 2018, which “requires businesses of a certain size to report their efforts to keep their supply chains slavery-free”. Unfortunately, the government “has the power to publicly name those that fail to comply, but not to fine or penalise them in other ways. It is hoped fear of shaming will be enough incentive to avoid the reputational, financial and other risks that might arise from public scrutiny.” The problem with shaming is that psychopaths (and, by extension, the companies they run), are pretty impervious to shame. All they care about is winning. They don’t give a shit what you think about them.
Why would the government not put throw-the-book-at-them penalties in place for slavery in the supply chain?
According to antislavery.org “an estimated 25 million people around the world are in forced labour” and it generates US$150 billion in profits for the private economy every year.
I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.
What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.
Well it’s officially election time once again in Australia, so pull out your official Politician Personality Disorder Bingo cards and see which politicians match the personality disorders from the DSM-5!
Is ScoMo more Histrionic or Narcissistic?
Is BarJoy more Dependent or Antisocial?
You be the judge! No psychiatric qualifications necessary, as this is the national sport that replaced two-up. Winners will get a free trip to Canberra on May 18 to watch both the winners and the losers put the full force of their disorders on public display. Second place will get a free copy of my book The Psychopath Economy. Fun for all the family!