Listen to a reading of this article: ❖ I've been watching The John Wayne Gacy Tapes on Netflix, which features previously unheard recordings of the serial killer known as "The Killer Clown" who murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men in the 1970s. I wasn't able to finish it because I don't have that kind of stomach, but what jumped out at me listening to him was the way he talked about how much he loved power and what an easy time he had manipulating his way up the ladders of political influence.
For me, the standard of psychopathy at the highest levels of political power is readiness to use the massively destructive force of the American military to crush weaker states for the fun and profit of inflicting mass death and immiseration of whole populations. Trump tended to be wary of war, Obama too, and Biden seems to me the paradigmatic opportunist: not so much sadist as insatiably hungry for power and attention. Cheney, Nuland, Hilary are out and out war mongers, and don’t even seem shy of escalating to nuclear. I might be wrong; it might have more to do with the first three being Presidents and the second three not being that.
My life experience took me inside the halls of political power. I lobbied state legislatures, regulatory agency rulemaking, consulted for election campaigns, local, state, federal. I've been with the Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives in his office, with a US Supreme Court Justice in his inner chambers. I've met US President's, worked and socialized with presidential cabinet Secretaries, been in the homes of US Senators, shared drinks and social company with Governor's...and their mistresses. I've been to more than my share of the social functions, charity balls, holiday gala's, fundraisers, house parties, clinked glasses and shared hors d'oeuvre with the powerful in many communities, judges, corporate executives, medical, media, energy, education, transportation, senior military, you name it, moguls from all walks of life, those who've earned and inherited great fame and fortune. Been welcomed by them, taken calls from them, called on them. I know these people. Some even intimately. It draws the very people you describe.
As for elected officials it takes a special person to even put their name out their to run as a candidate. To submit oneself to the approval or rejection of their community takes a level of ego and confidence. Most people don't have the resilience to deal with rejection. Especially rejection in a race that is usually a close contest. Plenty of people will run fearlessly as shoe-ins or sacrificial lambs. But it takes a strong ego to deal with losing something you could've won. The line between healthy strong ego and unhealthy strong ego is thin.
Take that same ego and have it amplified by approval, winning an election. Ego's grow with approval. Then comes the power of office. Seductive, alluring, especially for the ambitious. Recognize the difference between being in a minority party with little actual power or a majority party with real power. The ambitious get to chair committees, leadership posts, those have even more power. The axiom power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely holds true. Watched many an aspiring politician, the insurance salesman, entrepreneur, nurse, run for the first time, disgusted by the system they see as outsiders, driven to be change agents, become who they wanted to replace once they get power. Rare is the person who's ego stays in check.
All you have to do is look at an HOA board to see how people become when given power. Sames. The human condition is the same. And as the stakes grow so do the egos. The control gets addictive.
The dynamic is very similar to what most of us experienced in high school cafeterias. The "cool kids" tables were where many wanted to be. Few really liked being at the "nerd" tables, who you were seen with said much about your status in the school. That's what the political scene is like. In state capitols, in DC. Lobbyists, legislators, media, even the gadfly's all wanted to be invited to be with the cool kids. Which involved the same type of social interactions and powerplays in high schools, but done by adults...making big decisions about how the rest of society lives. That is just as petty, conniving, duplicitous, etc as school was, but with more experience and skill involved.
All the while pretending to be better than it is, hiding behind protocols and titles, calling themselves, or being called "The Honorable" a lie in and of itself. Those social parties I described going to, all just huge ego strokes. "Hey Bob, hearing great things about your latest nonprofit work, so wonderful you care so much, helping so many in need!" "Thanks Warren, it's hard work, but so rewarding. And how is your investment in African water delivery systems doing? So great when you can make a living doing what you love!" "Let's get together and see how we can help." "We're going to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day next week, so powerful a moment. We'll connect after." Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Ego strokes the whole time, jockeying for influence, networking, access to power. They all eat it up.
I was in the public policy arena for two decades. I observed that decisions are made based on what I called the three C's: Constituents, Caucus and Conscience. Coined for the elected official decision making process, but can apply with slightly different terminology to most any position of power in an organization, Pastors, Executives, Administrators, etc.
Constituents - the community that put them in power. Caucus - the party apparatus that helped them get power. Conscience - their internal moral compass. When all three C's align that's an easy decision to make. But when it's 2-1 or 1-2 that's where negotiating the conflicts occur. And that negotiation is going to be a product of the ambition they have. Do right by constituents and conscience, but go against caucus means future ambitions may be limited. Maybe results in not being able to help constituents or advance personal agenda items successfully in the future. Do right by conscience but cross constituents and caucus, may get unelected and have nothing to show for it. Do right by conscience and caucus but screw over constituents, may get unelected but caucus may make sure you get taken care of. Do right by constituents and caucus but know you sold out your conscience.
The negotiations they make guide all decisions. Negotiations driven by ambitions. Lots of rationalizing and justifying. They truly do talk themselves into believing they are uniquely capable of making the best decisions for others in that environment. They get told it over and over and over by ego-stroking rent-seekers.
Which is why limited government is the only government that can preserve individual liberty and freedom, the US Constitution intended to limit, not expand. Two centuries of expansion has made it unrecognizable, individual liberty and freedom might as well be under glass in the National Archives building in DC next to the original document. The negotiations of ambitious men (and women) over two and a half centuries has used linguistic gymnastics to contort it into a meaningless relic.
I knew these people, many still in power today. Most are not respectworthy. They've made too many negotiations, their ambitions blinded them to the damage they do to the people they lead/control, stuck on rationalizing and justifying why they must harm the people to help them...for the greater good. The cool kids at the high school cafeteria table who weren't that smart to begin with, weren't and aren't very wise, but are very good at playing the game of manipulation and duplicity, silver tongues. Believing that makes them better than the rest of us, makes them good leaders.
The self-deceit that comes with the trappings of power and ambition was known by the founding fathers who studied all attempts at self-rule that came before the US and failed. Because man is as fallen today as he was then. And the absence of faith in God, true faith, has taken freedom and liberty, peace and harmony to a perilous cliff. We must return faith and God to his rightful place in our society, in our hearts. And spread truth, his truth, the truth those of us who have awakened to the awful leaders we suffer to our friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, strangers we meet. Or we will descend into a long, suffering darkness until enough wake up from their apathetic slumber and misguided trust in fallen men.
Without a biblical level intervention on behalf of our species, we are doomed.
It's difficult in an evolutionary sense to not see this situation as environmental selection for a survival trait. If a certain pattern of gene-driven brain development predisposes to psychopathy in an estimated 1% of the population, then our insane socioeconomic system would be the selective force driving that "brain-wiring" type toward the types of power-acquiring trait expression we see in western societies, and particularly in the US. Greed, militarism, wage slavery, etc. the expression of the neuro-genotype is ultimately guided by the environmental context. Since we can't control genetics, it's only a different socioeconomic context, probably a more collectivist one, that might temper the excesses of psychopaths. Good luck to us.
You know, the only real difference between a psychopath in politics and a a psychopath in prison is class. The poor psychopaths do anything to survive and could care less about what “anything” entails, while the rich psychopaths rise to the top of their chosen professions and could care less who they step on or harm to get there. The extremely talented (at manipulating others and portraying socially acceptable narcissistic behavior) psychopaths become politicians.
capitalism, through individualism (and its attendant competition where the winner takes all) as its ideology, brings out the worst of humanity so that only the scum floats to the top. look around yourself, no matter how high or low you may be socially, and you know good guys finish last. i haven't personally experienced communism and collectivism, i only understand the concept of "contribute according to your ability, and take according to your needs" philosophically. i sense so much fear of the unfamiliar in my own heart. i can only admire those individuals who have had the courage to take the necessary plunge.
We need law to psychologically test everyone running for elected office, or senate confirmed positions. psychopaths have no place in the governance of human beings.
Shit floats, contrary to popular belief that cream floats to the top.
The Chinese have dodged that bullet for 2200 years.
Today, they send ambitious young officials to their poorest villages and promise them promotion after they raise their average village income by 50%.
Their promotion then requires them to repeat the feat at the County level, then in a big city, and, a governor, in a province.
Xi Jinping succeeded at every level in his 25 years of preparation, and repeated it since becoming President: he's doubled everybody's real income since he was selected.
I grew up a republican, conservative mormon in Idaho. Although some would classify some of my social views as conservative, I have come to despise the right-left paradigm. The author, near as I can tell, believes in humanistic socialism (I could be wrong, but it really doesn't matter). However, we agree on nearly everything because we are both willing to state the truth. The labels we give ourselves and that others put on us are basically meaningless. I think what really matters is loving others enough to face the truth and tell it even when some will blindly hate anyone who contradicts them or the propaganda.
Satanistic psychopaths, or the functional equivalent to psychopaths, run the UN, the WHO, the United States, and most of the NATO countries and every mainstream media outlet in NATO countries. They will go to ANY lengths and commit ANY atrocity required to reach their goals. They hate it when people talk about what they are going to do because they like making fools out of us. They love boasting about what they have done because it makes them feel powerful. They are the lowest form of life, but we shouldn't judge them because for far too many of them this psychopathic lifestyle is generational and they were trapped as children. That said, they must be opposed and stopped. They cannot be allowed to win.
» control over its fate in early childhood when presented with the frightening prospect of being a powerless infant surrounded by giants «
— I disagree. I would say it comes from being the only animal which can imagine its own death. Earnest Becker's ‘The Denial of Death’ is very convincing on this.
— The original Athenian democracy elected people to office by random chance ... they thought the last people you want to rule are those who seek to rule.
— People in ancient Sumer already knew that power is like drinking salt water ... you always need more. The ancient tale of the Tower of Babel is also illuminating, if you read it through the lens of global hegemony and narrative.
Or we'll lurch into the future, survivor bias made manifest, each generation somehow forgetting the casualties of past war and greed and neglect.
Merchants of Death and shills in general all suffer from the same disease - Weak Mind. They can't imagine how to make money in a healthy way, have no real talent, so they take the low road. People cheat who can't compete.
“The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness. It is the expression of the inability of the individual self to stand alone and live. It is the desperate attempt to gain secondary strength where genuine strength is lacking.
The word power has a twofold meaning. One is the possession of power over somebody, the ability to dominate him; the other meaning is the possession of power to do something, to be able, to be potent. The latter meaning has nothing to do with domination; it expresses mastery in the sense of ability.”
~ Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom
You need to very careful about your choice of words. "We are at a point where OUR desire for control is threatening not just our ability to live harmoniously with one another, but our very survival." Who in this sentence is 'our'? As you have established before, it is those that have psychopathic tendencies and personalities, that are desiring more power, not the majority of the worlds population.
"We've also never seen anything like our current situation, though. There's a first time for everything." True! And you also laid out before, why this is: Psychopaths. Just over time, these personalities accumulated in the top positions in the hierarchical power structure. It is a saturation effect. That is why humanity, thanks to the leader-cult (at least that is what i call it), is at a point where it has never been before: facing the destruction of the ecosphere that it needs to survive.
Only thing though: This does not phase psychopaths in any way.
Power attracts sociopaths the way catnip attracts cats.
This is the driving force behind The Iron Law of Oligarchy, and why a state can be a republic of laws, or an empire, but never both, because an empire cannot allow itself to be restrained by any law other than force, or it will soon fall.
Yes, we are indeed at a crossroads for humanity: we can turn towards power with, collaboration, cooperation, relationship, harmony with others and nature OR we can keep going down the current road of power over, psychopathy, war, hatred, hubris, and separation mentality, ensuring we go extinct and taking down many other species as we do. I don't know the outcome. I pray and take actions in my life and community to bring about "the more beautiful world my heart knows is possible."