The Suicide of a Selfish Society

Since the dawn of civilization humankind has struggled with the burden of psychopathic leadership.  The history of the social contract is riddled with instances in which psychopathic individuals took power, raped, pillaged, consumed, waged war and destroyed to satisfy what we know is an unquenchable desire in the dark depths of the psychopathic personality.

In my forthcoming book I intend to show how a dramatic increase in psychopathy among leadership in modern society is generating a crisis for our human species and the world generally.  The fears expressed by great minds only a few decades ago are actualized through a flood of psychopathic leaders who behave in an entirely selfish and insane manner without regard for history, tradition, the good of humankind or even their own long term well-being.

For this moment, however, I want only to point out that the progress of human civilization has required, since its inception, safeguards against entirely selfish behavior.  The first manifestation of this can be described by evolutionary psychology and moral foundations theory, which argues that humans who felt more clearly the importance of loyalty, caring for others rather than harming, fairness, liberty and sanctity had a much stronger chance of living and passing on their genes than those who lacked these moral traits.  Morality is first a matter of survival fused into our genes.

When humankind moved beyond tribes and into chiefdoms, the probability for an amoral person to survive increased with the capacity to commit crimes anonymously.  As society moved from groups of 40-50 to groups of 1,000-10,000, religion evolved from a relatively amoral superstition to a much more moral edifice, “systematically discouraging antisocial behavior.”

For centuries religion and other structures have kept humankind moored to a moral foundation.  In recent years, however, the emergence of a new and twisted philosophy has emerged as a growing force.  In this philosophy, selfishness is a virtue and being completely selfish is the highest form of living to which one may aspire.

Ayn Rand, however you feel about her books, is one of the most popular figures of this new disfigured line of thinking.  While her two large novels appeal to a very energized portion of the population, what must not be missed is her insane attempt to move past merely condoning selfish behavior to prove, through literary gymnastics and tortured character development, that being selfish is the very best thing which any person may be.

Of course this is anti-human, in a very Nietzschean sense, and while this message of basking in selfishness is a soothing salve for those feeling guilty for their success (often at the expense of others around them), we must not allow for this stylized immoral influenza to spread.  The rise in psychopathic leadership, and the psychopath’s insatiable selfishness, presents the greatest danger to our species today.  Reinforcing selfishness increases our tolerance of psychopathic leaders; a program we cannot afford in our modern era.

How Libertarians Make Fascism Real

I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the mislabeling of Obama as a communist by the right and far right wing of the United States.

Those who make these gross charges miss two very important points:

First, the principles of communism are designed to help the poor, not enrich the government.  We have taken it for granted that when you give the government total power, it stops serving the poor or leveling the playing field and moves into a mode of hyper-self-enrichment.  Marx didn’t write about a system whereby Stalin gets to do whatever he wants and have as much power as he can grab.  It is simply that the idealism of Marx was twisted by Stalin to do just that.  Communism began as an idealistic attempt to lift those impoverished by the standing system into a relatively egalitarian state.

Which leads us to our second point: Obama has done more to attack poor and middle income people in the US than most presidents in recent memory.  While some look at his moves to expand government power as communist, they would be better described as fascist.  For instance, when he lifted a ten year ban on collecting food stamp over-payments in 2010 he gave governments across the country a club with which to beat poor people in order to excise more taxes.  (The Divide, Taibbi, pg. 341)  Instead of going after the bankers who ripped off pensions and defrauded municipalities, governments looking for cash began harassing and attacking poor people who may have been overpaid money as far back as thirty years ago for sums as small as 70 bucks.  Ohio alone made more than 22,000 attempts to get money back from poor people, many of whom may not have been overpaid at all and most of whom were overpaid by government error, not by their own fault. Instead of going after the millions and billions ripped off by corrupt bankers (bankers Obama plays golf with), Obama opened the door for the government to attack the poor people a hundred dollars at a time.

Hundreds of instances of Obama using government to protect wealthy criminals and attack poor people wash over the internet.  Even the mirage of Obamacare, which is labeled as some kind of communistic land grab, has one concrete result — a supreme court decision which granted the government the authority to punish citizens for the new crime of not purchasing health insurance.

This is not communism.  This is fascism.  Fascism is the enforcement of the big wins of the big winners in the free market by the government.  The libertarian movement and especially the anarcho-capitalists are to fascism as the ideas of Marx were to communism.  You start with an ideal, an unfortunately unattainable ideal, and you push the pendulum much too far in that ideological direction.  In Russia the radical communists won battles against the dysfunctional monarchy in a revolution.  In the US the Libertarians seem to be winning battles against the dysfunctional government bumbling our own future down the drain.

The next thing you know, instead of workers owning the means of production as Lenin had promised, they had Stalin.  Instead of the ultimate freedom to exchange as we see fit in a utopia spared the creativity stifling pressure of government, we will have fascism.  If we go far to the right, no matter how well intended, we will create a brutal regime which uses the incredibly idealistic goals of the libertarians to stomp on the faces of the vast majority of our American citizens for the of benefit a tiny, wealthy minority.

In both cases the pursuit of an unattainable ideal by a motivated and energized group ends in an Orwellian dystopia.  We watched it happen in Russia.  Must we watch it happen in the United States?