Here’s my request to publish Dr. Steven Yates essay and Ben’s answer:
I can't remember when - if ever - I've read an essay that portrays the state of U.S. society so accurately and eloquently as this one: SOCIOPATHOCRACY By Professor Steven Yates. Would it be possible to copy and publish the essay (both parts) on the Thom Hartmann Member Blogs? Prof. Yates' essay deserves the widest possible dissemination. By the way, your essays on Israel could scarcely be more insightful. Thanks.
Response from Ben:
Feel free to post or use the info on my blog, or web site (benwilliamslibrary.com) for good use. (A short mention of where you found it wouldn't hurt.)
I won’t paste Ben’s entire response but he had complimentary things to say about Thom Hartmann and his program.
And I found the essay here:
By Professor Steven Yates
April 28, 2012
Two recent articles by Doug Casey, the investing and financial planning strategist who founded Casey Research, probably qualify as Keepers (they are here and here) Every American ought to read these articles and print copies for future reference.
Begin with Pareto’s Law, the infamous 80-20 principle which says that 80 percent of the work in any organization is done by 20 percent of its people. Twenty percent of a sales force achieves 80 percent of its sales. Likewise, 20 percent of any population is responsible for around 80 percent of its crime rate. In my experience in the classroom, I would estimate that approximately 20 percent of students accomplish 80 percent of whatever is accomplished in one of my philosophy classes. I wouldn’t be surprised if 80 percent of all advances of Western civilization can be attributed to 20 percent of the population. The rest are just along for the ride.
Pareto’s Law, according to Casey, has applications in social ethics, and personal motivation. Eighty percent of us humans are basically decent and mean well. Even if we sin, we are not overtly malicious and will not purposefully harm others except to defend ourselves and our own. We have an inner moral compass that checks our behavior, at least most of the time.
The other 20 percent lacks this moral compass. Most of this other 20 percent act benign most of the time. They don’t torture animals, for example. They don’t go out of their way to look for trouble, and if no opportunities arise, they won’t act differently from the 80 percent. But in the last analysis they are opportunists. They identify with authority. They are attracted to occupations and positions that allow them to wield unchecked power over others. They may work to gain your trust, and then stab you in the back when you become an inconvenience; they will enjoy having done it.
Have you ever wondered where the TSA finds the thousands whose job description involves treating their fellow citizens like potential terrorists? Or where the Fullerton, Calif. police department found the men who beat, kicked and Tasered a mentally retarded homeless man to death last summer? Or, for that matter, why our nation, with the largest percentage of its population incarcerated of any advanced nation in the world, seems to have little trouble staffing its facilities? I sometimes read about shortages of nurses. I never hear about shortages of prison guards.
Of the opportunistic 20 percent, 80 percent of its number is checked by social norms and others’ expectations most of the time. Not every TSA agent is looking to humiliate someone, for example. I’d wager, around 80 percent are not. Not every cop or prison guard is a sadist. But 20 percent of the opportunistic 20 percent are the truly bad apples, Casey writes. These are the people truly drawn to power, and will use opportunities to abuse others to advance their interests. They are capable of killing without remorse. Some, indeed, are evil through and through. Twenty percent of 20 percent being four percent of the whole, this means four percent of any population qualifies as sociopathic.
Casey lists seven key characteristics of sociopaths. He didn’t invest this list. I’ve seen variations on it elsewhere. Based on my own experiences and observations I’ve reworded it for this article:
(1) Sociopaths have no conscience or sincere empathy with others. They are fundamentally conniving, and will lie without hesitation to achieve their goals. They have no qualms or regrets about having hurt others. They can, of course, pretend they do. Some are very good at this. They may, however, exhibit Jekyll and Hyde personalities, being charming in public but flying into rages behind closed doors. The shallowness of their emotional lives makes love impossible. They are capable of marriage as they can pretend; but then ruin their spouse’s life, and that of any children involved.
(2) Sociopaths believe their wants are a completely different level from those of others, and will use or step on others to get what they want. They believe the ends justify the means. As we just said, they will kill to advance their goals or to protect their interests if they believe they can get away with it.
(3) Sociopaths see themselves—implicitly if not explicitly—as superior, because they don’t have “emotional” or “juvenile” ethics problems. They’re above all that, beyond good and evil. Again, though, they can pretend, and sound very convincing.
(4) Sociopaths are unable to accept responsibility if things go wrong. They never apologize for anything.
(5) The sociopathic notion of property rights runs something like this: what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine, too, if I want it. They will defend government (or anyone else’s) measures that seize other people’s property if they believe they will reap benefits.
(6) When disaster strikes, sociopaths in power become unhinged and lash out with an attack against the wrong target. Example: Bill Clinton would order an overseas bombing to detract attention from whatever trouble he was in over here (lying under oath to a grand jury, in one instance). Example: 19 Saudis are blamed for flying planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11. The Bush II regime attacks Iraq.
(7) Sociopaths enjoy bullying and inflicting pain on others. They will spread libelous rumors, and for sport will pass off unfounded allegations as true in order to hurt someone they regard as a foe. This is particularly true in ideological quarrels, although sociopathy itself knows no ideology.
In a healthy society, the sociopathic four percent finds itself marginalized—these are the people seen by the rest of society as “no good.” They’ve lied, stolen, double-crossed, or in some other way proved to those around them they can’t be trusted. Their fellows eventually refuse to have anything to do with them. They often end up in the slammer. In the America of decades past, of course, all towns had such people. Everyone steered clear of them. Parents instructed their children to stay away from the sociopath’s kids, if he had any.
Think of the common bully, who may have discovered as a first grader that he got an actual rush from pulling the pigtails of the girl in the desk in front of him until he made her cry, and then, a year later, got the same rush from inflicting petty indignities on smaller children. Obviously, as sociopaths get older the more intelligent get far more sophisticated in getting their jollies. They may attempt to gain a victim’s trust, and then take advantage of him. They will often seem to be doing something noble—but it invariably ends with someone getting hurt. Arguably, once these people enter their teens their patterns of behavior are fixed for life, and made worse by the fact that they don’t see themselves as doing anything wrong. They may see others as persecuting them, in fact.
Today, the equation has changed in a major way. Population growth and technological change have created a much more anonymous society. High mobility has weakened communities. People move around so much they never get to know their neighbors. Therefore they won’t know who not to trust. Obviously, too, ideological feminism, no-fault divorce, loosened sexual mores, and the dollar’s loss in purchasing power forcing both parents to work have all weakened the family as a unit, so there is less instruction in the basics of right versus wrong in the home (and children almost assuredly aren’t going to get it in their government schools!).
In other words, today despite our technological sophistication and creature comforts we have fewer opportunities for forming the long-term relationships between persons, families, churches, small businesses, etc., that make up the warp and woof of a healthy community, and passing them on to the next generation. In big cities, these ties are almost nonexistent for a lot of people. Large numbers of business transactions today essentially anonymous, one-time affairs. Buyer is focused on product or service; seller is focused on money. The idea of establishing human contact never occurs to either party. Years ago, when gassing up your vehicle, you went indoors to pay and could interact with the clerk, at least to say hello. Today, the majority of drivers “pay at the pump” and never see the human being behind the counter inside. At banks, they use ATM machines. They never see the teller.
Like it or not, sociopaths thrive in this kind of environment. And they are much harder to spot! Consider how the notorious serial killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy appeared not just functional and normal, but as pillars of their workplaces and communities. Nothing marked them as different. But obviously, no one really knew them except superficially. Sociopathic killers seem visibly normal—until they get caught. These are the extreme cases. This tells us volumes about the problems spotting the “sociopath next door.”
Many sociopaths are attracted to government, because it enables them to deal with people by force. They don’t have to hide. Others are attracted to big business because they realize that big business is often as drawn to power as big government; it achieves power via ties to government, and to other corporations. “Robber barons” could lock out competitors, as did John D. Rockefeller Sr. in the late 1800s who was probably a sociopath. As for money, that’s just how the business sociopath keeps score.
The major dictators of the past were clearly sociopaths: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Tse-Tung, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-Il; also lesser figures such as Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qhadafy.
As our government has moved further and further from its Constitutional roots and into police state territory as well as into partnerships with the corporations, it has become a haven for sociopaths. There are no means to keep them out!
The Clintons are sociopaths. If the accounts told by Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers and Paul Jones—among others—are true, “Slick Willie” was a sexual predator of the first order, and this was known long before the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Back in the late 1990s, I wondered where the radical feminists were. Had Clinton been a conservative, they would have been on him like white on rice. But radical feminism has always been about ideology, not justice for women. (Most academic-left radicals are sociopaths, but not all academic sociopaths have radical-left politics. Some will purposefully torpedo the careers of hardworking younger colleagues they perceive as potential threats. I have encountered a few of the latter in my day! What I’ve learned about the academic sociopath can be summed up in one sentence: don’t ever turn your back!)
Bush II (and Cheney) were probably a sociopaths—especially if, as some believe, they knew in advance that the 9/11 attacks were going to happen. This is, after all, the best explanation for Bush’s odd reaction in the grade school room that day, as when told of the attacks he allegedly paused, stared into space for a brief period, then went back to reading to a group of children. A far more normal reaction to news that the country of which he was Commander-in-Chief had just been hit by the worst terrorist attack in its history would have been to rise to his feet and explain to his young listeners that something had come up requiring his immediate attention.
Saddam Hussein was a sociopath. The U.S. government basically put him in power at the beginning of the 1980s. But sociopaths don’t have friends, just alliances of convenience, and these can come to an end on very short notice, as Saddam learned the hard way in the first Gulf War (Bush I, too, was also sociopath after all). The Iraq War of the 2000, then, was an act by one sociopath taking out another sociopath whose usefulness had ended, and whose own agenda (moving to sell oil in euros instead of dollars, for example) had become a threat.
Obama is most assuredly a sociopath. He ran a campaign promising change from the Bush years. He proved to be a very convincing and effective speaker who had audiences in the palms of his hands—skills at which extroverted sociopaths excel. He’s not only continued the Bush wars and the Bush domestic police state, he’s taken them several magnitudes further! Under his watch two U.S. citizens were literally executed by a drone attack in a foreign country, without benefit of arrest, charges, or trial. Most readers will be familiar with his acts of the past few months, signing legislation (NDAA) that opens the door to the arrest and incarceration without charges, legal counsel or trial of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil who can be accused, on impossibly vague grounds, of aiding “enemies” of the United States. Since then we’ve seen one executive order that effectively guts the First Amendment by criminalizing protests (free speech, freedom of assembly) in the presence of federal officials and another allowing the federal government to seize control over all natural (and human) resources.
I’ve already stated my belief that Obama will be re-elected, both because the super-elite approve of his performance to date and because Republicans cannot get their act together. If by some chance I am wrong, Mitt Romney will become president. Will he turn out to be another sociopath? Let’s look at matters this way. The super-elite aren’t supporting him as the token opposition because they think he’s Mother Teresa.
For all practical purposes, much of the world now lives under sociopathocracy: government by sociopaths. The globalist super-elite consists of generations of sociopaths who are raised from childhood to see themselves as superior to the human cattle whose livelihoods they destroy with no more thought than one of us would give to kicking over an anthill, whether from the wars they foment to the economic dislocations their corporations create. Sociopaths clearly dominate Europe and have for decades; today, they impose “austerity” on their masses, as the latter pay the costs of the destructive policies of their governments and banking leviathans. Sociopaths permeate our political class and its enforcement subordinates, extending from the White House and Congress on down to your county and city officials who get their jollies from destroying the life of an Andrew Wordes. The sociopathocracy gets support from those in the larger portion of that opportunistic 15 percent remainder who identify with authority and don’t mind helping destroy a man’s life to advance their own standing with the powers-that-be.
In my book Four Cardinal Errors I argue that the third of the errors there documented was the replacement of Christianity as a societal worldview with materialism as a societal worldview. According to materialism the whole of reality is just physical reality; the universe is just physical entities in motion, uncreated, and—on the largest scale—of no moral significance. Human life, in this case, ceases to have transcendent moral significance; it has no moral significance beyond what we can give it, in this life which lasts less than an instant given the vast expanse of cosmic time.
The individual dies; the state and corporations, however, go on. Those in power answer to no One Higher than each other, or themselves. Human beings are just language-using animals who occasionally speak the language of morality, which has no transcendent source or grounding. The best such moral codes are likely to produce is preference utilitarianism: pursue the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number, while letting everyone decide for themselves what gives them pleasure. These ideas begin with intellectuals who play influential roles in universities and in government. Variations on them or applications of them have received support from large corporations or tax-exempt foundations such as Rockefeller. Eventually they reach the public via cultural osmosis. Materialistic ideas are embodied in literature, in popular songs (think of Madonna’s “Material Girl”), in art, and eventually built into the framework of education which, by this time, is far more about the social engineering of compliance. When enough people are operational materialists—their being “Sunday Christians” will do!—we have a materialistic society, the main focus of which is on the pleasures of the present and how best to maximize them. Some of these pleasures turn out to be personally and socially destructive, of course, and so the culture begins to crumble from the inside out. When unbridled greed dominates the financial world, efforts to accumulate massive amounts of wealth grow increasingly reckless until they threaten economic stability. Then, unfortunately, and only then, do people begin to look up from their couches and ask questions.
Materialism by itself doesn’t give us sociopaths, of course, but a materialistic society, in combination with the anonymity noted above, tends to work against the moral compass of its people, rendering persons and institutions vulnerable to sociopaths. As the sociopathic mindset controls more and more of the warp and woof of society, morality and honesty consistently work against a person, who eventually grows cold and cynical himself.
Regrettably, many libertarians have fallen into some variation of this philosophical cul-de-sac, arguing that reason requires rejection of God and other transcendent realities, and that liberty requires only a rejection of the initiation of force, and not the purposeful application of principles (e.g., the objective worth of the individual person) the only possible grounding of which is in a transcendent reality. Sociopaths know how to exploit naïve secular philosophies. They instinctively recognize their cardinal weaknesses, such as the absence of any injunction against sacrificing the few to benefit the many (as happened in the ghastly Tuskegee Experiment). As sociopaths rise to power this gets turned around to sacrificing the many to benefit the few with the most money and power! In the end, under materialism there is no means of keeping sociopaths from accumulating power. The telos of materialism, one might say, is a totally controlled society under a totalitarian corporate-state.
Arguably, sociopathocracy has become a dominant mindset within the country—whether we are talking about government or large corporations, especially the “too big to fail” banks which are larger and more powerful today than they were before the Meltdown of 2008. Those in government are busy tightening down the screws in the name of “national security” and the “war on terror.” There isn’t, of course, the slightest reason to believe the sociopathocracy is interested in the security of the American people, or they would have secured our border with Mexico long ago! The above-noted legislation and executive orders more than suggest that the “national security” state isn’t worried about al Qaeda. It is worried about rising civil unrest among U.S. citizens many of whom are awakening to what is going on, sometimes from having studied how the superelite operates via Internet articles like this one, or having themselves been targeted by cold and sociopathic bureaucrats.
The real question is whether and how freedom-minded and independent-minded people can survive under sociopathocracy, while growing our numbers. We are a threat to sociopaths in power, in that not only do we not simply follow orders without question, more and more of us know who and what they are. The sociopathocracy has tremendous resources at its disposal, far more than any of us. Its denizens own the leviathan banking establishments including the Federal Reserve. Arguably its hands control the upper echelons of Hollywood and mainstream media. They dictate terms within major universities, and lesser ones follow the trends—not to mention their presence at every level within government schools.
Today, it is increasingly difficult to obtain reliable employment in the U.S. without either cooperating directly with the sociopathic mentality or joining with its opportunistic fellow travelers. Yet unless you plan to relocate outside this country—as more and more are doing each year—you might have to learn to do so, to pretend to be at least part of the penumbra of that 20 percent without the inner moral compass. Your only other alternative is to “hunker down” hopefully with like-minded others. Hopefully you can protect your assets as best as you can, link up with others doing the same, keep your heads down and agree to have each others’ backs—because remember: sociopathic rulers have no qualms about grabbing what you have if they know about it and decide they want it. They are more than capable of cooperating. Are we?
If you'd like to read more of Dr. Steven Yates essays you can select from a long list here (but be forewarned: he ranges far and wide and while you'll likely find many to your liking others may upset you.):