Robert Royal’s column of today, “Psychopaths In Power,” makes several useful observations:
The great psychologist and social commentator Jordan Peterson recently found exactly the right few words for our predicament: Psychopaths are in power. Others have said as much. He added, however, that the psychopaths have been utterly brilliant in using terms like freedom, tolerance, inclusion, openness, and diversity to disguise the destruction they’re causing, making it look sane, progressive, constructive, compassionate, even “Christian.”
A bit of realism based on experience treating mentally disturbed people.
It’s useful to trace out exactly what this means just now, because we’re living through something different than in the past. We’ve seen psychopaths in power, via obvious lies, in historic dictatorships: left was right, down was up, murder was justice, repression brought liberation. The twentieth century was full of them: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Fidel. More recently we’ve had Hugo Chavez, the Ortegas, Xi, Kim Jong Un, and countless others.
It’s often been asked, in the present and the recent past, “Why now? Why are all these monsters in power at essentially the same time? Why weren’t previous generations afflicted as we are today?” It’s about numbers, really. There are more humans alive today than ever before. The rate of incidence of certain pathologies doesn’t vary much, so the number of psychopaths “available” is roughly proportional to the total world population.
Add to that: The more psychopaths there are, the more brilliant psychopaths there are. Such people, with their innate drive for power over others, will have the necessary “pride, craft, and cruelty” (Leo Tolstoy) to get it. The rise of national and international media and the widespread embrace of “democracy” are things they learn to exploit. Thus we get the political history of the century-plus just behind us.
It follows that as our numbers increase, the urgency of identifying and culling the dangerous individuals among us increases as well. Catastrophically, the trend is in the opposite direction: we’ve been treating psychopaths and sociopaths ever more gently, and allowing them ever more opportunities to rise to power as we – and they – have multiplied. Concurrently, the psychopaths have been getting more and more skilled at subjugating us. Unless we manage to open the “high frontier” P.D.Q., the prognosis is bleak.
Americans have the literally unique advantage of being armed – of having the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in our Supreme Law. That is the sole potential corrective for the rise of psychopaths. If anyone needs it explained why we must hang on to our guns at all costs, remind him that upon rising to power, among the very first acts of each great psychopath in history was the disarming of his subjects. After that, all else follows.