Neil’s Note: This is an updated, and greatly improved, version of an essay I published here a few years ago.
There’s been a meme going around, for some time now, that politicians are psychopaths. Or, at least, have mental disorders. It seems this meme was first sowed in 2003 by neurophysiologist Paul Broks, who suggested, on the evidence of conduct leading up to the Iraq war, that Tony Blair was a “plausible psychopath.” It was spread in 2012 in an article by James Silver in the Atlantic Magazine. The meme is still around today in the blogosphere, and every so often I catch new echoes of it.
So, today I’ll take a look at how much of a link there may be between politics and psychopathy.
A meme, which has drawn itself to my attention recently, is that politicians – or many of them, at least – have psychopathic tendencies.
In this essay, I’ll seek to make a case that there’s more than a grain of truth in this idea. And that not only do psychopaths seek power, but today’s political systems, including democracy, give them an advantage over non-psychopaths in terms of getting power. With negative consequences for us all.
To ameliorate this problem, I’ll suggest a test, based on the work of psychologist Robert D. Hare, to screen for psychopathic tendencies among those in or seeking positions of power, and politicians in particular. Read more
I was going to write about this earlier because it cuts to the heart of what’s different in the ways people think and fell in either calitalist-liberal civilisations, on in gramscoFabiaNazi ones. But I got depressingly side-tracked by chores and tasks…as you do. The trouble with being retired and unemployed is that you have to work and think so hard and you get really knackered, and then you worry that life isn’t what it’s cracked up to be as you are chasing your tail the whole time, and well…..
Perry over at Samizdata has done a better quick-analysis of the problem better and faster than I could, and this I think sums up the problem, but do read his whole treatment. Here’s the crux or nub:-
“…collectivism is a form of mass delusion, an ‘opiate for the masses’ method of replacing profane objective truth with sacred, subjective ‘acceptable’ truth… i.e. ‘truth’ is what the collective wants it to be. Indeed I would say much of the allure of collectivism is relief from the weight of individual responsibility, the sense of moral externalisation that comes from outsourcing choice to a ‘higher power’….”
Of course, that’s all very well I guess if “the masses” decide freely to buy into the collectivist delusion. They certainly did in Germany in the 1930s: of that I have no doubt, whatever people might argue to the contrary. The case of today’s UK I think is more complex, in that while the collectivist delusion has gripped, is gripping and will through the MSM continue to grip a majority of people here, we yet seem to be unhappy and depressed. Perhaps the collectivist magic has not really “taken” and people are unconsciously depressed because they know their freedom has been taken away? I don’t know. Does any one else?
Huh?…Have I missed something important while at work today?
I do not think that struggling people in Africa, or even elsewhere, care much. If people want to read poetry, or even create some, then that is a real libertarian issue, and they can do it.
Professors of it can’t help much.
Can’t really see what they-professors are for. (No point them reading it to you, for you must be able to do that for yourself,)