21 February 2006

Etymology of the word "poneros" and its implications

The following was posted by a reader to the Signs of the Times Forum: Signs of the Times is unique among the alternative media sites I have explored in its focus on Sociopolitical Ponerology. In my view, this approach provides an opportunity for alternative media to play the balancing role for the mind that alternative medicine can accomplish for the body. Upon reading "Ponerology Blog: The Genesis of Evil on a Macrosocial Scale" the first thing that drew my attention (being Greek myself), was the etymology of the word “ponerology”. The blog says it comes from the Greek word poneros, meaning “evil”. This is true, but there is more depth to it that may be worth examining, given that on-line definitions are seriously lacking, and mostly have a biblical bias. Poneros in Modern Greek means one whose mind tends toward evil, a sly underhanded person, or even one with a “dirty” mind. The word is related to the word “ponos”, which means pain. Both pain and poneros (as well as the English derivatives “penitence” and “penitentiary”) come from the ancient root “penomai” meaning “to exert effort” in the debilitating sense. Pain is the result of this “effort”, and the poneric person (or poneros) is its propagator. Actually, “effort” is not precisely the right word. Penomai is something I do to myself that wears me down, that harms me and makes me suffer. In other words, it is an imposition of entropy upon my person by my person. We can, therefore, understand the poneric person as a propagator of self-generated entropy. The poneros is not simply someone who acts to cause pain, but a state of entropic being that perpetuates itself. Biblically, this was identified as the “devil”. What the poneros propagates is his or her very state of being. An analogy would be a walking pod spreading seeds that infect anything they touch, and that turn whatever is infected into a pod as well (shades of the Body-snatchers). According to the (rather intuitive and extended) implications of the etymologic meaning, the poneric person is not a carrier of some parasite, but a mutation propagating itself by converting other organisms to the same mutational pattern. Poneric persons, therefore, constantly break down and undermine their own being, as they are personifications of psychic entropy. It stands to reason that if left alone they would simply end up consuming themselves. To inhibit or even delay this breakdown, they would need support from others to which they could channel the same dynamics, undermining harmony, life and integrity in order to relieve themselves of the self-consuming poneric pressure. This is not to be mistaken with a passing of a burden. Rather the pressure poneric people feel is more similar to the reproductive drive. As such, propagating the entropy that consumes them, regardless if others become directly poneric or simply victims of other forms of breakdown (pain and suffering), gives the propagators of ponos a sense of accomplishment and meaning no matter how they dress it. Indeed, they do dress it (often in elaborate and deceptive ways), not because they feel misgivings, but as camouflage to make propagation easier. In that sense, ideological dressings are similar to biological adaptations to better serve the poneric drive. When enough ponerics have been “seeded” to create a pathocracy (literally the “rule of suffering”) the dressings are usually discarded. This is also described by Ponerologic theory, as I understand it. Space does not permit further development of this topic, although I would like to comment that the biological analogy, along with the understanding that poneric infection is a mutation of the mind, may provide insight as to how to deal with it, and I may elaborate upon that train of thought in a future thread. Lobaczewski's "Ponerology", however, is literally a gold mine of such insight, and the more we explore it the more “weapons” we can forge to address what amounts to a pathocratic outbreak of epidemic proportions in our turbulent times.

Read more!

19 February 2006

The Genesis of Evil on a Macrosocial Scale


Ever since human societies and civilizations have been created on our globe, people have longed for happy times full of tranquility and justice, which would have allowed everyone to herd his sheep in peace, search for fertile valleys, plow the earth, dig for treasures, or build houses and palaces. Man desires peace so as to enjoy the benefits accumulated by earlier generations and to proudly observe the growth of future ones he has begotten. Sipping wine or mead in the meantime would be nice. He would like to wander about, becoming familiar with other lands and people, or enjoy the star-studded sky of the south, the colors of nature, and the faces and costumes of women. He would also like to give free rein to his imagination and immortalize his name in works of art, whether sculptured in marble or eternalized in myth and poetry.

From time immemorial, then, man has dreamed of a life in which the measured effort of mind and muscle would be punctuated by well-deserved rest. He would like to learn nature’s laws so as to dominate her and take advantage of her gifts. Man enlisted the natural power of animals in order to make his dreams come true, and when this did not meet his needs, he turned to his own kind for this purpose, in part depriving other humans of their humanity simply because he was more powerful.

Dreams of a happy and peaceful life thus gave rise to force over others, a force which depraves the mind of its user. That is why man’s dreams of happiness have not come true throughout history: this hedonistic view of “happiness” contains the seeds of misery. Quite the contrary, they feed the eternal cycle whereby good times give birth to bad times, which in turn cause the suffering and mental effort which produce experience, good sense, moderation, and a certain amount of psychological knowledge, all virtues which serve to rebuild more felicitous conditions of existence.

During good times, people progressively lose sight of the need for profound reflection, introspection, knowledge of others, and an under-standing of life’s complicated laws. Is it worth pondering the properties of human nature and man’s flawed personality, whether one’s own or someone else’s? Can we understand the creative meaning of suffering we have not undergone ourselves, instead of taking the easy way out and blaming the victim? Any excess mental effort seems like pointless labor if life’s joys appear to be available for the taking. A clever, liberal, and merry individual is a good sport; a more farsighted person predicting dire results becomes a wet-blanket killjoy.

Perception of the truth about the real environment, especially an understanding of the human personality and its values, ceases to be a virtue during the so-called “happy” times; thoughtful doubters are decried as meddlers who cannot leave well enough alone. This leads to an impoverishment of psychological knowledge, the capacity of differentiating the properties of human nature and personality, and the ability to mold minds creatively.

The cult of power thus supplants those mental values so essential for maintaining law and order by peaceful means. A nation’s enrichment or involution regarding its psychological world-view could be considered an indicator of whether its future will be good or bad.

During “good” times, the search for truth becomes uncomfortable because it reveals inconvenient factors. It is better to think about easier and more pleasant things. Unconscious elimination of data which are or appear to be inexpedient gradually turns to habit, then becomes a custom accepted by society at large. Any thought process based on such truncated information cannot possibly give rise to correct conclusions; it further leads to subconscious substitution of inconvenient premises by more convenient ones, thereby approaching the boundaries of phenomena which should be viewed as psychopathological.

Such contented periods, which are often rooted in some injustice to other people or nations, start to strangle the capacity for individual and societal consciousness; subconscious factors take over a decisive role in life. Such a society considers any perception of uncomfortable truth to be a sign of “ill-breeding”. J. G. Herder’s* iceberg is drowned in a sea of falsified unconsciousness; only the tip of the iceberg is visible above the waves of life. Catastrophe waits in the wings. In such times, the capacity for logical and disciplined thought, born of necessity during difficult times, begins to fade. When communities lose the capacity for psychological reason and moral criticism, the processes of the generation of evil are intensified at every social scale, whether individual or macrosocial, until they revert to “bad” times.

[*Note: Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), a theologian by training and profession, greatly influenced German letters with his literary criticism and his philosophy of history. In his later years, Herder resided in the Duchy of Weimar and his presence, along with 1. W. Goethe and F Schiller, made Weimar the seat of German neohumanism. His analogy of national cultures as organic beings had an enormous impact on modern historical consciousness. Nations, he argued, possessed not only the phases of youth, maturity, and decline but also singular, incomparable worth. His mixture of anthropology and history was characteristic of the age.] 

We already know that every society contains a certain percentage of people carrying psychological deviations caused by various inherited or acquired factors which produce anomalies in perception, thought, and character. Many such people attempt to impart meaning to their deviant lives by means of social hyperactivity. They create their own myths and ideologies of overcompensation and have the tendency to egotistically insinuate to others their own deviant perceptions and the resulting goals and ideas.

When a few generations’ worth of “good-time” insouciance results in societal deficit regarding psychological skill and moral criticism, this paves the way for pathological plotters, snake-charmers, and even more primitive impostors to act and merge into the processes of the origination of evil. They are essential factors in its synthesis. I shall attempt to persuade my readers that the participation of pathological factors, so underrated by the social sciences, is a common phenomenon in the processes of the origin of evil.

Those times which many people later recall as the “good old days” thus provide fertile soil for future tragedy because of the progressive devolution of moral, intellectual, and personality values which give rise to Rasputin-like eras.

Bad times are not merely the result of hedonistic regression to the past; they have a historical purpose to fulfill. Suffering, effort, and mental activity during times of imminent bitterness lead to a progressive, generally heightened, regeneration of lost values, which results in human progress. Unfortunately, we still lack a sufficiently exhaustive philosophical grasp of this interdependence of causality and teleology  regarding occurrences.

When bad times arrive and people are overwhelmed by an excess of evil, they must gather all their physical and mental strength to fight for existence and protect human reason. The search for some way out of the difficulties and dangers rekindles long-buried powers of discretion. Such people have the initial tendency to rely on force in order to counteract the threat; they may, for instance, become “trigger-happy” or dependent upon armies. Slowly and laboriously, however, they discover the advantages conferred by mental effort; improved understanding of the psychological situation in particular, better differentiation of human characters and personalities, and, finally, comprehension of one’s adversaries. During such times, virtues which former generations relegated to literary motifs regain their real and useful substance and become prized for their value. A wise person capable of furnishing sound advice is highly respected.

How astonishingly similar were the philosophies of Socrates and Confucius, those half-legendary thinkers who, albeit near-contemporaries, resided at opposite ends of the great continent. Both lived during evil, bloody times and adumbrated a method for conquering evil, especially regarding perception of the laws of life and knowledge of human nature. They searched for criteria of moral values within human nature and considered knowledge and understanding to be virtues.

Difficult and laborious times give rise to values which finally conquer evil and produce better times. The succinct and accurate analysis of phenomena, made possible thanks to the conquest of the expendable emotions and egotism characterizing self-satisfied people, opens the door to causative behavior, particularly in the areas of philosophical, psychological, and moral reflection; this tips the scale to the advantage of goodness. If these values were totally incorporated into humankind’s cultural heritage, they could sufficiently protect nations from the next era of errors and distortions. However, the collective memory is impermanent and particularly liable to remove a philosopher and his work from his context, namely his time and place and the goals which he served.

Whenever an experienced person finds a moment of relative peace after a difficult and painful effort, his mind is free to reflect unencumbered by the expendable emotions and outdated attitudes of the past, but aided by the cognizance of bygone years. He thus comes closer to an objective understanding of phenomena and a view of actual causative links, including such links which cannot be understood within the framework of natural language. He thus meditates upon an ever-expanding circle of general laws while contemplating the meaning of those former occurrences which separated the periods of history. We reach for ancient precepts because we understand them better; they make it easier for us to understand both the genesis and the creative meaning of unhappy times.

This cycle of happy, peaceful times favors a narrowing of the world-view and an increase in egotism; societies become subject to progressive hysteria and to that final stage, descriptively known to historians, which finally produces times of despondency and confusion, that have lasted for millennia and continue to do so. The recession of mind and personality which is a feature of ostensibly happy times varies from one nation to another; thus some countries manage to survive the results of such crises with minor losses, whereas others lose nations and empires. Geopolitical factors have also played a decisive role.

The psychological features of such crises doubtless bear the stamp of the time and of the civilization in question, but one common denominator must have been an exacerbation of society’s hysterical condition. This deviation or, better yet, formative deficiency of character, is a perennial sickness of societies, especially the privileged elites. The existence of exaggerated individual cases, especially such characterized as clinical, is an offshoot of the level of social hysteria, quite frequently correlated with some additional causes such as carriers of minor lesions of brain tissue. Quantitatively and qualitatively, these individuals may serve to reveal and evaluate such times, as indicated in history’s “Book of San Michele”*.

[*Note: Axel Munthe, physician, psychiatrist, and writer, was born in Oskarshamn, Sweden. He was educated at the University of Uppsala and at Montpellier in Paris where he received his M.D. He studied the work of the French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot and used hypnosis in his own work with the physical and psychological symptoms of his patients. He later became physician to the Swedish Royal family. He became known as "the modern St. Francis of Assissi" because he financed sanctuaries for birds. As a writer Munthe recounted his own experiences as a physician and psychiatrist. He is most famous for the autobiographical work THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE which was published in 1929.]

In spite of above-mentioned qualitative differences, the duration of these time-cycles tends to be similar. If we assume that the extreme of European hysteria occurred around 1900 and returns not quite every two centuries, we find similar conditions. Such cyclical isochronicity may embrace a civilization and cross into neighboring countries, but it would not swim oceans or penetrate into faraway and far different civilizations.

When the First World War broke out, young officers danced and sang on the streets of Vienna: “Krieg, Krieg, Krieg! Es wird ein schoener Krieg ...”. While visiting Upper Austria in 1978, I decided to drop in on the local parson, who was in his seventies by then. When I told him about myself, I suddenly realized he thought I was lying and inventing pretty stories. He subjected my statements to psychological analysis, based on this unassailable assumption and attempted to convince me  that his morals were lofty. When I complained to a friend of mine about this, he was amused: “As a psychologist, you were extremely lucky to catch the survival of authentic "Austrian talk" (die oesterreichische Rede). We young ones have been incapable of demonstrating it to you even if we wanted to simulate it.”

In the European languages, “Austrian talk” has become the common descriptive term for paralogistic* discourse. Many people using this term nowadays are unaware of its origin. Within the context of maximum hysterical intensity in Europe at the time, the authentic article represented a typical product of conversive** thinking: subconscious selection and substitution of data lead to chronic avoidance of the crux of the matter. In the same manner, the reflex assumption that every speaker is lying is an indication of the hysterical anti-culture of mendacity, within which telling the truth becomes “immoral”. 

[*Note: paralogism: n. illogical or fallacious deduction. paralogical, paralogistic, a. paralogize, v.i. be illogical; draw unwarranted conclusions. paralogist, n.

**conversive thinking: using terms but giving them opposing or twisted meanings. Examples: peacefulness - appeasement; freedom - license; initiative - arbitrariness; traditional - backward; rally - mob; efficiency - small-mindedness. Example: the words "peacefulness" and "appeasement" denote the same thing--a striving to establish peace, but have entirely different connotations which indicate the speaker's attitude toward this striving toward peace.]

That era of hysterical regression gave birth to the great war and the great revolution which extended into Fascism, Hitlerism, and the tragedy of the Second World War. It also produced the macrosocial phenomenon whose deviant character became superimposed upon this cycle, screening and destroying its nature. Contemporary Europe is heading for the opposite extreme of this historical sine curve. We could thus assume that the beginning of the next century will produce an era of optimal capability and correctness of reason, thus leading to many new values in all realms of human discovery and creativity. We can also foresee that realistic psychological understanding and spiritual enrichment will be features of this era.

At the same time, America, especially the U.S.A., has reached a nadir for the first time in its short history. Grey-haired Europeans living in the U.S. today are struck by the similarity between these phenomena and the ones dominating Europe at the times of their youth. The emotionalism dominating  individual, collective and political life, as well as the subconscious selection and substitution of data in reasoning, are impoverishing the development of a psychological world-view and leading to individual and national egotism. The mania for taking offense at the drop of a hat provokes constant retaliation, taking advantage of hyper-irritability and hypo-criticality on the part of others. [The litigious nature of Americans is known the world over.] This can be considered analogous to the European dueling mania of those times. People fortunate enough to achieve a position higher than someone else are contemptuous of their supposed inferiors in a way highly reminiscent of czarist Russian customs. Turn-of-the-century Freudian psychology finds fertile soil in this country because of the similarity in social and psychological conditions.

America’s psychological recession drags in its wake an impaired socio-professional adaptation of this country’s people, leading to a waste of human talent and an involution of societal structure. If we were to calculate this country’s adaptation correlation index, as suggested in the prior chapter, it would probably be lower than the great majority of the free and civilized nations of this world, and possibly lower than some countries which have lost their freedom. A highly talented individual in this country finds it ever more difficult to fight his way through to his right to self-realization and a socially creative position. Universities, politics, and even some business areas ever more frequently demonstrate a united front of relatively untalented persons. The word “overeducated” is heard more and more often. Such “overqualified” individuals finally hide out in some foundation laboratory where they are allowed to earn the Nobel prize. In the meantime, the country as whole suffers due to a deficit in the inspirational role of highly gifted individuals.

As a result, America is stifling progress in all areas of life, from culture to technology and economics, not excluding political incompetence. When linked to other deficiencies, an egotist’s incapability of understanding other people and nations leads to political error and the scapegoating of outsiders. Slamming the brakes on the evolution of political structures and social institutions increases both administrative inertia and discontent on the part of its victims.

We should realize that the most dramatic social difficulties and tensions occur at least ten years after the first observable indications of having emerged from a psychological crisis. Being a sequel, they also constitute a delayed reaction to the cause or are stimulated by the same psychological activation process. The time span for effective countermeasures is thus rather limited.

Is Europe entitled to look down on America for suffering from the same sickness the former has succumbed to several times? Is America’s feeling of superiority to Europe derived from this past state and its inhuman results anything more than a harmful anachronism? It would be most useful if the European nations took advantage of their historical experience and more modern psychological knowledge so as to help America most effectively.

East Central Europe, [formerly] under Soviet domination, is part of the European cycle, albeit somewhat delayed; the same applies to the Soviet empire, especially to the European portion. There, however, tracking these changes and isolating them from more dramatic phenomena eludes the possibilities of observation, even if it is only a matter of methodology. Even there, however, there is progressive growth in the grass-roots resistance of the regenerative power of healthy common sense. Year by year, the dominant system feels weaker vis-a-vis these organic transformations. May we add to this a phenomenon the West finds totally incomprehensible, and which shall be discussed in greater detail: namely, the growing specific, practical knowledge about the governing reality within countries whose regimes are similar. This facilitates individual resistance and a reconstruction of social links. Such processes shall, in the final analysis, produce a watershed situation, although it will probably not be a bloody counter-revolution.

The question suggests itself: Will the time ever come when this eternal cycle rendering the nations almost helpless can be conquered? Can countries permanently maintain their creative and critical activities at a consistently high level? Our era contains many exceptional moments; our contemporary Macbeth witches’ cauldron holds not only poisonous ingredients, but also progress and understanding such as humanity has not seen in millennia.

Upbeat economists point out that humanity has gained a powerful  slave in the form of electric energy and that war, conquest, and subjugation of other countries are becoming ever less profitable. Unfortunately, as we shall see later in this work, nations can be pushed into economically irrational changes and desires by other motives whose character is meta-economic. That is why overcoming these other causes and phenomena which give rise to evil is a difficult, albeit at least theoretically attainable, task. However, in order to master it, we must understand the nature and dynamics of said phenomena: an old principle of medicine says: “Ignota, nulla curatio morbi.”

One accomplishment of modern science, contributing to the destruction of these eternal cycles, is the development of communication, which has linked our globe into one huge system. The time cycles sketched herein used to run their course almost independently in various civilizations on different mainlands. Their phases neither were, nor are, in synchronicity. We can assume that the American phase lags 80 years behind the European. When the world becomes an inter-related structure from the viewpoint of communicating both information and news, different social contents and opinions caused by unlike phases of said cycles, inter alia, will overflow all boundaries and information security systems. This will give rise to pressures which can change the causative dependencies herein. A more plastic psychological situation thus emerges, which increases the possibilities for pinpointed action based on an understanding of the phenomena.

At the same time, in spite of many difficulties of a scientific, social and political nature, we see the development of a new community of factors which will eventually contribute to the liberation of mankind from the effects of uncomprehended historical causation. The development of science, whose final goal is a better understanding of man and the laws of social life, will in the long run cause public opinion to accept the essential knowledge about human nature and the development of the human personality, which will enable the harmful processes to be controlled. Some forms of international cooperation and supervision will be needed.

The development of human personality and its capacity for proper thinking and accurate comprehension of reality unfortunately demands overcoming comfortable laziness and applying the efforts of work and science under conditions different from those under which we have been raised, which is often linked to a certain amount of risk.

Under such conditions, an egotistic personality, accustomed to a narrow environment, superficial thinking, and excessive emotionalism, will be subject to favorable changes, which cannot be replaced by anything.

Altered conditions cause this personality to begin disintegrating, thus giving rise to intellectual and cognitive efforts and moral reflection.

One example of such behavior is the American Peace Corps. Young people travel to many poor developing countries in order to live and work there, often under primitive conditions. They learn to understand other nations and customs, and their egotism decreases. Their world-view develops and becomes more realistic. They thus lose the characteristic defects of the modern American character.

In order to overcome something whose origin is shrouded in the mists of time immemorial, we often feel we must battle the ever-turning windmills of history. However, the end goal of such effort must be the possibility that an objective understanding of human nature and its eternal weaknesses, plus the resulting transformation of societal psychology, may enable us effectively to counteract or prevent the destructive and tragic results sometime in the not too distant future.

Our times are exceptional, and suffering now gives rise to better comprehension than it did centuries ago. This understanding and knowledge fit better into the total picture, since they are based on objective data. Such a view therefore becomes realistic, and people and problems mature in action. Such action should not be limited to theoretical contemplations, but rather, acquire organization and form.

In order to facilitate this, let us consider the selected questions and the draft of a new scientific discipline which would study evil, discovering its factors of genesis, insufficiently understood properties, and weak spots, thereby outlining new possibilities to counteract the origin of human suffering.

When perusing scientific or literary descriptions of hysterical phenomena, such as those dating from the last great increase in hysteria in Europe encompassing the quarter-century preceding World War I, a non-specialist may gain the impression that this was endemic of individual cases, particularly among woman. The contagious nature of hysterical states, however, had already been discovered and described by Jean-Martin Charcot.

It is practically impossible for hysteria to manifest itself as a mere individual phenomenon, since it is contagious by means of psychological resonance, identification, and imitation. Each human being has a predisposition for this malformation of the personality, albeit to varying degrees, although it is normally overcome by rearing and self-rearing, which are amenable to correct thinking and emotional self-discipline.

During happy times of peace and social injustice, children of the privileged classes learn to repress from their field of consciousness any of those uncomfortable concepts suggesting that they and their parents benefit from injustice. Young people learn to disqualify the moral and mental values of anyone whose work they are using to over-advantage. Young minds thus ingest habits of subconscious selection and substitution of data, which leads to a hysterical conversion economy of reasoning. They grow up to be somewhat hysterical adults who, by means of the ways adduced above, thereupon transmit their hysteria to the younger generation, which then develops these characteristics to a greater degree. The hysterical patterns for experience and behavior grow and spread downwards from the privileged classes until crossing the boundary of the first criterion of ponerology.

 When the habits of subconscious selection and substitution of thought-data spread to the macro-social level, a society tends to develop contempt for factual criticism and to humiliate anyone sounding an alarm. Contempt is also shown for other nations which have maintained normal thought-patterns and for their opinions. Egotistic thought-terrorization is accomplished by the society itself and its processes of conversion thinking. This obviates the need for censorship of the press, theater, or broadcasting, as a pathologically hypersensitive censor lives within the citizens themselves. When three “egos” govern, egoism, egotism, and egocentrism, the feeling of social links and responsibility disappear, and the society in question splinters into groups ever more hostile to each other. When a hysterical environment stops differentiating the opinions of limited, not-quite-normal people from those of normal, reasonable persons, this opens the door for activation of the pathological factors of a various nature.

Individuals governed by a pathological view of reality and abnormal goals caused by their different nature develop their activity in such conditions. If a given society does not manage to overcome the state of hysterization under its ethnological and political circumstances, a huge bloody tragedy can be the result. One variation of such a tragedy can be pathocracy. Thus, minor setbacks in terms of political failure or military defeat can be a warning in such a situation and may turn out to be a blessing in disguise if properly understood and allowed to become a factor in the regeneration of a society’s normal thought patterns and customs. The most valuable advice a ponerologist can offer under such circumstances is for a society to avail itself of the assistance of modern science, taking particular advantage of data remaining from the last great increase of hysteria in Europe.

A greater resistance to hysterization characterizes those social groups which earn their daily bread by daily effort, where the practicalities of everyday life force the mind to think soberly and reflect on generalities. As an example: peasants continue to view the hysterical customs of the well-to-do classes through their own earthly perception of psychological reality and their sense of humor. Similar customs on the part of the middle classes incline workers to bitter criticism and revolutionary anger. Whether couched in economic, ideological, or political terms, the criticism and demands of these social groups always contain a component of psychological, moral, and anti-hysterical motivation. For this reason, it is most appropriate to consider these demands with deliberation and take these classes’ feelings into account. On the other hand, tragic results can derive from thoughtless action paving the way for spellbinders to make themselves heard.

Macrosocial Evil is Born

The time-cycle sketched [above] was referred to as hysteroidal because the intensification and diminution of a society’s hysterical condition can be considered its chief measurement. It does not, of course, constitute the only quality subject to change within the framework of certain periodicity. The present chapter shall deal with the phenomenon which can emanate from the phase of maximal intensification of hysteria.

Such a sequence does not appear to result from any relatively constant laws of history; quite the contrary, some additional circumstances and factors must participate in this period of a society’s general spiritual crisis and cause its reason and social structure to degenerate in such a way as to bring about the spontaneous generation of this worst disease of society. Let us call this phenomenon “pathocracy”; this is not the first time it has emerged during the history of our planet.

It appears that this phenomenon, whose causes also appear to be potentially present in every society, has its own characteristic process of genesis, only partially conditioned by and hidden within the maximal hysterical intensity of the above-described cycle. As a result, unhappy times become exceptionally cruel and enduring and their causes impossible to understand within the categories of natural human concepts. Let us therefore bring this process of the origin of pathocracy closer, methodically isolating it from other phenomena we can recognize as being conditional or even accompanying.

A psychologically normal, highly intelligent person called to high office experiences doubts as to whether he can meet the expectations and seeks the assistance of others whose opinion he values. At the same time, he feels nostalgia for his old life, freer and less burdensome, to which he would like to return after fulfilling his obligations.

Every society worldwide contains individuals whose dreams of power arise very early. They are discriminated against in some way by society, which uses a moralizing interpretation with regard to their failings and difficulties, although these individuals are rarely guilty of them. They would like to change this unfriendly world into something else. Dreams of power also represent overcompensation for the feeling of humiliation, the second angle in Adler’s rhombus. A significant and active proportion of this group is composed of individuals with various deviations who imagine this better world in their own way, of which we are already familiar.

In the prior chapter, the readers have become acquainted with examples of these deviations selected in such a way as to permit us now to present the ponerogenesis of pathocracy and to introduce the essential factors of this historical phenomenon which is so difficult to understand. It has certainly appeared many times in history, on various mainlands and in various social scales. However, no one has ever managed to identify it objectively because it would hide in one of the ideologies characteristic of the respective culture and era, developing in the very bosom of different social movements. Identification was so difficult because the indispensable naturalistic knowledge needed for proper classification of phenomena in this area did not develop until our contemporary times. Thus, historians and sociologists discern many similarities, but they possess no identifying criteria because the latter belongs to another scientific discipline.

Who plays the first crucial role in this process of the origin of pathocracy, schizoids or characteropaths? It appears to be the former; therefore, let us delineate their role first.

During stable times which are ostensibly happy, albeit marked by injury to individuals and nations, doctrinaire people believe they have found a simple solution to fix such a world. Such a historical period is always characterized by an impoverished psychological world-view, a schizoidally impoverished psychological world-view thus does not stand out during such times and is accepted as legal tender. These doctrinaire individuals characteristically manifest a certain contempt with regard to moralists then preaching the need to rediscover lost human values and to develop a richer, more appropriate psychological world-view.

Schizoid characters aim to impose their own conceptual world upon other people or social groups, using relatively controlled pathological egotism and the exceptional tenacity derived from their persistent nature. They are thus eventually able to overpower another individual’s personality, which causes the latter’s behavior to turn desperately illogical. They may also exert a similar influence upon the group of people they have joined. They are psychological loners who feel better in some human organization, wherein they become zealots for some ideology, religious bigots, materialists, or adherents of an ideology with satanic features. If their activities consist of direct contact on a small social scale, their acquaintances easily perceive them to be eccentric, which limits their ponerogenic role. However, if they manage to hide their own personality behind the written word, their influence may poison the minds of society in a wide scale and for a long time.

The conviction that Karl Marx is the best example of this is correct as he was the best-known figure of that kind. Frostig, a psychiatrist of the old school, included Engels and others into a category he called “bearded schizoidal fanatics”. The famous utterances attributed to Zionist wise men at the turn of the century start with a schizoidal declaration. The nineteenth century, especially its latter half, appears to have been a time of exceptional activity on the part of schizoidal individuals, often but not always of Jewish descent. After all we have to remember that 97 % of all Jews do not manifest this anomaly, and that it also appears among all European nations, albeit to a markedly lesser extent. Our inheritance from this period includes world-images, scientific traditions, and legal concepts flavored with the shoddy ingredients of a schizoidal apprehension of reality.

Humanists are prepared to understand that era and its legacy within categories characterizing their own traditions. They search for societal, ideational, and moral causes for known phenomena. Such an explanation, however, can never constitute the whole truth, since it ignores the biological factors which participated in the genesis of the phenomena. Schizoidia is the most frequent factor, albeit not the only one.

In spite of the fact that the writings of schizoidal authors contain the above described deficiency, or even an openly formulated schizoidal declaration which constitutes sufficient warning to specialists, the average reader accepts them not as a view of reality warped by this anomaly, but rather as an idea to which he should assume an attitude based on his convictions and his reason. That is the first mistake. The oversimplified pattern, devoid of psychological color and based on easily available data, exerts an intense influence upon individuals who are insufficiently critical, frequently frustrated as result of downward social adjustment, culturally neglected, or characterized by some psychological deficiencies. Others are provoked to criticism based on their healthy common sense, also they fail to grasp this essential cause of the error.

Societal interpretation of such activities is broken down into the main trifurcations, engendering divisiveness and conflict. The first branch is the path of aversion, based on rejection of the contents of the work due to personal motivations, differing convictions, or moral revulsion. This already contains the component of a moralizing interpretation of pathological phenomena.

We can distinguish two distinctly different apperception types among those persons who accept the contents of such works: the critically-corrective and the pathological. People whose feel for psychological reality is normal tend to incorporate chiefly the more valuable elements of the work. They trivialize the obvious errors and complement the schizoid deficiencies by means of their own richer world-view. This gives rise to a more sensible, measured, and thus creative interpretation, but is not free from the influence of the error frequently adduced above.

Pathological acceptance is manifested by individuals with diversiform deviations, whether inherited or acquired, as well as by many people bearing personality malformations or who have been injured by social injustice. That explains why this scope is wider than the circle drawn by direct action of pathological factors. This apperception often brutalizes the authors’ concepts and leads to acceptance of forceful methods and revolutionary means.

The passage of time and bitter experiences has unfortunately not prevented this characteristic misunderstanding born of schizoid nineteenth-century creativity, with Marx’s works at the fore, from affecting people and depriving them of their common sense.

If only for purposes of the above-mentioned psychological experiment, let us  develop awareness of this pathological factor by searching the works of K. Marx for several statements with these characteristic deficits. When conducted by several people with varied world-views, this experiment will show how a clear picture of reality thereupon returns, and it becomes easier to find a common language. Schizoidia has thus played an essential role as one of the factors in the genesis of the evil threatening our contemporary world. Practicing psychotherapy upon the world will therefore demand that the results of such evil be eliminated as skillfully as possible.

The first researchers attracted by the idea of objectively understanding this phenomenon initially failed to perceive the role of characteropathic personalities in the genesis of pathocracy. However, when we attempt to reconstruct the early phase of said genesis, we must acknowledge that characteropaths played a significant role in this process. We already know from the preceding chapter how their defective experiential and thought patterns take hold in human minds, insidiously destroying their way of reasoning and their ability to utilize their healthy common sense. This role has also proved essential because their activities as fanatical leaders or spellbinders in various ideologies open the door to psychopathic individuals and the view of the world they want to impose.

In the ponerogenic process of the pathocratic phenomenon, characteropathic individuals adopt ideologies created by doctrinaire, often schizoidal people, recast them into an active propaganda form, and disseminate it with pathological egotism and paranoid intolerance for any philosophies which may differ from their own. They also inspire further transformation of this ideology into its pathological counterpart. Something which had a doctrinaire character and circulated in numerically limited groups is now activated at societal level, thanks to their spellbinding possibilities.

It also appears that this process tends to intensify with time; initial activities are undertaken by persons with milder characteropathic features, who are easily able to hide their aberrations from others. Paranoid individuals thereupon become principally active. Toward the end of the process, an individual with frontal characteropathy and the highest degree of pathological egotism can easily take over leadership.

As long as the characteropathic individuals play a dominant role within a social movement affected by the ponerogenic process, the ideology, whether doctrinaire from the outset or later vulgarized and further-more perverted by these latter people, continues to keep and maintain its content link with the prototype. The ideology continuously affects the movement’s activities and remains an essential justifying motivation for many. In this phase, such a union therefore does not move in the direction of mass scale crime.

To a certain extent, one could justifiably define such a movement or union by the name derived from its original ideology.

In the meantime, however, the carriers of other (mainly hereditary) pathological factors become engaged in this already sick social movement. They accomplish the work of final transformation of the contents of such a union in such a way that it becomes a pathological caricature of its original contents and ideology. This is affected under the ever-growing influence of psychopathic personalities, thanks to the inspiration of essential psychopathy.

Such leadership eventually engenders a wholesale showdown: the adherents of the original ideology are shunted aside or terminated. This group includes many characteropaths, especially of the lesser and paranoidal varieties. Ideological motivations and the double talk they create thereupon serve to hide the actual new contents of the phenomenon. From this time on, using the ideological denomination of the movement in order to understand its essence becomes a keystone of mistakes.

Psychopathic individuals generally stay away from social organizations characterized by reason and ethical discipline. After all, these were created by that other world of normal people so foreign to them. They therefore hold various social ideologies in contempt, at the same time discerning all their actual failings. However, once the process of poneric transformation of some human union into its yet-undefined cartoon counterpart has begun and advanced sufficiently, they perceive this fact with almost infallible sensitivity: a circle has been created wherein they can hide their failings and psychological differentness, find their own “modus vivendi”, and maybe even realize their youthful Utopian dream. They thereupon begin infiltrating the rank and file of such a movement; pretending to be sincere adherents poses them no difficulty, since it is second nature for them to play a role and hide behind the mask of normal people.

Psychopaths’ interest in such movements does not result exclusively from their egoism and lack of moral scruples. These people have in fact been hurt by nature and society. An ideology liberating a social class or a nation from injustice may thus seem to them to be friendly; unfortunately it also gives rise to unrealistic hopes that they themselves will be liberated as well. The pathological motivations which appeared in the union when it was affected by the ponerogenic process strike them as familiar and hope-inspiring. They therefore insinuate themselves into a movement preaching revolution and war with that unfair world so foreign to them.

They initially perform subordinate functions in such a movement and execute the leaders’ orders, especially whenever something needs to be done which inspires revulsion in others. Their evident zealotry and cynicism gives rise to criticism on the part of the union’s more reasonable members, but it also earns the respect of some its revolutionaries. They thus find protection among those people who earlier played a role in the movement’s ponerization, and repay the favor with complements or by making things easier for them. Thus they climb up the organizational ladder, gain influence, and almost involuntarily bend the contents of the entire group to their own way of experiencing reality and to the goals derived from their deviant nature. A mysterious disease is already raging inside the union. The adherents of the original ideology feel ever more constricted by powers they do not understand; they start fighting with demons and making mistakes.

If such a movement is to triumph by revolutionary means and in the name of freedom, the welfare of the people, and social justice, this can only bring about further transformation of a governmental system thus created into a macrosocial pathological phenomenon. Within  this system, the common man is blamed for not having been born a psychopath, and is considered good for nothing except hard work, fighting and dying to protect a system of government he can neither sufficiently comprehend nor ever consider to be his own.

An ever-strengthening network of psychopathic and related individuals gradually starts to dominate, overshadowing the others. Characteropathic individuals who played an essential role in ponerizing the movement and preparing for revolution, are also eliminated. Adherents of the revolutionary ideology are unscrupulously “pushed into a counter-revolutionary position”. They are now condemned for “moral” reasons in the name of new criteria whose para-moralistic essence they are not in a position to comprehend. Violent negative selection of the original group now ensues. The inspirational role of essential psychopathy is now also consolidated; it remains characteristic for the entire future of this macro-social pathological phenomenon.

The pathological block of the revolutionary movement remains a minority in spite of these transformations, a fact which cannot be changed by propaganda pronouncements about the moral majority adhering to the more glorious version of the ideology. The rejected majority and the very forces which naively created such power start mobilizing against the block. Ruthless confrontation with these forces becomes the only way to safeguard the long-term survival of the pathological authority. We must thus consider the bloody triumph of a pathological minority over the movement’s majority to be a transitional phase during which the new contents of the phenomenon coagulate. The entire life of a society thus affected becomes subordinated to deviant thought-criteria and permeated by their specific experiential mode, especially the one described in the section on essential psychopathy. At this point, using the name of the original ideology to designate this phenomenon is meaningless and becomes an error rendering its comprehension more difficult.

I shall accept the denomination of pathocracy for a system of government thus created, wherein a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people. The name thus selected above all underscores the basic quality of the macrosocial psychopathological phenomenon, which differentiates it from the many possible social systems dominated by normal people’s structure, custom, and law. I tried to find a name which would more clearly designate the psychopathological, even psychopathic quality of such government, but I gave up because of certain perceived phenomena (to be referred to below) and for practical considerations (to avoid lengthening the denomination). Such a name sufficiently indicates the phenomenon’s basic quality and also underscores that the ideology presently cloaking it (or some other ideology which cloaked similar phenomena for centuries) does not constitute its essence. When I happened to hear that a Hungarian scientist unknown to me had already used this term, my decision was finalized. I think this name is consistent with the demands of semantics, since no concise term can adequately characterize such a complex phenomenon. I shall also henceforth designate the social systems wherein the links of normal people dominate in any way as “the systems of normal man”.

Read more!