11 April 2008

How Societies Regress to Become Pathocracies

The third in a series of articles introducing the concepts of ponerology written by a member of Democratic Underground.

Time for Change
Friday, April 11, 2008

A pathocracy is a social movement, society, nation, or empire wherein a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people. The pathological minority habitually perpetrates evil deeds on its people and/or other people.

Almost everyone knows that pathocracies have been responsible for tremendous death and destruction throughout history. What less people are willing to acknowledge is that pathocracies continue to perpetrate death and destruction today. Billions of people throughout the world live in perpetual poverty and hunger or lack access to safe water, despite the fact that the resources exist to provide adequate food and safe water to all of the world's citizens. Millions of others are perpetually exposed to the horrors of war.

Therefore, it would behoove us all to understand how pathocracies develop and perpetrate their damage, and how to recognize them. A book on that subject, titled Political Ponerology - A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, was written by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. Lobaczewski, a psychiatrist, began the research that eventually led to the book more than half a century ago, in collaboration with other researchers, all who are all now dead. The research was conducted in secret, as the researchers were all victims of Joseph Stalin's totalitarian regime, which obviously provided fodder for much of the book's content.

I've previously posted twice on DU on this subject, drawing heavily from Lobaczewski's book. My first post was titled "Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes". In that post I discussed human evil and its effects, why many people find evil so difficult to recognize, and psychopaths in position of great power.

In my second post on the subject, titled "The Role of Ideologies in the Development of Evil Regimes (Pathocracies)", I briefly summarized the first post and emphasized the role of ideology in the development of pathocracies. The main thing to understand about that is that the ideology serves as a mask, to hide the actual intentions of the group, and as a motivational factor for group members. Lobaczewski explains:

Human nature demands that vile matters be haloed by an over-compensatory mystique in order to silence one's conscience and to deceive consciousness and critical faculties, whether one's own or those of others. If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive. Such stripping would of course provoke "moral outrage", and not only among the members of the union.

In this post I go into much more detail about the development of pathocracies (referred to in Lobaczewski's book as the ponerogenic process). Since much of the material in the book is somewhat abstract, my goal here is to relate the principles he discusses to current day (and past) examples, in order to help make them more understandable. Lobaczewski speaks both in terms of small group processes and large scale (macrosocial) processes. It seems that most of the basic principles are similar regardless of the scale of the process.

An overview of the development of pathocracy

I thought it best to start with an overview and then come back to the specifics. This is what Lobaczewski has to say about the general process of a society regressing into a pathocracy:

Disparagement of one's "inferiors"

Children of the privileged classes learn to repress from their field of consciousness the uncomfortable ideas suggesting that they and their parents are benefiting from injustice against others. Such young people learn to disqualify and disparage the moral and mental values of anyone whose work they are using to over-advantage.

When you read this, think of the slave masters who justified their treatment of their slaves by explaining to their children that white supremacy over black people is natural because black people are inherently inferior or uncivilized. And think of the fact that the deaths of over a million Iraq civilians resulting from our invasion and occupation of their country have barely entered our national discussion. Some Harvard economists explain the long-lasting effects of racism in our country with respect to current economic policies:

Racial discord plays a critical role in determining beliefs about the poor. Since minorities are highly over-represented amongst the poorest Americans, any income-based redistribution measures will redistribute particularly minorities. The opponents of redistribution have regularly used race based rhetoric to fight left-wing policies... America's troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.

Growing hysteria

Lobaczewski continues his description of the initial stages of developing pathocracy:

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... transmit their hysteria to the next generation... The hysterical patterns for experience and behavior grow and spread downwards from the privileged classes until crossing the boundary.

Does that remind you of the state of Congress under Republican rule, and the general attitude of radical conservatives? Alan Wolf describes the mood of conservatives over the last couple of decades:

Conservatives have viewed politics as an extension of war, complete with no-holds barred treatment of the enemy, iron-clad discipline in the ranks, cries of treason against those who do not support the effort with full-throated vigor, and total control over any spoils won.

Contempt for truth and objective thinking

Lobaczewski continues:

When the habits of subconscious selection and substitution of thought-data spread to the macrosocial 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.

Think about the how radical conservatives disparage the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with our current imperial course. Think about the firing of Phil Donohue for daring to criticize the invasion of Iraq. Think about the aggressive targeting of Cynthia McKinney's House seat for daring to question George Bush's handling of the 9-11 attacks on our country. Think about the muzzling of Sybil Edmunds. Think about "freedom fries". Think about George Bush's war on science. And think about how so many subjects are barely mentionable in our country today.

The disintegration of society

Lobaczewski's description of societal disintegration under pathocracies reminds me of the ever expanding income gap in our country, and should serve as a warning that things can get a whole lot worse for us than they are now:

The feeling of social links and responsibility toward others disappear, and the society in question splinters into groups ever more hostile to each other... This opens the door for activation of the pathological factors of a various nature to enter in... A huge bloody tragedy can be the result....

Individual psychopath

Now let's consider the process from the standpoint of the individual psychopath. Laura Knight-Jadczyk, the editor of Lobaczewski's book, quotes Martha Stout, noting that the defining characteristic of a psychopath is a lack of conscience:

Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

The defining talents of the average psychopath

Most psychopaths don't have much general intelligence or even any particular skills of a productive nature. But the ones who pose great danger to society are quite good at manipulating people and political infighting. Lobaczewski explains:

Once the process of poneric transformation... 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 a world where they are in power and all those other, "normal people", are forced into servitude.

This reminds me of a biography of Joseph Stalin. One by one, over a period of several years, he isolated and the eliminated all of his minions who posed the slightest danger to his unchallengeable power. So by 1937 Stalin's purges had eliminated all of the original Russian Communist Party but himself.

The role of sycophancy

Can you imagine John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, or David Petraeus going against the will of George Bush on any matter? Of course not. Their positions of high power depend entirely on putting all their energy into anticipating the needs of and pleasing the "leader". George Bush started out the same way. As governor of Texas, all his efforts went into pleasing his corporate cronies. In return, they rewarded him handsomely by ensuring his material wealth and serving as a power base for his climb to the presidency. Lobaczewski describes the process:

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 more extreme revolutionaries. They thus find protection among those people who earlier played a role in the movement's ponerization, and repay the favor with compliments 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.

Psychopaths after they've climbed to the pinnacle of power

Lobaczewski explains that psychopaths always feel terribly insecure, even after they've climbed to the pinnacle of power:

The pathological social structure gradually covers the entire country, creating a "new class" within the nation. This privileged class of deviants feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man.... Pathocrats never possessed any solid practical talent, and the time frame of their rule eliminates any residual possibilities of adapting to the demands of normal work. If the laws of normal man were to be reinstated, they and theirs could be subjected to judgment... they would be threatened by a loss of freedom and life, not merely a loss of position and privilege. Since they are incapable of any kind of sacrifice, the survival of a system which is the best for them becomes a moral imperative. Such a threat must be battled by means of any and all cunning and implemented with a lack of scruples with regard to those other "inferior" people that can be shocking in its depravity.

In other words, we should all be very worried about the lengths to which the Bush administration will go to ensure that either a Republican with benign intentions towards the Bush clique is installed as our next president or that no elections take place at all.

Turning reality upside down

As previously noted, psychopaths of any stripe or level of power cannot afford to allow others to perceive the reality of their character. Therefore, a prerequisite of attaining power is to throw everyone else into a state of confusion. Some of them are quite good at that. Lobaczewski explains:

Any human group affected by the process described herein is characterized by its increasing regression from... the ability to perceive psychological reality.... A ponerological analysis of this process indicates that pressure is being applied to the more normal part of the association by pathological factors present in certain individuals who have been allowed to participate in the group because the lack of good psychological knowledge has not mandated their exclusion....

An extensive and active indoctrination system is built, with a suitably refurbished ideology constituting the vehicle or Trojan horse for the purpose of pathogolizing the thought process of normal individuals and society. The goal - forcing human minds to incorporate pathological experiential methods and thought patterns, and consequently accepting such rule - is never openly admitted.

Thus it was that Hitler needed his Goebbels to indoctrinate the German people into a way of thinking that was conducive to Nazi attainment and maintenance of power. Thus it is that the Bush administration uses taxpayer money to provide us with propaganda disguised as news. And thus it is that we repeatedly hear "We have to fight them over there if we don't want to fight them here", while our confused and sycophantic corporate news media rarely challenges such inanely stupid assertions.

I often wonder if this phenomenon also partially explains why Congress is so reluctant to proceed with impeachment. Could it be that they are so confused or intimidated that they can't differentiate reality from the fairy tales spewed out by the Bush administration?

The marginalization and exclusion of normal people

Psychopaths cannot tolerate the presence of normal people because normal people are not at all conducive to their plans. Lobaczewski explains:

Rigorous selective measures of a clearly psychological kind are applied to new members. So as to exclude the possibility of becoming sidetracked by defectors, people are observed and tested to eliminate those characterized by excessive mental independence or psychological normality... Individuals manifesting doubt or criticism are subject to paramoral condemnation... Leadership discusses opinions and intentions which are psychologically and morally pathological....

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 triumphs by revolutionary means and in the name of freedom, the welfare of the people, and social justice, this only brings 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 paramoralistic essence they are not in a position to comprehend. Violent negative selection of the original group now ensues.... It remains characteristic for the entire future of this macrosocial pathological phenomenon.

Think about the Stalin purges, the Bush administration firing of any federal attorneys who wouldn't play ball with it, the resignations of high military leaders whose opinions were not in synch with George Bush, the firing of Phil Donohue, and the targeting of Cynthia McKinney. And more ominously, think about Paul Wellstone's plane crash, the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, and the "suicides" of J. H. Hatfield, Cliff Baxter, Raymond Lemme, David Kelly, Ted Westhusing and Gary Webb.

The response of normal individuals

Even though psychopaths are greatly outnumbered in the general population (about 4% - 6%), the development of pathocracies are an all too frequent phenomenon in world history. Clearly, normal individuals frequently fail to adequately counteract the problem. One of their biggest mistakes is to adopt an uncritical attitude towards psychopaths, as Lobaczewski explains:

Thus, whenever we observe some group member being treated with no critical distance, although he betrays one of the psychological anomalies familiar to us, and his opinions being treated as at least equal to those of normal people, although they are based on a characteristically different view of human, we must derive the conclusion that this human group is affected by a ponerogenic process and if measures are not taken the process shall continue to its logical conclusion.

As I've previously noted, exposure to psychopaths is frequently a very disorienting event for normal people. They can respond in one of three ways: adopt the alternate reality of the group; leave; or, remain confused and in a state of psychological terror. Lobaczewski describes the situation:

Once a group has inhaled a sufficient dose of pathological material to give birth to the conviction that these not-quite-normal people are unique geniuses, it starts subjecting its more normal members to pressure characterized by corresponding paralogical and paramoral elements. For many people, such pressure of collective opinion takes on attributes of a moral criterion; for others, it represents a kind of psychological terror ever more difficult to endure... Individuals with a more normal sense of psychological reality leave after entering into conflict with the newly modified group; simultaneously, individuals with various psychological anomalies join the group and easily find a way of life there.

What normal members of the group need

Lobaczewski explains what normal people need under such circumstances (and this applies for whole societies as well as small groups):

What they need is good psychological information in order to find the path of reason and measure. Based on a ponerologic understanding of their condition, psychotherapy could provide rapid positive results.

And I will add here that this is why so many of us DUers love people like Dennis Kucinich (who publicly told us the obvious but unmentionable reason for the Iraq War), Keith Olbermann, Naomi Klein, and Naomi Wolf. Many or most normal people sense that something terrible is happening, but they just can't bring themselves to acknowledge it even to themselves. But when some brave soul has the courage to announce that the emperor has no clothes after all, that helps to bring a sense of reality back to anyone who has the courage to listen. As an example, here is a quote from one of Keith Olbermann's special comments:

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise... it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers... In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation's citizens... you ceased to be the president of the United States... You became merely the president of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, sir, to have a commander in chief who puts party over nation. This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this administration...

Our leaders in Congress ... must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: ... Impeach - get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our democracy, away from the helm.

The terror phase

As a society regresses to pathocracy, it is inevitable that at some point the majority of normal members of society will catch on. The salient question is whether they will do so before it is too late to prevent massive and irreparable harm. Lobaczewski explains this process:

The rejected majority and the very forces which naively created such power to begin with, start mobilizing against the block of psychopaths who have taken over. Ruthless confrontation with these forces is seen by the psychopathic block as 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 then becomes subordinated to deviant thought criteria....

To mitigate the threat to their power, the pathocrats must employ any and all methods of terror and exterminatory policies against individuals known for their patriotic feelings. Individuals lacking the natural feeling of being linked to normal society become irreplaceable...

As an example, Naomi Klein, in Shock Therapy - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, describes the terror that encompassed Chile in 1973 following the CIA sponsored overthrow of their president:

The generals knew that their hold on power depended on Chileans being truly terrified...The trail of blood left behind over those four days came to be known as the Caravan of Death. In short order the entire country had gotten the message: resistance is deadly... In all, more than 3,200 people were disappeared or executed, at least 80,000 were imprisoned, and 200,000 fled the country.

Nor was that the end of it. Over the next several months and years, anyone whose independent thoughts were considered to pose a danger to Pinochet's regime were systematically tortured or eliminated.

Why pathocracy cannot be permanent

Pathocracies cannot be permanent, because of their many inherent deficiencies. Lobaczewski explains:

The achievement of absolute domination by pathocrats in the government of a country cannot be permanent since large sectors of the society become disaffected by such rule and eventually find some way of toppling it. This is part of the historical cycle. Such a system of government has nowhere to go but down. In a pathocracy, all leadership positions must be filled by individuals with corresponding psychological deviations... However, such people constitute a very small percentage of the population and this makes them more valuable to the pathocrats. Their intellectual level or professional skills cannot be taken into account, since people representing superior abilities are even harder to find.....

Under such conditions, no area of social life can develop normally... Pathocracy progressively paralyzes everything. Normal people must develop a level of patience... pathocracy progressively intrudes everywhere and dulls everything. Thus, the pathological minority's attempts to retain power will be threatened by the society of normal people, whose criticism keeps growing....

The entire effort only results in producing a general stifling of intellectual development and deep rooted protest against hypocrisy. The authors and executors of this program are incapable of understanding that the decisive factor making their work difficult is the fundamental nature of normal human beings - the majority. The entire system of force, terror, and forced indoctrination, or, rather, pathologization, thus proves effectively unfeasible... Reality places a question mark on their conviction that such methods can change people in such fundamental ways so that they can eventually recognize this pathocratic kind of government as a normal state......

Pathocracies in perspective

But we should not take much satisfaction in the inevitable fall of pathocracies, since they so frequently do such tremendous harm before they fall. It would be far better if we could learn to prevent their rise in the first place.

One of the many great insights of the founders of our country is that they anticipated the rise of pathocracy in the nation that they founded. They therefore wrote into its Constitution numerous plans for the balancing of power and for the peaceful removal from office of chief executives or others who proved to put their own needs and desires above those of our nation.

It was a great idea. But it can only work to the extent that our elected government officials have the courage to open their eyes to the danger and take action against it, as so clearly prescribed in our Constitution. It is now long past the time that those with open eyes and minds should have seen and understood the gathering danger.

If our Congress fails to take the appropriate action, they'll have set a terrible precedent for our nation. In that event, even if our current government does not perpetrate substantially more harm to us before they leave, Congress will have left the door wide open for future governments to do so.

Read more!

10 April 2008

The Role of Ideology in the Development of Evil Regimes (Pathocracies)

The second in a series of articles that have appeared at Democratic Underground. Be sure to join the discussion.

Time for change Democratic Underground Tue, 08 Apr 2008 15:22 EDT

Last week I posted on DU "Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes". Most of the material for that post was taken from "Political Ponerology - A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes", by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. Lobaczewski, a psychiatrist, began the research that eventually led to the book more than half a century ago, in collaboration with other researchers, all who are now dead.

The research was conducted in secret, as the researchers were all victims of Joseph Stalin's totalitarian regime, which obviously provided fodder for much of the book's content.

In my previous post, I began with some comments from the book's editor, Laura Knight-Jadczyk, on the importance of evil in today's world:

At the social level, hatred, envy, greed and strife multiply exponentially. Crime increases faster than the population. Combined with wars, insurrections and political purges, multiplied millions across the globe are without adequate food or shelter due to political actions... The totality of human suffering is a dreadful thing...

Jadczyk noted the defining characteristic of a psychopath to be the lack of conscience:

They can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have... is a sort of "predatorial hunger" for what they want. All else - all activity - is subsumed to this drive. In short, the psychopath is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the "mask of sanity" of the psychopath. This leads us to an important question: what does the psychopath really get from their victims? It's easy to see what they are after when they lie and manipulate for money or material goods or power. But in many instances... we can only say that it seems to be that the psychopath enjoys making others suffer.

I noted in my last post four reasons why many evil people are so difficult to identify:

1) Many psychopaths develop the ability to make themselves appear normal.

2) Denial: Many normal people find it very difficult to acknowledge the presence of evil.

3) Many normal (though naïve) people believe that psychopaths are found only in prison.

4) Racism, etc: When evil is perpetrated on "others", many have a tendency to ignore it.

And I talked at some length about the tremendous damage that is often inflicted on society when psychopaths climb to positions of great power.

In this post I expand on my previous one by discussing the role of ideology in assisting some psychopaths in their quest to acquire control over groups or even whole societies, despite their small numbers in all human populations. An understanding of this process by normal people is very important because the first and most important step in preventing these tragedies is to recognize them in their early stages. But first a word about labeling:

A few words on the labeling of evil

A minority of DU posters responded to my previous post with great concern over the idea of labeling people as "evil". Their concern appeared to be related to the potential for such labeling to lead to something akin to genocide, as has occurred so frequently during the past century. I understand the concern, but I believe it to be misplaced. I have the following responses to that concern.

First, genocides occur when groups of people are labeled as being inferior or evil based on race or other superficial characteristic. In marked contrast, a proper labeling of people as evil is based on behavior, rather than on any superficial characteristics.

Furthermore, Lobaczewski's approach to the issue is the opposite of an approach that would be likely to lead to violence. He repeatedly stresses the need to use an objective and scientific approach rather than a moralistic approach to the issue of evil (I myself have difficulty viewing evil through an objective rather than a moralistic approach, but that's just me). He does not believe in the death penalty. And he repeatedly stresses a preventive rather than a punitive approach. The preventive approach that Lobaczewski discusses emphasizes the need to keep psychopaths out of positions of power where they have the potential to do great harm to other people.

Is there potential for abuse if people are labeled as "evil"? I'm sure there is some potential for that, just like anything else can potentially be abused. Currently we label people with such words as "criminal", "traitor", "sex offender", or many other equally inflammatory terms when a person's behavior is legally (or otherwise) determined to fit those categories.

The reason why I and Lobaczewski believe it is important to pursue scientific inquiry into the causes and recognition of evil, and how to prevent its widespread perpetration on human populations, is as follows: When psychopaths gain control over societies, the potential for war, death and destruction is tremendous. Such occurrences have been way too frequent in both the distant and the recent historical record. Labels are necessary if we are to have the ability to talk about a subject. For example, lithium has been used with great success to treat people with manic-depressive illness. It would be very awkward and perhaps impossible to develop and use treatment against a disease that we were prohibited from naming. How are the results of scientific research to be shared with regard to a subject that has no name? The understanding of evil is way too important to allow it to be shackled in that manner.

The role of ideology in the ponerogenic process

Lobaczewski writes a lot about the role of ideology for individuals or groups in the ponerogenic process that leads to pathocracies*. The ideology itself is usually not inherently evil (although it may be, as in the case of Nazism), and the ideology does not generally characterize the movement or group. Rather, the ideology serves as a mask, to hide the actual intentions of the group. Lobaczewski explains it like this:

It is a common phenomenon for a ponerogenic association or group to contain a particular ideology which always justifies its activities and furnishes motivational propaganda.... Human nature demands that vile matters be haloed by an over-compensatory mystique in order to silence one's conscience and to deceive consciousness and critical faculties, whether one's own or those of others.

If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive. Such stripping would of course provoke "moral outrage", and not only among the members of the union.

The fact is, even normal people, who condemn this kind of union along with its ideologies, feel hurt and deprived of something constituting part of their own romanticism, their way of perceiving reality when a widely idealized group is exposed as little more than a gang of criminals.

A perfect example of this explanation, in my opinion, is the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. If George Bush and Dick Cheney had told the American public, in their run-up to war, that it was necessary to invade and occupy Iraq in order to open up tens of billions of dollars worth of economic opportunity for their corporate cronies and to gain access to Iraqi oil, the American people and even their corporate news media would have been hard pressed to drum up much enthusiasm for war. Instead, we were provided with (especially after the "weapons of mass destruction" excuse was proven to be a lie) the ideology of democracy (We're doing it to bring democracy to the Iraqi people) and anti-terrorism (We have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here.)

The last paragraph of Lobaczewski's that I cite above explains why so many normal Americans are willing to accept the Bush administration's lame excuses. Acknowledging that our President and Vice President are no more than criminal thugs and psychopaths is just too painful for most Americans. It is much more comfortable for them to believe that their country goes to war for idealistic and generous purposes.

Let's now consider how four different ideologies, none of which are inherently evil, have been corrupted for political purposes:

* A pathocracy is a social movement, society, nation, or empire that is controlled by evil individuals and habitually perpetrates evil deeds on its people and/or other people. The "ponerogenic process" leads to the development of a pathocracy.


One could make a good argument that the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which after all provided the full justification for our country becoming a sovereign nation, contains the true, uncorrupted version of Americanism. There are two salient ideas expressed in that document, which also happen to be the epitome of liberal/progressive values: 1) That everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and 2) Whenever a government becomes destructive of those rights, the people have the right overthrow that government. I am in 100% agreement with those ideas.

Unfortunately, however, that ideology has become badly corrupted, especially under the current presidential administration. For George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the right wing ideologues who support them, "Americanism" has become the ideology that says that the United States of America is so superior to all other nations that any action it takes with respect to other nations should automatically and unquestionably be considered morally right. For an American citizen to think or act otherwise is to border on treason.

"Americanism" in that form has been used to declare wars against nations that pose no threat to us and to overthrow numerous democratically elected governments that likewise posed no threat to us.

Consider this speech:

As long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather... and raise a mortal threat.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends upon the survival of liberty in other lands. The best hope for freedom in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

That speech invokes the best of the American dream and ideals. There was just one problem with it. It was spoken by George Bush as a means of justifying an action (the invasion and occupation of Iraq) that had nothing whatsoever to do with the wonderful sentiments expressed in his speech. He was merely using a great ideology as a mask to hide his true motives.


Christianity contains some core values that any liberal/progressive could be proud to live by. Jesus Christ preached that we should love our neighbors, treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves, and be charitable towards the poor. In short, he embodied the best of liberal values. Accordingly, Christian groups have done some great things over the centuries, including playing a leading role in the abolition of slavery in the United States.

One could say, I suppose, that the Christian Bible contains the full content of Christian doctrine. Looked at in that way I suppose that one could say that it states some ideas that are patently absurd (such as the Earth being four thousand years old) or even contain the seeds of evil. I won't go into that, mainly because different people interpret it in very different ways.

But Christianity has also often been used to justify evil actions, including wars of aggression and torture of "non-believers" with the aim of getting them to convert to Christianity. Some, even today, still use Christianity to justify slavery, as Patrick Buchanan recently did in his attempt to put his criticisms of Barack Obama in the best light:

The Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these: First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.


Capitalism carries the potential, by means of providing incentives for productivity, to act as an engine of economic growth that provides tremendous benefits to a society. Forget for a moment that there is no such thing as pure capitalism, or that society works best economically when it uses some combination of capitalism and socialism. My only point here is that (I believe) capitalism has the capacity to provide substantial benefits to people when used as one component of an economic system.

Capitalism is one of the main ideologies used by the Bush/Cheney administration, and it is used as justification for all manner of policies that hurt people, such as George Bush's veto of health insurance for children. Bush likes to characterize his view of capitalism as "free market", and as such he uses that ideology to push for international agreements that primarily benefit his corporate friends.

But in fact, there is nothing "free market" about the Bush/Cheney brand of capitalism, if indeed it can be categorized as capitalism at all. Rather, their favored economic system is one in which their corporate cronies are given billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to perform functions for which they have little expertise, with little or no oversight from government. The result has been billions of dollars of missing money, with no investigations to determine where the money went. That's a mighty strange brand of capitalism.

James Petras, in "Rulers and Ruled", describes how so-called "capitalism" has worked out in recent years in so many countries:

Given the enormous class and income disparities in Russia, Latin America and China, it is more accurate to describe these countries as "surging billionaires" rather than "emerging markets" because it is not the "free market" but the political power of the billionaires that dictates policy

Countries of "surging billionaires" produce burgeoning poverty, submerging living standards. The making of billionaires means the unmaking of civil society - the weakening of social solidarity, protective social legislation, pensions, vacations, public health programs and education...

The growth of billionaires is hardly a sign of "general prosperity" resulting from the "free market"... In fact it is the product of the illicit seizure of lucrative public resources, built up by the work and struggle of millions of workers... It has little to do with entrepreneurial skills.


Communism has been defined as "a socioeconomic structure that promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production." Its initial popularity can be attributed to its promise to greatly reduce economic inequality in societies that were previously characterized by huge levels of economic inequality. That is a worthwhile goal IMO.

My own view is that the best economic system is one that uses a combination of free market incentives to increase productivity, combined with government provision of essential goods and services, goods and services that don't respond to free market incentives (such as the running of our elections), progressive taxation, and regulation to ensure such things as worker and environmental protection and the prevention of monopolistic practices. Whether or not pure Communism is capable of providing a viable and productive economic system is a question I can't answer and is not highly relevant to this discussion.

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 brought Communism to Russia, which it maintained for more than 70 years. However, soon after its introduction it began to be seriously corrupted, to the point where by some time in the 1920s it is probably accurate to say that it wasn't Communism at all. By that time an empire had evolved (called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) into a solidified Totalitarian system, and a small elite ruled over everyone else with an iron fist and had control over all of the country's resources. Under the iron rule of Joseph Stalin, economic plans were put in place that resulted in the deaths by starvation of about seven million people. This was not a classless society, nor was it stateless, nor was it based on common ownership of the means of production. Yet the myth of a Communist state prevailed in the USSR until it broke up in 1991.

The lessons we should learn from the role of ideologies in the ponerogenic process

In my opinion this is one of the most important issues dealt with in Lobaczewski's book. There are two major lessons that it should teach us.

First, it should teach us that we should never uncritically accept that an individual's or a group's purpose is what they say it is, especially when matters as important as war and peace are at stake.

Second, we should not uncritically blame an ideology for the fact that a group uses it for their own nefarious ends. The great ideals of the American dream, as expressed in its Declaration of Independence, should not be blamed for the fact that our current American leaders justify aggressive war, widespread violation of human rights, and wholesale violation of the U.S. Constitution that they swore to preserve and protect - all in the name of the United States of America. Christianity should not be blamed for the fact that various elites throughout history have used it as an excuse for war, torture, and pilfering other lands - all in the name of Christianity. Capitalism should not be blamed for the corruption it has undergone under our current leaders and the so-called Neoliberal economists, who use it mainly to increase the wealth of small elites, at the expense of everyone else - all in the name of "free market capitalism". And Communism should not be blamed for the Communist rulers who tyrannized and impoverished the nations that they led - in the name of Communism.

More on the use of ideology in the ponerogenic process leading to pathocracy

In this post I have covered only a portion of Lobaczewski's description of the ponerogenic process that leads to the development of pathocracies - though I believe it is the most important portion. I intend to cover more of it in a later post.

In my first thread on this subject, some DUers told me that they were looking forward to a follow-up post where I would talk more about how to identify evil. This is a very complex subject. The portions of Lobaczewski's description of the ponerogenic process that I have omitted from this post deal with that issue in quite a bit of detail. However, the details are very difficult to grasp, especially for people who are not familiar with mental health issues. For example, here is some of Lobaczewski's continued description of the role of ideologies in the ponerogenic process:

Characteropathic individuals adopt ideologies created by doctrinaire, often schizoidal people, recast them into an active propaganda form, and disseminate it with their characteristic 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.... The ideology continuously affects the movement's activities and remains a justifying motivation for many... The carriers of other pathological factors become engaged in this already sick social movement and proceed with the work of final transformation of the contents... in such a way that it becomes a pathological caricature of its original ideology... Such a situation eventually engenders a wholesale showdown: the adherents of the original ideology are shunted aside or terminated... The ideological motivations and the double talk they created then are utilized to hide the actual new contents of the phenomenon....

In summary: An ideology is used as a mask to hide the true, psychopathic motives of the psychopaths, serving simultaneously to inspire some of the more honest (normal) members of the group. But the psychopaths transform the ideology beyond recognition, to serve their own sick needs, while continuing to use the ideology's original name so as to hide their true motives. When the true adherents of the ideology realize what's really going on, they may rebel, and if they do they probably will be shoved aside or much worse.

The identification of evil

So, back to the critical question: How does one identify evil? One of the most important things to understand about this is that most people - perhaps the great majority of people - don't really want to identify it.

Recall the reasons why evil is so difficult to identify, which I discussed in some detail in my last post and summarized in this post. Three of the four reasons relate to things that apply much less to most DUers than they do to most of the rest of the U.S. population: denial, stereotypical ideas that reject the possibility of finding evil in highly successful people, and racism.

Lobaczewski notes how terribly disorienting and confusing it is for normal people to be exposed to psychopaths and ponerogenic processes:

People who have been thus thrown out of a ponerogenic association because they were too normal suffer bitterly; they are unable to understand their specific state. Their ideal, the reason they joined the group, which constituted a part of the meaning of life for them, has now been degraded, although they cannot find a rational basis for this fact. They feel wronged; they "fight against demons" they are not in a position to identify. The fact is their personalities have already been modified to a certain extent due to saturation by abnormal psychological material, especially psychopathic material.

As I re-read this, the first thing that comes to my mind is members of the U.S. Congress - notwithstanding the fact that they haven't yet been "thrown out". Think about it. Maybe this is closely related to the reason why no impeachment effort has taken place.

So this is what I believe is the most important thing to keep in mind when trying to identify evil:

Be skeptical about what people, especially politicians, say and why they say it. Don't be fooled into thinking that a politician's professed ideology necessarily has much to do with his/her true motivations. I'm not saying that they're all liars. I'm just saying that we need to keep an open, skeptical mind on the subject. So instead of taking their rhetoric at face value, weigh their actions more than their rhetoric. (For example, if we invaded Iraq to bring democracy to them, why did we kill over a million of their civilians, and why don't we leave when they want us to leave?)

Don't for a minute believe that the possession of wealth or success in life makes it less likely that a person is a psychopath. Wealthy successful psychopaths are far more dangerous than the ones who end up in jail. And the most dangerous of all are national leaders.

And for God sake, don't EVER think that just because the only people who are being abused, tortured, and killed by your government are of some other race, ethnic group, or religion - Muslim, for example - that that means that they (your government) aren't evil and aren't likely to turn on you next.


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Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes

The following article appeared on Democratic Underground last week. It is an excellent introduction to the subject. Be sure to check out the discussion.

Time for Change Democratic Underground Tue, 01 Apr 2008 15:45 EDT

"Many people believe that man is evolving; society is evolving; and that we now have control over the arbitrary evil of our environment; or at least we will have it after George Bush and his Neocons have about 25 years to fight the endless War against Terror"

Laura Knight-Jadczyk, from the Editor's Preface to Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, by Andrew M. Lobaczewski

For all of my life, one of my greatest interests has been to understand the nature of human evil. And I have always believed that it is one of the most important subjects that mankind needs to understand. So thank you to fellow DUer Larry Ogg for referring me to Lobaczewski's book on Political Ponerology (and for your ideas on how to present this information).

Laura Knight-Jadczyk, in her Editor's Preface to Political Ponerology, puts today's world in perspective:

At the social level, hatred, envy, greed and strife multiply exponentially. Crime increases faster than the population. Combined with wars, insurrections and political purges, multiplied millions across the globe are without adequate food or shelter due to political actions. The totality of human suffering is a dreadful thing.

The woeful status of today's world, as depicted in that brief but cogent summary, is due to human evil more than it is due to any other factor. Furthermore, humanity's historical record in dealing with human evil has been abysmal.

So we need to do much better on that score. And that is the main reason for Lobaczewski's book. For, as Knight-Jadczyk says in her Editor's Preface, there is a lot that can be done to combat evil, and "the very first thing we can do is learn about it".

Descriptions and definitions of human evil

Before one can understand how evil functions at the macro-level, that is, how it affects entire societies, it is necessary to understand how it operates in individuals. There are differing opinions on this issue, but most of them have a good deal in common. Knight-Jadczyk quotes from Martha Stout, who has worked extensively with the victims of psychopaths, on this issue.

Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

Knight-Jadczyk expands on that description:

They can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have: is a sort of 'predatorial hunger' for what they want. All else - all activity - is subsumed to this drive. In short, the psychopath is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the "mask of sanity" of the psychopath.

This leads us to an important question: what does the psychopath really get from their victims? It's easy to see what they are after when they lie and manipulate for money or material goods or power. But in many instances we can only say that it seems to be that the psychopath enjoys making others suffer.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, in People of the Lie, defined an evil person as someone who is totally unwilling to admit fault or to try to understand him or herself. It's just too painful. So, in order to avoid having to do that, the evil person spends his or her whole life trying to make other people and himself see himself as he would like to be seen, rather than as he really is. That means pretending, lying, killing, or whatever it takes. Therefore, no fault of an evil person can ever be corrected because that would mean having to admit that it exists. Here is Peck's somewhat more technical definition:

Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth. As the integrity of their sick self is threatened by the spiritual health of those around them, they will seek by all manner of means to crush and demolish the spiritual health that may exist near them.

I define evil, then, as the exercise of political power - that is, the imposition of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion - in order to avoid extending one's self for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth. Ordinary laziness is non-love; evil is anti-love.

The many difficulties in recognizing human evil

Various estimates in Lobaczewski's book put the prevalence of evil individuals at somewhere between 4% and 6% of the population*, with no known differences by culture, nation, or race (but generally thought to be about ten times more prevalent in males than in females.) So, if it only occurs in a small minority of the population, that raises the question as to why whole societies come under the control of these people, thereby sustaining tremendous damage, for long periods of time. Perhaps the most important answer to that question is that relatively normal people often fail to consciously recognize evil in their midst, for several reasons:

The appearance of normality As indicated by the title of Dr. Peck's book on evil (People of the Lie), deception is one of the primary characteristics of evil people. It is essential to them if they are to avoid being shunned by the good majority of humanity, and some of them are quite good it. Many of them are even quite good at inspiring trust and confidence. Martha Stout continues her description of psychopaths (noted above) as follows:

Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless. You are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience that they seldom even guess at your condition. Your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered.

Denial Denial is a very common psychological defense mechanism that people use in order to avoid the psychological pain of having to face something that is very unpleasant to them. It is so common that all humans use it to one degree or another on occasion. But as we grow we learn to face things that were previously too difficult for us to face, and that is part of the process of emotional maturation. Mastering this process gives us the strength to face the world as it really is, rather than as we would like it to be. With regard to the denial of evil, Knight-Jadczyk notes:

Human beings have been accustomed to assume that other human beings are - at the very least - trying to 'do right' and 'be good' and fair and honest. And so, very often, we do not take the time to use due diligence in order to determine if a person who has entered our life is, in fact, a 'good person'.

Denial also takes place at the national level. There are many things that the United States as a nation denies (i.e., things that most Americans deny). For example, we talk about concepts like freedom and democracy without full awareness of the many historical (and current) examples where we have denied these gifts to other people. Probably the most difficult thing for Americans to admit to as a nation is that their President is evil.

Looking for evil in the wrong places - class prejudice For many, perhaps most people, evil is something you find in prisons or slums. They simply do not think of people who have money and dress nicely as being evil. But successful psychopaths do not end up in prisons or slums. They can be bankers, physicians, professionals of any stripe, politicians, even leaders of nations.

Racism, nationalism, or other isms When evil is perpetrated on persons of other nationalities or races people often turn a blind eye, especially when it is justified by their leaders. For example, in the United States slavery was justified by the slave owners for many decades, despite the 'All men are created equal' proclamation of our Declaration of Independence. More recently, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths have been justified in order to excuse our invasion and occupation of their country. Our leaders and journalists don't justify it in any direct straight forward manner, but rather they justify it by virtue of their virtually complete silence on the matter. Or they justify it by saying such things as "We didn't start this war", as if hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians were responsible for the 9-11 attacks on our country. Noam Chomsky sums up this phenomenon succinctly in What we Say Goes Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World:

When you conquer somebody and suppress them, you have to have a reason. You can't just say, "I'm a son of a bitch and want to rob them". You have to say it's for their good, they deserve it, or they actually benefit from it. That was the attitude of the slave owners. Most of them didn't say, "Look, I'm enslaving these people because I want easily exploitable cheap labor for my own benefit."

Yet, when a U.S. President gives the American people an excuse for a war of aggression they buy into those rationalizations way to often.

* Scott Peck estimates a prevalence of evil of less than 20 times this amount - about 2 cases per thousand people. The difference probably has to do with the fact that Peck doesn't classify "ordinary psychopaths" as being evil, unless they very actively seek to do substantial damage to others. This is more in line with Lobaczewski's "essential psychopathy", which he defines as someone whose role in the ponerogenic process is 'exceptionally great'.

The effects of evil on individuals and society

For those who believe that evil people are almost always found in prisons or slums, the criminologist Georgette Bennett notes:

The consequences to the average citizen from business crimes are staggering: The combined burglary, mugging and other property losses induced by the country's street punks come to about $4 billion a year. However, the seemingly upstanding citizens in our corporate board rooms and the humble clerks in our retail stores bilk us out of between $40 and $200 billion a year.

But the damage goes far beyond monetary losses. Lobaczewski notes:

When (normal) human beings fall into a certain state: the psychopaths, like a virulent pathogen in a body, strike at their weaknesses, and the entire society is plunged into conditions that lead to horror and tragedy on a very large scale.

Whether or not or how much damage a psychopath actually does is dependent upon circumstances. Martha Stout explains:

If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people's hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction.

In such cases evil individuals or cabals may take control of a whole nation, and then the destruction often becomes enormous, in the form of genocides or other mass murders. James Petras explains in Rulers and Ruled in the U.S. Empire:

Explanations of genocides that focus on "irrational mass behavior", overlook the central importance of elite manipulation, anchored in the state, the economy and civil society. In none of the genocides of the 20th and 21st Century were the "masses" in a position to initiate, organize and direct them, though, certainly, sectors of the lower classes carried out the policies.

Psychopaths in position of great power

My belief that George Bush and his administration are evil is not based on any single incident, but rather on a pervasive pattern. This is a man who blew up frogs when he was younger. As Governor of Texas he mocked a woman (Carla Faye Tucker) who pleaded for her life with him, mimicking her desperate pleas in discussions with other people. In the midst of a national disaster, with people dying by the thousands he sat around and partied. And then, when he finally got to New Orleans he ordered firemen to wait around and do nothing rather than save the dying people, just so that he could pose for a photo-op with them. Virtually every act of his presidency has been calculated to increase the wealth and power of his benefactors at the expense of the vast majority of Americans, many of whom have consequently been driven into poverty. He created a war that has resulted in over a million Iraqi civilian deaths and over four thousand deaths of American soldiers - and for no apparent reason other than to increase the wealth and power of his benefactors. He unilaterally decided that he is not subject to the laws of our country. And worst of all, he presides over the indefinite incarceration without charges or trial, and the torture of our prisoners of war - for no apparent reason at all.

DUers aren't the only people who are open to acknowledging the relationship of evil to political power in their own country. The preface to Political Ponerology not only notes this relationship but attempts an explanation, and is not hesitant to point out the role of George W. Bush:

In the past several years, there are many more psychologists and psychiatrists and other mental health workers beginning to look at these issues in new ways in response to the questions about the state of our world and the possibility that there is some essential difference between such individuals as George W. Bush and many so-called Neocons, and the rest of us.

Dr. Stout describes a 'composite' case where the subject spent his childhood blowing up frogs with fire-crackers. It is widely known that George W. Bush did this, so one naturally wonders...

We also began to realize that the profiles that emerged also describe rather accurately many individuals who seek positions of power in fields of authority, most particularly politics and commerce. That's really not so surprising an idea, but it honestly hadn't occurred to us until we saw the patterns and recognized them in the behaviors of numerous historical figures and, lately, including George W. Bush and members of his administration. Politics, by its very nature, would tend to attract more of the pathological 'dominator types' than other fields. That is only logical, and we began to realize that it was not only logical, it was horrifyingly accurate; horrifying because pathology among people in power can have disastrous effects on all of the people under the control of such pathological individuals.

The origins of Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology

As Laura Knight-Jadczyk and her colleagues came more and more to recognize the vast potential for psychopaths in position of political power to inflict destruction on whole societies, they published their thoughts and findings on the Internet. Consequently, they received an e-mail from Andrew Lobaczewski, of whom they had not previously known:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen: I have got your Special Research Project on psychopathy by my computer. You are doing a most important and valuable work for the future of nations. I am a very aged clinical psychologist. Forty years ago I took part in a secret investigation of the real nature and psychopathology of the macro-social phenomenon. I am able to provide you with a most valuable scientific document, useful for your purposes. It is my book Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes.

Lobaczewski was just one of several scientists who took part in the research and the writing of the book. But he was the only one left alive. The reason that the book had to be researched and written in secret was that Lobaczewski and his fellow scientists were victims of one of the most evil and repressive regimes of world history. Lobaczewski describes the history of the manuscript for the book:

The original manuscript of this book went into the furnace minutes before a secret police raid in Communist Poland. The second copy, painfully reassembled by scientists working under impossible conditions of violence and repression, was sent via courier to the Vatican. Its receipt was never acknowledged - the manuscript and all valuable data lost. In 1984, the third and final copy was written from memory by the last survivor of the original researchers: Andrew Lobaczewski. After half a century of suppression, this book is finally available.

Knight-Jadczyk describes her reaction to the receipt of Lobaczewski's manuscript:

As I read, I realized that what I was holding in my hand was essentially a chronicle of a descent into hell, transformation, and triumphant return to the world with knowledge of that hell that was priceless for the rest of us, particularly in this day and time when it seems evident that a similar hell is enveloping the planet. The risks that were taken by the group of scientists that did the research on which this book is based are beyond the comprehension of most of us. Many of them were young, just starting in their careers when the Nazis began to stride in their hundred league jack-boots across Europe. These researchers lived through that, and then when the Nazis were driven out and replaced by the Communists under the heel of Stalin, they faced years of oppression the likes of which one cannot even imagine.

A few more words about Lobaczewski's book and our need to understand its subject

What I've written here sets the stage for the latter part of Lobaczewski's book, in which he describes the characteristics of pathocracies (which he defines as social movements, societies, nations or empires that are taken over by psychopaths), how they originate, and the various threats that are posed to them, among other things. I chose not to provide much detail on those issues in this post because I felt that would make it too long. If there is a fair amount of interest in this post I will follow it up with the above noted issues in a few days.

The major theme of Lobaczewski's book is that if world civilization is to survive and thrive it must learn how to deal with evil individuals who seek its destruction. To that end, he believes that it is essential that objective scientific studies continue be pursued in order that humanity may come to recognize evil when they see it and learn how to combat it (I said something very similar to that about a year and a half ago, in a post titled Evil Must Be Recognized for What it Is Rather than Denied).

Along those lines, Lobaczewski believes that it is essential that we take a strictly objective and scientific view towards evil individuals rather than a moralistic attitude towards them. I'm not sure I'm capable of doing that, but I certainly do agree with him that this is a subject of monumental importance, and we need to learn much more about it.

The last paragraph of Lobaczewski's web site sums up why he considers the subject to be of such great importance:

Morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of this evil. Knowledge of its nature - and its insidious effect on both individuals and groups - is the only antidote.

Knight-Jadczyk, at the end of her Editor's Preface, puts that theme in the context of the current day:

Based on the syndrome that describes the onset of the disease (pathocracy), it seems that the United States in particular, and perhaps the entire world, will soon enter into 'bad times' of such horror and despair that the Holocaust of World War II will seem like just a practice run. And so, since they were there, and they lived through it and brought back information to the rest of us, it may well save our lives to have a map to guide us in the falling darkness.


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'Ruthlessness gene' discovered

Researchers claim they have found "a genetic link to ruthlessness" according to an article by Michael Hopkin in Nature:
Selfish dictators may owe their behaviour partly to their genes, according to a study that claims to have found a genetic link to ruthlessness. The study might help to explain the money-grabbing tendencies of those with a Machiavellian streak - from national dictators down to 'little Hitlers' found in workplaces the world over.
The idea that psychopathy could have a genetic component frightens many people. For the religious, it upsets the idea that God made everyone equal and in his image. For others, it disturbs the idea that we all have some evil in us, a dark side. Yet as we continue to repeat, there is a difference between the violence committed in a moment of emotional upheaval and the cold, planned, instrumental violence of the invasion of Iraq or the genocide of the Palestinians. Psychopaths want to obscure the boundaries between their deviance and our misguided passion. Who has never felt so anger they have wished someone dead? But how many of us would actually go through with it? We know that we do have a dark side, but the psychopath would have us believe that ours and theirs are the same thing. They are not.

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