The world is full of narcissists. For a period of time during the last century, malignant narcissism appeared to be kept in check. Our collective consciousness was raised by the after effects of the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the Space Age. Brutality and cruelty happened in other countries, like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malawi. South and central America went down the wrong path for several decades and some countries there are still struggling with dictators, corruption and violence. But for the most part, the world grew away from barbarism. We held each other accountable.
It started to turn around in the late 70s again, just about the time of the oil embargoes and Ronald Reagan and the “moral” majority. And now, 80 years after the Great Depression, we’ve reversed much of what was accomplished during the New Deal. Except for Social Security, the rest of the progressive governmental structures that were created then are hollow shells. Even the post office is struggling to maintain it’s position as a public service and it is much older than any Depression era program.
We know what happened, we feel its effects, as anyone trying to get a job, working a job and supporting a family knows. But we don’t know the origins of how it happened. That is, we don’t know what it is about our human nature that caused our current powerlessness and inequality.
I was watching a video this morning about the dark triad of narcissism, antisocial behavior and borderline personality disorder because I’m getting more and more interested in what the bad guys have been up to. In that video was another clip from the movie The Spanish Prisoner featuring Steve Martin. In the clip, a friend of his is telling him how he invented something for a company and has an informal arrangement for compensation and credit. Martin tells him that the informal arrangement is worthless and that he should have gotten the details down on paper and verified with a lawyer. The friend is too trusting and then Martin tells him this:
We’ve probably had this happen to us at some point in our lives. For example, it explains why employment has been so stressful lately for many of us, especially temp workers. A temp worker has no legal rights and the employer has no legal obligations. In such a situation, it’s easy to take advantage of the temp and treat them cruelly. In fact, the employer is prompted to be more cruel because the fact that he has no legal obligation makes taking advantage of the worker the smart thing to do. You’d be a fool to not use your resources to get ahead of your competitors. But to do so will generate a certain amount of guilt in the employer. Morally, it’s wrong to exploit a person. The resolution of this problem is to dehumanize the worker. As long as the worker is stupid, uneducated, ugly, poor, unpopular or possessing in some other human defect, it is ok to be inconsiderate of them and to take advantage of them. It should come as no surprise that the number of temp positions has increased steadily in recent years or that many of those in temp positions or insecure part-time positions have to face uncertain hours, sleeplessness, poor pay and undignified behavior from the companies they work for. This trend will continue until there is law to curtail it.
Let’s look beyond the workforce. Let’s look at what happened in Ferguson. The police force has access to a lot of military style weapons and transportation devices. That equipment costs money, as do the officers themselves. It all has to be paid for somehow. The state of Missouri might not be footing the bill. Let’s get the money from people who are easier to shake down. No one cares about African Americans. It would be stupid of us to not take advantage of this situation. And they deserve to be treated badly. They wouldn’t be living in Ferguson if they weren’t so stupid, shiftless, lazy and violent thugs.
How about firemens’ pension funds? Stock analysts, money managers and bankers are under no obligation to protect their clients’ funds more than lining their own pockets. It would be stupid for Wall Street firms to not work both sides of a deal. Those firemen are just a bunch of meat puppets represented by fools. They deserve to be treated badly for not being smart enough to go to Harvard and Princeton and then go to work on Wall Street.
And let’s think about this in political terms. The reason why no bankers go to jail or are held accountable is because each grievous infraction goes to a negotiated settlement. One by one, the legal obligations that the banks and large corporations have towards the rest of us are stripped away. It is perfectly understandable that these businesses are going to push the envelope and demand all they can get. But we have seen from past presidencies that it is not the norm for the executive branch to crumble in the face of stiff resistance. Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt took on forces as just as powerful and determined and did not succumb. So, we can only imagine what level of contempt there must be in the administration towards average Americans that would allow them to assuage their guilt.
This is what I have been referring to when I said back in 2008 that if the Democrats did not resist the voting irregularities, sexism and demonization of half its party during the campaign, that it would not have standing with the people who forced themselves on us. It’s also why those of us at The Confluence rejected the demonization and dehumanization of Sarah Palin. We don’t have to like her politics to see that when the party activists went down that road, they were engaging in a thoughtless barbarism that had the potential to seep into other aspects of their politics and turn them into tools of malignant narcissists.
Anyway, I go on too long again. I just thought it was an interesting clip that describes clearly why we have laws and regulations and why this country flourished when we had consent of the governed to constrain our baser natures and why we should oppose people who try to get around those laws and legal obligations.
Too many of us have been fooled into thinking we don’t need them.