Gandolf, I wish I could have met you and Pony 40-50 years ago. You both seem like really decent folks as do a lot of the relatively more recent posters on CD. (I’ve been here since 2004 but due to comment format changes, etc. it shows I only go back to 2015.) Actually the reason I returned is bcz the posters seem pretty progressive where Alternet and The Smirking Chimp comments stuck with the establishment Dems on Russiagate and unquestioning support for Hillary (IMHO we would all be nuclear ashes had she won). I hate Trump. I hated both of them and backed Jill Stein. I hesitantly voted for Obama in 2008 but voted for Jill Stein in 2012 as well. I can’t handle Dems. that are neocons and neoliberal. The neocons are the biggest threat there is to world peace and the neoliberals back supply side economics that have led to such horrendous inequality domestically. No more lesser of two evils!!! Anyway, yeah I read your post and thanks man, I appreciate your approval. In fact I appreciate it so much here’s two more…one from WWII and the other from Nam.
I was lucky and missed Vietnam. I turned 18 in June of 1975. I had so many friends and relative that did tours including a first cousin who was a Marine Corps. Captain in charge of a recon unit in the DMZ. His name was Capt. Richard Klein and from day one he believed the War to be both immoral and illegal. He wrote literally hundreds of letters (which we still have copies of some to date) to Gen. Westmoreland and Sec. McNamera protesting our presence in Southeast Asia. I don’t know if you remember Army Col. David Hackworth but he also was against our presence there. Hackworth died of leukemia about 20 years ago but used to write an editorial column about the crimes our government committed there. He and Richard had teamed up to try to convince the U.S. government that Vietnam did NOT want to join with China and “spread communism” but rather simply wanted to remain independent of China and remain as a sovereign nation. Well we fucked that up big time (as we always do.) Gand, have you seen the documentary “The Fog of War” narrated by Robert McNamera? It was produced I think in the nineties right before he died. I guess he felt like he had to come clean and admit our major mistakes in ever getting involved to cleanse his conscience, if he had one. As for my cousin Richard, he was aboard a Medivac chopper being transported to return after his tour. He was a mental wreck. They were getting ready to lift off from Kaason when the chopper was hit by a mortar round. Richard was one of a few survivors. He got back stateside but had severe ptsd and survivor’s syndrome. He constantly drank and used drugs to suppress the nightmares and in Sept. of 1991 drove his Harley off a cliff in New Mexico. Gand he was a really decent guy with a big heart. The fucking elites are behind ALL of these damned wars and they create them to enrich themselves even more than they already are. These bastards already control more wealth than they and their family’s could spend in a thousand lifetimes yet it’s never enough. They won’t blink an eye over the deaths of millions of human beings if it will add to their already unusable fortune. I can’t wrap my mind around such greed and selfishness but Trump is beginning to shine a light. My question is why do we even allow these parasites to even exist among us??? They need to be exterminated just like any other dangerous pest.
It seems to me that the favorite pastimes of psychopaths and narcissists are building and climbing hierarchical structures, and creating chaos by divide and conquer activities. I think that these types of people exist because in some places and times and positions we need their skills, however for the most part I think that it is very important that we do not allow them to build and control hierarchies that can have considerable control over our lives. It seems to me that most problems that we face can be lessened by taking apart their various hierarchies and finding ways to keep the percentage of psychopaths and narcissists in important positions over us from being higher than their percentage of the population. Unfortunately they are disproportionately well positioned in positions of power in the structures that are towering above us. This makes it difficult to impossible for our society to remain stable, caring and fair, and consequently their interests get looked after and their thinking has become normal to us while what would otherwise be normal, sane and decent thinking becomes naive and ridiculous.
RandB, in principle, I agree with you. The problem happens when you dig deeper. What precisely does it mean “from properly educated citizens”? Unless you have great uniformity in the population, proper education tends to create strata which eventually evolve into classes.
If you propose to have the “entirety” of society “properly” educated, then I would agree with you. But that is only possible in nations with a “very” long history of cultural conditioning and uniformity, not in the US. So far, it has only happened in Northern Europe and in Japan. In the Americas, it comes closest in Canada and Uruguay.
Plato thought democracy was not viable in the long term because it is bound to degenerate into authoritarianism, regardless of whether the participants are properly educated or not. The US is a textbook example of this.
Monckton, it seems to me that in America we have had about 35 to 40 years of New Deal cultural conditioning followed by about 40 years of neo-Liberal cultural conditioning intent on reversing the New Deal conditioning and returning us to Gilded Age thinking and practice. Americans have had considerable cultural conditioning ever since the end of the Civil War when the elites made the poor whites better than the poor freed slaves in order to better divide and conquer the working class that had begun working together for needed change.
In my reply to @aussidawg above I attempted to concisely argue that our problems largely stem from “psychopaths and narcissists building and climbing hierarchical structures, and creating chaos by divide and conquer activities”. I suggest that the relative sanity of the New Deal years can be seen as the result of much of the towering hierarchy of the Gilded Age and the 20’s being dismantled and having a larger percentage of normal people in positions of power. Then with the Regan revolution we saw the rebuilding of the hierarchical structures and consolidation of control again by the psychopaths and narcissists at the top, and we saw the influence and control by normal people drop considerably.
Note that the “evil” is not neo-Liberalism, nor is it neo-Conservatism. Ambitious psychopaths and narcissists can adopt and use any and all “isms” as useful masks when constructing and consolidating their hierarchies. NeoLiberal thought is as useful to them as national socialism and communism were to Hitler and Stalin. The “isms” are merely tools that can be used to deceive and distract and divide and organize ourselves against ourselves. The essence of the problem is the psychopaths and narcissists capturing and expanding the hierarchical structures above us and getting us to squabble among ourselves. As I see it, if we allow ourselves to be distracted from seeing the activities and conquests of the psychopaths and narcissists by focusing on the “isms”, then authoritarianism becomes almost inevitable, as does its subsequent collapse and re-emergence as the cycle repeats in various different forms. We need to break or better manage this cycle if we do not want the thinking of the psychopaths and narcissists to dominate society.
Note that I considerably oversimplify and what I understand you to be saying when you write about “the quality of the ruling elite” is a ruling elite with a relatively lower proportion of psychopaths and narcissists and other personality and mental disorders within its ranks than we see at present.
Very interesting line of reasoning. Essentially, what you are saying is the creation of certain structures may lead to the emergence and rise of psychopaths and narcissists, who in their turn create conditions for their own implosion, with the whole cycle repeating itself until “we” cease to be distracted by those psychopaths and narcissists.
I find your thesis attractive; I just don’t have the right background to critique it scientifically. My take on the way different cultures respond to circumstances, as well as the features of the ruling elites different cultures generate, is that history and cultural proclivities play a much more important role than most people think. This means the conditioning we are talking about doesn’t happen in the time scales of generations, but in time scales of centuries and millennia.
The conditioning that lead to the New Deal was encoded in the cultural DNA of European immigrants and their descendants at that time. As that cultural “DNA” diffused and became less of a determinant in social preferences, new political and social arrangements arose, which emerged without any specific cause one can identify. Under this view, Reagan and Trump are symptoms rather than causes.
This discussion would be much easier over a coffee where I could use both words and movements of my hands while occasionally watching your eyes to see how well my and your arguments are being understood.
I am saying that psychopaths and narcissists see themselves as superior to us and easily believe that it is only natural that they should rule us. They tend to be focused and risk takers. I suggest that they enjoy building, climbing, and taking over hierarchical structures, and that when they do this successfully they then marginalize and force out of these structures the normal people who they do not trust, and and then they tend to replace them with people more like themselves who they better understand and trust. Once powerful enough they buy and intimidate politicians into removing the constraints on their activities while increasing the restraints on the working class. Reagan and Clinton deregulated and dismantled the New Deal and allowed the consolidation of companies, and allowed banks and financial interests to make massive profits by giving them freedom from many of the restraints that were designed and put in place to prevent a repeat of the 1929 financial disaster. As they optimize the structures of society so that it does not restrain themselves and they organize it to control us, and to give them considerable monopoly and rental incomes the system becomes unstable and almost completely unresponsive to the needs and whims of all but the psychopaths and narcissists who have effectively removed the vast majority from any benefit from and any input into how things are run, and we have a system that will crash because it is largely blind and uncaring to all but the self-centered concerns and conceits and understandings of the psychopaths and narcissists at the top who falsely believe in their own wisdom and superiority.
I am saying that if we do not recognize the above dynamic, and we allow ourselves to be continue to be distracted by the various “isms” and divisions that the psychopaths and narcissists use to control and distract us then this cycle will repeat in various forms. If we recognize and understand the dynamic then we can attempt to design social and political and economic and social structures that are more stable and less vulnerable to being taken over and abused by psychopaths and narcissists. To some extent this was done with some success in the New Deal because there was some understanding of what the problem was (and you may be correct that part of this understanding came in the cultural “DNA” of the European immigrants and descendants of the time. Some of that “DNA” still remains in America). And I think that the young are searching for some understanding and are willing to learn as they are currently getting a rather rotten deal in society. We need to rebuild our social and political and economic structures so that they are again largely run by normal people and so that these structures will be stable and considerably more resistant to capture and control by wealthy psychopaths and narcissists.
FDR’s Second Bill of Rights was to be part of what was set up to restrain the powerful. Possibly if it had not been stopped our wealthy psychopaths and narcissists would not have as easily been able to reverse the New Deal because the Second Bill of Rights would have been an important line in the sand that constrained how they could treat us.
No worries aussidawg, you likely knew a PB and Gandolf, they just had different names back then.
I was only political about the war, the peace movement, and some of the music.
I was doing my time in the “Green Machine” during the good years and felt a little cheated out of the so called best years. I was having what might have been my last hurrah visiting Florida before entering the army. We all knew we had a 90% chance of going to Nam.
The deaths of MLK and RFK came and went in the summer of 1968 while I was trying to survive on peanut butter, Hey Jude, and a dose of the clap I brought from up north.
Pleased to meet you aussidawg, and thanks for the trip down memory lane.
It seems that there are a lot of old farts roaming the web here on CD. Sure glad to know most are quite liberal.
Saw a youtube of Col. Hackworth. A familiar tone from him and others I’ve tuned in to over the years.
When I have an opportunity to dwelve into the Vietnan story I always think about Uncle Ho’s wanting a unified country, politics be damned. We fucking blew it. Although I suppose it turned out fine for the MIC.
I’m not quite sure about PonyBoy, but if you hung with my crowd you may have gotten into more scrapes than you wanted to.
For example: A carload of six drunks, four of us Nam vets closed the bar and drove downtown and vandalized the Nixon re-election headquarters. Christmas of 1972 I believe. All I got was a disorderly conduct and an affordable fine.
The vets. Bill-suicide, Mike-motorcycle accident, John-bad coke trip and was in a wheelchair until his body quit. Lost contact with the other two. But hey, it was a trip getting perp walked out of Sears. The old ladies I was wrapping Christmas gifts with. Well you had to see their reaction.
Gandolf, you’ve been thru the wringers (how many of today’s youth can remember a washing machine where you fed the wash thru ringers (rollers) then hung the laundry on a line streched between two oak trees in the back yard?) and brother I’m proud of you. I was petrified about being picked by the draft lotto but the whole scmer fell apart when we evacuated Saigon. Welcome the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields. Like we’ve done in all of our foreign meddling Vietnam was overrun by the gentileman Pol Pot. Until we kick the money mongers out and into prison nothing is going to change. Have you noticed how we fail to learn from history? Not just with regime change but domestically with the war on drugs. Gee, alcohol prohibition worked well so let’s double down and do the same thing with drugs. Fuck these sorry excuses of leaders.
You have come up with a hypothesis (a very interesting one in my view), and it would be very interesting to prove it or disprove it. As you probably know, a number of essays have been published on the role of psychopaths in leadership.
Those essays (at least the ones I have seen) are speculative, however. I haven’t seen publications that back their conclusions with solid statistics. A solid proof (or disproof) of your hypothesis (or similar hypotheses on toxic leadership) rises to the level of a PhD dissertation. Lots and lots of field and statistical work.
Would we be better off without psychopaths rising to the top? I don’t know. It turns out that things that at first sight (or to the uninformed) appear detrimental, are actually vital to survival.
Until Hamilton came along with his theory of fitness, everyone thought homosexuality was detrimental to procreation. Today we know this is incorrect. Until quantum physics became common-place, everybody thought things need a cause (the ultimate cause being God). Now we know things can emerge without a cause. Until recently, everybody thought stomach ulcers were caused by stomach acid, now we know they are caused by bacteria. Etc. Etc.
Are psychopaths intrinsically bad for the rest of us? It sounds like they are, but are they? Remember that about 30% of all Americans believe the Sun rotates around the Earth (Pew Research.) What appears obvious is often wrong.
I remember how my unit, (the non NCO/officer’s) the grunts so to speak, went a little nuts when we found out we were crossing the border into Laos-Cambodia. More dying to take ground we were once again going to cede right back to “no man’s land.”
I don’t think you meant all of us when you say (we) fail to learn from history. WE get it, but that doesn’t usually matter to the people pulling the strings of power. We are just cannon fodder for their many enterprises.
That’s in large part the reason for the counter culture. Back to the landers were just as much interested in getting away from the (users of the public), as they were about free love, and social freedom, and independence from the machine.
Glad my one brother got a high lottery number and didn’t have to go to Nam either. But a drunk driver got him and his passenger on his Harley Sportster, 1980.
He would have been an old fart like the rest of us.
We have to press on though. I finally got 100% disability from the VA after a difficult 15 year struggle.
Veterans need to know about late in life PTSD . Often coming to the surface with a life changing event like retirement. Other symptoms were always there, but people always say, that’s normal, deal with it. Not always so. Later dawg. I see that’s what PB calls you. I might too.