Tag Archives: eat the rich
Earlier, when I called certain rich people sociopaths, I’m afraid I was being just a little bit unfair to them. But only a little.
First, for anyone who thinks I was engaging in hyperbole, this is the definition of ‘sociopath.’
A person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Now, read that Rolling Stone article again and tell me that the hyper-rich Wall Street types in there don’t ‘lack a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”
The thing is, though, sociopathy is defined by the sociopath’s relationship with other people. Someone isn’t a sociopath for not having a sense of moral responsibility towards squirrels, right?
It’s in the definition of ‘other people’ where things get tricky.
To kill a peasant is not murder; it is helping to extinguish the conflagration. Let there be no half measures! Crush them! Cut their throats! Transfix them! Leave no stone unturned! To kill a peasant is to destroy a mad dog! – Martin Luther
Military organizations have long known that it is hard to get most soldiers to kill people. That’s much of the point of Basic Training and the other training and conditioning that soldiers go through; to get them to overcome that social barrier against killing other people. That training seems to be more necessary now than it was, say a thousand years ago, but I don’t think it’s because human nature has changed. I think our definition of ‘people’ has changed. It used to be that other tribes, other countries, were looked on as lesser beings. Not quite human. Modern communications and media have shown us how people who aren’t aren’t our neighbors live, and made them human to us. Wartime propaganda tries to return us to the old condition, where the enemy isn’t really human, so it’s okay to firebomb tens of thousands of women and children.
The concept of what a person is matters a great deal.
You aren’t really rich unless you can afford your own army — Marcus Licinius Crassus
The ultra-wealthy, throughout history, have always been a class apart from the lower orders of society, with their own rules and laws. (‘Privilege’ literally means ‘private law.’) To the wealthy nobles, in their fine manors, the peasants who worked their fields, living in dirt and filth, sharing their hovels with farm animals, must have seemed little more than animals themselves. The lifestyles of the two groups had almost no features in common; each was entirely alien to the other.
Can you imagine what the life of someone making millions of dollars a year is like? What it is like to literally have more money than you can spend? To be able to pick up a phone, call a powerful politician, and have him answer?
Now, from the lordly heights of fabulous wealth and power, try to imagine how the poor look. To someone who has so much money that it is truly meaningless, how does a family of four trying to scrape by on $25,000 a year look? (A billion dollars, earning 1% interest, will produce an income of more than $27,000 per day. That is at the low end of the income available to the ultra-wealthy.) That poor family might as well be part of some paleolithic tribe on the distant frontiers of civilization; they certainly aren’t part of the same world as the ultra-wealthy.
The ultra-wealthy jerks quoted in that Rolling Stone’s piece aren’t sociopaths, by their standards. I’m sure they treat people–their peers–with great respect and consideration. The rest of us, though…we’re just not people. A part of the social advantage they enjoy is that the rest of us still consider them people, and treat them with a consideration that they do not return.
If it is morally right and acceptable for the rich to break the law, and make new laws, to take money away from the poor, how is it not morally right and acceptable for the poor to break the law, and make new laws, to take money away from the rich?
If anything goes if you can get away with it, why doesn’t it work both ways?
Michael Thomas makes some good points, but he misuses a couple of words. A ‘fusillade’ refers to small arms (a ‘fusil’ was a musket), not artillery. He means ‘cannonade.’ He also uses the term ‘anticommunitarian moral opacity’ as a euphemism for sociopathy.