Thursday, August 11, 2022

Socio-Political Psychopathy: An Evolutionary Paradox

Topical EssaysSocio-Political Psychopathy: An Evolutionary Paradox

[Author’s note: This essay took on a life of its own and, where I planned three thousand words I found myself at 5,000 by the time I was done. The thesis embedded in this essay is comprised of layers; I beg both your patience and your forbearance while I lay them out.]

Our socio-political evolution in recent years has brought us to a level of psychopathy the likes of which humankind hasn’t seen in modern history. It has become increasingly apparent, as the various forms of media – social, corporate, etc – have extended their reach into, and influence over, the national conversation, that the fundamental survival imperatives of our species are staring down into the abyss of extinction. This shifting dynamic and subsequent erosion of interpersonal relations within our species is being encouraged and, in large part underwritten, by the elite power brokers in the political class. There is no intended or contrived hyperbole in this observation, and I offer no dire warnings about the end of life on the planet. What is at stake, however, is the survival of Millennia-long established and mutually understood first principles and accepted practices of the shared human experience.

Let’s begin by baselining some terminology. “Psychopathy” is a neuropsychiatric disorder and is described as having “deficient emotional responses, lack of empathy, and poor behavioral controls, commonly resulting in persistent antisocial deviance and criminal behavior.” A “Paradox” is a “seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well-founded or true.” Finally, for posterity and in deference to our friend Darwin, consider the dictionary version of the definition for evolution which generically defines it as “the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.” As we move ahead we will slightly diverge from this generic definition but the rationale for this will become clear soon enough.

The first of our species is often referred to as “modern human”, and first appeared in our Universe’s timeline between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago. It is said that we began to evolve away from our closest relatives, Neanderthals, 200,000 years before our final separation and many of us share about 2% of their DNA. It is no small understatement to suggest that a great many things have changed since those early days of our existence. To be sure, there are many things about the lives of our ancestors that we can only assume based on archaeological findings and educated guesses about what they might mean. For our purposes here I can assert with confidence that from our earliest beginnings ours has been a species riddled with paradox.

Darwin’s research, culminating with his work titled “The Origin of Species”, looked extensively into natural processes and the ever-evolving relationships and interactions within and between “species” and surrounding “environments” which provoked nearly two centuries of debate over the issue of natural selection, or the so-called “survival of the fittest” philosophy, that remains with us to this day. A good example of this ongoing philosophical “quibble” can be found in a published work titled “The Paradox of Evolution”, written by Stephen Rothman, which attempts to examine “a little-noted contradiction inherent in the two essential elements of Darwin’s theory of biological evolution”.

It was Darwin who suggested, in 1859, that biological evolution relied on two fundamental survival imperatives, shared by every living species: natural selection and reproduction. It would be Rothman, almost 160 years later, that would suggest evolution is a little bit more complicated than that, claiming there was an inherent paradox underlying Darwin’s basic premise:

“For all living things, there are two overarching purposes: survival and the creation of new life. Natural selection is about the survival of existing life, but has no interest in life’s future, about whether it persists or perishes.

By contrast, reproduction is only about the future of life and has no interest in existing life except as a means to that end.

at every level, life is wired to react to danger. Counterintuitively, without the danger to its existence, life would not have come into being. As for reproduction, nature’s destructive forces drive the creation of new life”.

I don’t have the temerity to argue the conclusions that either of these men drew but, leaning on their greater wisdom (and overlaying it on top of 21st-century humankind), what I can confidently suggest is that neither of these men could have ever foreseen the extent to which our species would “evolve” to a point where they would presume to know better than the forces of nature and reproduction that gave them life, sustenance, and the reproductive capacity which gave rise to their continued existence today.

There is a wealth of both physical and anecdotal information about the early modern human but, for our purposes here, it is important to recognize that, at our core and inherent in our species is perhaps the greatest paradox that shapes our existence; we are born with a seemingly limitless capacity to both conquer and be conquered, with each of these things occurring in the pursuit of our two natural imperatives- survival and reproduction. And while this may sound counter-intuitive, consider the competing interests within our existence between our innate free will, our yearning for solitude, and our intrinsic need to socialize with others of our kind. It is no small thing to point out that this “evolutionary paradox” has not changed since we first stood upright in Africa 300,000 years ago, regardless of our countless attempts at civilizing and socializing ourselves along the way.

Throughout our history, at least until the rise of Tyrants, Dictators, Monarchs, and Emperors, we gathered ourselves together in various forms of mutually beneficial “communities”, with norms and behavioral expectations agreed upon, either by force or compromise, and established rules that governed the actions of each contributing member of these socialized Collectives. The obvious reasons for organizing the shared Human Experience this way would have necessarily included reproduction, defense against predators, competing collectives, and conducting commerce. This describes the natural state of all humankind. I posit here that, with the advent of pursuing the accumulation of wealth and power in the interest of personal gain (driven by vanity and self-indulgence) – as our biological evolution unfolded – our species began to establish the diverging paths of “Conqueror” and “Conquered” which has led us to the current state of today’s shared Human Experience.

World history tells us that the first empire, ruled by King Sargon of Akkad, rose to power in Mesopotamia approximately 4, 000 years ago. There is no need to discuss this King or the history of any other king that has come since. What is most important for the reader to take away from this fact is that our species did just fine for 300,000 years before allowing itself to be subjugated to the whims and fancies of one person. It is worth the time here to point out that it wasn’t until 1776 – 4 Millennia after Sargon – that a small group of people would come to devise and implement a system, a new and improved version of a self-governing community if you will, that returned our species – at least in America- to the natural state of all humankind and allowed for us to once more gather ourselves together in various forms of mutually beneficial “communities”, with norms and behavioral expectations mutually agreed upon, establishing rules that govern the actions of each contributing member of these socialized Collectives.

Reflecting on the time between the Declaration of Independence and the present day, the generation of our Founding Fathers may well, indeed, have been the first last, and only generation to sincerely believe in, and wholly embrace, the critical importance of inspiring the trust of the individual members of American society. Further, it can be argued that they were the last to govern in such a way as to ensure they never became, themselves, the very ravening wolves and false prophets the Bible warned us against and they built the Nation, and her governing systems, to protect us from.

After all, they didn’t care what you believed in or what you didn’t believe in, in any specific religious context, but they cared very much about your faith in and commitment to the fundamental principles of Freedom, Liberty, Self-determination, and National Pride. It was the Bill of Rights that acknowledged and guaranteed our God-given rights to free expression and self-defense, codifying into law the tools necessary to make sure subsequent Generations of government would never be able to take these freedoms away from us. Above All Else was the promise that our system of government would be of, by, and for the people and that all systems and methods of governance would only be conducted with the consent of the governed as determined by the outcome of free and fair elections.

As our systems of law have evolved, especially since the end of the Civil War, so too have the consciences and sensibilities evolved in the hearts, minds, actions, and convictions of what has become our “ruling class elites.” Accordingly, we find ourselves today confronted by a generation of leaders increasingly holding constituents in contempt, treating them more as impediments to the progress of their personal ambition for greater power and station within the ruling class rather than obliging the expectations of the electorate that put them in office to represent them. This is the stuff of vanity and self-indulgence that has befallen every Tyrant, Dictator, Monarch, and Emperor that has come before us throughout history and will, ultimately, lead them into the abyss of their own self-destruction. Unfortunately, this is of little consolation to American citizens in the immediate future considering the extent to which the ruling class(es) have not only corrupted themselves but used their power and isolation from rank-and-file citizens to degrade the very mechanisms that were put in place to prevent this from happening.

“Divide et impera”

Julius Caesar is credited with the expression “divide and conquer” and although we can’t be sure he is the originator of the quote, what we do know is that Kings and monarchs have employed this tactic to diminish the power of the people they rule since the dawn of Kings and monarchs.

Interestingly, this very same tactic is being employed today in America not only by the ruling class but by our fellow Americans surreptitiously fomenting transformational change under the auspices of so-called “progress”. They are succeeding, first and foremost, by creating false narratives with respect to socio-economic subgroups of the population, dividing us up into smaller artificially conceived victim and protected entitlement classes, and pitting us against each other to fight it out on the streets and in the halls of government.

Consider the use of the word “war” in modern American discourse and vernacular; we have the war on women, the war on religion, the war on sexuality, the war on gender, the war on culture, the war on language, the war on drugs, the war on crime, the war on immigrants, the war on children, and so on ad nauseam. These are not wars of the armed conflict variety, obviously, but our so-called modern and enlightened Society considers these ideological wars to be every bit as lethal and every bit as much a threat to life and limb as those waged with guns and bombs.

This conflation of alternate realities speaks directly to the underlying thesis this essay puts forward regarding the psychopathic nature of efforts currently underway to use the fundamental proposition offered in the American experiment as the weapon by which the nation is intended to ultimately be destroyed. Much the same as that cancer which effectively kills itself once it has killed its host, today’s ruling class(es), along with their “foot soldiers” actively display a potentially nation-killing “lack of empathy, poor behavioral controls, and persistent antisocial deviance and criminal behavior” with no appreciable remorse and complete indifference to the ruined or lost lives standing in their way.

In the 4 millennia, our species has been “civilized”, this recipe has always spelled war, and the Winds of that war are stirring right now in America. To be sure, war can always be avoided but to do so it is important to keep in mind the fundamental truths of war as they relate to our species.

Wars between nations have existed since there have been Nations- territorial conflict and ambition for supremacy, control, or the elimination of a perceived weaker or competing entity- is a fundamental element of our species. War within Nations – citizen vs. citizen – is likewise nothing more than the result of ambition for supremacy, control, or the elimination of a perceived weaker or competing entity. The most important distinction to draw between these two types of conflagrations is that, where the former results in the creation of a new or expanded civilization, the latter ensures the collapse and ultimate destruction of all of it.

In our book, “Unwashed Philosophy: A Guide To Our Imperfect Union”, contributing author “Vassar Bushmills” and I wrapped a little more than 6,000 words around an allegorical commentary about an imaginary three-legged bar stool, using it to represent the current dynamic in American society as it relates to the opposing pressures on each individual member of society exerted on us by the high-minded collective and the singularly (and inwardly) focused) collection of Nihilists that make up today’s modern American dynamic. You will have to buy the book to see all of what we had to say on this topic, but I share a piece of it here to more closely examine the exigencies visited upon individual members of society by the effects of the head-on collision that has occurred between the exponential increase in socio-political psychopathy and the self-destructive cancerous infusion of Nihilism into Humanity’s evolutionary paradox.

A 3 – Legged American Barstool

While tempted, early in the development of this concept of framing the “Political Faith Triad” in modern terms such as Republican and Democrat, and Independent, we believe this oversimplifies the point we need to make because of the complexities of the current American Body Politic cannot be pigeonholed into an either-or proposition along party lines despite the ruling classes having spent generations, between them, consolidating power in order to do precisely that. Our “Political Faith” systems are far more nuanced and subtle and do not always take into account, sufficiently, the potential for harm from the far more pernicious, power-hungry actors causing most of the damage to our Republic.

In the post-Civil War context then, peering through the Covid-19 lens and bearing in mind the warnings of Jesus, we contend that there has been a slow yet increasingly pervasive rise of two socio-cultural Leviathans since the Reconstruction whose impacts on American society are only just now starting to be rightly identified as the dangers to our Republic that they are.

Our allegorical barstool then, or triad, consists of Collectivism on the one side and Nihilism on the other while Individualism serves the purpose of keeping everything in balance and being the primary element that enforces the basic laws of physics inherent in the design. This will make more sense soon enough, but consider the basic definitions we have selected to wrap some modern-day context around these particular choices.

Collectivism is generically defined as the group being prioritized over the individual. Conversely, Individualism derives from the tightly held principles of being independent and self-reliant. Last but certainly not least, Nihilism is defined as the rejection of all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless. As you let these concepts swirl around on your brain’s palate and swish them back and forth across its taste buds, we will kick things off with a fair-minded assessment of the Individual and where he/she sits in the social and cultural “food chain” of modern-day American society.

Many studies have been conducted over the years attempting to understand the human psyche. Some of these have suggested that each individual has four unique “selves” and, although plausible arguments are out there to suggest this theory has merit and is worthy of your time to look into more deeply, there is certainly the possibility that there may be more or less. We won’t presume ourselves smarter than the experts, but for the purposes of looking at the fundamental Individual, as S/He relates to the Collectivists and the Nihilists, we are going to Focus on the two most important ones: the public self and the private self.

As it has been since we first stood upright in Africa and later began to establish sedentary communities, the Individual is comprised of two very distinct yet disparate features, each of which fluctuates in its degree of power over the other; the primal and compelling need to socialize, and the oft-times overwhelming yearnings for solitude and isolation. And, as much as we like our peace and quiet, it is inevitable that, sooner or later, we will seek out human contact.

On a primal level, it is incumbent upon us to seek out others in order to sustain the species, but because we are inherently social creatures, we are, by nature, compelled to interact with one another. We share stories about our experiences, we listen to the stories of others, we offer ideas to each other, we learn from each other, and we form or carry forward our opinions about the matters at hand. As well, some of us teach, some of us learn, and all of us improve, hopefully, our “human condition” while at least trying to help others improve theirs.

And yet, at those moments when we take the risk and step outside of our “Private self” bubbles and present our “Public self” personas to our fellow homo sapiens, depending on our unique sets of styles and personality traits and how these are perceived by others, we present as Predator/Prey (our Primal natures) or Leader/Follower (our social natures). Once we are effectively “sized up” by the group and categorized accordingly by its leadership, we are relegated to this or that, oft-times arbitrarily decided, position in the hierarchy of the collective.

Over the course of the hundreds of thousands of years that we have wandered the globe, upright and aimless, it has always been our free will that has served as our traveling companion, and it has always been our Free Will’s endless struggle between the need to socialize and yearning for solitude and isolation that has determined our ultimate destination.

To be sure, the existence of the Collective in a civilized society serves the fundamental survival imperative of each Individual member… Strength in numbers and all that… Thus we will be naturally drawn to that Collective which promises to best fulfill our wants, needs, and aspirations. But when the leadership of the Collective allows itself to be corrupted by personal ambition to ends that countermand the imperative(s) of some, or all, Individual members, the usual result is the collapse of the entire system and subsequent “sin, chaos, decadence, and disorder” and active celebration of disobedience of the founding norms, principles, and practices that served to form the Collective at its inception.

Today’s elected political class (the representative Collective), in collusion with, and infiltrated by, the unelected corporatist, globalist, and media (corporate and social) classes (the Nihilists), have been effectively tattering the edges of America’s national fabric since the 50s and 60s. Social and cultural norms have been slowly effaced and ultimately eroded, and our language, methods, and means of communication have been bastardized beyond all recognition. And, with all that has been done to weaponize our Constitution and Bill of Rights, turning them against the will of the Individual under the false prophecy of national progress, we find ourselves staring down a double-barreled national collapse at the hands of the very people we empowered to protect and defend our rights who now intend to strip them away.

It is our contention that this dynamic shift in today’s America is the direct result of what we like to call the “Devil’s Bargain” that was struck between the Collectivists and the Nihilists and began to take shape, in our opinion at least, at the dawn of the anti-war movement of the 60s. And while we recognize that the movement altered the dynamics of the activist, social Collective, this period also marked the rise (or re-birth) of the activist Nihilist class as well. And the coming together of these forces has inflicted increasingly enormous amounts of pressure on the Individual, which, in accordance with our triad allegory, is struggling to maintain balance against the shifting weights of this pressure.

Throughout history, cultural and socio-political upheaval is not unusual. What has changed in the modern era, and most especially with respect to the modern advances in technology and communications, is the effect these pressures are having on the Individual; ever since these modern-day false prophets joined forces, the Individual has increasingly become little more than roadkill carrion to be pecked at, torn and shredded into little pieces, and divvied up to sustain each other. Consequently, this power symbiosis self-sustains because, as one Individual is consumed, replacements are easily enough found by simply perpetrating and perpetuating new contrivances and false prophecies, repeatedly, until a new Individual is drawn in.

Many Americans might consider the current use of these treacherous tactics being employed by the Collectivists and the Nihilists, in concert against the Individualists, to be the very definition of treason, and we might be the first to agree except that the insidious underbelly of this contrived dissidence runs much deeper below the surface than simple activism naiveté.

Rather, it is our contention that the Civil War – lite being instigated against and between American individualists is, and has been for quite a few years now, a well-camouflaged subterfuge seemingly designed to essentially criminalize and dismantle Individualism altogether because, fundamentally, these external Collectivist and Nihilist influences genuinely believe America is irreparably corrupt and must be completely torn down in order to build up a new one, from scratch, with what they promise will be a glorious new Utopian Paradise That will replace our founding principles of “life, liberty, self-determination, and the pursuit of happiness” with a new system of socialized governance wrapped in the sheep’s clothing of “racial and financial equity, and Universal social and cultural inclusion.

The biggest problem with the theoretical Panacea slowly being inflicted on the Individual, and there are many, is that our God-given rights, as they were acknowledged and codified by the Founders, cannot peaceably coexist in any civilized society rooted in the premise that the highest ruling Authority is to be comprised of the fewest among us in possession of the greatest amount of wealth, power, influence, and control. Such a society is nothing more than an oligarchy comprised of smaller and routinely disparate groups of authoritarian tyrannies that aren’t interested in making America better… They want to “own” America as if it’s some sort of “thing” that can be possessed and manipulated, somehow, for personal gain or self-enrichment. This arrangement, by any number of different names, has been tried and ultimately failed each and every time because, sooner or later, the inherent Free Will of humankind will sooner or later rise up and burn it to the ground.

Like fingerprints, each individual member of the Human race is unique. Likewise, is there no exact duplicate of our DNA when compared with the DNA of anyone else. And while each of us has some degree of shared or similar experience, our personal set of external influences and internal capacities to process and store these ultimately shapes and defines us and ultimately guides our words and our actions. Further, it can be fairly suggested that the “sum” of these parts comprises both our public self and our private self, and, as has been discussed, it’s when we dip our public-self toe in the icy cold waters of the human Collective ocean that we become more or less forced into surrendering some amount of our individual sovereignty in order to peaceably coexist with our fellow human beings as a functioning member of our chosen Collective.

The larger Collective, or the overall human race, likewise consists of constituent elements, each with its own unique traits and capacities. A variety of words can be used to quantify this concept, such as tribe, community, culture, sect, etc., and each of these conducts itself in accordance with its traditions and belief systems. And each of these evolved over time and as the generations die off and new ones come of age.

Faith, bestowed upon a Collective by its individual members, presupposes the idea that there is a common goal, toward which the collective is working, that will sustain and improve the condition of everyone. We have opinions, politically, about the elements of our modern Political Faith Triad, which will be coming up soon enough, but in the generic context we have put together here, it is important that we leave you with something that bears repeating as it relates to the outlier most negatively degrading the otherwise well-intentioned goal(s) – religious or otherwise – of the American Collective: The Nihilists.

The fairly benign definition of “Nihilist” suggests that such a person “believes in nothing,” but in the context of our Political Faith Triad, something is missing; our modern-day nihilists believe very much in one particular thing: themselves, and the higher value they believe should be bestowed upon them because of who they are, what they do, or the ways in which they presume to make the world a better place than it would otherwise be without them. To be sure, there is a serious dose of narcissism in this self-image, but it is the root cause of essentially every social, cultural, and dynastic collapse in the history of mankind.

As we have said, when the leadership of a Collective allows itself to be seduced by the right Nihilists and corrupted by it, slaking the thirst of their own personal ambition(s) to ends that countermand the imperative(s) of that collective, its collapse is inevitable. With this in mind, consider the bevy of seductions Nihilists lay at the feet of politicians, celebrities, professional athletes, lobbyists, and so on… And it is not too hard to see how easily the Nihilists strike their Devil’s bargain with weak and susceptible Collectivist leaders.

Today, the bought and paid-for ruling classes, in partnership with the politically malleable elements within American society, are surreptitiously fomenting fundamental transformative change, under the auspices of so-called “progress,” but the only beneficiaries of this transformation will be those who accumulate wealth and power over the rest of us and will only harm the “Individual” members of society.

Additionally, naked power grabs being what they routinely are, the redistribution of the sovereign Individual’s power into the hands of the Collective and its Nihilist cohorts will result in, first and foremost, the sinister perpetuation of half-truths and false narratives with respect to the political and socioeconomic living conditions of subgroups within the population and then dividing them up into smaller victim and protected entitlement classes before turning the rest of us against and between each other to fight it out on the streets or petition our infiltrated government for a redress of grievances.

Our bottom line here is that our well-enough corrupt representative body, infiltrated by power-hungry Collectivists and Nihilists whose primary objective is to dismantle the sovereignty of the Individual, stands poised to subjugate and enslave us more under their “Progressive” tyrannical rule. Perhaps this will come to pass, but also possible is the chance that the Individual will rediscover where his or her faith – spiritual and political – should be rightly endowed before it’s too late.

Postscript

The Founding Fathers had a far greater understanding of, and respect for, human nature than effectively every political class that followed theirs, and one need look no farther than the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence for proof of this claim:

“all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

These words were written by a conquered people declaring their rebellion against their conqueror, making it clear they were no longer willing to be subjugated and enslaved under the tyranny of a monarch. And while rebellion is certainly nothing new in Humankind’s shared experience, the purpose of it, historically, had always been to throw off the chains of bondage. Today’s leadership class is working to completely flip that script; rebellion today is being waged against a Free People, in every aspect of their lives, trying to suppress their rights and freedoms, for the singular purpose of putting those chains of bondage back around our throats as we are being assured it is for our own good.

They have successfully divided us into small, more easily conquered subgroups within our society, pitting each of us against the other. They have usurped and bastardized our language and weaponized any misuse of it while declaring themselves the final arbiters in making that determination. They have destroyed the family unit, marginalized religious faith, and displaced meritocracy, replacing it with “equity” (which is nothing more than an alternate racialization of society). They have redefined gender, disrupting the natural reproductive process, injected sexuality into the lifeblood of childhood innocence, and desecrated the sanctity of unborn human life. Perhaps worst of all, they have normalized violence but separated it out into two categories- righteous and anti-government – and are hard at work disarming the latter while enabling and perpetuating the former. And just to be sure they have constrained us sufficiently, they are more or less in control of who can talk about these things out loud and who must be silenced by any means.

Rather than an affirmative statement to close, I will leave you with what some would consider a rhetorical question that others might consider premonitory:

Assuming our species isn’t wiped out because of a nuclear conflagration driven by maniacal vanities and self-indulgences, will our evolutionary trajectory toward a universally psychopathic species result, five Millennia hence, in a global population of Master stewards of the planet or a collection of ignorantly self-righteous exterminators of everything on it?

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