Thursday, March 12, 2009

MAN-MADE GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Rise of the Malignant Narcissists

While science hotly debates the issue of Man-Made Global Warming, a separate, and this time indisputably man-made process, highly destructive of the planet and toxic to its inhabitants is taking place before our eyes. And for this mess, there should be no controversy at all about who is to blame--if one looks at the data.

If you go back to the Meltdown's beginnings at the end of the last century as Classical Values does, you can only come to one conclusion: that the whole financial mess proves capitalism doesn't work. When it is controlled by government.

The left would like to blame this global economic meltdown on capitalism, but I'm afraid that won't serve. What caused it is a vast Congressional-Industrial Complex where the know-it-all, do-gooder elitist leaders in Congress (a toxic mixture of "selfless" and "selfish" narcissists) conspired and colluded with the money-grubbing elitist leaders (selfish narcissists) in the business world to deviate from and otherwise ignore the fundamental laws of supply and demand (in order to enrich themselves while sanctimoniously insisting it was for the benefit of the disadvantaged); and to pretend that they could manipulate the market indefinitely without any adverse consequences.

You cannot ignore reality for very long without having to deal with the consequences.

Right now in the news we have excellent examples of what I mean by "sociopathic selflessness" (Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and many others) and "sociopathic selfishness" (Bernie Madoff and the CEO's and governing boards of looted companies that should be allowed to fail and their executives prosecuted). Often, malignant narcissists combine the qualities of both types, vascillating between the grandiosity characteristic of the malignantly selfish and the compassionate do-gooder of the malignantly selfless.

From that article:

In "The Narcissistic Synthesis", I proposed that the optimal synthesis of the two opposing ethical imperatives of the developing self--the Grandiose Self (GS) and the Idealized Object (IO) -- was Individualism, or as it is sometimes called, "Enlightened Self-Interest". The two ethical imperatives that derive from the GS and IO, and which form the dialectic are in the table below in red and blue:

The study of Ethics is concerned with the question of what constitutes ethical ( good) human behavior; as well as unethical (bad) human behavior.

Through Ethics, we are able to develop our values and take action in the real world to pursue those values. The study of Ethics answers such questions as: "Should I only pursue my own happiness?" or "Should I sacrifice myself for the greater good of others?"

These two questions are at the heart of the narcissistic dialectic in the area of Ethics, and they appear to be completely the opposite of each other. But somehow, a healthy individual must find a way to creatively synthesize an effective and life-affirming value system from both sides of that ethical dialectic.

It is not an exaggeration to say that most of human history has been a battle between forces which advocate one or the other of these two absolute ethical imperatives. The self-GS says unequivocally that I should always pursue my own happiness, regardless of its impact on others; while the self-IO demands that I always sacrifice myself for others and/or the "greater good"; or, that an individual's happiness is nothing compared to the happiness of others.

Individuals, as they go through life, often run head-on into this seeming dilemma; and if they do not find a way to resolve it within their psychological self they will forever bounce back and forth between what I have termed "sociopathic selfishness" and "sociopathic selflessness".

It is my contention that the adoption of either of the extreme ethical systems derived from the developing self will inevitably leads to disastrous consequences for both for the individual and for society, and is the cause of most human suffering. Both extremes represent a form of malignant narcissism with which our world is plagued.

The unopposed Grandiose Self gives rise to tyrants big and small; to megalomaniacal dictators and dictator wannabees; to unbelievable corporate greed and plundering; and to the typical criminal sociopath in all his/her glory. The damage that such individuals do in individual relationships, in business, in politics and in all spheres of human behavior, is well documented and appreciated in the world. Most children are abjured repeatedly never, never to be "selfish". To always consider others. Laws are set up to protect people from victimization at the hands of these unrestrained grandiose monsters, unable to see other people as distinct individuals separate from their own self. These "others" exist only as the means to achieving their own desires.

But far more menacing to humanity is the unrestrained IO, which has unlimited potential to cause human misery and death; and whose destructiveness we have seen dominate the 20th century. The countless dead bodies that are the direct result of this form of malignant narcissism are quickly forgotten because they died as some nations, religions, ideologies attempted to implement their IDEAL in the real world.

This second type of evil is more subtle, and it derives from the ethics of the IO side of the self. The IO also does not see other people as distinct individuals with needs and desires of their own, but only as fodder for the expression of an IDEAL; or as pawns for the wishes of a deified GS. People with this narcissistic defect completely reject the needs of the individual and enslave him or her to the service of their IDEAL. Eventually, the enslavement--whether religious or secular--snuffs out human ambition, confidence, energy, self-esteem, and life. These mindlessly malignant "do-gooders" -- like our Nobel Laureate mentioned at the start of this article-- do far more harm than good and their ideologies can lead to genocidal practices and unbelievable atrocities on a grand scale, all in the name of an IDEAL or GOD.

The malignant and sociopathic potential of both the GS and IO are inherent in the human species. They are flip sides of the same human coin, you see. One side cannot exist without the other. Either a way is found to synthesize the two, or an individual will forever flip-flop between them--coldly and viciously tyrannical toward all humans in pursuit of his own desires on the one hand; and on the other, coldly and viciously determined no matter what the cost in human lives and suffereing to implement his IDEAL in all human society.

We are always warned about the individual narcissitic sociopaths; but most people don't appreciate the sociopathic qualities of groups, religions, nations, and ideologies that demand all individuals sacrifice themselves for the good of the latest utopian ideal or some blood-thirsty god.

In our modern world, the Islamic Jihadists have perfected this ethical demand; and the suicide-bomber is the ultimate expression of their ethics. (see the post "Union With An Evil God" and "Narcissistic Rage and Awe" for more on this).

But they are not alone in their disregard and contempt for the individual, who they see as only existing to serve the IDEAL, or to bring about the utopia/paradise/caliphate/[insert fantasy delusion here].

Extremes of both the political left and the political right are also dominated by the malignant narcissism of the GS and the IO.

If we go back to our understanding of healthy narcissistic development, we appreciate that the GS and the IO in adults is a result of the failure of narcissistic synthesis. The developmental process that should lead to a healthy self is broken; or fractured; or poisoned....

So, how does the self, torn between these two potentially malignant outcomes resolve the conflicting ethical imperatives and come out whole and fully integrated?

The solution lies not in a compromise between the two extremes, but in a synthesis that creates a new and wholly unexpected perspective for the self. It is a synthesis that rejects the pathology of either extreme and recognizes that the individual self has worth; that the needs and desires of the Individual self are worth pursuing for their own sake; and that because of the affiliative nature of human beings that an individual can value another individual or individuals enough to sacrifice himself for that other person or persons when it is rational and necessary to do so.

One might say that true "selflessness" actually requires a healthy and whole self; and that contrary to common wisdom, when a psychologically mature individual chooses to sacrifice himself for someone or something, it simultaneously reflects a situation of true "selfishness" as well.

Further reading on this can be found in the following posts, if you're interested:

Narcissism & Society Parts I-III
The Narcissistic Dialectic
The Narcissistic Synthesis

Of course, malignant narcissists of both stripes will always exist in any society whether it is a democratic capitalist society or a collectivist centralized economy.

To the degree that the "selfless" do-gooder type has significant to unlimited political power to manipulate the market or economy for their "compassionate" and glorious utopian fantasies (and along the way, of course, to personally enrich themselves) then they become a real danger to the entire society. This type of malignant narcissist is the hallmark of the socialist/communist/collectivist society, and theoretically has less room to indulge their grandiose selves in a democracy. But not always, as the citizens of the U.S. have come to appreciate.

As for the money-grubbing CEO's like Madoff and others--laws always exist in free societies to prosecute them for the kind of fraud they perpetrate. Generally, those CEO's whose bad management and collusion with the above political narcissists are not rewarded with bailouts in free societies. No person or company is "too big" to fail. The ripple effects of the failure may be severe, but by allowing them to suffer the consequences of their idiocy, a free society will be taking out insurance against the bad behavior that led to it (i.e., they will encourage its extinction). "Madoffs" are not only found in capitalistic societies; they are part and parcel of the collectivist ones, too. But in the collectivist societies, they can make their best killings since they have the protection and encouragement of the political powers-that-be (who often are handsomely rewarded for that protection etc.). In the capitalistic societies, with a rule of law, the Madoffs eventually are exposed and go to jail. In the collectivist "utopias" they are the only ones who have any wealth, and they are the "ubermenschen" and rule along side with the political deities of the realm:
Leftist ideologues fear and despise capitalism and democracy because capitalism allows for the freedom and self expression of each individual, ideas that are anathema to leftist ideologues. Like the Nazis and Soviet communists before them, it is their vision and their vision only that is acceptable. Deviate even a bit and you become an ‘enemy of the state....’

The Nazis, Soviets and leftists share a common trait. In their goal to create an ubermensch and an ubermensch society, they had to become untermenschen, adopting racist, repressive tactics so as to promote and steamroll their agendas.

The free market is simply not capable of screwing up the entire economy without the devoted and unethical assistance from unrestrained and malignant politicians colluding with unethical and malignant businessmen, both of whom are insulated (for a while, at least) from the rule of law and from reality.

UPDATE: Here's a perfect example of the Congressional-Industrial Complex I'm talking about. Maxine Waters (D CA) is despicable for any number of reasons, but this just about takes the cake, don't you think?

No comments: