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An intelligent mind rails against dividing humanity into starkly-defined moral groups, but sometimes in the course of politics a stark choice resolves out of ambiguity.  We have reached such a point in American politics, with one group wanting to address the entire spectrum of viewpoint and philosophy, but being obstructed and demonized at every turn by an increasingly violent and hateful minority who defines all morality and civilization since the dawn of literacy as "Socialism."  We like to think they're just exaggerating their views because they're idiots and assholes, but I think the truth is more disheartening - they're being completely honest and comprehensive about their opinions.  They see the very idea of human society as The Enemy, and on some basic level want to reduce all life back to some kind of primordial chaos where it's all against all - pure, thoughtless instinct and predatory violence.  We can call this viewpoint Sociopathism: The political ideology of nihilism, cruelty, and anti-humanity, and currently the moral framework of the Republican Party.

We can explain to people who support Sociopathism that their ideas don't work, that they are hypocritical, that they demand access to programs they're constantly demonizing in the abstract, but none of this really matters because there is no intellectual basis to the Sociopathic mind: The dysfunction that causes it is primal, and the politics that follow from it are just attempts to excuse and rationalize it.  People who suffer from this condition - and "suffer" is a dubious term for it, since their view of themselves tends to be impervious to any sort of moral self-judgment - are instinctively sickened by even the concept of mutual benefit, compassion, or equality, and have a term for all benevolent thought that disgusts them: Socialism.

This is not the Socialism you learned in political science - what they're talking about has nothing to do with the specific economic system where governments own and operate the factors of production.  They're talking about the underlying moral framework where human beings acknowledge that they owe each other something, which underlies every form of government and economy other than the unwritten, implicit private power of violent feudal chaos.  Everything other than totally consequence-free violence occurring in perpetuity without any semblance of moral or political restraint is, to this way of thinking, a form of oppression, and they connect all such possible systems together under the aegis of "Socialism" - because "social" is the term for every human interaction that goes beyond raw force.  Every form of sexuality other than rape; every form of acquisition other than theft; every form of employment other than slavery; every form of free group relationship other than total war represents "socializing," and the Sociopathic mind considers this to be the root of all evil and the former states to be "pure" and "innocent."

Now, if this sounds like fascism, you're not far off the mark - but even fascism is too organized, too rationalized for this mindset to fully trust.  A fascist deprecates the individual not in service to common humanity, but in service to their race/culture while treating other races and cultures as subhuman prey.  So fascism could be thought of as "Group Sociopathism" - people whose ability to relate to others extends a certain distance but then suddenly disappears at a certain level of distinction, be it race, religion, or some other aspect.  But at least in terms of how they go about benefiting their own group, fascists are conditionally rational - for instance, they would not tear up their own roads and pour antibiotics into the gutter on the grounds that these things are some kind of conspiracy to make them weak.

But in its most atomized, basic form, Sociopathism is not even capable of a group survival imperative: This, and not just common corruption or irresponsibility, is what is at heart behind climate denial and other anti-science nuttery that shrieks in the face of plain fact.  It isn't that they don't believe human beings are endangering our common survival - it's that they consider the very concept of common survival to be a violation.  The very idea that their fate could be tied to the fate of people they despise and victimize is offensive to them, and from their way of seeing things, invalidates their most basic nature and instinct.  If everything is connected, then there is nothing more futile, more ridiculous, and more doomed than a predator, and everything they feel and believe because of what they are must be dismissed as a flaw in the fabric of nature destined to dissipate away.  

No one wants to believe this about themselves, and even someone who was brought to believe it still wouldn't do anything about it.  If the shoe were on the other foot and they could prove to us that compassion, decency, truth, democracy - everything that underpins who we are - is irretrievably flawed and doomed to fail, none of us would surrender the time we had to experience them and choose to be conservatives instead, regardless of what destiny supposedly had in store for us.  We would simply decide that we are better than the universe that spawned us, and hold to what decency we could, for as long as we could.  The reason is that this goes to basic motivational definitions: An intrinsic good needs no justifying ends, and an intrinsic evil cannot have any.  People can't have perfect knowledge of their own motivations, so there is plenty of wiggle room in this picture, but within a given context nature defines our choices.

And the people who run the Republican Party have pretty much the same attitude in the opposite direction, though far less articulate: Their instinct is predatory and selfish.  They do not agree, and cannot comprehend, that any other living thing is as worthy of survival and happiness as they are.  They do not consider you equal, and do not believe in any such thing as humanity.  Their every feeling tells them so.  What most human beings consider the definition of evil, they consider the most fundamental truth - too basic and absolute for any intellectual argument or appeal to principle to possibly penetrate.  And so even if you could prove to them that chasing that extra dime would doom them because of global warming, political instability, or crime, they simply would not care: They chase that dime with unfettered sexual urgency, and they will dive into the abyss screaming in orgasm while everyone else they're dragging down is screaming in terror.

This is why everywhere they control - everywhere that the word "Socialism" is spoken like an invocation against the devil - is increasingly dilapidated, poverty-stricken, weed-choked, violent, and ignorant.  They use the word to describe human civilization as a whole: When they call you a Socialist, they are saying "You care about other people, and consider them your equals.  You are weak.  You must be destroyed."  That is why they attack education and healthcare with the same moral determination that a sane person would attack the absence of these things - they are offended that someone who is not them has anything at all, let alone that governments are implicitly condoning the view that people are equal and owed the same opportunities.  It's not just a Simpsons episode - these people would literally deny you access to the Sun just out of spite, and feel like victims every moment that you share in it with them as equals.  

Listen to the fury with which these psychopaths condemn people who have nothing - it's the outrage of one whose very soul is being assaulted.  They cannot stand the fact that people who are weaker than them are even allowed to exist without their permission, let alone that they are compelled through taxation to offer them some paltry level of opportunity.  And the true insanity of these people is not that they believe their attitudes will produce a better world, it's that they don't even care whether or not that happens - power and violence without consequence is an end in itself to them, as justified and desirable to them if it resulted in human extinction as it would be if it brought about paradise.  This is why the culminating act of so many people who think like this is murder-suicide: When they are trapped, and have nothing left but to express who they are in the most honest way possible, they do exactly that - and exterminate every bit of life they can get their hands on.

So whenever someone invokes the word "Socialism" in that belligerent, moronic, conversation-ending way conservatives now do almost on a minute-to-minute basis, you know how to describe them: Sociopaths.  And you know what they're preaching: Sociopathism - the total dissolution of all morality, society, and human civilization.  "Nihilism," "anarchism," etc. are merely technical terms, and miss the basic the human motivations that underly them.  You also know what future they're offering, because the murder-suicide massacres we see from time to time are the purest expression of the conservative mentality as it now exists in this country.  Ironically, even though conservatives aren't self-aware enough to be capable of explaining it, they hit the button when they describe law-based society and democracy as "socialism" because these things are indeed consequences of human beings relating on some level more advanced than violence.  

But so far we haven't articulated the other side of the coin, and that is that the opposite of Socialism is not capitalism; or plutocracy; or feudalism; or any of these other highly specific and intellectually-quibbling terms.  The real term, encapsulating the essence of the alternative viewpoint - as depressingly simple and banal as it is - is just Sociopathism: The ideology of total denial of common humanity, morality, and the logical consequences of actions.  For all the constellation of other neurotic attitudes, idiotic opinions, and ignorant beliefs that surround Republican politics, this is its driving force - its anima.  They will have tenfold revenge on the world for every minor inconvenience and irritation they suffer in life, even if "suffering" to them means Daddy bought them a Porsche instead of a Ferrari.  

So now you know what to say whenever one of these degenerate animals comes at you with "Socialism," thinking they're saying something profound: Tell them "Yes, I support human society.  Sorry to hear you're a sociopath who hates every living thing but yourself."  They weren't interested in a real conversation to begin with, so don't bother conceding complex realities in their favor that they will never appreciate or acknowledge.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've often considered (8+ / 0-)

    Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and Dick Cheney to be sociopaths or have sociopathic behavior.  There is an extreme lack of human spirit, to help, be kind, and love others  in their actions. I waffle as to whether it's a mental illness, or a choice - to be so self-centered selfish and self-absorbed. Thankfully there are more with a heart, than heartless, in this world. Thank you for bringing up the term and the subject.

    "When faced with darkness, be the light."

    by Leslie Salzillo on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:13:09 PM PST

    •  It's not necessary to hold that any given person (8+ / 0-)

      is clinically sociopathic to say that they support Sociopathism.  Hell, there are plenty of anti-social Socialists.  A big part of the problem is just a failure to apply human nurturing instincts that may be present on the immediate family level to bigger groups.  A lot of them know they're supposed to care about bigger groups and try to pretend they do, but fail miserably.  But some of them - an increasing proportion of Republicans - don't even know they're supposed to, and they're the ones who are basically WASP al qaeda.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:31:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sociopaths - aka Psychopaths - (5+ / 0-)

      ... are born without a conscience.  They operate from the reptilian part of the brain.  They live their lives that way.  They eventually die without a conscience.

      There is nothing one can do to change them, or give them a conscience, or make them develop a conscience; not medicine or prayers, and counseling/psychological analysis actually makes the higher functioning types worse because they learn new ways to manipulate people.  Nothing.  Period.  The sooner that FACT is accepted, the sooner one can go into self-protection mode and get the hell away from them.  See Dr. Robert D. Hare's books, for one source.

      Add Dumbya Bush to your list.  He was another one.  I never figured out why people called him "charming," but apparently he could fool a lot of people.  I always thought he was a rude ass, and when I found out he blew up frogs as a kid, I knew he'd been a psychopath-by-inclination from birth.

      The Sociopathology Troubadour is talking about has led our political "leaders" to be bullied or coerced or led into either acting like the most vile and self-centered egomaniacs..., or they are just letting their true colors shine forth since Dumbya got by with all kinds of crap and now they think they can, too.  Well, they have gotten by with torture and murder and not done anything to stop those who ordered torture and illegal wars.

      While they don't prescribe Fascism for themselves, they want us under the thumb of their absolute rule.  They're still in their charming phase, trying to talk us into letting them extort OUR money for their use..., soon they'll just take our Social Security Trust Fund and give it to their socialfuckstick friends at Casino Wall Street where they will promptly "lose" it into their private offshore accounts in the Caymans or wherever else in the world they can.  Most Congress Critters (of both political parties) have become fabulously wealthy since they entered the hallowed halls of Congress.  Ever notice that?  One of their new rules is that they can get by with insider trading now....

      Still, all those horrid pieces of legislation that took away our rights when Dumbya was installed....  How often have those unconstitutional laws been extended when they were supposed to expire a long time ago....?  OUR rights are gone and those unconstitutional laws have not been repealed, in case anyone hadn't noticed yet.

      They are WELL on their way to instituting absolute Fascism for us common peons, getting religions to help them by conditioning them to following or browbeating the rest of us into following..., and worse:  NO ONE is stopping them...!!!

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
      -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.
      -- Benito Mussolini

      Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.
      -- Benito Mussolini

      The history of saints is mainly the history of insane people.
      -- Benito Mussolini

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:07:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  FDR had them dead to rights. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JG in MD, isabelle hayes, NonnyO

        We do to, and I think the President does too, but he can't act on it without more support in the federal government.  So our practical focus must continue to be on Congress.  W did a good job improving it this past election, but we'll have to repeat that success multiple times before we begin to get rigorous change - all while holding on to the White House after 1916.

        In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

        by Troubadour on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:15:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If we do not get corporations OUT... (0+ / 0-)

          ... of government BEFORE the end of Obama's second term, there will only be more in the administration after him.  That means ending "Obamacare" and switching to everyone to Medicare, as well as switching Medicare Part D (prescriptions) to Medicare instead of private insurance.

          Think of the new jobs that could be created right here in the US just to handle the paperwork, not to mention the added taxes in the General Fund, FICA, and Medicare from the deductions from paychecks for the newly-employed people.  The stats numbers of all kinds would all improve.

          Ditto ending the daydreams of religious freaks, thanks to the 'office of faith-based initiatives' run out of the White House.  That unconstitutional piece of crap needs to be disbanded and dissolved.

          Obama is not the person to do all of that.


          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 02:15:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great title and term (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    (do you mean "moralism" where you have "oralism", perhaps?)

  •  When someone thinks we should not help each other (9+ / 0-)

    they can not claim to be member of a community, a society, a nation or a civilization.

    They are savages.

  •  Sociopathism. I like this term, gonna take it out (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, NonnyO, Egalitare, JG in MD

    for a spin & let you know how it feels.

    If you don't mind, I think I'm also going to appropriate your "Yes, I support human society.  Sorry to hear you're a sociopath who hates every living thing but yourself."  as well.  Hope you don't mind.

    :-)

    -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

    What is the sound of one hand clapping? Just listen!

    There are no luggage racks on hearses.

    by 84thProblem on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:33:48 PM PST

  •  Going Galt for Jesus (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, Troubadour

    ..goes beyond sociopathy.
    It's all semantics anyway - but that one's either just incredibly ignorant or plain psychopathic.

    Poor people have too much money and vote too often. Republican platform plank, 1980 - present

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:00:15 PM PST

  •  I just read a book on psychopathy (0+ / 0-)

    called 'The Wisdom of Psychopaths' by Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton.  He convincingly argues that a lot of people that we'd consider to be heroes, such as many firefighters and special forces, are also psychopaths.  Their care and connection to society is a rational and logical one rather than an emotional one, but they are not necessarily bad people.

    Dr. Dutton argues that psychopathy is something one is born with, but upbringing and environment play a huge role in how that person turns out and interacts with society.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:55:18 AM PST

  •  i like this very much: (0+ / 0-)

    "If...they could prove to us that compassion, decency, truth, democracy...is irretrievably flawed and doomed to fail, none of us would... choose to be conservatives instead....  We would simply decide that we are better than the universe that spawned us..."

    Exactly right.

    Thanks.

  •  Ethnocentric, Xenophobic, Randian Tribalism... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Randian paranoids with an "us versus them" mindset... and with each member secretly vying for status as the head "Me".

    It is a version of the bully and toady equation with the bully running a gang of ass kissers who each want to become the bully but are too afraid to do something about it so take the next best thing and bully those below them.

    There is no room in all of this to help anyone else unless it has a direct, fast payback to the user who bestows it.

    It can work in a gang, a tribe of raiders, a robber baron and his "knights", Klepto-corporations and their investors,  corrupt local governments and the hangers-on enabling them and beyond that this dysfunctional destructive formula can control whole countries but the harm it does to the majority means that it is unsustainable in the longer term and sows the seeds of its own collapse. But depending on all the variables in each situation that collapse can be very long and painful and equally the same for any recovery afterwords.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:35:41 AM PST

  •  Kudos on a well written piece.. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for putting together so well  a lot of what i  and i guess others have always felt to be the truth....

  •   (0+ / 0-)

    I can always count on Daily Kos blogs like this to remind me how absolutely hypocritical, condescending and self-centered the "progressive" folk are today.

    •  Feeding troll? (0+ / 0-)

      I sincerely hope I'm not feeding a troll here, but I'm genuinely curious as to how you read this piece as evincing hypocrisy, condescension, and self-centeredness.  What conveys that?

      The reason I ask, by the way, is that it seems to me that a common response of these kinds of sociopaths is their projection of their shortcomings on everyone else. They genuinely believe everyone is as corroded as they are, and therefore anyone who seems otherwise must be a hypocrite.  This presumption often leads to these kinds of childish public charges of hypocrisy in which they will point to a person's moral failing in order to dismiss that person's sincerity, worth or even basic humanity.  A classic version of this is how often some Fox blowhard points to a liberal's wealth (especially someone from Hollywood) to somehow prove that they cannot sincerely care about the suffering of people with less.  

      It also seems to me that this ilk find hypocrisy everywhere not only because they cannot see their own failings or weaknesses, but also because they authorize themselves to come to absolute judgment about others and, in that pursuit, use others' failings or flaws to again convince themselves of their comparative superiority (and, thus, coming full circle back to why they have a right to be "on top and in charge.")  I have several family members, all staunch conservatives, who behave this way:  somehow their ledger books always work out so that they are both victim and vindicator against those around them.  These people will hold a single mistake against you for decades and they get off on the pain their disdain and ostracism cause when they exact their punishment.  In other words, sadism is an ingredient here as well.

      So, in sincerity...

      What's your evidence?

      Or, are you merely providing further proof of the point?

  •  I think it's simpler than all that. (0+ / 0-)
    If the shoe were on the other foot and they could prove to us that compassion, decency, truth, democracy [...] is irretrievably flawed and doomed to fail, none of us would surrender the time we had to experience them and choose to be conservatives instead, regardless of what destiny supposedly had in store for us.  We would simply decide that we are better than the universe that spawned us, and hold to what decency we could, for as long as we could.
    Obviously this wasn't true enough to keep Ronald Reagan from becoming POTUS.  

    If you ask me, much will become clear if you consider that the overriding ideas that drive our society in the wake of the conservative reaction to the '60s are HIPPIES MUST LOSE and MONEY MUST WIN.  If the two come into conflict, MONEY MUST WIN has preference, but only just--and it doesn't happen that often.  Much of our problem stems from the fact that liberal culture in the wake of this reaction is rooted in "adapting" to it (very often clothed as "ironic subversion") rather than fighting it openly and/or carrying on with our own agenda.  The left-of-center Baby Boom coalition reacted very poorly to what happened in the '60s, and GenX reacted very poorly to the Baby Boomers' reaction.  GenX generally agrees that HIPPIES MUST LOSE, thereby validating the Reaganite critique.

    Conservative voters have been fed a constant drumbeat of fear of the Other from media centers in general, whether that be Hollywood, Madison Avenue, or rock'n'roll playing the Dangerous Rebel card.  None of this had to happen.  Fix that, and (along with our decreasingly leaden ecosystem) much will change.

    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

    by Panurge on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:26:49 PM PST

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