On self-interest, capitalism, and survival of the fittest – a reply to Clinton Callahan

Clinton Callahan’s words are in italics:

“One might ask if the weak point of our society has been our tolerance of psychopathic behavior? Our disbelief that someone could seem like an intelligent leader and still be acting deceptively on their own behalf without conscience? Or is it merely ignorance?”

The weak point is that psychopathic behavior is explained away – most commonly as “self-interest” – corporations explain away their actions as “profitable”. Individuals explain their actions as “feeding their family”. In this sense the mob boss, the CEO, and the factory worker have the same motivation.

In other words, self-interest is a justification for just about anything short of criminal. And since worshipers of self-interest write the laws in the first place, not a whole lot is criminal.

For example, because Americans need to “feed their families” much of the 3rd world is malnourished and dies of disease and starvation. This can either be called psychopathy or it can be called self-interest.

The secondary weak point is that a psychopathic system is one of centralized power and hence of controlled wealth. Thus it’s one that feeds greed – in a democratic system there isn’t much way to “get ahead”. In a criminal hierarchy it is possible to gain great wealth. It’s the same difference reflected in capitalism vs. socialism.

Here’s an example of capitalism at work – food speculators have recently murdered thousands of people, probably millions, by using the free market to buy up staple foodstuffs, restricting effective supply and increasing the price which poor people pay, thus restricting their consumption, leading to in many cases their death. If murder is criminal these speculators would either be behind bars or sentenced to the death penalty. But only *physical* murder is considered criminal (and not always such, depending on the degree of power of the murderer – GWB and the Neocons for example are immune from prosecution regardless of the death count) – ALL other forms of murder are quite acceptable, even lauded by such publications as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Economic murder such as was done and is being done by speculators is called “good business” or “survival of the fittest” or “profitable” or whatever term is used next week.

Bear in mind that under Darwin’s conception the definition of “fit” is “what survives”. That is to say, if you murder your neighbor and survive (get away with it) you are fit and your neighbor is unfit. Psychopaths are merely following Darwin’s logic.

Darwin introduced the conception of fitness as a competitive historical reality. That is to say, he who controls life and death controls fitness itself. “Fitness” is seen as a historical end-in-itself. Modern war in part is about defining who is “fit” for the rest of history.

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