Ascendence of Sociopaths in US Governance
by Doug Casey:
The Nanny State
Man lives and does business wherever he finds conditions most advantageous,
regardless of arbitrary borders. He's diversified globally, with
passports from multiple countries, assets in several jurisdictions
and his residence in yet another. He doesn't depend absolutely on
any country and regards all of them as competitors for his capital
Living as an
international man used to be just an interesting possibility. But
few Americans opted for it, since the US used to reward those who
settled in and put down roots. In fact, it rewarded them better
than any other country in the world, so there was nothing pressing
about becoming an international man.
however, and being rooted like a plant, at least if you have a choice,
is a suboptimal strategy for surviving and prospering. Throughout
history, almost every place has at some point become dangerous for
those who were stuck there. It may be America's turn.
For those who
can take up the life of an international man, it's no longer just
an interesting lifestyle decision. It has become, at a minimum,
an asset saver, and it could be a life saver. That said, I understand
the hesitation you may feel about taking action; pulling up one's
roots (or at least grafting some of them to a new location) can
be almost as traumatic to a man as to a vegetable.
As any intelligent
observer surveys the world's economic and political landscape, he
has to be disturbed even dismayed and a bit frightened
by the gravity and number of problems that mark the horizon. We're
confronted by economic depression, looming financial chaos, serious
currency inflation, onerous taxation, crippling regulation, developing
police states and, worst of all, the prospect of a major war. It
seems almost unbelievable that we are talking of the US which
historically has been the land of the free.
How did we
get here? An argument can be made that miscalculation, accident,
inattention and the like are why things go bad. Those elements do
have a role, but it is minor. Potential catastrophe across the board
can't be the result of happenstance. When things go wrong on a grand
scale, it's not just bad luck or inadvertence. It's because of serious
character flaws in one or many or even all of the
So is there
a root cause of all the problems I've cited? If we can find it,
it may tell us how we personally can best respond to the problems.
In this article,
I'm going to argue that the US government, in particular, is being
overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in
motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return.
In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that
it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore,
any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until
a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend
is that a certain class of people sociopaths are now
fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and
attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual
and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.
What does this
mean to the individual? It depends on your character. Are you the
kind of person who supports "my country right or wrong,"
as did most Germans in the 1930s and 1940s, or the kind who dodges
the duty to be a helpmate to murderers? The type of passenger who
goes down with the ship or the type who puts on his vest and looks
for a life boat? The type of individual who supports the merchants
who offer the fairest deal or the type who is gulled by splashy
What the ascendancy
of sociopaths means isn't an academic question. Throughout history,
the question has been a matter of life and death. That's one reason
America grew; every American (or any ex-colonial) has forebears
who confronted the issue and decided to uproot themselves to go
somewhere with better prospects. The losers were those who delayed
thinking about the question until the last minute.
I have often
described myself, and those I prefer to associate with, as gamma
rats. You may recall the ethologist's characterization of the social
interaction of rats as being between a few alpha rats and many beta
rats, the alpha rats being dominant and the beta rats submissive.
In addition, a small percentage are gamma rats that stake out prime
territory and mates, like the alphas, but are not interested in
dominating the betas. The people most inclined to leave for the
wide world outside and seek fortune elsewhere are typically gamma
You may be
thinking that what happened in places like Nazi Germany, the Soviet
Union, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia and scores of other countries
in recent history could not, for some reason, happen in the US.
Actually, there's no reason it won't at this point. All the institutions
that made America exceptional including a belief in capitalism,
individualism, self-reliance and the restraints of the Constitution
are now only historical artifacts.
On the other
hand, the distribution of sociopaths is completely uniform across
both space and time. Per capita, there were no more evil people
in Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, Mao's China, Amin's Uganda,
Ceausescu's Romania or Pol Pot's Cambodia than there are today in
the US. All you need is favorable conditions for them to bloom,
much as mushrooms do after a rainstorm.
for them in the US are becoming quite favorable. Have you ever wondered
where the 50,000 people employed by the TSA to inspect and degrade
you came from? Most of them are middle-aged. Did they have jobs
before they started doing something that any normal person would
consider demeaning? Most did, but they were attracted to
not repelled by a job where they wear a costume and abuse
their fellow citizens all day.
Few of them
can imagine that they're shepherding in a police state as they play
their roles in security theater. (A reinforced door on the pilots'
cabin is probably all that's actually needed, although the most
effective solution would be to hold each airline responsible for
its own security and for the harm done if it fails to protect passengers
and third parties.) But the 50,000 newly employed are exactly the
same type of people who joined the Gestapo eager to help
in the project of controlling everyone. Nobody was drafted into
on here is an instance of Pareto's Law. That's the 80-20 rule that
tells us, for example, that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your
salesmen or that 20% of the population are responsible for 80% of
As I see it,
80% of people are basically decent; their basic instincts are to
live by the Boy Scout virtues. 20% of people, however, are what
you might call potential trouble sources, inclined toward doing
the wrong thing when the opportunity presents itself. They might
now be shoe clerks, mailmen or waitresses they seem perfectly
benign in normal times. They play baseball on weekends and pet the
family dog. However, given the chance, they will sign up for the
Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, the TSA, Homeland Security or whatever.
Many are well intentioned but likely to favor force as the solution
to any problem.
But it doesn't
end there, because 20% of that 20% are really bad actors. They are
drawn to government and other positions where they can work their
will on other people and, because they're enthusiastic about government,
they rise to leadership positions. They remake the culture of the
organizations they run in their own image. Gradually, non-sociopaths
can no longer stand being there. They leave. Soon the whole barrel
is full of bad apples. That's what's happening today in the US.
It's a pity
that Bush, when he was in office, made such a big deal of evil.
He discredited the concept. He made Boobus americanus think
it only existed in a distant axis, in places like North Korea, Iraq
and Iran which were and still are irrelevant backwaters and
arbitrarily chosen enemies. Bush trivialized the concept of evil
and made it seem banal because he was such a fool. All the while
real evil, very immediate and powerful, was growing right around
him, and he lacked the awareness to see he was fertilizing it by
turning the US into a national security state after 9/11.
Now, I believe,
it's out of control. The US is already in a truly major depression
and on the edge of financial chaos and a currency meltdown. The
sociopaths in government will react by redoubling the pace toward
a police state domestically and starting a major war abroad. To
me, this is completely predictable. It's what sociopaths do.
There are seven
characteristics I can think of that define a sociopath, although
I'm sure the list could be extended.
completely lack a conscience or any capacity for real regret about
hurting people. Although they pretend the opposite.
put their own desires and wants on a totally different level from
those of other people. Their wants are incommensurate. They truly
believe their ends justify their means. Although they pretend
consider themselves superior to everyone else, because they aren't
burdened by the emotions and ethics others have they're
above all that. They're arrogant. Although they pretend the opposite.
never accept the slightest responsibility for anything that goes
wrong, even though they're responsible for almost everything that
goes wrong. You'll never hear a sincere apology from them.
have a lopsided notion of property rights. What's theirs is theirs,
and what's yours is theirs too. They therefore defend currency
inflation and taxation as good things.
usually pick the wrong target to attack. If they lose their wallet,
they kick the dog. If 16 Saudis fly planes into buildings, they
traffic in disturbing news, they love to pass on destructive rumors
and they'll falsify information to damage others.
The fact that
they're chronic, extremely convincing and even enthusiastic liars,
who often believe their own lies, means they aren't easy to spot,
because normal people naturally assume another person is telling
the truth. They rarely have handlebar mustaches or chortle like
Snidely Whiplash. Instead, they cultivate a social veneer or a mask
of sanity that diverts suspicion. You can rely on them to be "politically
correct" in public. How could a congressman or senator who
avidly supports charities possibly be a bad guy? They're expert
at using facades to disguise reality, and they feel no guilt about
are primarily, and sometimes exclusively, composed of sociopaths.
It's not just that they aren't normal human beings. They're barely
even human, a separate subspecies, differentiated by their psychological
qualities. A normal human can mate with them spiritually and psychologically
about as fruitfully as a modern human could mate physically with
a Neanderthal; it can be done, but the results won't be good.
It's a serious
problem when a society becomes highly politicized, as is now the
case in the US and Europe. In normal times, a sociopath stays under
the radar. Perhaps he'll commit a common crime when he thinks he
can get away with it, but social mores keep him reined in. However,
once the government changes its emphasis from protecting citizens
from force to initiating force with laws and taxes, those social
mores break down. Peer pressure, social approbation and moral opprobrium,
the forces that keep a healthy society orderly, are replaced by
regulations enforced by cops and funded by taxes. Sociopaths sense
this, start coming out of the woodwork and are drawn to the State
and its bureaucracies and regulatory agencies, where they can get
licensed and paid to do what they've always wanted to do.
It's very simple,
really. There are two ways people can relate to each other: voluntarily
or coercively. The government is pure coercion, and sociopaths are
drawn to its power and force.
of Americans will accept the situation for two reasons: One, they
have no philosophical anchor to keep them from being washed up onto
the rocks. They no longer have any real core beliefs, and most of
their opinions e.g., "We need national health care,"
"Our brave troops should fight evil over there so we don't
have to fight it over here," "The rich should pay their
fair share" are reactive and comforting. The whole point
of spin doctors is to produce comforting sound bites that elude
testing against reality. And, two, they've become too pampered and
comfortable, a nation of overfed losers, mooches and coasters who
like the status quo without wondering how long it can possibly last.
to blather about the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave when
reality TV and Walmart riots are much closer to the truth.
The majority of Americans are, of course, where the rot originates
the presidential candidates are spending millions taking
their pulse in surveys and polls and then regurgitating to them
what they seem to want to hear. Once a country buys into the idea
that an above-average, privileged lifestyle is everyone's minimum
due, when the fortunate few can lobby for special deals to rake
something off the table as they squeeze wealth out of others by
force, that country is on the decline. Lobbying and taxation rather
than production and innovation have never been able to sustain prosperity.
The wealth being squeezed took centuries to produce, but it is not
In that light,
it was interesting to hear Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican
nominee, speak about the lower, middle and upper classes
recently. Romney is an empty suit, only marginally better than the
last Republican nominee, the hostile and mildly demented John
McCain. In any event, Romney is right about the poor, in a way
there is a "safety net," now holding 50 million
people on Medicaid and 46 million on food stamps, among many other
supposed benefits. And he's right about the rich; there's no need
to worry about them at the moment at least until the revolution
starts. He claims to worry about the middle class, not that his
worries will do anything to help them. But he's right that the middle
class is where the problem lies. It's just a different kind of problem
than he thinks.
fall into an economic class because of their psychology and their
values. Each of the three classes has a characteristic psychological
profile. For the lower class, it's apathy. They have nothing, they're
ground down and they don't really care. They're not in the game,
and they aren't going to do anything; they're resigned to their
fate. For the upper class, it's greed and arrogance. They have everything,
and they think they deserve it whether they do or not. The
middle class at least in today's world is run by fear.
Fear that they're only a paycheck away from falling into the lower
class. Fear that they can't pay their debts or borrow more. Fear
that they don't have a realistic prospect of improving themselves.
is that fear is a negative, dangerous and potentially explosive
emotion. It can easily morph into anger and violence. Exactly where
it will lead is unpredictable, but it's not a good place. One thing
that exacerbates the situation is that all three classes now rely
on the government, albeit in different ways. Bankruptcy of the government
will affect them all drastically.
in charge, we could very well see the Milgram experiment reenacted
on a national scale. In the experiment, you may recall, researchers
asked members of the public to torture subjects (who, unbeknownst
to the people being recruited, were paid actors) with electric shocks,
all the way up to what they believed were lethal doses. Most of
them did as asked, after being assured that it was "all right"
and "necessary" by men in authority. The men in authority
today are mostly sociopaths.
issue worth thinking about is how you, as someone with libertarian
values, will manage in a future increasingly controlled by sociopaths.
My guess is poorly, unless you take action to insulate yourself.
That's because of the way almost all creatures are programmed by
nature. There's one imperative common to all of them: Survive! People
obviously want to do that as individuals. And as families. In fact,
they want all the groups that they're members of to survive, simply
because (everything else being equal) it should help them to survive
as individuals. So individual Marines want the Marine Corps to survive.
Individual Rotarians want the Rotary Club to prosper. Individual
Catholics leap to the defense of the Church of Rome.
individual Germans during World War II were, as has been asserted,
"willing executioners" they were supporting the
Reich for the same reasons the Marines, the Rotarians and the Catholics
support their groups. Except more so, because the Reich was under
attack from all sides. So of course they followed orders and turned
in their neighbors who seemed less than enthusiastic. Failing to
support the Reich even if they knew it had some rather unsavory
aspects seemed an invitation to invading armies to come and
rape their daughters, steal their property and probably kill them.
So of course the Germans closed ranks around their leaders, even
though everyone at the top was a sociopath. You can expect Americans
to do the same.
done so before, when the country was far less degraded. During the
War Between the States, even saying something against the war was
a criminal offense. The same was true during World War I. In World
War II, the Japanese were all put in concentration camps on groundless,
racially based suspicions of disloyalty. During the early years
of the Cold War, McCarthyism was rampant. The examples are legion
among humans, and the US was never an exception. It's even true
among chickens. If a bird has a feather out of place, the others
will peck at it, eventually killing it. That out-of-place feather
is deemed a badge of otherness announcing that its owner isn't part
of the group. Chicken Autre must die.
who tend to be more intelligent, better informed and very definitely
more independent than average, are going to be in a touchy situation
as the crisis deepens. Most aren't going to buy into the groupthink
that inevitably accompanies war and other major crises. As such,
they'll be seen as unreliable, even traitors. As Bush said, "If
you're not with us, you're against us." And, he might have
added, "the Constitution be damned." But of course that
document is no longer even given lip service; it's now a completely
It's very hard
for an individualist to keep his mouth shut when he sees these things
going on. But he'd better keep quiet, as even HL Mencken wisely
did during both world wars. In today's world, just keeping quiet
won't be enough; the national security state has an extensive, and
growing, file on everybody. They believe they know exactly what
your beliefs, desires, fears and associations are, or may be. What
we're now facing is likely to be more dangerous than past crises.
If you're wise, you'll relocate someplace where you're something
of an outsider and, by virtue of that fact, are allowed a measure
of eccentric opinion. That's why I spend an increasing amount of
time in Latin America. In truth, however, security is going
to be hard to find anywhere in the years to come. The most you can
hope for is to tilt the odds in your favor.
The best way
to do that is by diversifying your assets internationally. Allocating
your wealth into real assets. Linking up with sound, like-minded
people who share your values. And staying alert for the high-potential
speculations that inevitably arise during chaotic times.
piece that sadly fits in place for the fall of the US is its astounding
debt crisis. Those with the foresight to take advantage of the
shifting trends it triggers can not just survive, but thrive during
the challenging times ahead.
Casey (send him mail)
a best-selling author and chairman of Casey
Research, LLC., publishers of Casey’s
© 2012 Casey
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