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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/3/19

Capitalism's Psychopathic Core

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Lenin described imperialism as the highest form of capitalism
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There's no way around it. At the core of capitalism is the enabling of psychopaths.

Raw capitalism, the kind most economists advocate for, is based on unrestrained competition, without any limits or regulations.

Raw capitalism is based on a Hobbesian, law of the jungle, dog-eat-dog way of seeing the world. The problem is, that view is wrong. It is not the way humans evolved. It is not the way humans truly are. But it is the way psychopaths and narcissists function.

Humans evolved to function cooperatively, with connection consciousness-- aware of how their actions and behaviors affect the nature around them and the others in their lives. This is how humans evolved, over millions of years, as hunter-gatherers. Actually, it goes back even longer-- two hundred million years according to Nobel Prize winning primatologist, Frans de Waal, as I cite in my book, The Bottom-up Revolution:

"According to de Waal, moral fairness and caring are mediated or supported by empathy, and mammals and even birds show signs of empathy. As he explained, "Mammals evolved two hundred-million years ago, and, whether you are a female mouse or a female elephant, you need to react to your young. The thinking is that maternal care is actually the origin of empathic responses, because you need to be sen- sitive to the emotions of others if you want to raise them." There are also dozens of studies of rodent empathy, de Waal reports, which have shown that even rats and mice respond to the emotions of others and sometimes help others who are in a predicament."
Capitalism excludes empathy, fairness and morals from the economic equation. Defenders might argue that the market accepts psychopathic behavior, so it is the buyers, not capitalism that enable the profound manifestation of psychopathic behaviors through capitalism.

The problem is, capitalism has become dominated by corporations. Though the supreme court gave corporations the rights of personhood, corporations are, not human, and by design and nature, psychopathic, as Joel Bakan described in his book and movie, The Corporation.

So, we have a capitalist economic system, in 2019, that is dominated by corporations, which are designed to be psychopathic. What else could the current economic model of capitalism be, but predatory, callous, devoid of empathy, and uncaring, with the will to dominate and control.

I asked Bakan what effect his 2003 book and movie had produced. He replied,

"I have learned the project was a massive failure if measured from the perspective of trying to change the course that we sort of identified our society was on because our society has continued on that course and I think things have in many ways become worse. I mean, if worse is defined by corporations having a more substantial role in governing society then things have become worse because they do.

And they do in part because of the successful ideological move that the corporate sector and industry have made which is to convince, I think, a broad swath of public thinking, and certainly thinking among governments, that corporations are, in fact, benevolent. So, the central message of our film about the institutional character of corporations seems not to have much of an impact, at least on the broader society.

At the same time, and I am forever an optimist, I understand your show is based on an optimistic premise that our society is becoming more bottom up and at the same time I do remain optimistic that people, both individually and collectively, eventually can see through the ideological charades that are put before them. I think the Occupy movement was a great example of that.

I think a smaller movement here and there and increasing dissatisfaction with the way things are on main streets and small cities" I mean we are seeing indications in many different places and many different ways that the corporate agenda is starting to be seen for what it is and that people are starting to believe they need to do something about it. That is because I think it's related to some of what has happened since "The Corporation" film and book. There is a wide-spread view among economic and political elites that capitalism has triumphed and that we're at the end of history. That this is" we've tried socialism, we've tried all these other things, but now we have finally reached the system that is going to be with us for all time.

And, you know, that's" every sort of power system has basically conveyed the same idea. They always believe that they are there forever and for all time. And it is usually at that moment, when they are the most arrogant about their power that they are the most vulnerable and history shows that time and time again.

And in some ways I feel that corporate capitalism is at that moment. I don't know how or when things will unfold in a way that begins to substantially challenge it, but I do feel that it is on shaky ground even as it declares ultimate triumph."

I asked Bakan, "What do you see as answers to the psychopathic corporation and to corporate capitalism in the malignant form that you have described in your movie?" Bakan replied,

"Well, I think you know the short answer is democracy. I think it'll take a long time and much controversy to unpack exactly what that means, but if we look at how that question was answered going back to Roosevelt and the New Deal in the United States, they were asking the same question. And the answer they gave is we need to create a system and, yes, it had it's flaws and problems and it wasn't perfect, but we need to create a system that enables the public, the people, through their democratic institutions to basically hedge in, fence in, constrain, incentivize this institution to do less harm and do more good.

So accepting the premise that the corporation as an institution is particularly good at organizing large projects, whether it's building railways, or steam ships-as it was at the turn of the century when the corporation came into existence- or creating networks of computers, whatever it happens to be, let's just assume for the sake of argument it can do some things fairly well. So then the question is, and this was the question that was answered by Roosevelt: how much are we prepared to allow it to externalize its various costs on to society as it does these things that they supposedly do well?"

I did the interview with Bakan almost five years ago. I think things are worse, what with the Citizens United ruling and what will be four years of a profligate predatory capitalist Donald Trump and his enablers.

But still, I have hope. Our world is transitioning from a predominantly top-down to a more bottom-up way-- of thinking, relating, seeing being, doing and governing. This transition is even manifesting in changes in brain functioning of people born less than 40 years ago.

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Rob Kall Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet (more...)

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