The testimony of the CEOs from America's five leading oil companies before congress revealed their belief that the unit of survival is (solely) their organization. That is, the center of the universe is (literally) their corporation and industry and correspondingly that their importance both personally and corporately must not be questioned--they stand above it all. Senator Rockefeller's assessment that they are "out of touch" with those below them spoke to this (inflated) self-image. Moreover, threatening that unless the government (which in effect is the citizenry) gives us what we want we will leave speaks volumes about their self-image as overlords. Seeking to intimidate the society that you depend upon is not only parasitic--as we as society are being harmed--but is also evidence of misplaced importance.
Giving the attitude represented by this behavior more critical thought, it is clear that it isn't that the lords of corporatism--and we can include other panels CEOs from many other industries who testified before government committees--could be otherwise and chose to be as they are. It is not that they are evil persons it is just that each has not developed his/her personhood--each is developmentally stuck.
These corporate lords are incapable of being otherwise because it seems it is as far as they have developed as human beings. They are simply incapable of knowing, empathically feeling and understanding the perspective of others and acting responsibly. Apparently, walking in another's shoes and imagining being the other as a way to inform behavior is not within their capability.
Sadly for all of us, this capability is foundational to ethical and socially responsible decision-making. If this capability was present--it they had developed self-leadership--then in all likelihood the economic, environmental and social disasters caused by misguided corporate executives--most recently the 2008 great recession and the BP deep water oil explosion--would not have occurred, or at least to the severity that they had.
The unfortunate thing is not that they are incomplete human beings--we are all incomplete--it is they don't appear to be striving to become more of the human beings that they potentially are. Why? Likely they are far too consumed by their very own wealth and importance. They have swallowed whole the story that we are independent individuals whose purpose in life is to accumulate as much wealth as one can.
As individuals turn the focus of their attention toward amassing things they unavoidably lose touch with life itself. They become alienated from one's self and each other. As alienation increases, they lose all perspective on living as a human being, and with this loss, their ability to make morally sound decisions diminishes. Correspondingly, as this behavior becomes normative, people unknowingly become increasingly irresponsible--the antithesis of moral leadership .
We are not simply instrumental to each other's needs. The fact is that we need each other for more than the satisfaction of our material desires. We have a very deep interpenetrating responsibility to each other's unfolding, and therefore each of us is incomplete without each other. The nature of being human is an 'I-We' proposition wherein that each person has the simultaneous responsibilities to develop the 'I' and the 'We'. However if one is attached to the notion that the purpose in life is to accumulate as much material wealth for oneself as one can, then these individuals are incapable of understanding that society is not merely the source of one's material gain; that it is not about what's in it for 'Me'.
While the precepts of our economic system would have us believe otherwise (for the sake of maximizing our desire to consume) we are not mere cogs in the economic machinery and those in the executive suite are not our overlords. However as long as our society is a capitalistic democracy, the overlords of industry will have us be governed according to their self-serving interests--overly influencing the democratic process from elections to directing both policy and law/regulation--whereby common and collective voice and interests of the citizenry matters not.