The first sentence in Steve Taylor's book, 'The Fall'1, reads 'For the last 6,000 years, human beings have been suffering from a kind of collective psychosis. For almost all of recorded history human beings have been -- at least to some degree -- insane.'
Through much of recorded history it has been accepted as normal that, periodically, large groups of men should meet and hack each other to pieces. This was the method of choice for resolving disputes. In the last few hundred years, with the aid of science, our capacity for killing other members of our species has been accelerating way beyond reason. It has now reached an apogee. We are at the end of the process. We can now, in a few hours, incinerate every human being in existence. What an accomplishment! What an epitaph! We have two thousand nuclear weapons held on hair-trigger alert, already mounted on board their missiles and ready to be launched at a moment's notice. This could happen at any time; perhaps when one of the nine nuclear states elects the ultimate psychopathic and/or narcissistic individual as their leader -- one who believes that a first strike will enable him to win a nuclear war and rule gloriously thereafter.
Ian Hughes is a physicist and psychologist. He has just written a book entitled 'Imperfect Design: How Our Psychology Threatens Our World'2. In the book he describes how psychologists and psychiatrists have recently identified three psychological disorders from which a small proportion of humans suffer. This psychologically diseased minority has tended to dominate the normal majority. The disorders can make the bearers a danger to the rest of us. And when such individuals get into power, with the destructive forces already referred to at their disposal, this danger could not be more acute and urgent. The disorders are Psychopathy, Paranoid Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Psychopaths lack the ability to empathize with others. They relate to people in a similar way to relating to things. Many psychopaths have demonstrated their ability to kill without conscience.
Narcissists suffer from the belief that only they are important and thus are unable to appreciate the concept of equality. They have a sense of entitlement. They are entitled to more wealth, more power, more of everything than everyone else.
Paranoid Personality Disorder sufferers live in fear. They are hyper-sensitive and see everything and everyone as a threat.
In his book Mr Hughes focuses on the mass killers of history -- Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Looking at what is happening in the world today it is very easy to see these disorders rife and threatening our survival right now.
Tragically, in our corporate culture the psychopaths have a home in organizations that embrace their own values. In his book 'The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power'3, Joel Bakan writes, 'The corporation's legally defined mandate is to pursue, relentlessly and without exception, its own self-interest, regardless of the often harmful consequences it might cause to others...,' and 'The corporation, after all, is deliberately designed to be a psychopath: purely self-interested, incapable of concern for others, amoral, and without conscience.' Psychopaths can fight their way to the top of corporations without experiencing the restraints of conscience felt by others. Without conscience they ruthlessly increase their wealth by releasing every last ton of carbon dioxide, in profiting from every available borehole or fracking site. Without conscience they can manufacture massive amounts of weapons and distribute them round the world. Without conscience they can cut down the rain forests, deplete and poison the oceans, and impoverish the soil. They justify all this with intelligence-insulting arguments like 'If we did not do it someone else would,' 'It is our duty to maximize the profits for our shareholders,' 'One government/corporation/minister can do nothing unless all others act simultaneously,' 'Science will find some way of making everything OK.' The UK government is spreading the power of corporations by its obsessive privatization policy.
And the government itself in many instances exhibits psychologically dysfunctional behaviour.
The most dire example of all this keeps us all in a state of conscious or unconscious dread. The existence and deployment of nuclear weapons keep the survival of the human race on a knife edge. This is not rational behavior. It brings to mind Sigmund Freud's opinion that man has a tendency to mass suicide (a death wish). In his 2006 White Paper4 the then Prime Minister Blair wrote that we need an arsenal of nuclear weapons because no one knows what the future will bring. Of course, we all know that no one knows what the future will bring. That is the human condition. But most of us do not wish to prepare for the incineration of millions of fellow human beings to make us feel 'secure'. This sounds as extreme as paranoia can get. The United States' leaders have a vastly bigger nuclear arsenal than the British power elite. In a time of relative peace they have the most powerful armed forces ever devised. Their military posture involves being able to fight two wars simultaneously and to have the capacity to quickly strike in any part of the world. Militarily their goal is 'Full Spectrum Dominance'. Paranoia. Nuclear states have tested 15-megaton and even 50-megaton5 nuclear weapons. These are one thousand times and over three thousand times more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb, which killed one hundred and forty thousand people and wiped out a large town. What sort of people feel so insecure and paranoid that they think they need the option of such weapons?
At the same time as suffering from extreme paranoia the US leaders have an attitude of 'exceptionalism'. They have a 'manifest destiny'. They invade and attack other parts of the world at will (provided these are parts of the world that are unable to effectively fight back). The believe that they can do this 'by right'. Narcissism. The narcissism of the leaders of the nuclear states takes many forms. Switzerland has no nuclear weapons but its government has built nuclear shelters for all its citizens. The US government decided not to build nuclear shelters for its citizens and then went on to spend more on building them exclusively for the government than it spent on all variety of needs and services for the rest of us.6
Kurt Nimmo edits and writes for Infowars.com, billed as the home of the number-one Internet News Show in the World. He writes,
"In America, the criminally insane rule and the rest of us, or the vast majority of the rest of us, either do not care, do not know, or are distracted and properly brainwashed into acquiescence." [my emphasis]
Michael Portillo was UK Defense Secretary of state from 1995 to 1997. He says,
"I think [the UK nuclear arsenal] ... is neither independent, nor is it any kind of deterrent because we face enemies like the Taliban and al-Qaeda, who cannot be deterred by nuclear weapons. It is a tremendous waste of money and is done entirely for reasons of national prestige." [my emphasis]
For 'national prestige' read 'bloating the egos of the power elite'. The leaders of the nuclear states put all other states at risk as well as their own people. This is done to enhance the leaders' sense of their own power. Could narcissism become more extreme; more out of control and terrifying? We need to learn about the psychology of such people so that we can keep them out of power. Carl Jung warned, 'We need more understanding of human nature... we are the origin of all coming evil.' And as Victor Gollantz wrote, nuclear weapons are 'pure, unqualified evil'.