Somebody called 'aces' wrote a comment in OpEdNews about the Republican Party's ethics and asks the following:
"I worked in a prison for 21 years, as a correctional officer, counselor and classification officer. I had a difficult time understanding these people who would lie, steal, rape and murder. I am having the same problem with the neonuts. I just cannot understand them! What is their profound need to lie, rather than tell the truth? Why have they built this bubble to live in? Why is their sense of reality so different from mine?"
Good questions. Their behavior is hostile to society - antisocial actually. Can they all be mentally ill? I mean, are the Republicans mentally ill like the prisoners? Are all Republicans who buy into the neocon morality literally sick in some sense as we like to say so often?
I believe that people who live in the stratosphere of wealth and influence have a different code of ethics that they promulgate among us common people than the one that they live by themselves and teach their children, one which doesn't just tolerate what we would call antisocial behavior, but one which actually promotes it.
These aristocrats feel entitled and superior. They believe that the rest of us should be handled and herded, to optimize us for their needs. That means being docile, content and compliant. To accomplish this, they preach the common morality that we all recognize as the usual set of do's and don'ts for our culture: *do* tell the truth, *don't* steal, *do* volunteer, it's better to give than receive, try to see the positive in things, quench all anger, find the simple pleasures in life and be content with them, obey authority, and go to church. This, they tell us, is the secret to happiness, and that justice is coming in the afterworld.
People such as the Bushes and Cheneys don't believe any of that or that acting like that is desirable for themselves (or you, for that matter, either). They don't think that such rules apply to them. What they mean is that this is how *we* should behave. They give lip service to this common moral code, as if they agree that it applied to them as well, as if they weren't elitist and entitled to privilege. They give lip service in their speeches in support of common 'Americanisms' like, "All men are created equal" and "No man is above the law", but they don't believe it. Among themselves, they never think or say such things, and they mock and consider gullible those that do.
The aristocrats have a second code of "ethics" for themselves by which they make judgments about one another, and most adhere to it. Those that don't will be shunned and derided for that by their own, but not for violating the common moral code. That, I firmly believe, is considered to be a sucker morality by the blue bloods, one fit only for the unwashed masses.
Now plenty of we riff-raff also reject the common morality and fail to approach, or to even try to approach, those moral standards. But when *we* do so, unlike the aristocrats, we do so in defiance of the expectations of our peers, and as such, are considered somewhat antisocial, or in the extreme case, psychopathic. We call an ordinary person who is a chronic liar pathological. We label him a social deviate with a psychological malady classified in the DSM-III psychiatric manual. He is mentally ill because he is a social deviate who is deemed maladapted to his world, one where his peers have scorned his behavior and which is self-destructive. That is the sine qua non of mental illness: persistent maladaptive behavior at odds with societal expectation.
But is an aristocrat like Bush who lies every time his lips are moving technically mental ill? He knows that when he is dealing with then rabble, his peers expect him to lie profusely, to always say whatever is expedient, whatever is most helpful to him at the time without any regard for the truth. The elitists learn to lie shamelessly and without guilt or compunction to the rest of us. It's not considered a failing in that world. They only expect honesty between themselves privately. In fact, doing damage to yourself by telling the truth unnecessarily and just because it is the truth - what we would can common honesty - would be considered contemptibly stupid and disloyal to his class by his peers. These people who have a separate standard for themselves would never let on that they feel this way outside of their social stratum. They will always give lip service to the standard model of exemplary behavior because it serves them that we comply with it and believe that they do as well.
This is different from the pathological liar who is predisposed to lie for no reason. Consider Richard Nixon when he was first presented with the news that some underlings had been assigned to a burglary that had been bungled. Although he was technically responsible for all of his administration's actions, nobody believed that the President would have been aware in advance of such a low level operation and explicitly okayed it. All he needed to do was to acknowledge the break-in, act outraged and fire somebody. Yet, when confronted with the news of the Watergate burglary, being a pathological liar, he told a needless lie that cost him everything.
No, when a neocon lies, it's for a tactical or monetary gain, not because he can't resist lying. In fact, one way to distinguish an elitist liar from a pathological liar is that the elitist will tell the truth if it happens to be the most advantageous strategy when the pathological liar like Nixon lies anyway. The elitist is *willing* to tell a lie, whereas the Nixon type is just plain prone to lying, especially when feeling defensive. We can say that the culture of privilege antisocial with regard to the rest of us. But it's adherents are just conforming to *their* social teaching and pressures, one that is rational given their contemptible amorality and their subculture's selfish values.
Now, having said all of that, when we judge Bush, we apply the common standard to him even though he has been taught that those rules are for the peasantry. Accordingly, we call him (and the Republicans in general) social deviates and pathological liars, and we utilize language such as antisocial, self-destructive and maladaptive. We mistakenly think of Bush as someone from a family like ours, but richer, who somehow turned out bad. We assume that his parents, like ours, are disappointed or embarrassed that George turned out to be such a selfish liar. We attribute our values to them and assume that they would consider these traits character defects too.
But for the people of privilege, Bush and Cheney *are* well adapted to *their* world where it is socially accepted and even expected that they lie, cheat and steal in their business with the public wherever profitable. That's the way that they live every day: exploiting ordinary people with a lie. Certainly they must openly acknowledge these things amongst themselves, but just with a wink and a nod when addressing the rest of us.
All of this lying, stealing, cheating and lawlessness are business as usual for such people. They have had a dominant effect on American politics and thus American culture since the Reagan era began in 1980. Their ethics have begun seeping by example to the lower social strata, from the super-wealthy and super-powerful to the merely wealthy and powerful. So, when the blue bloods started stripping away governmental safeguards and protections against plundering the commonwealth, such as when they replaced the all of the heads of the watchdog agencies like the FDA and FEMA with do-nothing figureheads like 'heckuva-job-Brownie', for example, the message to the executive class was clear: it's OK to be greedy, it's safe and even admirable to steal, the ends justify the means, and people are just objects of expediency. This has become the ethical norm on Wall Street and is embodied in the fictional character Gordon Gekko.
There is even a body of philosophy to support these elitists, not the least of which are Machiavelli's 'The Prince' and Nietzsche's 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra', both of which acknowledge the existence of a privileged superman among men who could take what he wanted and should be encouraged to do so. Ayn Rand also wrote about the individual transcending the mediocrity of the mob and the inappropriateness of society limiting his reach.
In summary, the Republicans may be pathological with reapect to the standards of common decency that they have given us to the rest of us, but to which they do not hold themselves - but they are not social deviates in *their* own strata or with respect to the standards that they apply to themselves. Nor is the behavior maladaptive in their world.