Wednesday 15 June 2022

Only Psychopaths Need Apply ...

Here's a really telling piece of pop psycho-philosophy for our times. 

Who could she possibly mean?
It's Veronika Stepanova, a Russian online "psychologist" with a big youtube following, declaring that only a psychopath/sociopath (- ideally, a high-functioning one with a good IQ, natch -) is fitted to be a President.  Unfortunately I haven't got the direct link but you can view the relevant extract in this tweet.

In summary:  to be a good President, it takes someone with a pathological drive for power who can follow the necessary path of listening only to himself, and not the law, without conscience or guilt.  It's hardly a novel thesis: indeed, it's Nietzsche 1.01, The Will To Power, albeit expressed more artistically there.  Only such a man can become a Beethoven, a Caesar, a Napoleon who were certainly all complete shits.  Nietzsche included Goethe but I'm not sure that's as clear an example.  You can add your own favourites to the rollcall: many people put both Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson on the list, which (if that's right) goes to show it's a necessary characteristic but not a sufficient one.

(Ironically, it was of course Stepanova's compatriot Dostoevsky who gave us a compelling of the "maybe necessary, but not sufficient" aspect, in Crime and Punishment.)

It's also a view commonly held by many of our BTLers, who often include the sentiment that it's why they despise all politicians.  OK: but that still leaves a couple of key points to consider:

  • It ain't just politicians, is it?  It's great artists (per Nietzsche: consider Monet for example, another self-focused shit); business innovators (libel is libel and I'm sure we all have our nominees); scientists ... and so it goes on.
  • So - despise them or not: do we, actually, need them nonetheless?  Nietzsche, of course, didn't care about what "we" need, it was all art-for-art's-sake with him.  But George Bernard Shaw certainly thought we needed them: the hungry man had best follow the fat man, because fattie knows where the food is.
We are stuck with them!  Lamentably, there are those who merely think they are Napoleons - Raskolnikov, Johnson - and we are stuck with them, too.



Elby the Beserk said...

Great artists, I think, tend towards Narcissism rather than Sociopathy. Sure, there's a lot of overlap (and add in psychopaths on that Venn diagram as well) - however, a Narcissist that finds their supply in the adoration of those who love their muse will not cause the damage that a Putin can. Or, indeed, an Obama.

I'd flag Johnson as a Sociopath.

andrew said...

GBS has a way with words, but is wrong.
I would not follow the fat man (psychopath).
There is no reason to associate competance with being fat (even though i am both) or luck or any useful trait other than insane levels of self belief (which i have but in my case due to my immense competance is justified).

...however my insane level of self belief only applies to a very limited domain.

A politician is expected to be omnicompetant. It is this expectation - which is unfair, and probably has been since Newtons time (the last person to have read everything) which is at the root of the problem.

There is somethin in the human psyche that yearns for a strong man (or woman) who has the answer to all questions. We criticise the Chinese and Russians because their systems are structured to that end but currently we seem to be moving in the same direction with this expert in buffoonery and charlatinism.

Caeser Hēméra said...

Psychopathy, and indeed sociopathy, aren't problems on their own - it's what other personality defects get thrown in the mix.

And it's those other bits that tend to be their downfall, usually with as much collateral damage as they can manage, via malice, incompetence or just desperation.

andrew said...

In the long term any civilisation that is much more complex than a small town in the dark ages is doomed to fail if it depends on a "strong man"

As such the tory party is probably doomed unless it cuts off its infected head.

I think we have heard enough fom talking heads (gove) who knew at the time he was following a faulty leader

Anonymous said...

Where does Theresa May fit into this analysis?

andrew said...

I do not think May comfortably fits in anywhere (she looks awkward even with her husband), i know many despise her but the history books will put her down as an average person at a bad time and place.

E-K said...

It means cutting everything else out of your life. So of course there is some sociopathy involved.

Matt said...

Politicians get to power by being back-stabbing liars with drive. The same is true for C-suite level in business (where employees rather than the founders).

Talent is required for top level sports (Olympians, F1 drivers, Premier League footballers etc) as well as drive.

Talent is also required in the world of music as you have to display some level of talent otherwise it's just noise. Note even Punk/Metal etc bands have tunes/lyrics that people associate with. Drive to succeed isn't necessary to get an audience although needed to make serious money.

Talent is less of a requirement in the art world as total crap can be marketed as subjectively good to some poor deluded soul by a crooked art critic.

Innovators might have drive (Bezos) or be liars (Elizabeth Holmes).

Not sure what that tells us about needed some of these people.

Don Cox said...

Since Newton, to be omnicompetent you not only have to read everything (or at least very widely), you also have to have practical experience in the lab or on site. You can have specialist advisers, but you still need enough knowledge to spot when the advice is crazy.

Lysenko fooled Stalin because Stalin had no knowledge of science. Mao's backyard steelworks scheme was a disaster because he hadn't a clue about metallurgy (or much else really, except how to gain power).


Don Cox said...

"GBS has a way with words, but is wrong."

GBS was wrong about almost everything, but he was an entertaining character to have around. His reviews of concerts (collected as "Shaw on Music") are excellent.

I suppose Shaw, Wells, Belloc and Chesterton were the influencers of their day. All first rate as writers.


patently said...

Douglas Adams put it most clearly, I feel:

“The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

Don Cox said...

Harry Truman became President more or less by accident when Roosevelt died. He was one of the best Presidents in US history. Better than the ones who fought their way to the top.

He wasn't a shrinking violet -- he was a good strong campaigner, but he was never a power-mad megalomaniac. In any case, the US constitution is well equipped with checks and balances to limit the power of any President.

Other states may have weaker constitutions, or a megalomaniac like Khomeini or Lenin may pounce when the state is broken by a revolution.

A sure sign of disaster is a leader who changes the constitution, usually to abolish term limits. Blair was keen on constitutional innovations.


E-K said...

Degrees in PPE are no good in politics, just as degrees in Journalism are not actually any good for working in journalism nor Forensics degrees for working in Scenes of Crime departments, nor Criminology for being a police officer... nor a Chartered Inst Transport Adv Diploma in Logistics (my 'degree') in transport... it goes on...

Sobers said...

I have been saying for years no that we must stop the Eton/Oxford/PPE/Think tank wonk/Spad/MP conveyor belt. The sort of people who in their 20s want to be in power are the exact sort who should be kept away from it at all costs. So there should be lower age limit for standing for Parliament, 50 IMO. If aged 25 you are desperate for the trappings of power you aren't going to wait for 25 years before you can even step on the first rung of the ladder. You'll go off and do something else, and while some other poor organisation may have to suffer your narcissism and borderline psychopathy, at least the entire nation won't have to deal with them. And by the age of 50 you'll have forgotten all about the dreams of political power, but even if you haven't hopefully life will have dealt you some blows and taught you a few lessons, and you'd be a far better candidate for political power than the person you were aged 25. It would also stop the career politicians - the Corbyns of this world who have never done a real job in their lives. If you start at 50 (and you're unlikely to get a safe seat immediately) you have a 10-15 year political career, max, and even less anywhere near the top. Make politics something you do after another career, not a career in its own right.

This is my policy and I commend it to the House!

andrew said...

EK for pm.
Sobers for the ministry of saying no to the non experts.
BQ for the ministry of internal affairs (a job i covet).

dearieme said...

Of your list of madmen the only one I've known is Gordon Brown, decades ago. He didn't seem mad at the time. True he was obsessive about politics but he was an obviously able chap who had a pretty, intelligent, high-spirited girlfriend whom I took to be a good sign.

Anyway events were such that I effectively placed a bet on his becoming PM. In a party full of mutton-heads, crooks, and traitors his chances were surely good.

I suspect his soul withered when Blair beat him for the Labour leadership - Blair, whom he doubtless viewed as a dim wee chancer. Thereafter Gordon became a fit character for a Shakespearian tragedy; the bitterness of frustrated ambition and all that.

I still think he was a much worse Chancellor than a PM. I also think we should hang Blair - after a fair trial of course - but do not take that view of Gordon.

patently said...

>> Blair, whom he doubtless viewed as a dim wee chancer.

Now, I’ve never had a high opinion of Brown, but that has given me food for thought.

Timbo614 said...

We should look at our recent PMs or at least those sort of within our lifespan "greats". Those that do not seem to have been psychopaths.
Churchhill: Drinker, smoker, not at all honest or at the least straightforward definitely a politician but one with a deep understanding of what was needed from him, but not I think a psychopath.

Thatcher: A baker's daughter seemingly straightforward, determined - "The iron lady" but again not a psychopath.

I'm with Sobers - today's pols don't seem to know anything, have no "common sense", lack judgement, commitment to a ideal. It's all "opps cocked that up" and get promoted sideways.

Sometimes I just think "How stupid can you be yet get into these "high office" positions there are too many examples to bother quoting.

Johnson is not stupid, not a psychopath either but he falls into the lacking group.

I hope the UK is not stuck with these types forever...

Wildgoose said...

You used to need to be at least 27 to become a Magistrate. If you are not considered mature enough to enact the Law then you certainly aren't mature enough to create it.

Although, having checked, I see the minimum age of 27 was reduced to just 18 in 2004. Yet another one of bloody Blair's "reforms".

I agree with dearieme. That mass-murdering psychopath should be hanged. After a trial of course. It's not as if the result would be in any doubt.

E-K said...

... to be reduced to 16, if Labour get their way.


This pertains to my private life. Only for those who might want to read it. There is some odd stuff here, I warn you. It is unpleasant and personal but I need to write it here as a form of catharsis.

Good news amidst the family pain.

We now have one Dr S***** P*** BMChB MRes (Dist) in our family as of yesterday. Starts work on Black Wednesday (August 3rd) Off our backs at last... the money leeching bastard !!!

Alas I think that this was at the root of the events too.

I'm not going to let the family curse tinge the graduation with sadness. It was as though Dad (5 years deceased and lifelong coercive abuser - as lilith once saw herself) had left an IED set to go off exquisitely timed to destroy the moment.

Brother David had been plagued with "Dad's alive !" dreams (not alive in a happy way) recently.

I do not believe in the supernatural but we were raised to fear success. I honestly think that - on a sub-conscious level - David's helpless welfarist path had contrasted starkly with my own utter rejection of Dad's bullying and my own and my lad's successes. There was no joy in David's life. In playing the sick (to be weak as Dad wanted him to be) he became sick. He could not participate in all the normal, healthy social activities that make life worth living.

Here's a really weird thing.

A week before my brother's suicide (5th June) I woke in the night and startled my wife Paula shouting out very clearly "Why don't you do it yourself, you cunt !"

She laughed but it was no laughing matter.

I had been dreaming a fevered dream that I was trying to sleep in the spare room at Mum's and Dad was banging around in the loft above and I could not get a wink. Then there was a thump in the hallway and my son Dr S***** P*** BMChB, MRes (Dist) comes into the bedroom holding the bronze statue that resides there. He turned it over and written in white was "Kill Kev."

That's when I stormed out under the open loft and shouted out "Why don't you do it yourself, you cunt !"

The lack of sleep was David's. It was the sleep deprivation that killed him, not the depression and sleep deprivation was what I was made to feel.

Only a few weeks later there I was, trying to sleep in that same room after such a dreadful event.


E-K said...

I knew David was ill. We were all trying to help him, along with his doctor. I sensed that my denouement was coming and that David's decline seemed to be converging exquisitely with my family's crowning moment - the double graduation next month,the culmination of 10 years of sacrifices and effort and on my birthday which was at the beginning of my trip to France (the first time I've not had to work a birthday in decades.) Mum's 80th Birthday balloons were still up after I'd made the nine hour slog to get to the arse end of Lincs on news of David's suicide note and disappearance.

Dad was an evil man. For those who are in contact with me I can show you a video to prove it. It is truly shocking when you watch it with the hindsight of recent events. I cannot post it here because real names are linked to it.

I also have a mother, a wife, lifelong friends and other relatives who will testify the same. The man was a gaslighter, a coercive controller and evil personified. An aunt has just revealed to me that, on his death bed, he pressed his crucifix (he was a demented Christian fundamentalist with a 'direct line to God") to her forehead and said "May you get to heaven before me."

I cannot remember a time in my life when he wasn't estranged from some relative or other (including me) which meant that my Mum and brother was estranged too, "You don't get to see them if you treat me badly." He became more and more wicked the older he got and was especially spiteful on his death bed... a death which went on forever. David and I once joked that we'd found a cure for terminal prostate cancer. "Keith P***'* bile !"

When Mum dies Keith's ashes and his banjo are going straight to the refuse tip and I'm changing the family name.

(David's body hasn't been found but I also have a video which indicates strongly he did what his note said he was going to do and that he is dead.)

E-K said...

.... I was raised by the ultimate sociopath !

Anonymous said...

You did well to survive all that and turn out functional, E-K. Congrats to your son!

Anonymous said...

"Veronika Stepanova, a Russian online "psychologist""

*sigh* what happened to Irina Tumbelova, the Russian gymnast? Or Tora Bolokhov, the Russian weightlifter and gender transition specialist?

Anonymous said...

I believe Onatopp is a town in UKR.

Oh, having just checked, its 'Konotop'.

V.J. said...

Yes, psychopaths rule the world. BUT… it is only ONE part of the equation. Familiarize yourself with the theory of the 2 married pink elephants in the historical room ….

Who do you think goes to war and does the killing (mindless immoral soldiers)?

Who do you think murders and maims a massive amount of people with toxic Covid shots (mindless immoral doctors and nurses)?

Who do you think wears useless Covid masks (or puts them on their kids) (mindless immoral people)?

Who do you think uses life-destroying self-enslaving technologies such cell phones (mindless immoral people)?

Who do you think trusts, follows, obeys, votes for, and does the dirty work for the governing authorities (mindless immoral people)?

And on and on… there are TWO pink elephants and they are MARRIED.

Isn't it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole --- rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant and play victim like a little child?