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Response to "Capitalists And Other Psychopaths"

Updated on August 28, 2012

Response to a Progressive’s Propaganda

If you have not read “Capitalists And Other Psychopaths” by William Deresiewicz in this weekend’s (Sunday, May 13, 2012) New York Times weekend paper, please do so at your earliest convenience; it is a great example of the proverbial psychoanalytic shadow that liberals like to avoid seeing in themselves and projecting onto others, particularly Christians.

The article exposes a basic error in liberal thinking, which is that “capitalism is predicated on bad behavior.” He then goes on to cite types of commercial crime that in his view define the capitalist as a “psychopath,” which is defined as one lacking in empathy and filled with narcissism and impulsivity.

But what of the vast capitalistic system in the United States that is based on the profit motive which has created the most prosperity for the most in the history of the world and created the possibility of scientists, artists and others (non-capitalists whom he lauds) to prosper as well? Capitalism’s success in providing the most goods and services people want and making them available to more people than any other system is unrivaled. Socialism in contrast is a dismal failure.

Moreover, psychopaths love to manipulate people for power, which manipulation socialism exploits to control people; capitalism does not.

Criminal behavior in the capitalistic system is not because of capitalism; it is found in every human endeavor. Capitalism itself is to produce goods and services that most people want at a price most people can afford. It has been more successful in doing that and in creating wealth, not just for the capitalist, but for everyone. Bad behavior, on the other hand, is found even among those who Mr. Deresiewicz writes about as “good,” those scientists, artists and scholars as having as much brains as entrepreneurs, as if their choice of vocation somehow makes them good or better persons. However, we have found increasing amounts of fraud among scientists in their research, writing and self-promotion. The NY Times itself published an article on the many “scientific” studies in recent years whose results have been manipulated or falsified. Scholars have their problems too in plagiarism, defamation and outright falsifications.

This article is leftist propaganda in its purest form. Take this sentence, for example, in its first paragraph. “A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are ‘clinical psychopaths,’ exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.’ (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.”

First of all, I don’t know what study William Deresiewicz (the article’s author) is talking about with regard to psychopaths, but it was also in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine (enclosed within the same paper as his article) an expose on psychopathic children (Trouble, Age 9) that put the psychopathic population at 1 percent of the entire population (which he admits) and stating also that psychopaths “…but constitute roughly 15 to 25 percent of the offenders in prison who are responsible for a disproportionate number of brutal crimes and murders.” The article did go on to mention “some financiers” and “business people” possessing psychopathic tendencies, already configured within the 1 percent total psychopathic population, but mention of Wall Street containing 10 percent of the psychopathic population was disproportionate to the study just mentioned and, quite frankly, out of the ballpark, however inconvenient this might be to Mr. Deresiewicz’ exaggeration of the facts.

Mr. Deresewicz is also mistaken that Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian values. On the contrary Christianity concerns itself with spiritual matters, totally and exclusively within the heart of the individual, and the interests of others in spiritual matters as well. And, like capitalism, which allows for a person to choose whom he will service of his own “free will,” Christianity never demands conformity from individuals, thus insulating them from an attack of unfair judgment or “manipulation.” It is, after all, the “love of money” that is at the root of all evil, not money itself. Mr. Deresewicz is obviously maligning Christianity with a “love of money” or “love of profit” philosophy that is totally contrary and antithetical to Christian teachings on the subject, which has the added consequence of maligning Christians in his article to the level of “psychopaths” if one cares to connect the dots in his logic.

He goes on:

“Like Christian ethics, the principles of republican government require us to consider the interests of others. Capitalism, which entails the single-minded pursuit of profit, would have us believe that it’s every man for himself.” Obviously, since Mr. Deresewicz’ postulation of Christian values has many flaws both in his interpretation of Christianity, it is no surprise he feels compelled to malign capitalism, admitting, of course, that he believes the two are contingent upon the other. Capitalism, unfortunately, does permit “pursuit of profit,” but at least for the last 100 years and up to the last decade, most people yearned to “be somebody” and do something they enjoy, more than merely profit, which capitalism not only allows, but because of the “free will” inherent in its philosophy, encourages people to do.

Capitalism, like Christianity, allows one to decide with his own heart and conscience whether he or she is going after profit, or going after a fulfillment far less shallow and barren than one who lives for profit only. Freedom in a republic allows for the individual to choose the road he travels, and capitalism (especially with an unemployment rate of 5 percent), when it is allowed to operate, provides the “revenue” to cushion the fall when he or she messes up. What other government system on earth comes close to this efficiency? Although no system is perfect, capitalism gives us one thing for sure: recognition that there are two kinds of people in the world: those that want to control others and those that do not want to be controlled – and the power to avoid the former. Like a psychopath, socialism does not.

However, if we imagine Mr. Deresewicz assumptions to be true, then it would also follow as true that any person, whether wealthy or not, who lusts after profit only – without love of other persons or any other meaningful purpose in his or her life except to control others – or who lives life totally envious and jealous of those who have money – is also greedy and wanton as any individual on Wall Street (if we accept his premise as true), which may account for the 25 percent defined as “psychopathic” within the prison system in the study heretofore mentioned (the true study, I mean).

Rather, this article stinks more of anti-Christianity then smells of anti-capitalism, being for the fact that Christianity and capitalism spring from the same root and, although hidden between the article’s rhetoric, purposely associates Christianity, and thus Christians, with wealth that he attaches in one fell sweep to people possessed with lack of empathy and “unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.” Clearly, therefore, it is not capitalists who are psychopaths, but the “anti-capitalists” who are more like psychopaths if we are true to the definition of “psychopath”; but I, for one, will not stoop so low to say a socialist is psychopathic, only that a socialist agenda would fulfill a psychopathic need to manipulate and control others, while a capitalist agenda would not.


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