Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes
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It is man’s fate to actively cooperate in giving shape to the fate of society by two principal means: forming his individual and family life within it, and becoming active in the sum total of social affairs based on his – hopefully sufficient – comprehension of what needs to be done, what ought to be done, and whether or not he can do it. This requires an individual to develop two somewhat overlapping areas of knowledge about things; his life depends on the quality of this development, as does his nation and humanity as a whole.
A psychologist’s view of society, even if based only on professional experience, always places the human individual in the foreground; it then widens the perspective to include small groups, such as families, and finally societies and humanity as whole. We must then accept from the outset that an individual’s fate is significantly dependent upon circumstance.
Only when we can understand a person in relation to his actual internal contents, not some substituted external label, can we help him along his path to proper adjustment to social life, which would be to his advantage and would also assist in the creation of a stable and creative structure of society.
Supported by a proper feel for, and understanding of, psychological qualities, such a structure would impart high social office to individuals possessing both full psychological normality, sufficient talent and specific preparation. The basic collective intelligence of the masses of people would then respect and support them.
However, there have always been “society pedagogues”, less outstanding but more numerous, who have become fascinated by their own great ideas, which might, sometimes, even be true, but are more often constricted or contain the taint of some hidden pathological thought processes. Such people have always striven to impose pedagogical methods which would impoverish and deform the development of individuals’ and societies’ psychological world view; they inflict permanent harm upon societies, depriving them of universally useful values. By claiming to act in the name of a more valuable idea, such pedagogues actually undermine the values they claim and open the door for destructive ideologies.
If various circumstances combine, including a given society’s deficient psychological worldview, individuals are forced to exercise functions which do not make full use of his or her talents.
Such an individual then feels cheated and inundated by duties, which prevent him from achieving self-realization. His thoughts wander from his duties into a world of fantasy, or into matters that are of greater interest to him; in his daydream world, he is what he should and deserves to be. Such a person always knows if his social and professional adjustment has taken a downward direction; at the same time, however, if he fails to develop a healthy critical faculty concerning the upper limits of his own talents, his daydreams may “fix on” an unfair world where “all you need is power”. Revolutionary and radical ideas find fertile soil among such people in downward social adaptations.
Another type of individual, on the other hand, may achieve an important post because they belong to privileged social groups or organizations in power while their talents and skills are not sufficient for their duties, especially the more difficult problems. Such persons then avoid the problematic and dedicate themselves to minor matters quite ostentatiously.
In the face of increasing pressures to perform at a level unattainable for them, and in fear of being discovered as incompetent, they begin to direct attacks against anyone with greater talent or skill, removing them from appropriate posts and playing an active role in degrading their social and professional adjustment.
Upwardly adjusted people thus favour whip-cracking, totalitarian governments, which would protect their positions.
The most numerous part of populations, whose talents are near average, generally accepts its modest social position in any country as long as the position fulfils the indispensable requirements of proper social adjustment and guarantees an equitable way of life no matter at what level of society the individual finds their proper fit.
The same people, however, will react with criticism, disrespect, and even contempt, whenever someone as average as themselves compensates for his deficiencies by flaunting an upwardly adjusted position. The judgments pronounced by this sphere of average but sensible people can often be highly accurate, which can and should be all the more remarkable if we take into account that said people could not possibly have had sufficient knowledge of many of the actual problems, be they scientific, technical, or economic.
An experienced politician can rarely assume that the difficulties in the areas of economics, defence, or international policy will be fully understood by his constituency.
The same politician should be conscious of the fact that society contains people who already carry the psychological results of social maladjustment.
Politicians should also be aware that in each society there are people whose basic intelligence, natural psychological worldview, and moral reasoning have developed improperly. *
These people and their networks participate in the genesis of that evil which spares no nation. This substructure gives birth to dreams of obtaining power and imposing one’s will upon society, and is quite often actually brought about in various countries, and during historical times as well.
Some countries with a non-homogeneous population manifest further factors which operate destructively upon the formation of social structure and the permanent developmental processes of a society’s psychological world view. Primarily among these are the racial, ethnic, and cultural differences existing in virtually every conquest-engendered nation. Memories of former sufferings and contempt for the vanquished continue to divide the population for centuries.
It thus behoves us to ask: Is good government possible?
It would appear, rather, that the best candidates for development are those countries whose populations number between ten and twenty million, and where personal bonds among citizens, and between citizens and their authorities, still safeguard correct psychological differentiation and natural relationships. Overly large countries should be divided into smaller organisms enjoying considerable autonomy, especially as regards cultural and economic matters; they could afford their citizens a feeling of homeland within which their personalities could develop and mature.
Society is not an organism subordinating every cell to the good of the whole; neither is it a colony of insects, where the collective instinct acts like a dictator. However, it should also avoid being a compendium of egocentric individuals linked purely by economic interests and legal and formal organizations.
In reality, many ostensibly contradictory interests, such as individual vs. collective or those of various social groups and substructures, could be reconciled if we could be guided by a sufficiently penetrating understanding of the good of man and society, and if we could overcome the operations of emotions as well as some more or less primitive doctrines. Such reconciliation, however, requires transferring the human and social problems in question to a higher level of understanding and acceptance of the natural laws of life.
After all, a whole series of countries is now dominated by conditions which have destroyed the structural forms worked out by history and replaced them with social systems inimical to creative functioning, systems which can only survive by means of force. We are thus confronted with a great construction project demanding wide-ranging and well-organized work. The earlier we undertake the job, the more time we will have to carry it out.
Every person in the span of his life, and particularly during childhood and youth, assimilates psychological material from others through mental resonance, identification, imitation, and other communicative means, thereupon transforming it to build his own personality and worldview. If such material is contaminated by pathological factors and deformities, personality development shall also be deformed. The product will be a person unable to understand correctly either himself and others, normal human relations and morals; he develops * into a person who commits evil acts with a poor feeling of being faulty. Is he really at fault?
For centuries, moralists have been advising us to develop ethics and human values; they have been searching for the proper intellectual criteria. They have also respected correctness of reasoning, whose value in this area is unquestionable. In spite of all their efforts, however, they have been unable to overcome the many kinds of evil that have scourged humanity for ages and that are presently taking on unheard-of proportions.
Many thoughtful persons keep asking the same anxious question: how could the German nation have chosen for a Fuehrer a clownish psychopath who made no bones about his pathological vision of superman rule? Under his leadership, Germany then unleashed a second criminal and politically absurd war. During the second half of this war, highly-trained army officers honourably performed inhuman orders, senseless from the political and military point of view, issued by a man whose psychological state corresponded to the routine criteria for being forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Ivan Pavlov comprehended all kinds of paranoid states in a manner similar to this functional model without being aware of this basic and primary cause. He nevertheless provided a vivid description of paranoid characters and the above-mentioned ease with which paranoid individuals suddenly tear away from factual discipline and proper thought-processes. Those readers of his work on the subject who are sufficiently familiar with Soviet conditions glean yet another historical meaning from his little book. Its intent appears obvious. The author dedicated his work, with no word of inscription, of course, to the chief model of a paranoid personality: the revolutionary leader Lenin, whom the scientist knew well. As a good psychologist, Pavlov could predict that he would not be the object of revenge, since the paranoid mind will block out the egocentric associations. He was thus able to die a natural death.
Lenin should nevertheless be included with the first and most characteristic kind of paranoid personality, i.e. most probably due to diencephalic brain damage. Vassily Grossman describes him more or less as follows (symptoms identified in brackets): Lenin was always tactful, gentle, and polite, [asthenization ] but simultaneously characterized by an excessively sharp, ruthless, and brutal attitude to political opponents [fixation and stereotypia]. He never allowed any possibility that they might be even minimally right, nor that he might be even minimally wrong [pathological egotism]. He would often call his opponents hucksters, lackeys, servant-boys, mercenaries, agents, or Judases bribed for thirty pieces of silver [paramoralisms]. He made no attempt to persuade his opponents during a dispute. He communicated not with them, but rather with those witnessing the dispute, in order to ridicule and compromise his adversaries [spellbinding and of consciousness and its effects]. Sometimes such witnesses were just a few people, sometimes thousands of delegates to a congress, sometimes millions worth throngs of newspaper readers [lack of the self-criticism].
In any society in this world, psychopathic individuals and some of the other deviant types create a ponerogenically active network of common collusions, partially estranged from the community of normal people.
One of the most disturbing things about psychopaths that normal people must deal with is the fact that they very early learn how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of those normal people, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of reaching their goals.
It is a common phenomenon for a ponerogenic association or group to contain a particular ideology, which always justifies its activities and furnishes motivational propaganda. *
If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive.
An ideology of a secondarily ponerogenic association is formed by gradual adaptation of the primary ideology to functions and goals other than the original formative ones.
The ideology of unions affected by such degeneration has certain constant factors regardless of their quality, quantity, or scope of action: namely, the motivations of a wronged group, radical righting of the wrong, and the higher values of the individuals who have joined the organization.
In the world full of real injustice and human humiliation, making it conducive to the formation of an ideology containing the above elements, a union of its converts may easily succumb to degradation.
The ideology of the proletariat, which aimed at revolutionary restructuring of the world, was already contaminated by a schizoid deficit in the understanding of, and trust for, human nature; small wonder, then, that it easily succumbed to process of typical degeneration in order to nourish and disguise a macrosocial phenomenon whose basic essence is completely different.
The greater and truer the original ideology, the longer it may be capable of nourishing and disguising from human criticism that phenomenon which is the product of the specific degenerative process. In a great and valuable ideology, the danger for small minds is hidden; they can become the factors of such preliminary degeneration, which opens the door to invasion by pathological factors.
When a ponerogenic process encompasses a society’s entire ruling class, or nation, or when opposition from normal people is stifled – as a result of the mass character of the phenomenon, or by using spellbinding means and physical compulsion, including censorship – we are dealing with a macrosocial ponerologic phenomenon.
Schizoid characters aim to impose their own conceptual world upon other people or social groups, using relatively controlled pathological egotism and the exceptional tenacity derived from their persistent nature. They are thus eventually able to overpower another individual’s personality, which causes the latter’s behavior to turn desperately illogical. They may also exert a similar influence upon the group of people they have joined. They are psychological loners who then begin to feel better in some human organization, wherein they become zealots for some ideology, religious bigots, materialists, or adherents of an ideology with satanic features. If their activities consist of direct contact on a small social scale, their acquaintances generally just consider them to be eccentric, which limits their ponerogenic role. However, if they manage to hide their own personality behind the written word, their influence may poison the minds of society on a wide scale and for a long time. The conviction that Karl Marx is the best example of this is correct, as he was the best-known figure of that kind. Frostig, a psychiatrist of the old school, included Engels and others into a category he called “bearded schizoidal fanatics”.
Humanists are prepared to understand that era and its legacy within categories characterized by their own traditions. They search for societal, ideational, and moral causes for known phenomena. Such an explanation, however, can never constitute the whole truth, since it ignores the biological factors, which participated in the genesis of the phenomena. Schizoidia is the most frequent factor, albeit not the only one. In spite of the fact that the writings of schizoidal authors contain the above described deficiency, or even an openly formulated schizoidal declaration which constitutes sufficient warning to specialists, the average reader accepts them not as a view of reality warped by this anomaly, but rather as an idea to which he should consider seriously based on his convictions and his reason. That is the first mistake.
The passage of time and bitter experience has unfortunately not prevented this characteristic misunderstanding born of schizoid nineteenth-century creativity, with Marx’s works at the fore, from affecting people and depriving them of their common sense.
It should be noted that a great ideology with mesmerizing values can also easily deprive people of the capacity for self-critical control over their behavior. The adherents of such ideas tend to lose sight of the fact that the means used, not just the end, will be decisive for the result of their activities. Whenever they reach for overly radical methods of action, still convinced that they are serving their idea, they are not aware that their goal has already changed. The principle “the end justifies the means” opens the door to a different kind of person for whom a great idea is useful for purposes of liberating themselves from the uncomfortable pressure of normal human custom. Every great ideology thus contains danger, especially for small minds. Therefore, every great social movement and its ideology can become a host upon which some pathocracy initiates its parasitic life.
If a nucleus of this macro-social pathological phenomenon already exists in the world, always cloaking its true quality behind an ideological mask of some political system, it irradiates into other nations via coded news difficult for normal people to understand, but easy to read for psychopathic individuals.
Whether directly or indirectly, i.e. by means of deviant “agents”, this call of pathocracy, once appropriately “decked-out”, reaches a significantly wider circle of people, including both individuals with various psychological deviations and those who are frustrated, deprived of the opportunity to earn an education and make use of their talents, physically or morally injured, or simply primitive. The scope of the response to this call may vary in proportion, but nowhere will it represent the majority.
Various nations’ different degrees of resistance to this activity depend upon many factors, such as prosperity and its equitable distribution, the society’s educational level (especially that of the poorer classes), the proportion of participation of individuals who are primitive or have various deviations, and the current phase of the hysteroidal cycle.
In countries just emerging from primeval conditions and lacking political experience, an appropriately elaborated revolutionary doctrine reaches its society’s autonomous substratum and finds people who treat it like ideational reality.
People who have become accustomed to revolutionary catchwords no longer watch to make sure that whoever expounds such an ideology is a truly sincere adherent, and not just someone using the mask of ideology to conceal other motives derived from his deviant personality.
Any war waged with psychological weapons costs only a fraction as much as classical warfare, but it does have a cost, especially when it is being waged simultaneously in many countries throughout the world.
Whenever a society contains serious social problems, there will also be some group of sensible people striving to improve the social situation by means of energetic reforms, so as to eliminate the cause of social tension.
Such reformers and moralists must therefore be consistently neutralized by means of liberal or conservative positions and appropriately suggestive catchwords and paramoralisms…
Psychological warfare strategists must decide rather early on which ideology would be most efficient in a particular country because of its adaptability to said nation’s traditions. After all, the appropriately adapted ideology must perform the function of a Trojan horse, transporting pathocracy into the country.
Assistance must then be given so groups of conspirators adhering to the concocted ideology can stage a coup d’état, whereupon an iron-fisted government is installed.
Conflict progressively increases, especially when wide circles of society begin to doubt whether those people allegedly acting in the name of some great ideology do in fact believe in it.
Ever-increasing control is thus necessary until full pathocracy can be achieved.
The attitude of understanding even one’s enemies is the most difficult for us humans. Moral condemnation proves to be an obstacle along the path toward curing the world of this disease.
Pathocratic leadership believes that it can achieve a state wherein those “other” people’s minds become dependent by means of the effects of their personality, perfidious pedagogical means, the means of mass-disinformation, and psychological terror; such faith has a basic meaning for them. In their conceptual world, pathocrats consider it virtually self-evident that the “others” should accept their obvious, realistic, and simple way of apprehending reality.
Personality development is impoverished, particularly regarding the more subtle values widely accepted in societies. We observe the characteristic lack of respect for one’s own organism and the voice of nature and instinct, accompanied by brutalization of feelings and customs, to be explained away by the excuse of injustice.
If a person with a normal instinctive substratum and basic intelligence has already heard and read about such a system of ruthless autocratic rule “based on a fanatical ideology”, he feels he has already formed an opinion on the subject. However, direct confrontation with the phenomenon will inevitably produce in him the feeling of intellectual helplessness. All his prior imaginings prove to be virtually useless; they explain next to nothing.
The author and many others learned a good deal about the psychology of this macro-social phenomenon during compulsory indoctrinational schooling.
The history of mankind has been a history of wars, which makes it lack eternal meaning in our eyes. A new great war would represent the triumph of madness over the nations’ will to live.
International reason must therefore prevail, reinforced by the newly discovered moral values and naturalistic science concerning the causes and genesis of evil.
If societies are furnished an understanding of the pathological nature of evil, they will be able to effect concerted action based on moral and naturalistic criteria.
We may also hope that using such a weapon will help end centuries of warfare among nations.
The design and construction of a new social system should also be based upon proper distinctions of reality and should receive appropriate elaboration in many details in order to prove effective in execution and action. This will require abandoning some traditional customs of political life, which allowed human emotions and egoism to play too great a role.
Regaining the right to decide one’s own fate, particularly for a nation now affected by pathocracy, would be improvisation, which is expensive and dangerous.
Wherever old social systems created by historical processes have been almost totally destroyed by the introduction of state capitalism and the development of pathocracy, that nation’s social and psychological structure has been obliterated. The replacement is a pathological structure reaching into every corner of a country, causing all areas of life to degenerate and become unproductive.
While Lobaczewski offers us, perhaps for the first time in recorded history, the key to understanding this process, for coming to grips with the true nature of human evil in our world, it is obvious that the key will only unlock more horror and suffering if it is held by those types described in the pages of this book. Only if normal people, the billions of normal people of conscience in our world, can be made aware of the real threat we face and can learn to immunize themselves, do we stand a chance of breaking the cycle.
In accordance to my experience as a clinical psychologist and researcher of the nature of evil in the domains of psychopathology, it appears to me that nearly half of the pathologic factors taking part in the processes of the generation of evil – what I call Ponerogenesis – are the results of various kinds of brain tissue lesions.
The main task seems to me to be distinguishing of anomalies caused by damage in brain tissue from those transmitted by heredity.
The ‘average’ member of the dominant five per cent sees no reason why he should not be rich and famous too. He experiences anger and frustration at his lack of ‘primacy’, and is willing to consider unorthodox methods of elbowing his way to the fore. This clearly explains a great deal about the rising levels of crime and violence in our society.
Ponerology was born in the crucible of attempts to understand, scientifically, macro-social phenomenon of what can only be called extreme and excessive evil: Fascism and Soviet Communism.
I was aware that such similar phenomena have appeared in the history of mankind again and again, in various scales, under various historical conditions, and always carried into society, like a Trojan Horse, enrobed in the ideology of some idealistic heterogeneous social movement. This is still true in the present time.
New ways and methods of combating evil in society are needed rather than just a scheme of punishments. More effective means of dealing with the genesis of evil * must be found!
A basic knowledge of the true nature of evil – that it can be scientifically elaborated – would make people more circumspect in their engagements with other people and life in general.