Competition Among Sociopaths

I read a comment that ended with “Remember the system rejuvenates and perpetuates itself based on competition among the sociopaths; each is always attempting to “game” another and their cabal.”  There is something vaguely reassuring in looking at politics as competition between sociopaths.

Another comment, on a different article and website was “Refuse their vocab. It’s modern day spell-casting. Make them agree with you to define terms or don’t have the ‘conversation.”  I’ve listened to people who try to change definitions – and others that will discredit the source if the data was picked up by Fox News or Huffington Post.  They sound confident – and confidence is more than a little convincing.

Both statements are cynical.  Both reflect reality.  On the first comment, a large dose of narcissism probably helps people arrive at the mindset that they can, and should, be making the big decisions for other people.  Hell, even the small decisions.  The second thought is that when you’re talking to anyone who changes definitions, you’re not debating on a level playing field. 

As he was being exiled from the Soviet Union, Alexander Solzhenitsin published an essay “Live Not by Lies.”  Hemingway would have loved the single syllable words in the title – but the article stresses the simple way of dealing with ideologies. It’s only 3 pages, and it is not complex – Solzhenitsin had just one all-pervasive ideology to observe.  Click the link, and read it.  His thoughts and writings are better than mine.

“The simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: let their rule hold not through me!”

“Our way must be: Never knowingly support lies.  Having understood where the lies begin (and many see this line differently) – step back from that gangrenous edge!  Let us not glue back the flaking scales of the ideology, not gather back its crumbling bones, nor patch together its decomposing garb, and we will be amazed how swiftly and helplessly the lies fall away, and that which is destined to be naked will be exposed as such to the world.”

We have a greater choice of ideologies than Solzhenitsin had.  Still, his advice is no less relative in our culture/political system.  Supporting an ideology requires you to determine which lies you will at the least disregard, at the worst actively support.  Just looking at this century’s presidents, I can document lies and headlines that show Obama lies, Trump lies and Biden lies.  I recall a friend, describing his vote when Trump ran against Hillary Clinton – “I guess I’ll hold my nose and vote for Trump.”  Another friend, last year, said, “I’ll bite my cheek and vote for Biden.”  There’s something wrong with people who point out the Trump lies and look past Biden’s – and vice-versa. 

Politically, the terms left and right go back to the French Revolution – as near as I can tell, the folks on the left wanted to chop the king’s head off, and the folks on the right wanted to let him keep his head on his shoulders.  It was a simple place for the line.  The definitions have shifted over time – in post-revolutionary Russia, the folks who wanted the international revolution were to the left, the nationalists were on the right.  This definition put the Soviets on the left and the Nazis on the right.  It’s kind of a question of who changed the definition most recently.  Or maybe, as Solzhenitzyn wrote, “Live Not By Lies.”  It is easy to view the Soviets and the Nazis as competing groups of sociopaths. 

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