I did my BA in deconstructive philosophy and one of the tenets of the discipline is that of a multi-disciplinary approach to the analysis of ‘texts’ or systems. Different disciplines give different perspectives on whatever it is we are trying to understand.
After a very long time, I have come to see that the most appropriate model for understanding what is currently happening is psychology, and in particular the behavioural analysis of the sociopathic personality. As institutions themselves have recognizable traits, ethics etc then to a certain extent they have personalities. My contention is that many of our leaders and institutions have degenerated into a sociopathic entities and that this has come about by – and I use their vernacular – the parking of responsibility and accountability.
Firstly, we will need to establish a rough idea of what constitutes a sociopathic personality. The following pulled off the web is roughly adequate:
1) Seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated; condoned, or admired.
2) Prone to corruption; disguise, fraud and embezzlement. Will manufacture or tamper with evidence and distort figures and give a completely false view that they are either competent or actually in control.
3) Pathological Lying; Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex false belief about their own powers and abilities.
4) Irresponsibility/Unreliability; Will not admit to have done anything wrong or made a bad decision. Evades responsibility and does not accept blame themselves, but transfers blame to others Not concerned about wrecking others ‘lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause.
5) Callousness/Lack of Empathy; Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
6) Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them; Authoritarian, Secretive, Paranoid.
Seems to accurately portray the personality of the EU to me and a good deal of other institutions.
How did this financial crisis come about ?
Simple. Originally in terms of loan and credit that whoever made the loan retained responsibility and accountability for it. This meant that the issuer of the debt needs to apply due diligence and make sure their investment is sound. What happens next is that the markets become systemically sociopathogical when they create CDOs. The vehicle of CDO’s allows the issuer of the debt to package it up with a lot of other debts and then sell it on to other investors. In this process the issuer of the debt has effectively parked the vehicle and with it any responsibility or accountability for it. This is the process by which moral hazard is systemically created within the system. Now the issuers of the debt can issue it to anyone at all whether they are credit worthy or not. All they are now interested in is their commissions and bonuses.
When one also factors in the ‘too big to fail’ safety net then it is clear that any level of speculation is permitted because risk has been taken off the table, and responsibility and accountability for investments has been systemically removed.
I will put up another candidate for sociopathology. The entire market themselves.
Look at the DOW Jones index and set the range to all.
All is relatively calm throughout the 1970s and then following the big bang and subsequent de-regulations which are nothing more than the amputations of the arms of responsibility and accountability, then if one was watching the charts of a sleep study, it is clear that the patient has moved from being relatively calm to schizophrenic night terrors. Such extreme volatility is a form of schizophrenia as markets jump between irrational ends of the spectrum and from crisis to crisis.
Another case that will be familiar to many. A new beast has come to dominate in many companies and they are essentially sociopathic in nature. They are completely self interested, have no real ideas of their own, or even a semblance of common sense. What they do know political manipulation. They know how to steer meetings and park objections. They don’t necessarily move from job to job, their skill is moving from bandwagon to bandwagon and ideological fad to fad. New Labour was such on a institutional scale. It didn’t care if its policies worked or not as it never bothered committing itself to any of them long enough and would abandon any ideology that wasn’t really theirs in the first place for the latest PC or trendy notion which came along. In semi-rejecting the principles of Marxism and socialism Labour gave itself an ideologically split personality barely kept sane by bandwagoneering on social and economic ‘policy’.
Imagine a business meeting a new idea is being proposed. It would save a lot of money if we outsourced our customer services to India. If I was in the meeting, I would point out that our customer services, especially if they were our only client facing entity were rather important and that were the crucial interface by which the public would perceive our company and the effectiveness of its services. If we spent millions on advertising to present the best image possible of our company then it would be foolish to ship our customer services abroad in order to give worst possible service and customer experience.
In the meeting such an objection would be parked by the sociopaths who have jumped on the bandwagon. Common sense is eradicated here and the policy is pushed through regardless of how much damage it will end up doing to the company. When it proves to be wrong the sociopaths who pushed in through will do everything they can to evade any responsibility or accountability for it shifting the blame else where. And even if they do not manage this, they can evade responsibility by virtue of their bandwagon membership, in that they merely point out that everyone else was doing it so how could they possibly have know it wouldn’t work.