This article brushes up against, but doesn’t really get into, the concept of ‘ponerology’.
This is the idea that a power structure, over time, becomes twisted by the work of relatively few sociopaths, until the entire structure and everyone in it behaves and thinks like a sociopath as well.
The idea that profit is the only thing that matters, that employees must be paid as little as possible, is a purely pathological judgement.
Pathological in this context means a decision that is overtly made on ‘rational’ grounds only. Much like the Randian philosophy of objectivism. I bet plenty of people will complain about that definition, I’m no expert in pathological mindsets. But having a perfection definition of ‘pathological’ isn’t necessary to recognise what’s wrong.
A pathological person will think any action is logical if they get an immediate benefit. The consequences for others are irrelevant, and so are the long-term costs. They are someone else’s problem.
The culture that currently surrounds the world of finance and business is exactly like this. The system itself has become pathological, as a result of years of sociopaths wielding great power. Now, even a decent humane person, once they get sucked into the corporate world, will find themselves making utterly pathological decisions and being congratulated for it by other decent humane people.
These people are not sociopaths, but we have internalised the idea that you have to behave like a sociopath to achieve anything.
Recovering the system from this point is a long and difficult process, and right now there’s nobody even willing to say there’s a problem. Which is pathological in itself.
EDIT: Bah… this has generated more comments than I can deal with. I know that I’ve not really explained this as well as I would now, but I’m not going to rewrite it.
If you disagree with me, perhaps look at other definitions of ‘ponerology’ via Google and see if you agree more with them. I think the theory has a lot of merit, but I have to acknowledge that it’s not a mainstream theory and is pretty much the work of one researcher and a small band of followers.
But I think it offers an insight into how things have got to this point. I think the fact that 1 in 25 people is a sociopath must be having a serious effect on our culture.