Red Sociology is a blog where we as academics, bloggers, activists, and regular folk seek to not only understand the world around us but to understand it in a way where we as human beings can have a positive influence on it. Recently me and a number of Red Sociology’s fellow bloggers have talked about a trend that we have seen in America and the world at large. We are increasingly seeing ourselves living in a society that devalues human contact, empathy, and selflessness. We have seen in the past incidents that show how little we think about others sometimes but what used to be isolated incidents of indecency have snowballed into becoming part of our culture. From mass shootings, to our cavalier attitude towards killing civilians in other nations, to even the commodification of our sexual relations , we are a society that increasingly operate less like a society and more like a self-interested mob.
Looking at the increasingly hostile, individualist behavior that we show towards each other how can we make sense of it? Let’s start with our capitalist society. Our entire society’s functioning is based on the profit motive. The drive for profits is what gets food made, products shipped, medicine made and on and on. The profit motive is detached from any concern about emotions, human needs, or morality and this we argue is the root of the problem. In a society where nothing is done except for profit it’s to be expected that the people within it, for survival’s sake, will begin to think in the same way. A documentary was published a few years ago, called “The Corporation“, which sought to make sense of the profit motive behavior of corporations and argued that corporations act and reason much like sociopaths. Sociopathy, technically known as Antisocial personality disorder, is a state of being in which one exhibits, according to the DSM IV, at least three of these traits:
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
- deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
- impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;
If you look at these traits and then look at the values that leaders of our society hold, values that we hold up in business, and how we often see people act towards each other we can see a resemblance to the logic behind the profit motive. Capitalism in our opinion creates conditions where having these sorts of personality traits are not only tolerated but encouraged and rewarded. We call this ”The Sociopathic Society”. The sociopathic society not only serves as fertile grounds for sociopaths (who are born the way they are) but forces the rest of us to begin to use the logic of sociopathy in our everyday lives. the danger of this is that we as a society can get the point where we quite literally see everyone else as nothing more than a means to an end. What we need to do is to find ways in which we can reverse this trend and create an empathetic society. We at Red Sociology will be exploring this idea of the sociopathic society through a number of articles. Each article will look an aspect of society from this sociopathic perspective and seek to understand why we as a people seem so able to do things that are decidedly inhumane to others so easily. The hope here is that we get people to look at their own behavior and question how we relate to the world. I hope are both intrigued and horrified by what we will show you. If you can think of aspects of our social life that reflect this sociopathic narrative please leave some thoughts in the comments.