In fact, the book that was perhaps most influential in focusing me on and teaching me about this topic claims, in its editor’s preface, that it will be the most important book you’ll ever read. And because of the importance of the topic, it just might be right. And, in turn, the pages that I’ve written related to this topic are probably the most important that I’ve ever written.
These pages will especially be of interest to anyone with a desire to understand, broadly and/or deeply, why our world is as it is.
They will be of even more intense interest to:
- Anyone who has wondered why our world is so rife with seemingly intractable problems that we are apparently unable, despite applying our best conceived philosophies and methods, to curtail
- Those intrigued by issues of justice and injustice
But, in truth, these pages are of great relevance in many ways to all of us.
Until now, I’ve kept a tight lid on information about these pages. But now, it’s finally time to announce their release to the world!
First, however, some background…
A Lifelong Quest for Understanding
For almost as long as I can remember, I have had a deep sense that something is wrong here – that something about our world is just absurdly “off.”
For many years, this sense remained quite vague. I simply noticed so many aspects of how our world worked that struck me as inexplicable and baffling and I could not logically understand why they played out as they did. In addition, I was similarly baffled by and unable to logically understand why – although some people seemed to be sensitive to and upset by these apparent absurdities as I was – others, even when made aware of them, seemed apathetic to, amused or, most disconcerting to me of all, pleased by them. And whatever conventional wisdom purported to explain these phenomena failed to satisfy me.
That gnawing sense of “offness” has fueled a journey that I describe in some of the pages in this group themselves. It has been a long and tortuous journey of exploration and discovery in which I have been struggling – all while remaining an evidence-based skeptic and avoiding falling prey to wild conspiracy theories – to clarify the causes of and messages embedded within that persistent experience of uneasiness, as well as the reasons for my own relative strangeness in being so bedeviled by it. The journey has been, at times, very frustrating and, at other times, exhilarating and it has brought me into contact with a wide variety of resources and people, both unknown and world-renowned, that have influenced me.
The journey has consisted of several stages. In each, my attention was primarily drawn to a certain aspect of the world relevant to my overall sense of confusion. And, by studying that aspect and then integrating what I learned with the insights gleaned in previous stages, I was able to graduate that stage having achieved a new milestone marked by a more complete understanding of the world.
Yet, after each graduation, when I applied my newly enhanced mental model in my life or in activist pursuits, the feedback that I received - though improved enough to signify that I had indeed made progress - nonetheless consisted of enough resistance to indicate that my understanding was still far from total. And I was, thus, motivated to continue on to the next stage in my quest.
One of the earliest stages of this journey, for example, focused on inquiring into the role of our culture, with its dysfunctions and unsustainability, in driving the “wrongness” that I was perceiving. But, even after gaining substantial insight into that matter, I remained unclear about exactly why the development of such a culture was so consistently supported. And I was still perplexed by the fact that, when I communicated about these topics, which I found so obviously important, few seemed interested, much less moved, by them.
A later stage focused me on studying systems that classify people according to their distinct personality types. This helped me develop, to a certain degree, an organized understanding and acceptance of how psychological variation could generate – sometimes much to my chagrin – perceptions, values and actions in many people that vastly differed from mine and those of people similar in type to me. But, even accounting for and engaging my knowledge regarding this source of diversity in personalities, I was nonetheless unable to make sense of or effect change in certain views and behaviors that I considered, at a level more fundamental than personality type, both unnecessarily common and objectively harmful.
I achieved a very significant milestone when I realized how defense mechanisms and certain personality disorders related with some of the more damaging forms of perception, value and action that I encountered. And yet, even the influence of such patterns and conditions could not fully explain the most extreme perspectives and behaviors. Confronted with them, it was clear to me that there were still other factors at play in many cases.
A Quantum Leap in Understanding: The Most Recent Milestone on My Journey
As a systems thinker, whenever I consider a complex situation, I am always trying to understand the structures, connections and features, often hidden and sometimes hidden in plain sight, of the relevant systems. With such insight, it is far easier to pinpoint the leverage points at which we can most effectively stimulate a desirable outcome. It is only after the last couple of years that I reached a milestone on my journey to clarify my sense of our world being “off” and the reasons for the relative rarity of my persistent focus on it where the core elements influential in these matters appeared evident and the identification of crucial leverage points seemed within reach.
The stage of my journey that unfolded during that period began when I was drawn to the study in earnest of psychopathy. That study led me to discover:
- The field of ponerology
- A remarkable book by a heroic man, the very writing and publication of which entailed extraordinary events, themselves constituting a thrilling story - Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes by Andrzej M. Lobaczewski (also known as Andrew M. Lobaczewski)
- The phenomenon of pathocracy
Engaging with these subjects propelled me to this latest milestone and had an enormous impact on me on multiple levels.
One way in which this most recent progress has proven so valuable is by, to a greater extent than any before it, enhancing my ability to frame what my entire journey has really been about all along. Having experienced this last stage and reached this position on my path, I can now clearly articulate that it has always fundamentally been a quest to understand and address, to the best of my ability, the reasons, often so very difficult to discern, for the prevalence of seemingly senseless and unnecessary harm, waste, destruction, neglect and, ultimately, suffering in our world. This quest has necessarily involved an attempt to discover the nature and roots of the ethical vs. the unethical and justice vs. injustice, especially as they relate to various types of structures, power arrangements and exploitation. And, perhaps even more to the point, it has forced me to confront the age-old problems of evil.
In retrospect, it makes a great deal of sense that these are the “labors” to which my quest may be boiled down. As I look back, I can see that I have always been fascinated by and driven to explore such areas. Even as a child, I was almost constantly sensitive to suffering and concerned with issues of justice and the distribution - and exercise within systems - of power. And it seems inevitable that deep concern about suffering, justice and power, followed to its logical end, will eventually raise within one questions about evil and the many forms that it can take. Yet, for much of my life, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have described my journey in those terms.
I especially would not have raised the subject of “evil” in describing it because, as a strongly rational person, I have always had trouble committing to any particular definition of what “evil” means and so I tended to avoid even using the word. But the achievement of this latest milestone brought with it an understanding that the challenge of more objectively defining evil, as difficult as it may prove, is one that merits our energies right along with - and, in fact, as an instrumental part of - the larger challenge of discovering why evil, however we define it, occurs.
In addition to more fully revealing the general theme connecting my journey’s core questions, this latest stage, like past ones, also produced answers, built upon previously attained insights, to some of the specific questions that, even after decades of searching, remained mysteries to me.
It helped me to recognize that, for anyone who values ethical behavior and justice, the most meaningful division – far more substantial and pertinent to our world’s troubles than other noted divisions – is likely the one between those with and without significant levels of empathy and conscience.
It reinforced this by teaching me more than I ever knew about the most extreme and potent example of the latter group, the psychopath.
And, perhaps most critically, it awakened me more deeply to an idea that is among the most important that I’ve ever encountered – one that may even be the single most powerful and unappreciated idea that I’ve come across in all my years of thinking and activism:
The idea that much of the evil in our world – far more than we may realize or believe – and, thus, many of its detrimental consequences may, in fact, have a profoundly biological basis
It is understandable that it took me a long time to reach this milestone. For, the dynamics that I came to see more clearly in the course of this latest stage influence systems so as to encourage the development of many confounding qualities, unexpected events and counterintuitive reactions to interventions and involve:
- A tremendous amount and variety of kinds of trauma and deception relating to identity, image, symbolism, position and structure
- An array of devious manipulative tactics that distract us from leverage points and distort our perception and inflict blind spots in alignments nearly perfect for sustaining our unconsciousness to them
They especially involve deception and manipulation effectuated via communications that twist logic and ethics in astounding ways.
And these dynamics are so ever-present that they can easily remain - like water to a fish - invisible.
Thus, it took repeated demonstration of these dynamics in a systematic way to familiarize me with them to a point from which I could see them for what they are and analyze them in any rational manner.
I am certainly not saying that my understanding is now complete or that it will not continue to evolve. There is still much to consider and many discussions must be had about this information, the questions that it raises and how to respond to it. There may well be many more stages on my journey yet to come.
But I do strongly believe that the milestone that I achieved at the climax of this most recent stage is qualitatively greater than – and is a major point of integration of – the ones that have come before it.
My Motivation for and Process of Synthesizing and Writing about My Latest Milestone Discoveries
At meaningful points along my journey of discovery, I have felt driven to synthesize and set down in writing what I have discovered both to clarify and solidify it for myself and to share it with others. In many ways, this website is a record of that process.
But, because of the exceptional impact of this last stage and especially because I believe that some of the ideas that it raised, despite their enormous implications, have not been receiving adequate attention or appreciation – and that honest education and increasing the awareness of the public are among the most vital activities in which we can, therefore, participate – I was more strongly compelled to synthesize and write in relation to this latest milestone than ever before.
I was also motivated by how strongly I related to Andrew M. Lobaczewski himself. There is a personal connection to the events that he lived through, as well as a sense of kinship inspired by his passions for seeking, documenting and publicizing an objective theory regarding evil and the causes of suffering in our world. Moreover, I greatly admire the bravery that he, as well as his colleagues, exhibited in pursuing such passions even in the face of immensely dangerous and trying conditions.
So motivated, I engaged in painstaking preparation, poring over Political Ponerology, studying it again and again, reading and rereading other related materials and even contacting some experts directly when necessary to clarify an idea.
When writing, I poured out everything I could, outlining, drafting, writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing, all with a single aim in mind: providing a very thorough review of the subjects at hand that was as polished – even if not as compact – as I could make it.
The actual direct preparation for and writing of these pages - especially since I had to focus on a number of other responsibilities simultaneously - took over a year. It was a tremendously challenging period, not only due to the work involved in this project, but due to a number of other distressing events that occurred in my life over that time. Through that intense phase, as you can imagine, my knowledge on these subjects was greatly expanded and reinforced and deeply internalized.
But, in many ways, learning this material and expressing it comprehensively in these pages – a process that called upon so much of my work and so many of my interests from decades past – was the culmination of a lifetime of living in today’s world and wondering, questioning, searching, studying, reading and writing, from numerous angles, about why it is as it is.
The Importance of This Material
I believe that the subjects discussed in these pages and especially their central theme – the need for investigation of and response to a probable biological basis of evil – are important to say the least. In fact, I think they are so important that they simply cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to truly understand the evolutionary course of our species, the history of our civilization, the forces that drive our modern world or how to bring about a better future.
But exactly why are they so important?
There are a number of reasons, including:
- They not only relate directly to the source of many of the most daunting problems plaguing human systems at every level – problems ranging from:
- Abuse and neglect in personal relationships and families to…
- Incompetence and corruption in workplaces, businesses, corporations, religious organizations and communities to…
- Destructive economic cycles; detrimental policies based in philosophies of infinite growth, expansion, conquest and excessive acquisition; terrorism and war involving nation-states, governments and global institutions.
And they not only also relate directly to the source of many of the most daunting problems plaguing our ecosystem as a whole.
But they simultaneously relate to factors that make every other challenge we face on all of these levels more complicated and difficult to address. Thus, they are, in so many ways, leverage point issues.
- They could help actually explain, in scientific and systems thinking fashion, why some of our most stubbornly persistent unsolved problems - whose persistence through the generations has long been misleadingly rationalized - despite the investment of so much time and energy concentrated on them, elude resolution. They may do this because they focus on elucidating and accurately labeling and categorizing - in a more precise, technical and objective manner that emphasizes invaluable, if sometimes subtle, distinctions - the elements, mechanisms, patterns, processes and cycles that play a part when systems become hijacked, coopted or ill and induce various entities to contribute more or less to the generation and spread of these problems. And, in doing so, they reveal that while some harm is inevitable and some stems from misguided behavior propelled by ignorance or defense mechanisms, a great deal of it emerges, rather, out of more malicious origins.
- Even when they are unable to provide explanations, they nonetheless point the way toward wiser priorities in scholarship and practice both within and among many fields, including through advocating that:
- Psychological knowledge play a more prominent role
- Various sciences, as well as the tools and methods of science as a whole, be more frequently engaged in bringing to light and addressing the essential sources from which harmful activity develops
- They illuminate the crucial and complex roles of ideology and religion in all of this.
- We find ourselves in a precarious situation in a pivotal era in our history - marked by massive hierarchies, powerful technologies and somewhat fragile globalized systems – in which the potential consequences of various forms of extremism and violence on all levels, but especially on the large scale, are more and more tragic. These subjects assist us in identifying the roots of a substantial portion of the extremism and unnecessary violence that takes place.
- Their implications have most likely impacted millions of people, as well as countless non-humans.
- Ethics – the study of how we ought to live – is a most interesting and obviously valuable discipline. These subjects are especially profound in their ethical implications and relevant to many of the circumstances that give rise to the most agonizing ethical quandaries.
- They highlight the need for, as well as make possible, an array of responses from people – including not only political, religious and business leaders and professionals, but parents, activists and members of the public at large – as well as institutions in a wide variety of disciplines and areas throughout the world, many of which are mentioned explicitly in the writing and others of which the reader will realize in the course of reading.
- They call into question many dubious, yet sometimes instinctively appealing, alluring or popular philosophies, methodologies and approaches to our world’s problems purported to be capable of constructively transforming scenarios and that, absent understanding of their ramifications, might sound reasonable or feasible, but that actually, if applied in contexts for which they are not adapted, promote ineffective responses to or even counterintuitively contribute to harm.
- An integration of these subjects also consolidates, crystallizes and augments with a clarifying layer the work of many significant authors and filmmakers including that of:
- Daniel Quinn
- Derrick Jensen
- Robert Hare
- Martha Stout
- Barbara Oakley
This material is especially important for anyone trying to make sense of our world’s suffering so as to develop effective strategies for reducing it by improving health and sustainability. For them, the ideas and facts mentioned in these pages are strategic game-changers because they fundamentally shift perspective not only on why we are so unhealthy and unsustainable in the first place – and, thus, on the mainspring of much of the trauma and victimhood experienced within our systems – but on why so many well-intentioned and apparently sensible remediation campaigns and efforts to aid or heal victims constantly fail, fall short or are sabotaged.
Without recognition of this information - lacking insight regarding biological evil and how it contributes to developments that leave us susceptible to perpetual cycles of arising, escalating, spreading and subsiding dysfunction - people working on these challenges are condemned to rely on inadequate models riddled by missing pieces. As a result, they often participate in misguided actions that further reinforce our vulnerability and play right into the hands of those who promote evil.
But with the conscious complementary integration of relevant updated modern knowledge and tools, opportunities for effective assessment of potentially dangerous situations and protective, preventative or healing interventions – sometimes based on proven working medical models commonly applied in relation to infection or cancer – become more apparent. We are able to better imagine ways to experiment with – and work through the adversity and difficult transition periods inherent in - the evolution of innovative disciplines and more resistant structures devoted to:
- Harnessing our cutting edge perspective and assets
- Assertively and consistently enforcing necessary defensive limits and boundaries
- Transcending obstacles and divisions - including the most important division within humanity
Only such entities can:
- Sufficiently account for and contain evil’s influence
- Maintain a matrix of incentives conducive to transforming vicious cycles into and continuously fueling virtuous cycles
- Bring about and support with integrity sustainably healthy systems in which we can coexist and enjoy our best possible lives
- Best ensure the balance, acceding to the constant presence of some form of evil, that long-term sustainability requires
Furthermore, these concerns could conceivably bring together more people from more divergent backgrounds, despite differences of gender, race, class, religion, nationality or pet issues, to work cooperatively on such beneficial reforms than any others.
It is interesting to note that, over the last year, as I worked on these pages, time and again my belief in the central importance of their subject matter was reaffirmed. I repeatedly encountered information and situations, whether in my personal life or in the latest world news, that, from one angle after another, related back to these topics, reinforcing their wide range of relevance and reminding me that, even in times when I was not conscious of it, they have been present all along, connected to so many events and elements in my life and the world at large. I suddenly noticed more books, films, articles, television shows and discussions focusing either indirectly or directly on these matters. All of this provided further validation and motivation that kept me going through this arduous process.
So, for all of these reasons and more, I hope that you’ll read these pages and find them, or at least parts of them, very meaningful and that what you learn will coalesce into a valuable lens through which to consider the world.
Notes on the Pages’ Writing Style
There are several characteristics of the writing on these pages itself that you will probably notice as you read. I’d like to take some time to address each of these in order to explain why I wrote the pages as I did.
First of all, you will notice that these pages are quite long.
This reflects the fact that my goal in writing them - clearly - was not conciseness or brevity. It was comprehensiveness. I wanted each page, as well as the pages as a group, to be very very complete, at least touching on all of the relevant ideas that I could imagine wanting to raise – as well as the ideas, questions or challenges that I anticipated others might raise – now or in the near future.
I valued this level of completeness for a few reasons:
- This information is extremely important and it took me decades to find, accumulate and synthesize it. Yet, I could not predict how much or which aspect of it would strike a chord with and inspire any given reader. So I decided to err on the side of inclusion, making, within reason, more, rather than less, information available.
This way, people most interested in the material may, just by reading these pages, leap ahead in their understanding of it nearer to the point at which I now find myself without having to walk the entire path that I did. I have long appreciated those, many of whom I acknowledge in these pages, whose work served as a similar launching pad for me.
At the same time, this inclusionary approach, I hope, means that most of the wide variety of readers interested only in certain parts of the material, despite perhaps differing substantially in which parts interest each of them, will be pleased to discover that those aspects that they value are at least discussed.
- I wanted to record as much of the information as I could while it was fresh in my head.
- It is enormously relieving for me, personally, to know that all of the information is now out of my head and accessible to the heads of others so that I no longer have to rely on storing it in my own memory.
If I want to return to this material in the future and write pieces that summarize it more briefly or refer back to these pages or specific sections of them in order to highlight its connection to other concepts or phenomena, I can always do that. Given these pages as a foundation, it will not be extremely difficult to do. However, for a variety of reasons, it would have been much more difficult for me to work in the opposite order, attempting to keep these initial pages short and to then expand them into more complete versions later.
So, the pages are long and, thus, require an investment of some time to read. Don’t be surprised if it takes more than one sitting to finish any one of the pages. But, I felt that, in this case and at the present time, the benefits of comprehensiveness outweighed the costs.
Some people, when I told them how long the pages are, asked why I chose to cover the material in web pages rather than by writing a book. This is a valid question. In fact, in some ways, it may be worth approaching the pages as you would a book.
But, for two main reasons, described below, I decided to release the material in web page rather than book form:
- I don’t believe enough previously unpublished ideas are involved to merit a new book. Little of what fills these pages consists of fundamentally original material. This is clear since, almost incessantly, on every page, I link to, reference and credit other works from which I learned nearly all of this information and one of the pages is actually a review of someone else’s book. With this work, I am simply doing what I customarily do – connecting and awakening, synthesizing the work of others that has impacted me and that I believe deserves greater attention and promoting it, in my own voice, to try to catalyze change. While this could be accomplished through releasing a sort of annotated anthology or aggregation style book, in this case it seemed to me more sensible to simply refer people through the web directly to the original sources where appropriate.
- The relatively recent development of the Internet has catalyzed a number of communication enhancements – free round-the clock worldwide availability of information, accessibility of data to search engines and their users, efficient linking of related resources and more. The emergence of these features and capabilities, previously only imagined, has been so revolutionary that it not only, as I mention in some of these pages, arouses hopes that the urgent messages perhaps crucial to our very survival will spread as far and as fast as they must to prompt indicated emergent change in time. It is also what enabled me to happen upon much of this material at such a young age - or, quite conceivably, ever - and, in fact, as you will learn when you read the story, what made the publication of Political Ponerology finally possible at all. Publishing this material on my website positions it better than would publication in a book to benefit from these powerful advantages of Internet technology.
A second characteristic that you will notice as you read these pages is that they contain, especially among the latter three pages introduced in the next section, all of which were inspired very directly by the same book, a good deal of redundancy.
This attribute, like their length, reflects my desire for the pages to be comprehensive, as well as my desire to facilitate as diverse a range of readers as possible in finding them. Motivated by these desires, I decided to write several pages, all very closely related and, for the most part, referencing the same third-party resources, about this subject matter so that:
- I could explore in ample depth each aspect of the material
- While doing so at the cost of the resulting overlap in their content - with its attendant drawbacks - each page could stand on its own, allowing readers in search of an extensive understanding of any one page’s particular focus to obtain it, for the most part, if they wished, by reading that page alone
- Readers might arrive at the material via numerous slightly disparate angles
As a result of this decision, people that read several of these pages will, along with acquiring some new insights from each, rehash a substantial amount of information that, in order to lend completeness to each page for the sake of those who read only it, was included on multiple pages. They will also be reintroduced, on most of the pages, to the story of my journey, described, in part, earlier, through various versions covering different combinations of its stages in somewhat different ways. And some material will be reiterated more than once even on the same page. For example, the summary section of the first page introduced below consists of a detailed review that, while presenting useful context for and analysis of the rest of the page, does, at times, repeat its prior contents.
Third, you will notice that some of the writing in these pages is quite academic in style.
This is because, although the pages’ subject matter is so widely relevant and meaningful to a popular audience, it does involve scientific and medical information that is technical in nature. Indeed, one of the points that I strive to drive home in these pages is that, in order to more objectively understand these subjects, we must begin to speak of them in a more technical manner. So, while certain parts of the pages are written in a more personal or easily digestible fashion, other parts, as dictated by the material, are quite academic and this is as it must be.
I realize that some readers may not deem all of these characteristics of the writing discussed so far ideal. The pages may be tedious to read, at times, and perhaps this was not the most elegant way that the material could have been presented. But it is as it is by design. Hopefully, the benefits of this design outweigh the costs and readers, aware of the tradeoffs that were made and the intentions that impelled them, will discover that the value of the information itself spurs them to forgive any imperfections in the quality of this particular presentation.
Objective and Subjective Perspectives
The final characteristic of these pages’ writing that I’d like to mention is that it integrates elements of both an objective and subjective perspective. In some sections or passages, for instance, I relate hard scientific research data in a straightforward manner. In others, I express my own or someone else’s viewpoint on a topic, thereby connecting it with my or their experiences and with a variety of concepts and fields that I or they appreciate. And, in still others, I employ the two perspectives simultaneously. I hope that this approach assists the reader in accessing the material from diverse standpoints and renders the writing more unique and distinctive.
There are certainly other works available – though not yet nearly enough in my estimation – that cover any and all of these topics. Some do so from a primarily objective perspective, some from the subjective perspectives of a range of different people and some combine objective and subjective perspectives as I do in these pages. I introduce, reference and link to many of these works throughout the writing for readers who wish to examine them.
But, in these pages, I share the material in my way and in my style.
Introduction of the Pages
So now, without much further adieu, I want to link to and introduce the four pages themselves, each with a rundown of its contents.
These introductions are then followed, in the subsequent sections, by:
- Some recommendations regarding why you may wish to read all four of the pages, which pages to read if you choose not to read them all and why and the order in which to read them
- Some comments on what I hope you take away from reading these pages
- Some short final thoughts on what drove me in writing them
This page covers:
- What precisely psychopathy is
- How psychopathy relates with and differs from sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
- How psychopathy is diagnosed and measured
- The surprising prevalence and ubiquity - in all sectors and at all levels of our social systems - of psychopaths
- Psychopaths’ ruthless activities and tremendous deceptive abilities
- How psychopaths have historically increased the relative frequency of their genes and disproportionately spread their influence, contributing to, as well as exploiting – in mutually reinforcing fashion – the particular, increasingly vulnerable and hazardous shape and structure of modern civilization’s hierarchical institutions
- Evolutionary perspectives on whether psychopaths, lacking traits so basic to - and crucial to the long-term survival of - humanity as conscience and empathy and exhibiting fundamentally abnormal perceptual and emotional responses, are human beings with defects or a valuable alternative life strategy or perhaps predators or a subspecies branching off from other humans
- The biological basis of psychopathy, including its genetics and the neurological characteristics of brain structure and function – sometimes akin to those seen in patients with brain injuries – associated with the condition
- An exploration of:
- How, given that psychopathy and related disorders demand specialized, often counterintuitive approaches, we might try to effectively reduce and promote recovery from their detrimental impact on many levels and through the generations
- The progress already being made in and resources increasingly available to support these endeavors
- The ethical dilemmas, controversy and resistance raised by such considerations
This is perhaps the single most important page I’ve written and is the page that best synthesizes the ideas covered in the group of pages as a whole.
- Many profound questions regarding the nature and origins of various forms of harm in our world, including about:
- The existence, definition, sources, factors enabling and consequences of evil
- The role of evil in our world’s harm
- What our strategic response to harm and evil in our world should optimally be
- Why many remain entrenched in certain common or traditional perspectives on these questions, despite such perspectives’ perpetual failure to adequately address them, and too rarely consider - or even outright avoid - provocative modern viewpoints
- Why it is so crucial, at this point in our evolution and history and in the progression of our social structures and technologies – at which a race is ongoing between those intent on applying science and its fruits in ways that increase vs. reduce suffering - that we take the enormously meaningful step of investing in the establishment of a modern, innovative and integrative discipline, devoted to studying evil from a scientific perspective, that would:
- Apply our most up to date knowledge and tools in seeking to better understand this timeless topic
- Develop means of communicating more precisely, objectively and technically about the relevant issues
- What ponerology is, the basic story of Andrew M. Lobaczewski and his creation of Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, and how I discovered them
- A general overview of Political Ponerology and Lobaczewski’s theories – developed through his participation in secret scientific investigations, spurred by the rise of oppressive governments in mid-20th century Europe, into the roots of harmful behavior – which are conveyed in it, regarding the dynamics of:
- The historically repeating cyclic process by which evil arises – known as ponerogenesis – and falls in interconnecting fashion on all levels of human systems
- The state in which evil culminates, pathocracy
- Efforts to break out of the ponerogenic cycle and develop logocracies - human systems specifically equipped to resist pathocracy and, thus, capable of sustainably supporting health and future evolution
- An overview of the implications – in terms of responsibilities, opportunities, priorities and strategy – that Lobaczewski’s ideas, if correct, would have for study, work and other activity in many disciplines, areas and sectors of society upon which we rely to maintain systems’ health even in the presence of evil
- Other works that, in examining the topic of harm in our world from an objective scientific perspective, relate to ponerology, thus complementing Lobaczewski’s work and often, by providing further evidence supportive of his particular theories, corroborating it
- The importance of and measures likely involved in more solidly establishing and promoting the discipline of ponerology, the various forces and categories of people that may support and oppose attempts to do so and the potentially beneficial contributions that the field could make to our future
This page covers:
- A recap of how I discovered ponerology and Political Ponerology
- A review of the story of Andrew M. Lobzczewski, his initiation into covert studies of the causes and dynamics of corrupt oppressive government and his creation and publication of Political Ponerology
- A brief review of what ponerology is and the various questions about evil that it seeks, from a scientific perspective, to address
- Pathocracy - the phenomenon that Lobaczewski calls “the great disease,” which is likely the most damaging manifestation of evil and is the concept at the heart of not only Political Ponerology, but Lobaczewski’s notion of ponerology as a whole - including:
- What pathocracy is and the background information required to understand it
- A detailed overview of the similar multi-stage processes, analogous to those associated with certain common physical diseases, by which pathocracies - in a cyclic historical pattern - arise, function, maliciously inflict often unrecognized or denied consequences and self-destruct, all the while mutually reinforcing each other at all levels of human systems
- Works that, in addition to Political Ponerology, also touch directly on the subject of pathocracy and its workings at different combinations of system levels
- The factors, dynamics, manipulative tactics and methods of control involved in diminishing systems’ resistance against ponerogenesis and, thus, rendering them vulnerable to pathocracy
- Pathocracies’ demographic makeup, deceptive nature and activities, exploitation of ideology, religion and war and suppression and abuse of science, especially in the areas of psychology and psychiatry
- The often traumatic experience of life under the influence of pathocracies and the mechanisms and players involved in recovery from it
- My personal responses to learning about pathocracy, including how it related with and helped to more clearly explain various concepts and phenomena in the world that I had previously recognized and experienced
- How pathocracy may have played a role in the rise, dysfunction and unsustainability of civilization itself
- The case for pathocracy’s reality, significant frequency and substantial – and possibly increasing – degree of detrimental impact
- The case for greater scientific investigation - building upon that of Lobaczewski and his colleagues and ideally facilitated and supported by a flourishing field of ponerology - into these and many other aspects of pathocracy, including how to improve our capacity to detect its signs and symptoms at various stages in its progression and how to optimally prevent, reduce or respond to it
- The extensive implications that pathocracy, if real and consequential, would have for:
- Our understanding of the world
- Our responsibilities, opportunities, priorities and strategy in disciplines and areas of activity ranging from:
- How we categorize people, groups and ideologies to…
- How we communicate to…
- The philosophies and methodologies that we employ as we engage in therapy, activism and reform to…
- Religion and religious communities, which relate with such complexity with pathocracy
- How people of conscience, by bravely coming together to support a number of particular suggested and deliberately conceived actions, can galvanize efforts to:
- Constructively work through resistance posed by a variety of people and groups motivated by a range of concerns and forces, both conscious and unconscious, well-intended and malicious
- Elevate the status of the field of ponerology
- Complement insufficiently protective, often misguided and sometimes ages-old traditional and instinctive mindsets and reactions with effective pragmatic approaches that are:
- Based on continuously enhanced, modern ponerologic insight and psychological and scientific wisdom
- Focused on leverage points
- Ultimately foster healing and the emergence of new forms of human systems that are:
- Fortified by critical thinking
- Abundant in adaptive mechanisms that maintain them sufficiently immune to the development of pathocracy
- Capable of sustaining an optimal coexistence in which their members can experience their best possible life together for generations to come
A page extensively reviewing the book that is boldly declared by its editors to be the most important that you’ll ever read and that may well have proven to be just that for me.
This page offers the most detailed account of:
- My experience and thoughts as I discovered, perused, re-discovered and then more fully read Political Ponerology
- Andrew M. Lobaczewski’s life, participation in secret investigations of government oppression and the sacrifices made as he struggled to finally publish a book that would bring the lessons learned in those investigations to light
- Political Ponerology’s compelling message and highly technical, in-depth descriptions - often invoking the language of and analogies to medical and physical phenomena - of:
- The most important division within humanity
- The process of ponerogenesis
- How ponerogenesis - as it progresses through various stages and reaches its culmination in pathocracies that eventually meet their downfall - drives much of the destruction and harm perpetually emanating from human systems on all levels
- How pathocracies in different guises, each adapted to its particular context, have emerged throughout history
- Why we so often fail to adequately recognize or account for these ponerologic events and how our resulting ineffective responses enable further exploitation and harm to occur
- How a more objective, scientific, pragmatic approach, complementing traditional approaches, can lead us to:
- Preempt or metabolize resistance on the part of some
- Develop more effective, advanced and ingenious solutions and strategies, tailored precisely for the tasks of breaking - as well as immunizing systems against - ponerogenic cycles themselves
- Transform a world characterized by increasingly potent ponerologic threats, which underlie much of its injustice, to one full of sustainable, creatively constructive, sufficiently pathocracy-resistant human systems supportive of continued evolution
This page also offers a point-by-point overview of the many other subjects covered in Political Ponerology related to:
- The various forms of psychopathology relevant to ponerology and their impact in the world
- The factors that render a system more vulnerable to ponerogenesis and the potential to evaluate the state of a system in regard to those factors in order to assess its level of ponerologic risk
- The mechanisms and tactics - including the myriad forms of strategic exploitation of ideology, communication and war - involved in each of the archetypal stages of the ponerologic process in systems and through history
- The stereotypical traumatic effects experienced when pathological people engage with these mechanisms and tactics in pursuit of their abusive goals
- Why different people respond so very differently to encounters with the pathological
- The makeup and workings of pathocracy
- The complex interplay between religion and pathocracy
- How resistance to pathocracy develops
Furthermore, the page covers:
- Consideration, in great detail, of the implications that Lobaczewski’s work has and the measures that it calls for in a variety of sectors and areas of activity
- How Political Ponerology’s ideas resonated with many of my previous experiences and realizations
- Some of the concerns put forth by myself and others about the book’s suspect claims, shortcomings, imperfections in both content and style and potential to be appropriated by malicious parties in the service of undesirable ends
- Some responses addressing those concerns and why none of them, in any case, should ultimately detract from the most important legacies of Lobaczewski and the many others who sacrificed as he did, namely:
- Pioneering the promotion and application of ponerology
- Laying the groundwork and advocating for a vigorous approach, based in a scientific epistemology, to studying and communicating about questions involving harm, suffering and evil – an approach which continues to spread, through the work of many researchers, authors, filmmakers and others to this day and which, in light of new developments and technologies, should continue to spread well into the future
If you are strongly interested in this material or if you start reading and are intrigued, then I certainly hope you’ll read all of the pages. Even though, as mentioned, they - especially the pages on ponerology and pathocracy and the review of Political Ponerology - often overlap in content, still each considers the subject matter with a slightly different focus and includes a few quotes or nuggets of wisdom that struck me as compelling and that were not included in any other page. Sometimes, just reading the same idea expressed through one turn of phrase as opposed to another can bring it home more effectively. And, at the very least, exploring the material in all of these various forms will reinforce it so that it will likely be internalized better and for longer.
Once again, because the pages are long and sometimes academic, it will take some time to read them all. But, this investment of time may, throughout life, prove worthwhile and pay dividends. What these pages impart took me several decades to discover and synthesize. It has the potential, though, to shed light on countless facets of our world for many more decades than that.
And, for whatever it is worth, in the process you will also learn more about me, my interests and what inspires me.
If you decide to read all of the pages, the order in which they were introduced in the previous section is a quite reasonable one in which to do so.
I have no way of knowing how many people will wish to read all of the pages. But, I am satisfied knowing that they are all available for however many or few that is.
If you do not have the time, energy or inclination to read all of the pages, then I would suggest you read, in this order:
- The psychopathy page, which is the most unique of the pages and…
- The ponerology page, which is probably the most important of the group - or, for that matter, of all the pages I’ve written to date - touches on all of the main critical principles and best conveys how all of the other pages fit into the bigger picture
Together, these two pages will enlighten you regarding the basic relevant information and link you to other pages where appropriate
If you are only going to read one page, then the ponerology page is the one I would recommend.
However, of course, if any page jumps out at you most or seems most pertinent to you at this time, by all means dive in at that page. All of the pages sensibly interlink and refer to each other. So you really can profitably arrange your journey through them in any order that you choose.
What I Hope You Will Take Away from Reading These Pages
The information aggregated and shared in these pages obviously cannot and will not provide a final and complete answer as to why the world is as it is. There are influential factors that we may be unable, at this point or possibly ever, to identify or understand. Some of the ideas dealt with are, currently, insufficiently tested according to the standards of science and, therefore - since we are explicitly advocating for consideration of the forces at play in our world from a scientific perspective - must be further clarified and validated by additional research before we rely heavily upon them. And, as is always the case when engaging with science, alternative realizations may, if supported by newly revealed evidence, supplant these ideas - which simply represent the best educated guesses of which we are capable today - at any time.
What I can say with confidence - and one of the beliefs that I hope you will share with me after reading this work - is that the subjects addressed in these pages are important enough to merit persistent investigation and, despite, and sometimes precisely because of, our uncertainty, prudent responses in a variety of areas on all levels and scales. I have taken pains to make that case by providing corroborating data and examples from many referenced sources that demonstrate that:
- There is a high likelihood that the conditions supposed to underlie much preventable and unnecessary harm are real and surprisingly common
- The powerful positions that allow these conditions to exert significant influence are real
- Especially when these conditions and positions interconnect, they often play central roles in the tragic abuses in our systems and may contribute to the greatest threat we face
- These circumstances force us into difficult decisions about what to do or not to do - what measures or policies to enact or not to enact - to break out of and immunize ourselves against frustrating harmful cycles
To accelerate the conversation, I also lay out many proposals for how we might go about engaging in the investigation and responses for which the situation calls.
The picture painted in these pages isn’t always rosy. Some of the unpleasant probabilities that the material elucidates can be difficult to swallow. And even though the pages explore possible solutions to the problems they raise and there seems to be an encouraging increase in the generation and distribution of tools and resources devoted to and discussions focusing on these issues, sometimes even in unexpected places, it remains to be seen whether enough people will be willing to do what it takes to build the momentum to maturely, pragmatically and effectively address them, namely:
- Become conscious of the presence of these issues
- Accept what the evidence germane to the issues shows
- Focus on the issues consistently
- Move beyond both submission and vengefulness
A whole host of passive and active forces, in the forms of both internal defense mechanisms and external pressures, work against such desirable progress, discouraging many from even considering entire fields of relevant knowledge or valuing those who promote them. And even among those who truly care about these issues, there is a temptation to resign ourselves to only philosophizing about them. We will have to resolve many such complications in order to achieve a new milestone in our evolutionary history at which we can more consistently detect the elements and processes involved in and escape self-destructive patterns and wisely act in our own best interest.
However, in the face of these daunting challenges, I believe it is essential that we wrestle with this material and attract to it the attention necessary to arouse an awakening in the service of cultivating an environment in which:
- Courageous scientific and critical thinking about the origins and dynamics of suffering in our world, as well as a pro-psychological attitude, are esteemed and advanced
- We can develop social structures with the capacity to maintain these conditions and foster healthy development on a sustainable basis
And I believe that the entity that could most effectively catalyze all of this is a well-established, highly respected discipline of ponerology equipped to flourish through the generations, serving as a connection point where those knowingly and, as yet, unknowingly working on its mission - including those now unaware that such a field of study even exists - can find each other for mutual support in:
- Seeking the truth about harm and evil in our world
- Objectively confirming or invalidating and replacing the theories on these subjects of Lobaczewski and others
- Promoting their findings as widely as possible
This is a campaign whose time has come. Many people, as well as non-humans, suffered and sacrificed greatly in the course of the trek that has brought us to this point - a point at which we can access more knowledge and resources to support fundamental improvements in the world than ever before. We can honor them best by responsibly applying and building on these assets.
It would be very satisfying if I could, through my life and work:
- Contribute to stimulating, enhancing and raising the priority of the dialogue on and continued study of these issues
- Help support the rise of ponerology at a critical point in its early history when it needs all the support it can get
Therefore, after reading these pages, I hope that – in addition to a recognition that these subjects are pressing enough to demand an investment of energy and resources in investigation and response – you will come away with an appreciation for the positions that:
- Despite the substantial challenges to constructive movement toward health and sustainability, we should bravely engage in and expand the dialogue about the topics examined in these pages and the hard choices with which they confront us
- We should especially invest in building and broadly promoting the field of ponerology because it can best serve as a lasting foundation for all of the efforts in these areas that are so sorely needed, championing:
- The application of science, critical thinking and psychological insight to the tasks of understanding and addressing harm and evil
- The study of and experimentation with the types of social structures that encourage this
While I also hope and believe that you will gain much more from them, if you take away from reading these pages a heightened and more sensitive perception, if not an intense urge to act, in regard to these matters, I will consider the work a success.
Final Thoughts on What Drove Me in Writing These Pages
So I have endeavored here to lay out a helpful introduction to these pages. And, if I have, then you will now understand why I wrote what I wrote in the pages and why I wrote them the way that I wrote them. But, perhaps, even all of this cannot sufficiently explain my motivation. And, if that is the case, then I may simply have to explain it in words that many who write will understand:
I just had to.
I felt compelled to do it and it just emerged and everything around me continuously reinforced its doing so.
Perhaps work like this ultimately springs from the unconscious and, thus, we cannot always know the reasons why all things flow out as they do at the time of the flowing. Sometimes those reasons are revealed to us later, either on our own or through interaction with others. Other times, we never do discover exactly why. And sometimes the reasons only come to light many years later, quite possibly long after we’re gone.
Foster the Dialogue: Join in with Comments and Discussion
Although, as emphasized, I have earnestly attempted, in the pages, to explore the relevant issues as comprehensively as possible, there is of course, no chance that I could have become aware of, much less touched on, every subject related to or perspective on them or foreseen and preemptively addressed all of the responses that they may inspire in various people.
I am eager to learn what others believe, feel, think or know about these matters, as well as what, if anything, unfolds in connection with them.
The pages themselves are static and offer no space to leave comments. But questions, thoughts and stories concerning, in any way, the material covered in the pages can be left here in the comments section of this introduction page, in which I would like to see a fruitful discussion - of the very kind for which these pages so often call - emerge.
If you found this page helpful, then please:
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