In small towns, people are often cautious with strangers. I think this may be due to an instinctive fear of psychopaths. It takes a while to recognise a psychopath. In a place where people know each other well, psychopaths are identified and shunned. Most leave for bigger cities where it is easier to escape detection.
If a psychopath were to open a shoe repair shop in a small town, it would not be long before he started to cheat his customers. Since there are a limited number of people in a small town, word will spread and the psychopath’s shoe repair shop will go out of business. He could try to open another shop, but since he had already been identified as a cheat, he would be unlikely to find any customers for his new venture.
In the old days, psychopaths often became traveling salesmen who would cheat people in small towns, but then move on to a new one before their perfidy was discovered. We don’t have many traveling salesmen anymore, but we do have large corporations.
Large businesses are ideal for psychopaths due to their complex structure. Intelligent psychopaths find many opportunities to cheat their way to promotions and salary increases. By the time their co-workers figure out what is going on, the psychopath has moved on to another division within the company, often at a higher level. Co-workers who have been wronged may find it difficult to prove exactly how the psychopath took credit for their work and undermined them. It may not seem to be worth the effort to expose the psychopath given that he is no longer their problem.
One of the questions that has puzzled many business observers is why large companies lose their way and ultimately fail despite having seemingly overwhelming advantages in resources. I believe that this decline may be due to a gradual accumulation of psychopaths over time. Just as a large animal can be brought down by small parasites if the number become too great, so too can large corporations be brought down if their psychopath load becomes too great.
We are all aware of the disastrous state of the financial system in the US and elsewhere. I believe that many of the “leaders” in the financial industry may be psychopaths. This would explain both their unethical behaviour and their failure to anticipate the consequences of their actions. I could give many examples of unethical behaviour at large corporations, but I will stick to a subject I write about the most – flu pandemics. During the peak of the pandemic last fall, scarce vaccine was reserved for employees at Goldman Sachs and CitiBank, while pregnant women and children died because they had no such access (see Line Jumpers for more).
Because executives at large corporations make very large salaries, they are able to influence the political process in the US through campaign donations. Thus, the consequences of psychopaths in big business extends beyond the business itself, as the flu vaccine story illustrates. Psychopaths have no loyalty to anyone or anything but themselves. Thus, they are particularly susceptible to inducements from foreign governments. In my next blog, I will discuss psychopaths in governments and their alliances with psychopaths in large corporations.