I read Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes. It was translated by Alexandra Chciuk-Celt, Ph. D. and edited with notes and commentary by Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See. This is the second edition. Copyright 1998, 2006. It was published in Canada by Red Pill Press.
This book was kind of hard for me to read. I read it twice and I still don’t really understand it.
There are a number of ways of preventing the circulation and distribution of ideas that are considered dangerous to the ensconced powers. The first is to work to prevent their publication. Lobaczewski describes how Zbigniew Bzrezinski, while singing words of praise for the manuscript and saying he would see it published, in fact did his best, successfully, to see the book did not get into print. [p. 223]
A good quote to kind of start off this is from the publisher:
Human history is the tale of powers and regimes rising and falling. Behind many of them stand individuals that fit the descriptions of pathological types in this book. While Lobaczewski offers us, perhaps for the first time in recorded history, the key to understanding this process, for coming to grips with the true nature of human evil in our world, it is obvious that the key will only unlock more horror and suffering if it is held by those types described in the pages of this book. Only if normal people, the billions of normal people of conscience in our world, can be made aware of the real threat we face and can learn to immunize themselves, do we stand a chance of breaking the cycle. [p. 224]
Another good quote to help start this off is from the editor’s preface:
Andrew Lobaczewski addresses the problem of the psychopath and their extremely significant contribution to our macrosocial evils, their ability to act as the éminence grise behind the very structure of our society. [p. 15]
So who is Andrew M. Lobaczewski? He’s the author. More on him . . .
I [, Andrew M. Lobaczewski,] am a very aged clinical psychologist. Forty years ago I took part in a secret investigation of the real nature and psychopathology of the macro-social phenomenon called “Communism”. [p. 19]
What is “ponerology”? Some quotes . . .
Nevertheless, based on the work of myself and others in that past tragic time, a new discipline arose that became our beacon; two Greek philologists/monks baptized it “PONEROLOGY” from the Greek poneros = evil. The process of the genesis of evil was called, correspondingly, “ponerogenesis”. [p. 71]
A ponerological approach facilitates an understanding of some of mankind’s more dramatic difficulties on both levels, the macrosocial and the individual human scale. This new discipline will make it possible to achieve first theoretical, and then practical, solutions for problems we have been attempting to solve by ineffective traditional means, resulting in feelings of helplessness against the tides of history. These latter means are based on historiographical concepts and excessively moralizing attitudes, which makes them overrate force as a means of counteracting evil. Ponerology can help equalize such one-sidedness by means of modern naturalistic thinking, supplementing our comprehension of the causes and genesis of evil with the facts necessary to build a more stable foundation for practical inhibition of the processes of ponerogenesis and counteraction of their results. [p. 125]
Ponerology was born in the crucible of attempts to understand, scientifically, a macro-social phenomenon of what can only be called extreme and excessive evil: Fascism and Soviet Communism. [p. 234]
The ponerogenesis of macrosocial phenomena — large scale evil — which constitutes the most important object of this book, appears to be subject to the same laws of nature that operate within human questions on an individual or small-group level. The role of persons with various psychological defects and anomalies of a clinically low level appears to be a perennial characteristic of such phenomena. In the macrosocial phenomenon we shall later call “pathocracy”, a certain hereditary anomaly isolated as “essential psychopathy” is catalytically and causatively essential for the genesis and survival of large scale social evil. [p. 31]
A cool quote on evil:
Evil in the world, in fact, constitutes a continuum: one kind opens the door to another, irrespective of its qualitative essence or the ideological slogans cloaking it. [p. 198]
Quotes on psychopaths:
Martha Stout, [in The Sociopath Next Door (Broadway, 2005),] who has worked extensively with victims of psychopaths, writes:
Imagine — if you can — not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.
And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.
Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.
. . .
If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people’s hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. . . .
Crazy and frightening — and real, in about 4 percent of the population. . . .
The prevalence rate for anorexic eating disorders is estimated a 3.43 percent, deemed to be nearly epidemic, and yet this figure is a fraction lower than the rate for antisocial personality. The high-profile disorders classed as schizophrenia occur in only about 1 percent of [the population] — a mere quarter of the rate of antisocial personality — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the rate of colon cancer in the United States, considered “alarmingly high,” is about 40 per 100,000 — one hundred times lower than the rate of antisocial personality.
The high incidence of sociopathy in human society has a profound effect on the rest of us who must live on this planet, too, even those of us who have not been clinically traumatized. The individuals who constitute this 4 percent drain our relationships, our bank accounts, our accomplishments, our self-esteem, our very peace on earth.
“Likeable”, “Charming”, “Intelligent”, “Alert”, “Impressive”, “Confidence-inspiring,” and “A great success with the ladies”. This is how Hervey Cleckley described most of his subjects in The Mask of Sanity. It seems that, in spite of the fact that their actions prove them to be “irresponsible” and “self-destructive”, psychopaths seem to have in abundance the very traits most desired by normal persons. The smooth self-assurance acts as an almost supernatural magnet to normal people who have to read self-help books or go to counseling to be able to interact with others in an untroubled way. The psychopath, on the contrary, never has any neuroses, no self-doubts, never experiences angst, and is what “normal” people seek to be. What’s more, even if they aren’t that attractive, they are “babe magnets”.
Cleckley’s seminal hypothesis is that the psychopath suffers from profound and incurable affective deficit. If he really feels anything at all, they are emotions of only the shallowest kind. He is able to do whatever he wants, based on whatever whim strikes him, because consequences that would fill the ordinary man with shame, self-loathing, and embarrassment simply do not affect the psychopath at all. What to others would be a horror or a disaster is to him merely a fleeting inconvenience. [p. 14]
Hervey Cleckley actually comes very close to suggesting that psychopaths are human in every respect — but that they lack a soul. This lack of “soul quality” makes them very efficient “machines”. They can write scholarly works, imitate the words of emotion, but over time, it becomes clear that their words do not match their actions. They are the type of person who can claim that they are devastated by grief who then attend a party “to forget”. The problem is: they really do forget. [p. 15]
In short, the psychopath is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the “mask of sanity” of the psychopath. Just as an animal predator will adopt all kinds of stealthy functions in order to stalk their prey, cut them out of the herd, get close to them, and reduce their resistance, so does the psychopath construct all kinds of elaborate camouflage composed of words and appearances — lies and manipulations — in order to “assimilate” their prey. [p. 17]
Familiarity with this common weakness of human nature and the normal person’s “naÏveté” is part of the specific knowledge we find in many psychopathic individuals . . . [p. 103]
Psychopaths are conscious of being different from normal people. That is why the “political system” inspired by their nature is able to conceal this awareness of being different. They wear a personal mask of sanity and know how to create a macrosocial mask of the same dissimulating nature. When we observe the role of ideology in this macrosocial phenomenon, quite conscious of the existence of this specific awareness of the psychopath, we can then understand why ideology is relegated to a tool-like role: something useful in dealing with those other naive people and nations. Pathocrats must nevertheless appreciate the function of ideology as being something essential in any ponerogenic group, especially in the macrosocial phenomenon which is their “homeland”. [p. 143-144]
Lobaczewski talks about how in a system there’s a group of 6% that make up the nobility and a group of 12% that make up the bourgeoisie. The rest of the population makes up the 82%. And it’s the 18% that controls the 82% I guess.
You can think of it like a triangle:
The 6% group constitute the new nobility; the 12% group gradually forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous. Adapting to the new conditions, not without conflicts of conscience, transforms this latter group into both dodgers and, simultaneously, intermediaries between the oppositional society and the active ponerological group, whom they can talk to in the appropriate language. They play such a crucial role within this system that both sides must take them into account. Since their technical capacities and skills are better than those of the active pathocratic group, they assume various managerial positions. Normal people see them as persons they can approach, generally without being subjected to pathological arrogance.
So it is that only 18% of the country’s population is in favor of the new system of government; but concerning the layer we have called the bourgeoisie, we may even be doubtful of the sincerity of their attitudes. This is the situation in the author’s homeland. This proportion can be variously estimated in other countries, from 15% in Hungary to 21% in Bulgaria, but it is never more than a relatively small minority. [pp. 157-158]
It was relatively easy to determine the environments and origins of the people who succumbed to this process, which I then called “transpersonification”. They came from all social groups, including aristocratic and fervently religious families and caused a break in our student solidarity to the order of some 6%. The remaining majority suffered varying degrees of personality disintegration which gave rise to individual searching for the values necessary to find ourselves again; the results were varied and sometimes creative.
Even then, we had no doubts as to the pathological nature of this “transpersonification” process, which ran similar but not identical in all cases. The duration of the results of this phenomenon also varied. Some of these people later became zealots. Others later took advantage of various circumstances to withdraw and re-establish their lost links to the society of normal people. They were replaced. The only constant value of the new social system was the magic number of 6%. [p. 26]
The first conclusion which suggested itself soon after meeting with the “professor” introduced at the beginning of this volume, was that the phenomenon’s development is limited by nature in terms of the participation of susceptible individuals within a given society. The initial evaluation of approximately 6% amenable individuals proved realistic; progressively collected detailed statistical data assembled later were unable to refute it. This value varies from country to country in the magnitude of about one percentage point upward or downward. Quantitatively speaking, this number is broken down into 0.6% essential psychopaths, i.e. about 1/10 of this 6%. However, this anomaly plays a disproportionate role compared to the numbers by saturating the phenomenon as a whole with its own quality of thought and experience. [p. 156]
Neurosis develops in people under pathocratic rule.
. . . neurosis is human nature’s normal response to being subjugated to a pathological system. [p. 200]
Every person in the span of his life, and particularly during childhood and youth, assimilates psychological material from others through mental resonance, identification, imitation, and other communicative means, thereupon transforming it to build his own personality and world view. If such material is contaminated by pathological factors and deformities, personality development shall also be deformed. There product will be a person unable to understand correctly either himself and others, normal human relations and morals; he develops into a person who commits evil acts with a poor feeling of being faulty. Is he really at fault? [p. 73]
Neurosis is a natural response of human nature if a normal person is subordinated to domination of pathological people. The same applies to the subordination of a society and its members to a pathological system of authority. In a pathocratic state, every person with a normal nature thus exhibits a certain chronic neurotic state, controlled by the efforts of reason. The intensity of these states, varies among individuals, depending upon different circumstances, usually more serious in direct proportion to the individual’s intelligence. Psychotherapy upon such people is only possible and effective if we can rely on adequate familiarity with the causes of these states. Western educated psychologists thus prove completely impractical with regard to such patients. [p. 177]
Some quotes about “happy times”:
In general, most people are horrified by such literature; in hedonistic societies particularly, people have the tendency to escape into ignorance or naive doctrines. Some people even feel contempt for suffering persons. The influence of such books can thus be partially harmful; we should counteract that influence by indicating what the authors had to leave out because our ordinary world of concepts and imaginings cannot contain it. [p. 29]
Perception of the truth about the real environment, especially an understanding of the human personality and its values, ceases to be a virtue during the so-called “happy” times; thoughtful doubters are decried as meddlers who cannot leave well enough alone. This, in turn, leads to an impoverishment of psychological knowledge, the capacity of differentiating the properties of human nature and personality, and the ability to mold minds creatively. The cult of power thus supplants those mental values so essential for maintaining law and order by peaceful means. A nation’s enrichment or involution regarding its psychological world view could be considered an indicator of whether its future will be good or bad.
During “good” times, the search for truth becomes uncomfortable because it reveals inconvenient facts. It is better to think about easier and more pleasant things. Unconscious elimination of data which are, or appear to be, inexpedient gradually turns into habit, and then becomes a custom accepted by society at large. The problem is that any thought process based on such truncated information cannot possibly give rise to correct conclusions; it further leads to subconscious substitution of inconvenient premises by more convenient ones, thereby approaching the boundaries of psychopathy.
. . . Catastrophe waits in the wings. In such times, the capacity for logical and disciplined thought, born of necessity during difficult times, begins to fade. When communities lose the capacity for psychological reason and moral criticism, the processes of the generation of evil are intensified at every social scale, whether individual or macrosocial, until everything reverts to “bad” times.
. . .
When a few generations’ worth of “good-time” insouciance results in societal deficit regarding psychological skill and moral criticism, this paves the way for pathological plotters, snake-charmers, and even more primitive impostors to act and merge into the processes of the origination of evil. They are essential factors in its synthesis. In the next chapter I shall attempt to persuade my readers that the participation of pathological factors, so underrated by the social sciences, is a common phenomenon in the processes of the origin of evil.
Those times which many people later recall as the “good old days” thus provide fertile soil for future tragedy because of the progressive devolution of moral, intellectual, and personality values which give rise to Rasputin-like eras.
. . .
When bad times arrive and people are overwhelmed by an excess of evil, they must gather all their physical and mental strength to fight for existence and protect human reason. The search for some way out of the difficulties and dangers rekindles long-buried powers of discretion. Such people have the initial tendency to rely on force in order to counteract the threat; they may, for instance, become “trigger-happy” or dependent upon armies.
Slowly and laboriously, however, they discover the advantages conferred by mental effort; improved understanding of the psychological situation in particular, better differentiation of human characters and personalities, and, finally, comprehension of one’s adversaries. During such times, virtues which former generations relegated to literary motifs regain their real and useful substance and become prized for their value. A wise person capable of furnishing sound advice is highly respected. [pp. 62-64]
The cycle of happy, peaceful times favors a narrowing of the world view and an increase in egotism; societies become subject to progressive hysteria and to that final stage, descriptively known to historians, which finally produces times of despondency and confusion, that have lasted for millennia and continue to do so. The recession of mind and personality which is a feature of ostensibly happy times varies from one nation to another; thus some countries manage to survive the results of such crises with minor losses, whereas others lose nations and empires. Geopolitical factors have also played a decisive role. [p. 64]
In “happy times” especially, the tendency for conversive thinking generally intensifies. It appears accompanied by a rising wave of hysteria in said society. Those who try to maintain common sense and proper reasoning finally wind up in the minority, feeling wronged because their human right to maintain psychological hygiene is violated by pressure from all sides. This means that unhappy times are not far away. [p. 109]
Quotes that I thought were cool:
Carriers of this anomaly [, schizoidia or schizoidal psychopathy,] are hypersensitive and distrustful, while, at the same time, pay little attention to the feelings of others. They tend to assume extreme positions, and are eager to retaliate for minor offenses. Sometimes they are eccentric and odd. Their poor sense of psychological situation and reality leads them to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations upon other people’s intentions. They easily become involved in activities which are ostensibly moral, but which actually inflict damage upon themselves and others. Their impoverished psychological worldview makes them typically pessimistic regarding human nature. We frequently find expressions of their characteristic attitudes in their statements and writings: “Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea.” Let us call this typical expression the “schizoid declaration”. [pp. 87-88]
In the psychopath, a dream emerges like some Utopia of a “happy” world and a social system which does not reject them or force them to submit to laws and customs whose meaning is incomprehensible to them. They dream of a world in which their simple and radical way of experiencing and perceiving reality would dominate; where they would, of course, be assured safety and prosperity. In this Utopian dream, they imagine that those “others”, different, but also more technically skillful than they are, should be put to work to achieve this goal for the psychopaths and others of their kin. “We”, they say, “after all, will create a new government, one of justice”. They are prepared to fight and to suffer for the sake of such a brave new world, and also, of course, to inflict suffering upon others. Such a vision justifies killing people, whose suffering does not move them to compassion because “they” are not quite conspecific. They do not realize that they will consequently meet with opposition which can last for generations. [pp. 98-99]
Pathocracy survives thanks to the feeling of being threatened by the society of normal people, as well as by other countries wherein various forms of the system of normal man persist. For the rulers, staying on the top is therefore the classic problem of “to be or not to be”. [p. 146]
. . . the practical value of our natural world view generally ends where psychopathology begins. [p. 103]
Nothing poisons the human soul and deprives us of our capacity to understand reality more objectively than this very obedience to that common human tendency to take a moralistic view of human behavior. [p. 105]
Deficiently faithful people have been and are a factor of the pathocratic system’s internal weakness. [p. 140]
Whenever a society contains serious social problems, there will also be some group of sensible people striving to improve the social situation by means of energetic reforms, so as to eliminate the cause of social tension. Others consider it their duty to bring about a moral rejuvenation of society. Elimination of social injustice and reconstruction of the country’s morals and civilization could deprive a pathocracy of an chance to take over. Such reformers and moralists must therefore be consistently neutralized by means of liberal or conservative positions and appropriately suggestive catchwords and paramoralisms; if necessary, the best among them has to be murdered.
Psychological warfare strategists must decide rather early on which ideology would be most efficient in a particular country because of its adaptability to said nation’s traditions. After all, the appropriately adapted ideology must perform the function of a Trojan horse, transporting pathocracy into the country. These various ideologies are then gradually conformed to one’s own original master plan. Finally, off comes the mask.
At the right time, local partisans are organized and armed, with recruits picked from dissatisfied localities; leadership is provided by trained officers familiar with the secret idea as well as the operative idea concocted for propagation in the country in question. Assistance must then be given so groups of conspirators adhering to the concocted ideology can stage a coup d’état, whereupon an iron-fisted government is installed. Once this has been brought about, the diversionary partisans’ activities are stymied — they are made out to be patsies — so that the new authorities can take credit for bringing about internal peace. Any hoodlum who cannot or will not submit to the new decrees is “gently” invited before his former leader and shot in the back of the head. This is the new reality.
This is how such governmental systems are born. A network of pathological ponerogenical factors is already active, as is the inspirational role of essential psychopathy. However, that does not yet represent a complete picture of pathocracy. Many local leaders and adherents persist in their original convictions which, albeit radical, strike them as serving the good of a much larger proportion of formerly abused persons, not just a few percent of pathocrats and the interests of a would-be world wide empire. [pp. 153-154]
Persons less distinctly inclined in the pathocratic direction include those affected by some states caused by the toxic activities of certain substances such as ether, carbon monoxide, and possibly some endotoxins, under the condition that this occurred in childhood. [p. 156]
Still, so many people with a religious upbringing change their world view to that of the Pathocrats very quickly. [p. 158]
Such a great review of individual, social, and historical world views in this search for meaning of life and history is a product of unhappy times and will help along the way back to happy ones. [p. 175]
As Mme. de Stael wrote: “Tout comprendere, c’est tout pardoner”. [Translation: “To understand all is to forgive all.”] [p. 175]
We must be convinced that the Truth can endure such a washing in modern detergent; not only will it not lose its eternal values, but it will actually regain its original freshness and noble colors. [p. 194]
. . . everything begins and ends within the human psyche. [p. 218]
One last quote . . .
When Man can look suffering and even death in the eye with the required calm, a dangerous weapon falls out of the ruler’s hands. [p. 173]