In the modern vernacular, the sociopath is someone who lacks empathy, remorse and an understanding of right and wrong. The sociopath sees no difference between the truth and a lie, only their utility. Additionally, they never think about the consequences of their actions. A sociopath sees no harm in telling people that his brain juice will prevent concussions. The veracity of his statements are meaningless. What matters is how well it moves product. People ending up with brain damage as a result is never considered.
The key thing about the modern sociopath is the ambivalence toward the truth. They think saying something is the same as doing something. What matters is if the words get the listener to do what the sociopath wants them to do. Standing in front of crowd, making false claims, is fine if it causes people to buy product. If the truth sells more product, then the truth is better. From the perspective of the modern sociopath, the difference is about the results, not the accuracy of the statements. The truth or a lie, whichever works.
Now replace “sociopath” with “politician” and “product” with “votes” and you have the modern managerial democracy. It’s not that our politicians lie. It’s that for them, a lie is indistinguishable from the truth. That’s why they seem so utterly shameless. Shame requires a sense of right and wrong, a knowledge that what you said or did is intrinsically wrong. For the people who rule over us, right and wrong only exist in the context of their own ambitions. Something is “right” if it benefits the person in the moment.
On Jan. 31, the mayor here, Megan Barry, called a news conference to announce that she had been having an affair with Robert Forrest Jr., a police sergeant who was the head of her security detail: “It was wrong, and we shouldn’t have done it,” she said.
Along with this confession, the mayor offered the kind of full-throated apology we almost never get from public officials: “I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his,” she said. “I knew my actions could cause damage to my office and the ones I loved, but I did it anyway.”
She ended her statement with a pledge: “God will forgive me, but the people of Nashville don’t have to. In the weeks and months to come, I will work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust.”
This promise did not seem like an act of damage control. This is the way Megan Barry really talks. The language of full emotional availability is her native tongue.
Perhaps that’s why this city loves her. She hugs schoolchildren. She looks genuinely joyful at city parades and festivals. She grieves that too many Nashville teenagers are slain by guns. When Max Barry, her own son and only child, died suddenly last summer, the people of Nashville wept with her. When she spoke openly about the drug addiction that killed him, we marveled at her courage and admired her resolve to bring addiction out of the shadows of shame.
But in a red state like Tennessee, this liberal mayor also has powerful opponents, and they are not idiots. An editorial in the conservative Tennessee Star wasted no time in calling for her resignation: “Barry and the fawning, liberal Nashville media are trying the Clinton defense.”
Notice that saying you are taking responsibility is now the same as actually taking responsibility. The normal way in which one would seek forgiveness is to confess, demonstrate contrition and atone for the crime. In other words, usually you suffer for having done wrong. It is the willingness to accept punishment that demonstrates your acceptance of right and wrong. What we have here is a soulless effort to turn bad behavior into a political asset by fooling people about her contrition.
This sort of thing has become a feature of the managerial class, as it has become increasingly feminized. The writer of that Times piece is a typical feminist, lacking anything resembling a rational mind. That’s why she celebrates Mayor Sociopath. The great writer Theodore Dalrymple touches on this in his last Taki piece. In a world of emasculated liars, lying becomes the most noble of qualities. That means everyone is now trained to lie about themselves and their intentions. Mendacity is the coin of the managerial realm.
There is another aspect to it. The Mayor is out there performing a one women play intended to let you know how she feels about herself. The expectation is the voters will reward her for being able to tell them how she feels about her own lack of moral scruples. It is a deranged form a solipsism, where all that matters is how one feels about one’s own mind. It’s why the expression, “I feel” turns up in so much of our public discourse. Truth is defined by how one feels about it at any one moment in time.
As Theodore Dalrymple pointed out, the meritocracy has been warped by this self-absorption, so this habit of mind is being forced onto the younger generations. If you want to get into a good school, you better be good at expressing how you feel about it, in a way that lets the admissions people know you really care. Listen to millennial males talk and it often sounds like girl’s night after one of the coven had a fight with her boyfriend. They endlessly yammer on about how they feel and demand a reward for their good intentions.
I’ve often pointed out that the arrival of women in positions of authority is the death knell of the organization. It means the smart money has moved onto greener pastures, leaving the enterprise to the vultures, who will pick over the corpse for the bits they like. Feminists will get their stuff, homosexuals will make their demands, minorities will air their grievances. In time, the organization collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. That’s what’s happening in the West. It’s a scramble to strip the carcass of civilization.
This will not end well.