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Inside the Psyche of the 1% -- Many Actually Believe Their Ideology of Greed Makes for a Better World

If the 1% are to develop the same level of understanding of others that the 99% has, they will need to walk in their shoes.

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Sociologists wrote of “aspiration level theory,” “positional goods” and “status symbols” to describe the purchase of objects whose major value is to demonstrate that the owner possesses something that most others do not. Studies documented that people who prize material possessions are significantly less happy. [30]

Karl Marx wrote of the prime directive of capitalism being to “Accumulate, accumulate!” [31] Decades before the end of the twentieth century, capitalism had spread its pathological world view and created a new law of accumulation:

Manufactured Needs = Manufactured Unhappiness

It is well documented that possessions do not bring happiness; but, then, what does? Recent research has confirmed what philosophers have written and religions have preached for millennia. Happiness is associated with close personal relationships and control over essential parts of one’s life. [32] One study which interviewed college students found that those who were the most happy (1) spent more time with others and (2) reported more satisfying relationships. A society dominated by the 1%, however, pushes us in the opposite direction. In 1985, 75% of Americans reported having a close friend, but by 2004 that had fallen to 50%. [33] 

One of the more interesting experimental studies had some participants do five favors for people in a single day. Weeks later, they still felt better than those who did not practice altruistic behavior. [34] Life might be less pleasant among those whose urge to get ahead makes them less compassionate and less likely to do unsolicited nice things for others.

The exponential addict

The 1% could easily find compassion getting in their way as their actions affect an increasing number of lives. Gaining enough wealth to move out of poverty makes a significant difference in the life satisfaction of a person who has little. Gaining the same amount of wealth has no effect on the happiness of the very rich. They must grab the wealth of many impoverished people in order to have a perceptible increase in happiness. As for a drug addict, the rush from an increase in material possessions of those who already have more than enough is merely a temporary fix.

Soon they will have to prevent even more from rising out of poverty if they are to get another short-term happiness rush. Whether the rush is from the actual possessions or the power that they manifest, it still won’t be enough. They must increase the rate of wealth accumulation that they push through their veins. If those with spectacular quantities of obscene wealth are to get their next high, they cannot merely snort enough happiness objects to prevent masses of people from rising  out of poverty—they have to manipulate markets to grind an ever-increasing number  into poverty.

The petty psychopath and the grand corporate psychopath seek happiness through the act of obtaining material possessions as much as having them. A major difference between them is that the grand psychopath has the ability to cause so much harm. Even more important, the amount of harm that corporate psychopaths cause grows at an exponential rate. Their financial schemes are no longer millions or billions, but now trillions. Not content to drive individual farmers off their land, they design trade deals that force entire countries to plow under the ability to feed their own people and replace it with cash crops to feed animals or produce biofuels.

Finding that the pollution of small communities generates insufficient funds, they blow off the tops of mountain ranges for coal, raze boreal forests for tar sands, attack aquatic ecosystems with deep sea drilling, and contaminate massive natural water systems by mining gold or fracking for gas. While the petty psychopath may become proficient enough to become a godfather, the grand psychopath is driven not merely to planetary destruction but to a frenetic increase in the rate of destruction at precisely the moment when the tipping point of climate change is most haunting. 

 
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