It’s a special breed of people who can deny workers a cost of living pay increase while pocketing a hundred thousand dollar a week pay cheque. It’s a special breed who can take people’s livelihoods or risk their health and safety to add a few cents to the share price. Research names that breed: psychopaths. Capitalism is built by and for them.
Here’s part of an article from Stuff on the subject and there’s plenty of other info out there, most notably the documentary The Corporation (isn’t it amazing how ‘hey, our economic system is controlled by psychopaths isn’t considered major news yet we do nothing about it):
The question is whether being a psychopath comes with the territory of being a boss. Not that all bosses are psychopaths, most are decent.
But do the traits of a workplace psychopath, the charm and the ruthlessness, make it easier to become a boss? Research in the past suggests that most psychopaths are of normal intelligence. More like Tony Soprano than Hannibal Lecter.
According to research cited, managers scored higher on measures of psychopathy than the overall population. Some who had very high scores were candidates for, or held, senior positions.
“The very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings,” the researchers said.
Another study When Executives Rake in Millions: Meanness in Organizations found that bosses who make big bucks are much meaner to their employees compared to executives who aren’t earning massive salaries
What are the danger signals? Jo Owen at BNET identifies six traits to watch out for: they are highly egocentric and the world revolves around them; they have superficial charm and will say anything to get their way; they feel no guilt or shame about their actions; they take excessive risks; they blame others or completely deny there are problems and they are highly manipulative.
And of course, they will will back stab anyone they think is in their way or anyone deemed to be unnecessary.
All these traits helped them climb the greasy corporate ladder. Still, one of the problems in identifying the corporate psychopath is that it’s a world in which some of the defining characteristics are commonplace. Many successful managers and executives can be grandiose and narcissistic.
Let’s face it, there has to be something wrong with your mental wiring if you’re a Rob Fyfe or a Paul Reynolds or one of that other rarefied breed who call themselves ‘wealth creators’. These guys pocket millions of dollars a year, more than anyone can possible need to live even a lavish lifestyle (Reynolds gets an extra quarter of a million a year for flights home to Scotland). At the same time, they’ll rip of cabin crew and lines engineers to the point where the only option the workers have to protect their livelihoods is to go on strike. What kind of human being is willing to impose such suffering on others for a personal gain that they don’t actually need? The answer is simple.
If anything, these people seem to reveal in industrial action – they love putting the boot into the people who actually make the organisation function. The cult of personality at Air NZ and the way it was turned against the Zeal workers was scary (although, ultimately, Fyfe lost so badly that the Zeal brand had to be replaced). It’s so bad in the case of Telecom that they’ve lost a large chunk of their engineering workforce, who have left the industry altogether. But that ultimately self-destructive mindset is a key feature of psychopathology and capitalism. The value of Telecom has plummeted under Reynolds while he has kept on taking the pay cheques.
The capitalist edifice is a parasite on the economy and society. Sitting between those who do the work and the work they produce, it siphons off most of the wealth for an elite whose true economic contribution is conspicuously un-examined and just assumed to be vital.
Much as the psychopath doesn’t contribute to society but exploits its weakness, the capitalist has created a niche that is said to be crucial, in fact said to be the fount of wealth, but, in reality, the capitalist creates neither the capital he owns or the wealth that is produced with it. That is all done by someone else, the capitalist just owns everything.