All societies contain a percentage of their members, primarily men, who are sociopathic. A true sociopath is amoral, lacking in empathy, aggressive without feelings of guilt, and uses other people to satisfy his own instinctual desires. Malignant Narcissism overlaps and merges with sociopathy:
In more severe cases, the existence of the other person’s mind and life is simply of no consequence. For the Malignant Narcissist, other people are mere props in the pageantry of their lives. A tyrant can throw someone into a shredding machine without a second thought because the victim only matters in relation to how he can support the grandiosity of the tyrant; beyond that, he is faceless, nameless, worthless.
There are, luckily, very few true sociopaths. For normal people, it is not easy to contemplate harming another living human being. Perhaps because of the existence of mirror cells in our brains, empathy is innate in almost all of us. There is a much larger group for whom sociopathic behavior is possible depending on the circumstances. For example, in prison settings, the ability to hurt another without qualms can have survival benefits. Another example would be the drug addict whose empathy is overwhelmed by his need for his fix.
In Bill Whittle's famous essay on Tribes, he included excerpts from The Bulletproof Mind in which Lt. Colonel Grossman divided people into wolves, sheep, and sheep dogs. Most people are sheep, with some unknown percentage also being potential sheep dogs under the proper circumstances while another unknown percentage are potential wolves under the same circumstances. As Lt. Colonel Grossman puts it:
The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.
While Bill and the Lt. Colonel were talking about our society, with Bill emphasizing our response to 9/11, their description lends itself to some thoughts on how societies organize themselves to deal with those who have sociopathic tendencies.
The essential difference between wolves, aka sociopaths, and sheep, lies not only in their quantity of empathy but in the related question of the quality of their instinctual drives. While most men have powerful sexual drives and desires, which always include an admixture of aggression, only a very small minority will rape; most look for other ways of gratifying their sexual desires and take as their ideal a relationship in which sex is loving and affectionate and where the aggression is most sublimated. A healthy society depends on its ability to tame the aggression of their young men; the alternative is chaos and anarchy.
It seems to me that in our world there are two different approaches to the problem of taming the aggression of young men. In some societies, especially those that are more specifically tribal in orientation, the aggression is directed outward, toward those who are not in the tribe, and idealized. The quintessential arrangement of rage-idealizing social order occurs in what are now referred to as failed states. The Somalia of "Black Hawk Down", run by war lords who starve those who are not in the right tribe and think nothing of torturing their opponents and using murder and rape as weapons of terror, would be an example of such a social arrangement. Palestine, with the outer-directed rage of Hamas, religious injunctions to murder and torment those of other tribes (Jews, especially, but Christians as well) is high on the list of such societies. In these societies not only is sociopathy rewarded, the highest honors and power tends to go to those who are most viciously sociopathic.
The United States, on the other hand, is a country where traditional religious and family structures are designed to help young men achieve optimal control over their aggressive impulses. We even have avenues for all but the worst sociopaths to succeed and add what value they can to society. An example would be the young man with sociopathic tendencies who is able to sublimate his aggression into sports or aggressive business practices; they may be ruthless and cut throat, but they are only symbolically and economically ruthless. They may put people out of work (which is not something to be proud of) but they don't put them through a shredder.
Along with societal mechanisms which enhance socialization, the high risk of capture and punishment cause many young men with sociopathic tendencies to observe at least minimal standards of probity. When a society elects to relax those structures that provide internal and external mechanisms for enhanced control over sexuality and aggression (by adopting policies that damage family structures, minimizing the place of religion in public life, decreasing the certainty of punishment for criminal activity, promoting sex as primarily recreational, as examples) they risk a plethora of social dislocations and breakdowns; many Western countries have done the social experiment and the results are problematic.
Right now in Europe we are seeing a great clash. On one side are those who were so terrified of their own aggression (WWI & WWII) and so successful at distancing themselves from it (some would say they have neutered themselves, in part by relying on the American protection during the cold war) that they have forgotten that society depends on acculturating young men. On the other side are those who find their greatest allegiance is to cultures which celebrate other-directed aggression. The primary issue facing Islam is whether it will continue to be seen as a system which depends upon directing aggression outward or whether it has within itself the ability to enable sublimation of such aggressive drives. While an Islamic Reformation would require many different facets, from ritual to theology, in order to integrate into the world as a constructive force, clearly one of the important issues would be how it is used to rationalize the power of primitive aggression toward all other "tribes".
Joe Katzman, at Winds of Change, believes that the current battles are salutary; in such a crucible as war we find out who we are:
Europe's Weimaresque statists once again desert the field, and openly surrender public safety in the face of politically-correct brownshirts ("greenshirts?"). North American media will publish pictures from Abu Ghraib and baseless allegations of Korans being flushed down toilets, but will not publish innocuous cartoons claiming to depict Muhammed "in order not to offend Muslims." And the beat goes on. In the current Danish-inspired controversy, those who pay attention are being presented with more than one set of cartoons.
And so we find ourselves treading strange paths that lead us, step by step, into Mordor. We, too, must unmake the trinkets of our binding and our burden - or welcome our fading and kneel, grateful, before the New-Risen Darkness.
There is much to worry about in Europe, though he offers some hopeful thoughts at the end of his piece.
Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.
For 30 years I lived inside this war zone of oppressive dictatorships and police states. Citizens competed to appease and glorify their dictators, but they looked the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorised other Muslims. I witnessed honour killings of girls, oppression of women, female genital mutilation, polygamy and its devastating effect on family relations. All of this is destroying the Muslim faith from within.
It's time for Arabs and Muslims to stand up for their families. We must stop allowing our leaders to use the West and Israel as an excuse to distract from their own failed leadership and their citizens' lack of freedoms. It's time to stop allowing Arab leaders to complain about cartoons while turning a blind eye to people who defame Islam by holding Korans in one hand while murdering innocent people with the other.
No one is going to get out of this untouched; appeasement simply changes the timing of the crunch, not the certainty of it.
And don't miss Dymphna's comments in Eurabia Buries Her History and Traditions. She is not optimistic:
Eurabia: death by a thousand cuts.
It is enough to make you weep, watching the light in the eyes of Europe dhimmi down and weasel out. It is a dark time in a darkling continent.