I have met a handful of frighteningly smart, frighteningly cold individuals in my lifetime.
They are the kind of people who could go on to head intelligence agencies, or at least, become fine field agents. They sincerely believe they are expedient, and consider nearly everyone else to be so as well.
They act in rational ways, and expect others to be rational, too. In another time, they would have made fine economists.
The problem with treating human beings as expedient, however, has worrying consequences.
They are the ones who would keep working if modern day Neros burnt down their cities. They are the ones who kept working and focusing on trade figures when the NYSE first crashed in 1929. They are the ones who were the last to leave their desks when their offices were ransacked in Tehran in 1979.
They were the ones who worked through the Bubonic Plague. They were the ones who supported the German supply lines during the Blitzkrieg. They were the ones who typed, printed and telegrammed Hitler’s Final Solution.
Of course, some of them were also the ones who broke the Enigma Code, but that’s beside the point.
The ones who can be trained to suppress their morals and ethics for the greater good, or worse, for abstract numbers, or the absolute worst, for their own survival, are the ones to be feared.
They are the ones who keep the machine running. They are the ones who pursue deadlines when their juniors are live-streaming their campus under siege.
There has to be a way where I do not have to sacrifice my conscience for three additional zeroes in my checking account. And there is, of course a way.
It’s just that, the alternatives I am talking about aren’t covered in global best practices strategy manuals, and thus require a bit more ingenuity than usual. Why kill brain cells on doing that, when you can simply focus on being expedient? See, even entry level drones understand the concepts of six sigma and lean entrepreneurship.
It’s hard for me to determine whether these men and women exhibit herd-like or predatory behavior. Like humongous herds of buffalos and walruses, perhaps they have evolved to save their own skins when under attack. That explains why, invariably, grazing animals leave behind the young, old and the weak to be devoured by lions, cheetahs and tigers.
It also explains why, despite possessing enormous and deadly tusks, thousands of walruses flub around in terror at the site of a lone polar bear, fleeing towards the coast while the bear tries it’s hardest to cut through the leathery hide of a terrified infant.
I understand the behavior and motivations of super predators better than I do of these gray area machines. The rich have an inherent interest in supporting tax cuts and maintaining flat wage rates. The military-industrial complex have a vested interest in researching weapons of mass destruction, and the press have a bias towards reporting sensationalist, dire fortunes.
At the end of the day, the fact remains that we have distorted our social and natural orders into unrecognizable forms.
Our ecosystems are simply unnatural.
We have grown our herd sizes beyond the natural limits. Our socio-economic super predators grow wealthier and more powerful, as they are wont to do.
But who is more culpable? The young fawn who started running only three minutes ago? Or the ruthless stallion who cares only for its own hide, abandoning the fawn without a second thought? Or the predator who has to hunt to feed itself and its young?
Good luck world. We are going to need it. We are empowering and educating the wrong breed of prey. We are harboring wolves in our midst.
Fear not the Orange headed POTUSes, nor the bowl headed tyrants. Fear the expedient machines that keep them in power.