April 3, 2013

Crisis: Sadism as part of the explanation
"The sight of hell's torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever."
   (Jonathan Edwards)
"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell."
   (St. Thomas Aquino, Summa Theologica)

1. Sadism as part of the explanation
2. A word of advice

About ME/CFS


Yesterday I quoted George Monbiot, who wrote on the topic of the destruction of the welfare state under David Cameron's [1] conservative government:
"Most of the world's people are decent, honest and kind. Most of those who dominate us are inveterate bastards. This is the conclusion I've reached after many years of journalism."
and today I found an interesting piece in the New York Review of Books by Charles Simic, with yesterday's date, entitled "Health Care: The new American sadism".

Since I have also thought along similar lines, let me briefly consider sadism as an explanatory category, that is rather a lot less mentioned than is intellectually justified, it seems to me, who has at least six special sets of reasons to believe so.

1.  Sadism as part of the explanation

ILet me start with defining the terms I use, as I defined them in my Philosophical Dictionary:

Sadism: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others or from causing others pain or misery.

The term 'sadism' is derived from the Marquis de Sade, who much exulted in sexual pleasure derived from the infliction of pain and of cruelty to others, and who wrote many books in praise of sadism, especially in the defined sexual sense.

When sadism is defined without necessary involvement of sexual pleasure, but in effect as the human-all-too-human joys derived from malice, it may be seen that sadism, thus defined, accounts for many human acts, especially against those whom the perpetrators dislike, consider as enemies, or believe to be inferior.

Indeed, there is much more sadism in human beings than  most are willing to admit: Very many people derive much pleasure from being in positions of power and by hurting, denigrating, demeaning or displeasing others. It probably does not arouse most of them sexually, but they wouldn't do it if it did not please them. And this kind of pleasure seems to be one of the strongest motivators of those who desire to be boss: To let others feel they are inferior.

"We never hurt each other but by error or by malice." 
   (Sir Robert Chambers, possibly inspired by Dr. Johnson)

Together with stupidity, sadism explains two famous and mostly correct observations on history:

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind"

"Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."

For clearly most of the harm that human beings have done to human beings - millions upon millions killed, tortured, raped, exploited, starved, persecuted - was done on purpose, and willingly, and for the noblest sounding moral pretexts.

Accordingly, this 'human-all-too-human' desire to hurt, harm, demean, denigrate, abuse or exploit others is one of the normally unacknowledged forces of history, as is stupidity.

It is probably the normal human reaction to personal unhappiness: Make others suffer at least as much as one does oneself; demean those who seem better of than oneself, if one can do so without danger to oneself; and take vengeance for one's own pains, miseries and disappointments by wrecking even more of the same on the supposed enemies of one's society, or on social deviants or dissidents, since then one also gains moral credits easily, with the majority of one's peers.

See also: Bureaucrats, Leaders, Ordinary men, Power, Sade, Stalin, Stupidity

One of the main points of the above definition is that not all sadism is sexually motivated or related to sex. In fact, not being a Freudian, I think most is not.

Next, I will briefly explain why I think sadism is interesting, namely as an ingredient of  explanations for quite a few facts that without it are much more difficult to explain in rational and factual terms.

Let me first say that I am neither a sadist, nor am I a masochist. I know from age 6 that there were a few children in my class at school, and in the parallel class of the same age, both boys and girls, who positively enjoyed pulling legs from living spiders, which I found a very unkind thing to do, even though I did not like spiders at all, and I know from my late teens or early twenties, when I tried to read de Marquis de Sade's works, who was mostly interested in sexually expressed sadism, that I have no taste for that, neither as a victim nor as a perpetrator.

Second, by the time I read De Sade, I was already convinced that sadism is more important as an explanation of many things that human beings do than most human beings are willing to admit or consider.

My main reason for that was a fairly extensive knowledge of
concentration camps, that got started by the fact that my grandfather was murdered in one, and my father survived nearly four years of several such camps. Both were convicted as "political terrorists", and were part of the Dutch resistance against Nazism, that was in part motivated by the razzia's on Jews, that itself were quite evidently sadistic.

But I had and have read a fair amount of rather gruesome literature about German and Soviet concentration camps - in case you're interested, here are two good sources - gruesome but instructive as regards "man's inhumanity to man" ans as regards what is possibly in human history, and may happen again:
  • Walter Laqueur: The Holocaust Encyclopaedia
  • Anne Appelbaum: Gulag
- and had fairly soon realized that concentration camps had no good rational explanation, albeit both Hitler's and Stalin's henchmen did propose such purported rational explanations, which in both cases ran on similar lines: Locking up political opponents, dissidents etc. in "labour camps" and forcing them to work is profitable.

As Confucius had it - which also explains a lot about the current crisis:

The good man understands what is right,
the bad man understands profit.

But it turned out that concentration camps were not profitable, neither in Hitler's  Germany nor in Stalin's Russia, mostly for two reasons that could have been figured out at the time (and possibly were): (1) there are huge costs involved to keep the camps running and to keep the inmates locked up, and (2) the conditions of labor were so horrible - mostly very heavy unskilled work with little food and long hours - that almost any other conditions would have been more productive.

Nevertheless, the camps existed, and existed in both social systems for a long time - which could be rationally explained only in two ways: (i) these camps did frighten the civil populations, by threatening any opponent or dissident with such systematic maltreatment, and especially (ii) these camps did please those who set them up, because they evidently hurt people they considered to be their opponents.

"Malice is pleasure derived from another's evil which brings no advantage to oneself."
   (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

Third, I fell ill in 1979 with an unexplained disease that is most likely ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia, and have run into so much totally irrational evident sadism from Amsterdam bureaucrats and bureaucracies that I invented a term for the kind of persons committing these so eagerly, viz buro-fascism, since one had to be a complete idiot to miss that what motivated the bureaucratic sadists I ran into again and again was the desire to have their personal revenge for what they had suffered themselves, acted out on persons they believed could not defend themselves [2].

Fourth, I ran into it again when I learned in 2009/2010 that messrs. Reeves, Wessely, Sharpe and other psychiatric sadists had for over 20 years been slandering people with my kind of unexplained diseases, on the basis of the throughly sick sadistic lie that - effectively, now also in the DSM-5 - persons with unexplained diseases are malingerers or hysterics society should pay psychiatrists of their sadistic ilk to treat with forced exercises, indeed rather like the Nazis designed concentration camps for, that were also used to destroy ill and mentally handicapped people.

Fifth, I also ran into it when reading up on the DSM-5: I cannot explain that other than as evident pseudo-science that is manufactured on purpose to diagnose people as mad in some way, in order to push expensive psychotropic drugs into them, whether by force, by sales talk, or by deceit, and indeed an important part of my reasons for concluding as I did is that psychiatrists are nominally medical people, whose moral duty it is to help people, rather than foist bullshit diagnoses on them for the purpose of enriching the psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies.

Sixth, having found out rather a lot recently that I did not know about the US system of health care system, I think
Charles Simic's diagnosis that ends his "Health Care: The new American sadism" is quite appropriate and deserved. I quote the last paragraph of his text:
This is the new face of American sadism: the unconcealed burst of joy at the thought that pain is going to be inflicted on someone weak and helpless. Its viciousness, I believe, is symptomatic of the way our society is changing. Everything from the healthcare industry, payday loans, and for-profit prisons to the trading in so-called derivatives, privatization of public education, outsourcing of jobs, war profiteering, and hundreds of other ongoing rackets all have that same predatory quality. It’s as if this were not their own country, but some place they’ve invaded in order to loot its wealth and fleece its population without caring what happens to that population tomorrow. The only interest these profit-seekers have in us is as cheap labor, cannon fodder for wars, and suckers to be parted with our money. If we ever have a police state here, I’ve been thinking, it won’t be because we’ve become fascists overnight, but because rounding up people and locking them up will be seen as just another way to get rich. If the hell that Jonathan Edwards and other Puritan divines described in such gruesome and graphic detail is still up and running, I hope that’s where many of them are headed for.
My opening quote of today is by Jonathan Edwards, and the next one is by another prominent religious figure, from another Christian domination. I've known these quotations for many years, and always considered them self-evident sadism, that for the persons indulging them probably appeared as the righteous anger of the religiously correct, and that also explained a lot, in principle, about the motives aty the bottom of the many religious wars, the inquisition, and religious persecutions.

But clearly the things Simic mentions also involve, all of them, a great amount of human pain, suffering, misery and degradation that could have been avoided, and would have been and was avoided, at least for the most part, in what was nominally the same society with the same constitution, thirty and more years ago.

Finally, as my title has it, I regard sadism - defined as "
pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others or from causing others pain or misery" - as part of the proper and rational explanation of concentration camps; of quite a lot of bureaucratic behavior [3]; of the verbal abuse, accusations, denigrations, and slander that is typical for psychiatrists of the Reeves and Wessely schools that was for over two decades flung in the faces of millions of ill people (who now risk being driven to death by Cameron's neo-fascist government [4]) and more recently of the sort of bullshit, pseudoscience, posturing, and sick slick public relations lying and deceiving that is the human, moral and intellectual foundation of the DSM-5.

It is difficult to assign precise proportions to the role sadism plays in these different ventures that do appear as quite sadistic, if one takes off one's blinkers that make one systematically miss sadism where it is obviously present, because identifying it is not polite, not done, not diplomatic, and/or not in the terms the very sadists who abuse you wish to admit as "appropriate": they will not admit you suffer, or will insist you deserve what you get. [5]

Also, it will not often be admitted that part of the reason to do certain things, or part of the reason to things in the way they are done, is to cater to the sense of pleasure many men and women derive from seeing people suffer, at least if they do not like them. (See: Schadenfreude - an apt German term for a human-all-too-human emotion.)

And it is also true that sadism - hurting or harming others for the sake of one's own malicious pleasure - is not often the main end of social projects that evidently are implemented in ways that are very difficult to tell apart from sadism.

Then again, the ways in which things are done, combined with the seeming indifference to the suffering of others, and the slander and false accusations that serve as justification or pretext for hurting and harming, make it very clear, it seems to me, that very often, and far more often than is admitted, one of the important
reasons why things are being done in the ways they are being done is that the harming, offending, hurting, denigrating and slandering others, as also is involved in racism, is due to the sadistic inclinations of those who have the power to act in those ways, and who could and would have done better if only they had been less bad men and women, or if they would know they would be made personally accountable for the harm and pain they caused others.

But then again, it are often the vilest, most dishonest, most evil or most cruel bastards who achieve political, religious or bureaucratic power over others, and they are in the positions they are in because they are the kind of persons they are.

2. A word of advice 

However true, it is unwise to say these things to people with power, that one depends on. It never was, but as Charles Simic also notes, the society that exists now, both in the US and in Europe, is falling apart to one of lower civilization and more authoritarian government, and the falling apart has progressed so far that indeed now many of one's political leaders and bureaucratic overlords can engage in "unconcealed burst[s] of joy at the thought that pain is going to be inflicted on someone weak and helpless", as also noted here, if in other words, and about Great Britain:
I am writing this out as part of a project that aims at making intellectual sense of things, and not as anything else. Also, I do not know how to change the many things I object to - not in my own case, and not in that of others.

So I do the least I can do, if I have the energy and health for that:

I try to examine the life I am forced to lead, that I can only escape by suicide, for I have not the health to escape the town or country I live in, that both have been vastly unjust to me, and I therefore try to write down such explanatory thoughts as seem plausible, to account for decades of pain without any help but minimal dole in my case, and the prospect of seeing millions being driven into pain, poverty and misery, in the hope my reflections may help others to understand their situation somewhat better.


[1]  Mr. Cameron has the same family name as Donald Ewen Cameron, whom I regard as an evident sick sadist, and as an excellent example of a type of person that seems far too often to have been able to become qualified as psychiatrists. Donald Ewen Cameron, about whom there also has been made an interesting BBC documentary, was among other things the head of the Canadian, American and World Psychiatric Associations, and collaborated in secret with the CIA to find effective methods of torture. (I have no idea whether the two Camerons are genetically related, but would not be amazed if they were - and there is a field called "behavioral genetics" that supposes that one's behavior is in the end a function of one's genes.)

[2] This happened far too many times to be due to chance, and it has very little to do with how I appear to others, since I am generally polite and well-spoken, and a lot with the type of person that, at least in Holland, desires to be a bureaucrat (civil servant), or gets selected to be one: These usually seem to be the intellectually least able, most conformist, eagerly willing servants of whoever is in power, for whatever reason. See the next note.

[3] See the previous note: As one example of very many: I have not been protesting since 1984 with the Municipality of Amsterdam, where my father got knighted in the Town Hall in 1980, with a mayor in 1984 who owes his life in part to the efforts of my mother in the Dutch Resistance, that my mother is not, as two civil servants screamed at me "a dirty cunt whore". I protested their racial discrimination of people seeking dole, being a Caucasian male myself, who also sought dole, and that means presumably I belong to such an inferior class of persons in Amsterdam, in actual fact rather than in the lies the mayors tell in the propaganda the City of Amsterdam liberally spreads around to its citizens, for the benefit of the mayors, and aldermen and their parties, since it all gets funded from tax money, that anything a municipal bureaucrat desires to do to me is allowed in principle. That is my consistent experience in decades: A small minority of municipal bureaucrats who behave as moral persons; a great majority who behave and talk as hooligans, but cannot be made personally responsible for anything they do.

The story is here in Dutch, under "1984", and please note that this is the much abbreviated version. Note also that I initially did not believe such racist  degenerates would not be punished, but they weren't, and to the best of my knowledge, and on the basis of more than 30 year experience, the Amsterdam bureaucracy can do whatever it pleases and will not be punished: They may gas you, they may threaten you with murder,
they may offend your family in public, they may offend your person in public, they may deal illegal drugs, or they may write lies to Dutch courts, for this all happened to me, and I complained politely in writing and with proofs about all these things, but not being a bureaucrat you are treated and regarded by bureaucrats in Amsterdam as if you are a sub-human. You simply will not be answered, and lawyers will refuse to act for you, because "that would be too political", as several expressed it to me, which presumably is code speech for "I do not want to displease the mayor of Amsterdam, for he is a very powerful person".

And no: I would not have believed this, until all these things happened to me. The only replies I got to my many complaints is that I get no reply, and that my complaints "cannot be found" in the municipal offices. (I.e. they have been shredded. This is one main reason my site exists.)

[4] For "neo-fascist" see yesterday and my Crisis: Wolin on fascism + Greenwald on the Surveillance State: It seems to me to be an apt term, given the policies and slander of ill people and people without work in which Cameron's government indulges, it seems to me with considerable pleasure.

[5] And now there are the lies, which are part of the official state policies in England at least, and so an extent also in the US and Holland, that those without work owe that to themselves ("welfare queens"), and that those who are ill are parasites or malingerers or insane, both no doubt part of Charles Simic reasons to arrive at his diagnosis.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

       home - index - summaries - mail