Marquis de Sade : French
nobleman and writer, 1740-1814, whose name was used to coin the term
sadism, because he was much given to its practice and theory.
The usual definition of 'sadism' is 'sexual pleasure derived from
the infliction of pain and of cruelty to others', and De Sade's books
provide many examples of such practices, but - for those not obsessed
with it, as De Sade was - make boring and obnoxious reading.
The Marquis de Sade spent much of the second half of his life
in a madhouse, where he wrote most of his books, apparently in an
obsessive frenzy, and as an imaginary way to satisfy himself.
Those who want to get the general drift of his argument
in his own words should read 'The Bedroom Philosophers' ('La Philosophie
dans le boudoir'), since this is thin, not overly filled with endless
descriptions of gruesome practices, and because it also is clear about
ordinary hypocrisies, while De Sade,
apart from his perversions, was an intelligent and educated man.
Also, it should be remarked that there is much more
human beings than most are willing
to admit, especially if the term 'sexual' in the above definition is
deleted: Very many people derive much pleasure from being in positions
of power and by hurting, denigrating, demeaning or displeasing others
using their position. 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.
This 'human-all-too-human' desire to hurt, harm, demean and denigrate
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
Sadism as a sexual perversion seems fairly rare (especially in its
more extreme forms), but as a perversion of
character seems to be fairly common in
bureaucrats, many of whom seem to do
the boring work they do for the pleasures it brings in exercising
their power over others.