Book Review: Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths by Joseph N. Abraham

If you are at all interested in politics and in the future of our country and, indeed, the future of mankind, this may be the most important book you will ever read.

Dr. Abraham delved into human history and reveals that, since the dawn of civilization, we have been generally been ruled by what he calls the “Atrox.” As examples he presents Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon, all leaders who were followed unquestioningly by the masses and whose followers committed atrocious crimes at their behest.

What is an atrox? The word comes from Latin and is related to the English words “atrocious” and “atrocity.” An atrox is a leader with absolute power who lives a life of great privilege and complete impunity and maintains his power by brute force, terror and fear. More modern examples are Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, and Idi Amin. They are generally the objects of a cult of personality and their followers do their bidding unquestioningly. Abraham says of their followers:

“The authoritarian personality is loyal, obedient, and unquestioning toward his master. The unquestioning aspect is essential. We assume that the dog has no logical structures either supporting or undermining his loyalty to us. But human beings constantly rely on logical analysis for making decisions. So it is not enough for the authoritarian personality to submit bodily, as we noted, he must also submit intellectually. In order to be completely loyal, the authoritarian personality must spring the trapdoor and ignore the appeal of internal and external logic, even though logic is essential for human survival, and even for day-to-day activities.”

Atrox tend to be high on the scale of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism and have no concern for the damages they do to human lives.

Dr. Abraham notes that in modern democratic republics institutional checks and balances have tended to prevent the atrox from coming to power. This is what, in fact, the Constitution of the U.S. was designed to do. Unfortunately, the Constitution does not spare us from the malign effects of what Dr. Abraham calls the “atrocino” or little atrox. The atrocino is not an absolute ruler like the atrox, but functions similarly in his own domain. Examples that come to mind are Kenneth Lay of Exon, Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Wayne Pierre or the NRA, and the Koch Brothers. They are men of power and influence who have absolutely no concern about what damages their actions do to human lives.

In the U.S., the Supreme Court, with its Citizens United decision has effectively denied Americans protection from the atrocino. The atrocinos have successfully endeavored to buy the U.S. Government and our state houses. Dr. Abraham writes:

“It is obvious that the atrocino’s money influences elections and public policy: the narcissist has no interest in anything else. If his donations didn’t buy him the government he wanted, he wouldn’t make donations. One current example is illuminating: an overwhelming majority of Americans, majorities in both parties, and even a majority of gun owners, want two modest gun protections: universal background checks; and the delegalization of assault weapons The NRA leadership and the rest of the gun lobby have nevertheless blocked even these modest compromises in favor of corporate greed.”

The same thing can be said about healthcare, pharmaceutical prices and the environment. The atrocinos have a firm lock on the U.S. political system. Dr. Abraham write:

“We also see repeated attempts by the atrocino and the authoritarian personality to diminish the republic: by blocking minorities from voting; by manipulating the voter rolls, by gerrymandering districts; by giving an elite minority power of the majority; and by undermining democratic rules in other ways. Government is slipping away from the citizens, meaning that we are, less and less, a democracy. We are moving toward oligarchy and plutocracy. Or even kleptocracy: Our government is being stolen out from under us.”

Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths is replete with astonishingly astute concepts and I will present one more.

“Every organism is amazing. Even the repulsive housefly is a marvel that does things no engineer could reproduce: it flies with great agility; it moves across landscapes, even vertical landscapes, at a significant fraction of its flying speed; it lands upside down on the underside of surfaces; it finds and refines its own fuel; it makes its own repairs; and it carries onboard machinery to make copies of itself. When a lizard grabs it, all of that brilliant complexity is reduced to a few hours of sustenance for the lizard. The same thing happens with the conqueror. Alexander removed fabulous wealth from Persepolis, but it was only a small fraction of the wealth that was in the city, invested in the buildings, the infrastructure, the furnishings and other possessions. And of course, the wealth was nothing compared to the lives he took. Or to reduce human life to a cold GM-type consideration, the wealth Alexander took was small compared to the destroyed investment in education and training the workers, artisans, engineers and clerks. We see the same thing with corporations. By dumping toxins into the environment, corporations save themselves a tiny fraction of the deferred costs of cleaning up the problem, not to mention the extortionary costs in human disease that result. In the recent subprime mortgage crisis, the CEOs collected millions while the world lost trillions, vaporizing hundreds of dollars for each dollar some CEO put in his pocket. And the military-industrial complex diverts money from education, infrastructure, law enforcement, libraries, arts, parks and myriad other activities that serve everyone, and drive progress, in order to kill innocent victims around the world and feed a bloated and grossly overblown military budget. All of these activities net the executives a sliver of a penny on each dollar or even on each hundred dollars. Again, they make millions, the world loses trillions.”

Government by the atrocino is costly for all of us. We must find a way to stop it. Put this book at the TOP of your reading list.



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