JR'S Free Thought Pages
Neighbourhood Assholes are Spreading throughout our Dumb and Dumber Dying Planet
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which – George Orwell, “Animal Farm”
By JR, August, 2023
There are seemingly countless examples of personality types from the deeply caring, compassionate and ethical to the degraded, degenerate and amoral psychopathic. I’ll mention just two that are characteristically germane to most neighbourhoods these days
For example, there are two kinds of people in a neighbourhood which at one time was considered a “community”: (1) those who park in front of a neighbour’s home and those who don’t and (2) those who allow their dogs to defecate on their neighbour’s property and those who don’t.
These are merely two of numerous generalized ethical polarities that can be applied to any social milieu.
Sadly for any pretence to moral sensibility, civility or democracy, there are people who do not hold to any ethical principle such as the golden rule my mom taught me before grade school. Like my strong willed, principled and intelligent mother who died in 2019 at 94, the golden rule she construed as a minimalist ethical adage demanded by any pretence to a sane decent society; there’s far more to being a good citizen and moral person than the golden rule she said. [1a] I find it difficult to imagine our demented depraved global capitalism lasting another week if everyone held to this ethical adage.  Corporations, if they were actual people (they now have more rights) would surely be categorized as psychopathic. For starters, watch the documentary The Corporation - and read the books Snakes in Suits and The Sociopath Next Door for real life blood and guts examples.
Most pre-schoolers have an innate sense of proper behaviour such as fair play and generosity v selfishness and debased egotism. There is strong evidence that cooperation, compassion and empathy are hard wired within the prefrontal cortex of our brains. Surely hunter gatherer societies would not have survived without cooperation and caring. Most of us are aware of psychopaths from creeps like Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Hannibal Lector of the movie Silence of the Lambs. Psychopaths are however, not fictional monsters; they are among us. And like annoying manipulative harassing assholes they are thriving and on the increase in a culture of anything goes profit driven exploitation and greed. Studies by former UBC psychologist Robert Hare and others who have expanded on his work argue that psychopaths make up about 5% of the general population but for those in positions of power the percentage is far higher, some estimates as high as 20%.
It’s the willed ignorance and unacceptable behaviour of people in the first category that partially explain why democracy and common decency and universal civility do not exist and likely never will. This is especially true if the cancerous socio-economic ideology of greed, exploitation called neo-liberal capitalism continues to prevail. Hopefully the Second Law of Thermodynamics (sometimes called Entropy) will eventually (and the sooner the better) cause this socio-economic abomination to wither and die.
However, the notion that empathy is very likely hard wired within our cognitive apparatus is not to underestimate the daunting obstacles to the people’s appreciation of these findings. At the forefront of misconceptions and misunderstanding is the cynical, even despairing non-acceptance regarding the existence of our moral instincts for caring, compassion and empathy. From doctrines of Christian original sin to Ayn Rand’s oxymoronic “virtue of selfishness” to Margaret “there is no such thing as society” Thatcher to widespread dubious conceptions of human nature have functioned to override ethical responses to capitalism. In the words of famous primatologist Frans de Waal "You need to indoctrinate empathy out of people in order to arrive at extreme capitalist positions." We know that hierarchical cultures and the ideologies that underpin them are set up to reward some people and disadvantage others. Throughout capitalism’s sordid history most of the world’s big business wealthy elites maintain hegemony and domination by creating society's prevailing cultural norms. Antonio Gramsci's  writing reminds us that this control is achieved through the churches, schools, mass media and popular culture as subordinate classes assimilate the norms and ideas of ruling elites as "common sense." It isn't that individual deviations don't occur within the interstices of society but generally they don't threaten elite control and rarely is force required to maintain control and acceptance. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman brilliantly explained this phenomenon in their book Manufacturing Consent. Watch the documentary based on the book here.
This is the state of our current demented narcissistic mutation of a vile finance usurious capitalism which prioritizes profit before all else (including saving any and all life forms on the planet) while violating the Kantian principle of not using others as means to ones nefarious ends called neo-liberalism which is the death spiral for classical Enlightenment liberalism. This demise of traditional liberalism which has never really lived up to its precepts is another paper I’m working on.
As the covid-19 crisis was about to go global and the stock market indices were tanking, the outrageous statement by US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that he would do “whatever it takes” to restore the stock markets was a blatant example of invoking any means to achieve an end. For me Powell not only defies the Kantian categorical imperative, but like Donald Trump, is a deeply debauched proto-fascist asshole lacking in the most basic civilities and norms of justice.
There are endless examples of assholes, the existence of who my father informed me when I was about 12 years old. On one of our many fishing trips in Northern BC where we lived he said to me, “You will discover that in this world there are more horse’s asses than horses.” There seems to be an increasing preponderance of not only stupidity and self-inflicted ignorance [3}, amoral self-righteous entitlement obsessed assholes these days. Or is it my aging grumpiness and increasing pessimism in an age of widespread self-inflicted stupidity and ignorance (watched any TV ads lately?), golden rule denial, “me, myself and I” conservatism and liberal capitalism and “I don’t give a shit” personality types. Moreover, assholery is not exclusive to men these days.
My message to the obnoxious psychopathic control freak asshole neighbour who lives across the street: You are a deeply immoral, ignorant, semi-literate and mentally deranged mean spirited self-serving certified asshole- and semi-literate jerk. Attempting any rational dialogue and appeals to fair play and the democratic processes is an exercise in futility with this selfish prick. People such as these would not benefit from psychological help because they are generally beyond reform. This is the first real obnoxious asshole neighbour who is a full blown psychopath and idiot I’ve had to deal with in the many locations my wife and I have lived over the years. Some of these assholes were likely bullies as kids that had no sense of fairness or justice, moral sensibilities that most pre-school children understand innately.  But that is soon beaten out of them by a socio-economic system that demands selfishness, mindless consumerism and worker exploitation.
The philosopher Aaron James in his book Assholes: A Theory claims that assholes populate the vast amoral social space between those who hold to moral principles and the hopeless psychopath void of caring, compassion or empathy. Every act, even ones seemingly benign, is motivated by self-interest and selfishness. According to Professor James, the genuine asshole he informs the reader “is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.” He’s narcissistic, self-absorbed, impolite, without a moral compass, obnoxious and permanently thoughtless to those around him. In all the many communities my wife and I have lived for the past 56 years, this is the most unpleasant and selfish asshole sociopath ic jerk we’ve experienced. I and at least one other neighbour have had to call the police about his harassment, appalling behaviour and intimidation. As I’ve tried to explain, this sleaze ball is one of the most self-serving obtuse individuals I’ve ever encountered; moreover he’s a perfect fit for the personality profile of the Dunning-Kruger effect (not unlike the fascist monstrosity Donald Trump) - in addition to being a classic psychopath as described by the global expert, UBC professor emeritus Robert Hare in his book Without Conscience.
[1a] In the case there are people who have lived beyond the age of six and still not heard of the Golden Rule, it states: “Do not do to other people that you don’t want done to you”.
 Cultural critic and anti-capitalist Chris Hedges rightly claims that all efforts to even reform capitalism, to put a human face on the voracious undemocratic Godzilla of capitalism which has descended into the mutated corporatist fascism called neo-liberal corporatism, have ended in capitulation and utter failure. Surely anyone with a spinal cord can witness the obscene inequalities and human carnage, including global warming, collapsing ecosystems, species extinction and widespread self inflicted ignorance and stupidity. So why are people not in the streets raising hell with pitchforks and pillories? It’s like the post-1945 anaesthetized German people who claimed “We just didn’t know”. How could they not know? Yes, a barnacle would not know. And what of our current predicament of predatory finance capitalism? Surely it’s not a steep learning curve to understand what has taken place over the past four or five decades of BBBB (Boom, Bubble, Bust and Bailout) iterations. To borrow the line by Pink Floyd, many people have quite obviously become “comfortably numb” as their learning curves have flat lined, unable to even realize their complicity in a deeply wretched immoral undemocratic socio-economic system which has now gone global. There is a serious cognitive dissonance for too many people who cannot distinguish between what is and what ought to be.
 In 1926 Gramsci was deemed an enemy of the Italian fascist state by Benito Mussolini and imprisoned indefinitely. The fascist prosecutor at his farcical trial merely repeated Mussolini’s assertion that “For twenty years we must stop this brain from functioning”. In today’s neo-liberal world of so-called “liberal democracies” men such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who similarly revealed ugly truths about the crimes of the state, are declared guilty with a bit more subtlety.
 There is empirical evidence in studies by psychologists that people are increasingly behaving badly and that the global IQs are in freefall. Just observe the walking dead zombies with their faces glued to a “smart” phone 24-7. Dozens in the USA alone have been killed taking “selfies” which is perhaps Darwin’s natural selection at work. Just pay attention to the appalling immoderate behaviour and excess (especially in gorging on artery destroying fast food) of people and their equally undisciplined chimpanzee kids on TV ads. Did they not have mothers that taught them the aforementioned golden rule and basic rules of dignity, moderation and self-control? Then there are their slobbering dogs (usually more than one and the uglier the better) that they sleep with and allow to languish on their $3000 leather couch .I’m not a fan of any animals that licks their balls (and then lick the owner’s or some reluctant person’s face) and eats their own shit. And more importantly my multiple experiences of having being attacked by dogs as a child and even more to the point, on my frequent early morning jogging excursions whereby dogs would bolt from someone’s property and bite at my heels. After being chomped on my legs by unpredictable Fido’s more than once that required tetanus shots, I eventually resorted to carrying a baseball bat.
 As a precocious obsessively curious kid growing up in the 1950s and early 60s in British Columbia public schools that inflicted barbaric corporal punishment with regularity, I was on the receiving end of the strap many times. In one instance in grade 6 or 7 it was questioning the deadly boring daily holy babble readings. On another occasion in grade 4 or 5 me and several other kids, including the school bully we all feared, were subjected to the standard ten on each hand for throwing snowballs. When it was the school bully’s turn he started to cry after the third whack. When word got out about this wimpy cowardice, it was the end of his bullying career. It’s like the asshole neighbour across the street that refuses to talk with the police and sends his wife out the door to deal with them. Like the school bully, he’s another closet coward. By the way, when the NDP was elected in 1972 after a far right wing Social Credit regime led by a bloviating buffoon with a grade nine education ruled for two decades, one of the first acts by new progressive Premier Dave Barrett was to abolish the strap.
 Incidentally, James has a sequel worth reading called Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump. But every neighbourhood these days seems to have at least one asshole. Several weeks ago I wrote this as a foreword to an article on the increasing stupidity and appalling behaviour of Homo sapiens, that semi-intelligent superstitious god fearing ape that is reversing evolution:
“Having experienced the neighbor from hell for the first time after living in many British Columbia locations over the many decades - one of which was 30 years in Surrey- compels me to define two types of people.
There are those who park in front of their neighbor’s homes and those who don’t.
Most of this conundrum, which is easily solved in a civilized democratic manner, stems from people owning too many vehicles and superfluous toys. A larger property or fewer toys is the obvious resolution. In the case of the sociopathic jerk across the street it was four vehicles including two for his spoiled brat teenage daughters, a boat and a house trailer. Since like most people in detached single family homes, the garage is designed for at most two smaller vehicles but is typically stuffed with superfluous consumer items. This hasn’t created a predicament for the neighborhood asshole, but rather for his neighbors to whom without any democratic discourse or consultation with his neighbors, offloads his storage and parking problems. Since his garage is crammed and grade two arithmetic demands that he needs to park three surplus vehicles elsewhere. After all there are only two spots in his driveway and one on the curb in front of his home – like everyone else on the street.
One of my good friends on our street was literally threatened with violence when he challenged him about parking his trailer in front of his home. Realizing the futility of dialogue with this raging dip stick moron, he immediately called the police since intimidation, harassment and threats of violence are apparently criminal acts.
Subsequently I have similarly been forced to call the police on at least three occasions for similar behavior against me. This narcissistic twit is ignorant, obnoxious, obtuse and completely void of any intelligence, sense of fair play, moral sensibilities or reciprocal rational dialogue or what it means to be a good neighbor. In other words he’s a total asshole.
Notwithstanding numerous existential threats including overpopulation of humans and their pets and surplus toys combined with every other species in extinction mode on a dying polluted overheated planet (water, soils and air) there exists a growing epidemic of extremely bad behavior that is happening with increasing frequency in a systemically immoral socio-economic world order that promotes authoritarianism, bureaucratic bungling, corrupt dysfunctional neo-fascist corporatism and uncaring, irrational and greed-ridden discombobulated people addicted to tech toys like the so-called “smart” phone and the latest fetishes of body mutilating tattoos, body part piercings and nose/lip/tongue rings to wastes of time and money lotteries and online gambling.
Remember the amazing existentialist 1970’s song “All we are is Dust in the Wind”. Of course the fundamentalist Christian Bible Bangers in the US recoiled at this song and tried to have it banned.
Time is short that not another minute will your money buy.