“Everybody wants to elevate from the norm. / Everybody wants to deviate from the norm.” – Rush, Vital Signs
Recently, a now-former colleague of mine, went off the deep end. The thing I find saddening is that the arguments in support of his changes would be self-fulfilling from his viewpoint. I guess that’s how all conspiracy theorists are, they believe everyone is wrong and they are the only sane person left. At the time I drafted this post, it wasn’t about alien or illuminati conspiracies, but what I would term fringe capitalism. By the time he was dismissed – about a month later – it had escalated into “truther” conspiracy.
When I first met this person less than a year ago, I picked up quickly that he was a capitalist. I learned this when he relayed a story about how he took a contract job and paid someone else to do it for him, pocketing the difference. To me, this is sociopathic (sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience). Now the term “antisocial” conjures up an image of a certain quiet personality, but the one I really want to express is “anti-society”. This behavior is selfish and manipulative and usually anything but quiet. Instead of being a good member of society and letting the person who could do the work accept the job, this person jumped in between and caused either the employer to pay more than they needed or the worker to be paid less than they could have. In either case, the action is parasitic.
There was no mistaking his goal was money. And I intentionally say money and not wealth. He practiced visualization techniques: keeping an image of what you desire in view at all times. The picture on his wall was a stack of money. As the desire for money grew, he cared less about the means he used to get it. He started surrounding himself with people who thought like him, attending real estate seminars, then wealth seminars and self-improvement seminars.
As he dwelt on the possibilities of making so much money, his personality became more extreme. He made derogatory statements that the average American was stupid, lazy, blind, “sheeple”. He started questioning written law and learning as much as he could about getting around it, stating “the law only says what you can’t do.” In other words, he was becoming morally bankrupt and still viewing himself as superior to everyone else. He started speaking authoritatively about topics that normal people don’t, like refusing to pay income tax. He made a comment about how he discovered some internal barriers keeping him from his goal. I must assume he means his conscience.
Everyone has a small fringe belief and if you get around around a bunch of people who have ideas like income tax being illegal, you’re going to hear more and more strange things. Eventually, for this person, this culminated in government conspiracy and radical gun law rantings. When I met him, he never considered a gun, now he makes posts about bloody revolution.
So, I feel I’ve now seen first-hand the transformation of a normal person into an anti-societal, psychopathic elite. Fortunately, I don’t think this is part of an epidemic, like my observations about the middle class being pulled to the extremes. I think this is a case where a person is finding himself, and that “himself” is just a very bad person (and unfortunately his fiancée was taken along for the ride). Within his new circle of friends, his view is depressing, indeed.
I somewhat pride myself in judging him correctly when I first met him. First, that I identified him as a capitalist. Second, that I determined him to be a person that when put in a information-rich environment, like our workplace, he would soak it all in and explode with potential. Well, that certainly happened, but in an environment apart from our workplace.