Something always troubled me about how the Star Trek characters Spock and Data were constantly expressing bafflement at human emotion and illogical cultural mores: Logic would have long ago educated them about the nature, biological origins, and cultural functions of these behaviors, and taught them how to efficiently operate in an environment so strongly guided by them.  Spock and Data would both long ago have learned how to simulate the most useful emotions in order to manipulate the people around them, and it would be logical to do so: No baffled Spock eyebrow-raising or Data head-crooking in befuddlement at human unreason, but rather an advanced R. Daneel Olivaw-like guidance of the humans around them.  That's what someone would do if their core motivations were logical.  

I think of this because of the analogy it provides about how core motivations manifest in actions: If someone's core motive were just an amoral pursuit of money, the best thing for that has always been a prosperous middle-class with tons of money to waste rather than a narrow elite whose money just sits in the Caymans, so I can't help doubting that conservative politics that seek the destruction of the middle-class are ever "just business."  If anything, I think that gives people too much credit whose motives are routinely sadistic, paranoid, and spiteful - Tommy in Goodfellas or Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs rather than the Corleones.  


As a young teenager I'd been pretty angry and had dabbled in low-level thievery, but once it became about actual money rather than expressing contempt for society, I realized something: That working a minimum wage job was a lot easier than petty thieving, resulted in more money, and ironically required less work with far fewer risks.  See, I was smart enough to know exactly what it would have required to steal the kind of money I ultimately wanted and get away with it: The exact same amount of work I could have done to become a paid security professional with healthcare benefits and no risks.  So, logically, even if it had been "just business" with me rather than maturing as a person, I still would have gravitated away from the mentality of just taking what I wanted.  There was more money to be made doing things legitimately.

Out of the countless voluntary thieves in the world, almost all of them are every bit as poor as the communities they prey on, if not worse.  Hollywood-esque professional thieves who rappel into banks and art museums and successfully make off with six- or seven-figure scores are the rarest of cats, and "banksters" who make 9-, 10-, 11-figure scores are even rarer precisely because of the amounts of money involved.  It's just math: Since the dawn of civilization, it takes a whole lot more farmers to sustain the parasite raider-hordes who prey on their hard work, and if there are too many raiders, ultimately there's nothing to prey on.  So you get these pathetic six-figure Wall Street types who chase down entropic blips in the market like Harvard-educated equivalents of ambulance-chasing lawyers, and every single one of them is after the same mirage.

Meanwhile a guy like Elon Musk, with no special skills in either field, starts a rocket company and an electric car company - two ventures that everyone told him were insane and guaranteed to fail - and makes them both successful, becomes richer than he's ever been before, revolutionizes two entire industries, and becomes a worldwide rock star in business and technology.  He's not superhuman, so maybe, just maybe there's more to be gained financially being a constructive member of society who exercises one's talents to benefit the world rather than Corporate Wiseguy Class D #4178992.  I think all the real businessmen know this, and that's why they tend to be deep into Silicon Valley and the tech VCs rather than the quagmire of business realms based on raping and pillaging.

But what you have with the Lexus-driving turds who support the Republican Party is an attitude where raping and pillaging are an expression of their personal beliefs and mores, if you can call them that, and not any rational or even amoral assessment of interests: They would rather be millionaires ruling over some enslaved Company Town than billionaires operating in an ecosystem of many players.  They would rather be kings of an oppressed dungheap than equals in a prosperous republic.  In other words, they would rather be alone in the world, sitting idly on a throne of skulls overlooking a vast wasteland where nothing is possible, than contribute and benefit mutually.  And most of them never come anywhere close to achieving even that: They simply do what they do as an expression of contempt for society, contempt for other human beings, like that pissed-off 14-year-old me taking pathetic pleasure in outsmarting some indifferent convenient store clerk as I made off with a free soda.  

They'll take your money, but not because they want money.  They just don't want you to have it.  They don't want you to suffer because they want your money; they want your money because it's a way to make you suffer.  It's a way to put themselves above you, not a way to do anything with the opportunities their wealth creates for them.  They have no agenda that any rational being could recognize as such, even in amoral terms.  It's just 100% malignant narcissism: Harming you to make themselves feel more powerful and special, and to punish the long list of unbelievably petty grievances they have against the world for daring to exist and move without their permission.

When I read or watch The Godfather, what strikes me about the Corleones is the fact that they understand the necessity of being helpful to their community - of doing favors for people and being a source of protection against more barbaric elements, even if for cynical and self-interested motives.  This was the origin of the Mafia in the first place, as organizations tolerated by immigrant communities in exchange for protection from chaos and external abuse.  

The Republican Party does none of that for anyone, ever - it offers no value proposition.  It offers no service in exchange for its impunity.  It's just a cult of misanthropic turds who hate each other slightly less than they hate everyone else, and unify to protect their power to hurt people.  There's no Mafia dynamic in something like Rick Perry's idea of Texas: It's just a psychotic frenzy - a Two Minute Hate that goes on forever, cast in all directions but the justified ones, that turns society into a writhing Nyarlathotep of grasping arms all trying to Take from each other and never finding anything more than the tattered shreds of what they started out with.  

Republicans are not protected by the corporations they obey and worship, they just identify with them.  Why would they want to limit the power of predators and parasites when that's what they are?  A wolf doesn't want to get eaten by a bear, but hell if that means they're going to stop hunting deer.  To take away what defines a creature is a kind of Hell, and living in a society where they're confronted every day by the fact that they're not better than other people would be a nightmare to a narcissist.  It would be torture worse than the literal kind they love to promote and fantasize about committing against others.

I think back to a passage in Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy on which the movie Goodfellas was based, where Henry Hill described the personality of Jimmy Burke (in the movie, Jimmy Conway, played by Robert De Niro).  Paraphrasing from memory, basically he said that Jimmy was a guy who if you paid him a billion dollars to not steal, he would refuse and just try to figure out some way to steal that money from you anyway.  It's the getting over on others that they get off on.  Because they're perverse psychopaths actively driven to harm people, not merely amoral people with underdeveloped ethical capacities.  Everything the GOP has said and done for a long time validates that conclusion.  

When silence would help them accumulate power faster, instead they just have to run their mouths to let you know how much they hate you.  When subtlety would give them more power and more money, they just can't help themselves - they have to act with the most barbaric savagery, mendacity, and brutality they can manage.  They have to rub their malevolence in your face to maximize the pleasure of it for them.  And the fact that this marshalls the resources of human civilization and decency against them doesn't concern them, because they're not even interested in winning: Just in trying to make you lose.  They would rather live in shit if they could make you live in it too than accept a mutual obligation to help each other toward something better.  They're not indifferent to your suffering: They actively applaud it.

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