Do Psychopaths Rule Corporate Finance?

‘In the name of innovation, a sinister alternative financial universe had been created, in which customer care and ethics had been swapped for pure greed and down-right treachery.’[1]   Iain Martin

Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, illustrates the difficulties we face when we try to identify the role of people with dangerous personality disorders in contemporary events.      Continue reading

Kleptocracy and the Arab Spring

When institutions are strong, citizens demand rights; when institutions are weak, citizens beg for favors.[1]

In many countries today, governments are designed not to govern but to serve the personal enrichment of ruling elites. Under such kleptocratic systems those in power do not exercise the functions of state but concentrate instead on extracting resources for personal gain. For such regimes, governing is just a front activity.[2]

Kleptocracy is a major factor fuelling instability across North Africa and the Middle East, and is a major cause of the rise of Islamic extremism across the region.     Continue reading

Democratic Cultures in the United States and Europe

Educate the next generation so as to cope intellectually, morally, and politically with the messiness and complexity of the world.

            Yehuda Elkana

The United States played a major role in rebuilding Europe after World War II and in securing peace and prosperity on the continent. For almost half a century it then helped provide Western Europe with security against the threat of Soviet communism. Over that time, however, a very real divergence of values has taken place.        Continue reading

The World’s Largest Democracy is Under Threat

Corruption will go when the large number of persons given unworthily to it realise that the nation does not exist for them to exploit but that they exist to serve the nation.

                                                            Mahatma Gandhi

The heritage of India’s freedom movement and its leaders, particularly Mahatma Gandhi, provide ideals that are still capable of inspiring India and the world. Gandhi’s uncompromising moral strength and his tactics of non-violence have guided Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi and many others.

But endemic corruption in the police and the judiciary, along with the capture of India’s democracy by elected officials facing serious criminal charges, is undermining the world’s largest democracy.     Continue reading

Pol Pot and Hitler – The Fools Who Shape History

Three decades and five thousand miles separate two photographs.

The first shows a city in ruins. In the foreground, amidst the rubble, the outlines of what once were buildings are clearly discernible. In the distance lies a vast area of complete desolation, an ominous wasteland devoid even of rubble. Amidst this desolation, nothing remains of the unprepossessing plaza which once served as a gateway to hell. A huge oval, it had been partly surrounded by buildings with roads running into it like streams into a pond. With its perimeter fenced off, there was space enough within for up to eight thousand victims at a time.    Continue reading

How NeuroScience is Proving that Freud was Right

Three core ideas lie at the centre of psychoanalytic thought.

The first is that, as infants, we develop best in an environment of love and fun. Second that our internal worlds are formed in early childhood and have an enduring influence on our relationships throughout our lives. And third, that much of the suffering in this world can be traced to neglect and abuse in childhood.

Psychoanalysts since Freud have passionately believed that these ideas have the power to change our lives and reshape our world.

Now neuroscience and biochemistry are showing that, on these key ideas at least, Freud was right.    Continue reading