Psychopaths and the Rule of Law

Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.

                                            John Locke

The spread of democracy has been one of the most profound political changes in human history, and provides an indispensable defence against those who abuse power by oppressing others. But as many pseudo-democracies attest, elections on their own provide only a weak and often impotent defence. In many countries today that are deemed to be democratic, elections are simply a sham used by leaders to legitimise autocratic rule. The fundamental pillar upon which democracy must rest, and without which it becomes a mockery of itself, is the rule of law.    Continue reading

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