It’s not one of those triangular UFOs often seen hovering ominously in the night sky.
In fact, it’s a term used by psychologists to unravel what I’ve come to call the savage side of human nature, that part of us that’s driven largely by hormones and egos to get us power and wealth through lying, cheating, stealing, killing, fear-mongering, hate-mongering, war-mongering, character assassination, and other destructive means… usually with no regret or remorse.
The Dark Triad in psychology refers specifically to three personality traits:
- Narcissism (selfish, boastful, arrogant, lacking in empathy, and hypersensitive to criticism, assuming you’re right in your current thinking and everyone should believe you),
- Machiavellianism (grabbing and holding power through deceit and duplicity, assuming that all humans are bad so you have to be worse), and
- Psychopathic behavior (manipulating others with charm or intimidation to get whatever you can get from them, feeling no remorse or empathy or mercy for the pain and suffering you cause, blaming others for your problems, assuming the world is your oyster… and even if you don’t like oysters, the occasional pearl is well worth the clueless oyster’s grisly fate).
Here’s how I believe the new Uncle Sam is in the clutches of the Dark Triad:
- Narcissism is the key personality type of new President Donald Trump, according to many psychologists.
- Machiavellianism, as my previous article suggests, seems to be the main driving force behind Big Oil, the Far Right, and conservative think tanks, especially since the year 2000.
- Psychopathic behavior is standard operating procedure (SOP) of the “fixing” business, spy agencies, and militaries.
I’m not suggesting that all oil billionaires and conservative thinkers are Machiavellian, nor that everyone in the CIA and the military and the “fixing” business are psychopaths, but that the groups themselves are Machiavellian / psychopathic by design and operation. Disclaimers aside, I also think it would be reasonable to assume that an abnormally high proportion of Machiavellian and psychopathic individuals flourish within the upper echelons and out in the fringes of those groups… largely because those groups attract those kinds of people.
I believe these three personality types have taken over the US government, as my previous article suggests, and, that they (conservative White House and Congress and their military-industrial-clandestine bedfellows) don’t really know what to do with the power now that they have it.
It’s probably typical of most people of the Dark Triad: They know how to grab power over people, but they don’t necessarily know (or care) how to wield it in the best interests of the people. They simply reason that…
- … things suck, and
- … if we’re in charge things will no longer suck so bad, or
- … if things do continue to suck, or to fall apart completely… well, it’s not our fault that we inherited a hopeless mess to begin with… (not to mention inheriting it from a bunch of despicable, bureaucratic do-gooders, thinks the new, dark Uncle Sam behind gritted, grinding teeth).
As I tried to show in the previous article, when savage motivation (i.e. the Dark Triad) runs the show, human affairs eventually, inevitably come apart amid conflict and chaos.
It’s a basic principle of life everywhere… around the globe and throughout the vast, flourishing worlds of spirit:
- Light and noble motivations (love, trust, honesty, good will, service to others… ) bring souls together in peace and order, while
- Dark and savage motivations (deception, fear, animosity, selfish interest… ) inevitably tear souls apart amid conflict and chaos.
So, a future of growing conflict and chaos is almost inevitable for the USA (and hence for the world) as long as Dark Triad behavior is guiding the government.
I can think of only two possible solutions that would save us from an apocalyptic fate:
- The first is a solution of harsh justice, which would cause lots or pain and suffering and humiliation, hurting just about everyone before the healing begins.
- The second solution would be like a healing salve, transforming society so that nearly everyone’s needs are met and their dreams fulfilled. Those who are now in charge would stay in charge… but things would change. The Dark Triad would have to lighten up… or at least make enlightened choices.
I suspect that either solution would have about zero chance of being deployed (as I’ll explain in a moment), since they both go against the very nature of Dark Triad behavior. But here’s how they would work:
The first solution, as I mentioned at the end of the last article, would involve whistleblowers and investigations into recent electronic vote-rigging to steal the 2016 elections (assuming it really happened) and into other savage ploys used by the Big-Oil-Far-Right consortium in its 16-year campaign of fear and intolerance. Lots of the people would be punished with incarceration and/or fines, and perhaps a new, honest election would be held.
This would be the “just” solution, but it would tear apart the fabric of American society… and, really, few people would benefit from this first solution.
The second solution would solve almost everyone’s problems and make just about every American citizen happy and gratified. It’s a very simple, stable solution that will almost certainly work.
- Sick of a bloated government? Really want to strip it down to something more manageable and functional? Solved.
- Sick of “entitlements” to “welfare queens” and others who take advantage of the system? Want to reduce entitlements perhaps by up to 90 percent? Solved.
- Want to discourage needy, unskilled immigrants from flooding into the country, not by building a stupid wall or having to police weak borders… but by removing the desire of needy masses to come here? Solved.
- Want to rally the American people to your cause without having to lie and hate-monger and war-monger through Fox News and other propaganda outlets?… not just rally the public with sincerity, but get an unheard-of 90-percent-or-better approval rating? Solved
- Fed up with the drug epidemic in the States? Solved.
- Tired of the endless battle between taxes and tax deductions whose only winners are lawyers and CPAs and bureaucrats? Solved.
- Concerned about the great divide between the rich 1 percent and the masses of poor who can’t even make ends meet? Solved.
- Concerned about homelessness and addiction and unemployment? Solved.
- Want to empty the prisons? Solved.
- Want to set a shining example of a noble country pursuing noble goals? Solved.
These are among the guarantees of the second solution, which I’ll explain in some detail in my next article, which won’t be a continuation of this series. It’ll be part of my “Fixing America” series. You can read that article here…..
For the rest of this article I’ll bore you, as promised, with lots of pictures, charts, sources, and statistics to show that we Americans (and hence the world) are indeed in a dire situation at the moment.
But first, to close out this Dark Triad discussion, I should explain why neither of these two solutions I’m describing will probably work… even the really good one.
Why won’t either solution work?
Solution one probably won’t work because…
- Psychopaths adamantly deny culpability in their illegal and unethical behavior, even when absolute proof is presented to them.
- Machiavellians grab power so that they don’t have to submit to the decisions and values and laws and punishments meted out by a higher authority; they are the higher authority.
- Narcissists?… well, they live in a mental lah-lah-land in which no one’s opinions or facts really matter; all that really matters is their own, often twisted version of reality at the moment.
Solution two probably won’t work because Dark Triad personalities don’t really want to fix things. They only want to grab power and hold onto power by weaving fanciful webs of deception that keep everyone else frustrated, afraid, and generally off-balance. (Like the new Transpartisan Review that you’ll probably find in your email inbox soon if you haven’t already. It seems to be a slick effort of conservative think tanks and a hapless, token liberal or two to gloss things over now that the Dark Triad has totally fouled up US politics. It tries to cast some of the less objectionable conservative personalities like Ronald Reagan, Glenn Beck, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar in a positive light. Reads like a slick con job to me, something to lull people into the darkness.)*
(* Another example of Dark Triad expertise in keeping everyone off-balance is the use of term “nuclear option,” which since the 1970s has referred to the nightmarish use of nuclear weapons in global conflicts, a notion that stirs the ultimate fear in rational human minds… and then suddenly using that same term [actually, since 2005] to refer to a change in US government that, simply put, removes the Congressional checks and balances that prevent dictatorship here in the USA. With the new “nuclear option,” the current Dark Triad government will have a much easier time assembling its dark oil agenda in the coming years. And I suspect the term is being used now, by the US government’s political fixers, to numb the public mind in the event nuclear weapons do become an option for the Dark Triad in the coming years in its quest for oil. It’s an ugly thought that I can’t seem to shake.) — paragraph added 2017-04-08
It’s how people of the Dark Triad operate. It’s all they really care about… conniving and winning. Don’t take my word for it. (Read what the psychologists say… )
Kind of makes me wonder sometimes why good souls ever choose to spend a lifetime on this damned Earth.
Anyway, the facts…
Despite advances in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tidal power, world civilization still satisfies most of its energy needs with hydrocarbons ( fossil fuels)—oil, gas, and coal, but especially oil—that are quickly being burned out of existence… and slow-cooking the planet in the process.
That’s especially true in the USA, as seen in the graph below: Renewable energies barely make a dent in oil use.
Even throughout Europe, where social-democratic governments work hard to promote alternative energies, hydrocarbons still address by far most of the energy needs, as typified by the UK and Germany.
There have been recent rumors about some countries (Iceland, Norway, and most recently Ireland) trying to divest completely from fossil fuels, but that just means their governments are no longer investing money in coal, oil, and gas as a means of governmental income. It’s a noble announcement that they will no longer invest in activities (extraction and processing of hydrocarbons) that are destroying the planet, but the people in those countries will still be using fossil fuels to get around.
For human civilization in the foreseeable future, oil is indispensable.
Why are we still stuck on oil?
Mostly because of transportation.
We humans were built to walk the Earth, but also to dream of greatness. So to break through our mobility limitations we’ve devised fueled conveyances like cars, buses, trains, and airplanes that let us travel tens or hundreds or thousands of miles quickly.
That’s the simple fact: Our desire to move fluidly through this dense world has gotten us into the current hydrocarbon quagmire, whose symptoms include rising fuel prices, widespread pollution, and devastating oil wars. Transportation needs oil.
Other big energy requirements such as electricity are being consigned more and more to nuclear and alternative energy sources.
From an article about energy use in Europe in recent years….
The diagram above is a glimpse at the various sectors of modern societies (in this case Europe) that use lots of energy. In progressive countries, it’s the blue sector (transportation) that’s stuck in oil while the other sectors (what we sometimes call “utilities”) are getting more and more of their energy from nuclear and renewable sources.
Not so in the more conservative, oil-addicted USA, as the next diagram shows. As compared with France and Ontario, Canada, the USA uses mostly hydrocarbons for its electrical generation.
Despite the stubborn fossil-fuel dependence in the USA, it’s still fair to say that, worldwide, transportation is the main cause of oil addiction… and like any addiction, it’s causing a serious problem in world society.
Crux of the Oil Problem
- who has the most oil in the world,
- who processes the most oil, and
- who uses the most oil.
The three maps give a pretty good, general idea of the world oil situation, but they don’t take into account a crucial factor: How easy or how hard it is to get certain oil deposits out of the ground and processed.
Easy oil vs Hard oil
Oil deposits were formed underground in various ways over the eons, depending on how rich the plant and animal life was when it all got dead and buried, how long the organic stuff simmered and brewed underground, and what sort of geologic and climatic conditions helped or hindered the brewing process. (Good explantions here… and here…)
So today there’s essentially easy oil (a.k.a. “conventional” oil or “light” oil) and hard oil (a.k.a. “unconventional” oil or “heavy” oil).
Easy oil is also called “light sweet crude” because of its low density and low sulfur content, making it easy to process into gasoline and other products. There are three main sources, or benchmarks, related to easy oil:
- WTI (west Texas intermediate) in the USA,
- Brent oil in Europe, and
- DOAD (Dubai, Oman or Abu Dhabi) in the Middle East.
(DOAD is not quite as light and sweet as Brent and WTI, but it’s still a good, easy oil.)
Much of the easy oil has already been sucked from the ground and processed, which means we’ve already passed the “peak oil” milestone… the point at which oil reserves start to dwindle faster than we can find new reserves. When you hear talk of “peak oil,” it’s usually the easy oil that’s being discussed.
By far most of the easy oil remaining in the world today is in the Middle East and Africa, as shown in this 2013 diagram from the US energy information administration:
And here’s a good article about the world’s 11 largest oil reserves by country, starting with the USA at number 11, even though the USA has used up nearly all of its easy oil but has lots of “hard oil” reserves.
Hard oil, or unconventional oil, is thicker and dirtier to process. It includes the tar sands in Canada, shale oil here in the USA, and heavy oil deposits in places like Venezuela. It’s easy to guess that digging ever more aggressively to grab Earth’s dirty oil is really going to foul up the planet, in terms of climate, geology, and politics… but foul it we will, as long as civilization is addicted to oil.
Hard-Headed Politics and “Alternative Facts”
As Big Oil pressures right-wing politicians in America to deny the validity of global warming, it’s not because they’re all stupid or ignorant (as they may seem) or in denial of science (they knew about global warming before anyone else did)… it’s because they can’t let the fact of climate change dampen their oil agenda.
The US transportation system (including the car industry) needs oil to keep the wheels turning, and they can’t let anti-oil sentiments and alternative energy obsession become a distraction. They need to keep the focus on oil.
So instead of promoting alternative energy, they prefer to promote alternative facts.
The far right has used misinformation (lies dressed up as truth) so prodigiously in the past 15 years (remember HAVA… ) that it isn’t too surprising when the Trump people use the term “alternative facts” for the false information they feed to the press. (Read more… )
Conservatives and liberals certainly have different ideas of how the world works, especially when it comes to oil.
From a conservative point of view, society’s heavy reliance on oil is a harsh reality, and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect the security and the economic stability of the USA. That means: ensure access to oil at all costs. Of course it would be nice if we could transform transportation overnight so that we no longer need oil… but we do need oil. We live in a real world, not a wannabe world. There are a lot of ruthless forces out there in the world, and if we hope to prevail, we need to be the most ruthless. We need to get that oil.
From a liberal point of view, we should never erase the line between telling the truth and lying… between right and wrong. To sacrifice noble behavior (honesty, trust, care for the less fortunate…) in order to feed an addiction is a terrible case of misguided priorities. Noble values should always be the anchor, and if we (America) have gotten ourselves into a real fix with oil (in the addictive as well as figurative sense of the word), then we need to go through the necessary withdrawal symptoms and treatments to restore a healthy way of living.
Me? I’m a liberal. No one who knows me has ever made a mistake about that.
There are some clever technical solutions that could help solve the problem, but they’re not cheap or easy. For example:
- A worldwide mag-lev transportation network that overcomes the serious challenge of gravity, thus reducing the amount of energy needed to transport.
- Electric cars can help to solve the problem only if a country’s power grid is fueled by something other than fossil fuels. If a country’s electricity is fueled by coal (as in China) or coal and natural gas (as in the USA), then electric cars won’t solve much in terms of oil addiction and global warming.
There are also some good back-to-nature solutions that could alleviate the problem:
- Work at or near home.
- Motor-free life styles with a widespread trend toward bicycling.
- A half-time moratorium on motorized travel, maybe week-off, week-on.
- Rationing vacation and other travel times the way cities ration water in dry states like here in Colorado.
These are just a few of the kinds of things that might help us get through the withdrawal symptoms of oil addiction. If I think of more, or if I read about more good ideas from other authors, I’ll try to remember to add them to the list.
But the immediate problem has no solution. It involves convincing Dark Triad personalities who are now in charge of Uncle Sam that we need to take a noble path. Dark Triad personalities have neither the patience nor the interest to listen to such ideas.
Again, don’t take my word for it. (See what the experts say… )
And, again, there is a good solution to the problem… though it’s not likely to get any serious attention from Dark Triad personalities.