Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
Malice born out of Fear
Pure Evil is hard to find. Most malicious acts are a result of fear or insecurity of the person.
I wrote about a year ago that most things that we assume to be malice are either stupidity or incompetence. This is more popularly known as Hanlon’s Razor.
But Malice exists
One form of maliciousness is pure evil where you just derive pleasure out of pain or hurt being caused to another. Where you are doing harm and just do not care. In my experience, there are a very small number of people who would fall into this definition of pure evil. Bill Gates for instance.
The other form of maliciousness is a result of fear, usually of loss; invariably of status.
A CEO or CFO manipulating or cooking the books in order to show inflated numbers because they are afraid of the consequences of posting poor numbers. Posting poor numbers cause their status to fall in the game we call capitalism.
4 years ago, the founder of Cafe Coffee Day, a chain of coffee shops considered the Indian Starbucks, jumped off a bridge and drowned to death. He had the largest and most successful Cafe chain in India. He was also running a hotel chain and was amongst the largest producers of Coffee in India. He had invested in countless ventures including Mindtree which had by then become a part of the Indian IT success story.
It would be revealed that his company was deep in debt. The books had been cooked.
3 years later several reports would be written about how his wife turned around the ailing company after his death. She sold many of the assets of the company to reduce the debt burden. She also shut down many of the stores that the company owned. There was a time you could not pass through a street in Bangalore without stumbling upon a Coffee Day store, today they were much harder to find.
Could V.G. Siddhartha have not done this? For certain he could have.
But that would in turn imply taking a hit on his status. Having his company go through turmoil, and being forced to sell assets he owned would have been humiliating and he chose death rather than swallow his pride. He did not have the stomach to go through the decline in status.
His wife by comparison only had status because of her marriage. Irrespective of what she may have done or have been capable of, she would only be known as Siddhartha’s wife or the Former Chief Minister’s daughter. Her business credentials were unknown to the world and therefore she had no status to guard. She closed 50% of the stores that the company had.
He found it easier to jump into a river and give up his life which shut down 50% of the stores.
It makes politicians commit or absolve the most grievous of crimes. It is always the fear of losing power or gaining power.
The current Biden presidency turmoil regarding classified documents is an example. When Trump had hundreds of classified documents the GOP did not think it was a crime at all. They had their lips sealed and pretended as if it was entirely normal. The goalpost shifted in material ways the moment it was someone from the other party. Their action is malicious but not motivated by the need to be evil.
Their malice is powered by the need to grab power and improve their status.
Some of it is programmed into us by society as well. A husband who does not want his wife to earn more or achieve more than him might act maliciously. But the malice results from failing to live up to societal norms. And losing status in the eyes of others.
He is no longer the “Primary Breadwinner”.
I was recently told about a father who flew from New Mexico to New York and had his daughter fly from another southern state to New York so that they could have lunch at her favourite restaurant for her birthday. Most people would consider this father a kind and commendable man.
Truth be told he engaged in what can only be described as a crime against the planet. Four long flights and the associated carbon emissions to have a lunch?!!
This is the kind of malice that is supported and approved by society. Society will not see it as “X tons of Carbon in the atmosphere” but as the momentary “happiness” the gesture created.
The man gets the status of a great father.
90% of the malicious deeds committed around the world are essentially meant to guard status.
Would we be better people if we did not live in societies that were so status driven?