Individualism over collectivism

| 16/03/2010

As we all know crime has many causes, and as the Cayman community wrings its hands and tears out its hair over how Grand Cayman, at least, went from being a place with a reputation for peace and security to crime-central in such a short time, there are significant cultural and social issues which could be to blame that few wish to confront.

On Thursday evening, however, Professor Brian Meeks gave an incredible key note presentation at the University College of the Cayman Islands’ first regional academic conference. Although the UWI academic was talking mostly of his native Jamaica and the rise of violence in that country, the issues he addressed were ones which the authorities in the Cayman Islands must also begin to consider. While the rise of violence in Jamaica is complex, one of the key issues which Meeks spoke about was the culture of individualism over collectivism.

This concept of selfishness became a political movement in the 1980s, embraced by capitalism and monetarist policies in both the US and the UK, which changed the post war western world from one where people looked out for each other to one where people strove to achieve and acquire wealth, often at the expense of others.

The west adopted the principle of capitalism and all the selfish elements that go with it and branded anyone who was willing to place society as a whole above self as a socialist. When the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said “There is no such thing as society”, she illustrated where the western world was going. While hard working capitalists were lauded as high achievers and people to be revered, the culture of the individual was being enshrined and the concept of community was being lost.

Cayman is part of the capitalist world, and the relentless never ending pursuit of growth and accumulation of wealth which defines the system, because of its role in global finance. Wealth was acquired here in the boom days of the offshore industry, and many of the strong elements of Cayman’s past collectivism were eroded as the country embraced the ideals of capitalism and the wealth that came with it.

It is perhaps not surprising therefore that a generation of young men who have never lived in a society where the collective is placed above the individual have become selfish criminals who pursue their own agendas with little consideration for anyone else.

They have grown up in a world where leaders and politicians praise the acquisition of wealth and where the sins of the powerful, as demonstrated in the recent financial meltdown, go unpunished and in some cases rewarded.

While not wishing to romanticise the idea of poverty and suggest that Cayman was a better place when there was no electricity and the mosquito was king, today many many Caymanians, when they speak of the loss of heritage, are talking about the loss of collectivism and the rise of individualismessentially, people have stopped caring about eachother. The capitalist system is inherently selfish, and once it “won” the cold war in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was as if selfishness was legitimised over community.

We in Cayman now have a generation of young people who have little experience of the concept of selflessness and who have been taught that acquisition, having stuff and being wealthy are all good things. Consequently, when they cannot acquire wealth through legitimate means they will acquire it through crime. The selfish nature of modern society has created uncaring individuals who see the men at the top of the capitalist system being equally selfish and turning a blind eye to the pains of those at the bottom of the socio-economic pile — so why should they care who they shoot in order to gain an advantage, be it status, as is the case at present, or wealth?

To suggest that the capitalist system is entirely to blame for Cayman’s crime surge is over simplification, but we must begin to recognise that the legitimate pursuit of wealth with few checks and balances, which is what led tothe global meltdown and which lauds individual achievement over that of a society, fuels selfishness and breeds criminal disregard among those who would be inclined towards a life on the wrong side of the law.

We have all heard the discussions recently about the audacity of the local gangs and that they do not appear to care about the impact their actions have on the community at large. But their disregard for the community should not surprise us, as essentially they are products of their time when the individual reigns supreme over the collective. They have simply not be taught how to live with one eye on their neighbour.

Carelessness and selfishness are by no means the only reason why today’s youngsters are more violent, but the elevation of the individual and the undermining of the collective is one of the reasons why. The irony, of course, is that those who belong in gangs find that collective support which is now missing form society in general. Sadly, however, the collective goal is still to acquire wealth or status at the expense of others.

As society itself becomes increasingly complex and diverse, crime will increase; the less a community knows itself the more crime will happen; the further a criminal is removed from his victim the easier the crime is to commit. Consequently, when the ingredients of despondency, greed, selfishness, poverty, wealth, exclusion, population increase, competition for resources and alienation all come together, crime will always be in the mix.

While the ‘powers that be’ around the world (and these days it is the global corporation and institutions more than governments) continue on the relentless pursuit of growth and wealth, those who wish to gain but are excluded from the main event will continue to choose the more undesirable routes to wealth and status from behind a gun.  

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think Capitalism is not the evil culprit. Rather, the evil is the tendency of human nature to become self-centered and ignorant. The minds of the young are so preoccupied with their games, gadgets, and illusions that they fail to realize the true nature of things as they are. That is where the "first illusion" comes from – self-centeredness.

  2. Anonymous says:

     This is the most ridiculous argument I have heard for the rise in violence in Cayman. Really? You believe the switch to capitalism is to blame? All modern societies are a mix of socialist and capitalist themes, including Cayman. A sense of community in a neighborhood, city, or nation has nothing to do with its government policies. A socialist society is no more "neighborly" than a capitalist society. The idea is preposterous. The root of your crime is a society that has a high percentage of poorly educated late adolescent men with nothing better to do than drink and do drugs all day, drive around with loud cars and louder car stereos and get in petty arguments and shoot each other over them. Cayman if anything has a strong sense of community, because the families of these degenerates protect them when they know what kind of activities they are involved in. Sorry, socialism is not your easy out of this one. 

  3. Roadblogger says:

    Wendy:  The horror stories of what rampant Capitalism can do to people, to their economies, well-being, and to their futures, is all too evident to many of us. Rampant Socialism as some here have pointed out, unfortunately has the same effects.

    Since entering the work force way back when, I have questioned all of this.

    My first job out of school was in a factory. Picking up my first paycheque the question dawned on me.  The number of things we produced that week must have been adequate to pay us, pay for raw materials, pay the executive branch.  And make a profit for shareholders who didn’t do anything.  The wages weren’t good, obviously!  And it was then I began to wonder what if we, the people who worked in the factory, also shared in the profits?  The beginnings of my socialist leanings.

    Needless to say it never happened.  And the following year, there were massive layoffs.  The reason being the profit margin had to be maintained at all costs (mostly to us) and shareholders and the executive also had to be paid from what appeared to be dwindling sales.  Ie.  there were now, we were informed, offshore competitors who were producing the product much cheaper.  This is capitalism.  But the question never dawned on anyone, why the workers had to take the brunt.  While the shareholders, who didn’t do anything, were left unscathed.  As well as the executive.

    I began to wonder if the workers in a factory similar to ours, our "offshore competitors" were undergoing the same criteria.  That is, that profits had to maintained.  Then I found out that our company also owned that factory in Sri Lanka.  And were paying those workers even less.  Thus began my questioning.

    I watched at one time awhile ago a documentary called The Take (highly recommended).  It is the story of the economic collapse of Argentina.  For any who don’t know the Argentine currency was devalued overnight.  People lost their life savings.  Banks closed.  Factories were shut down.  And, as they lost their jobs, in the midst of this chaos some factory workers decided amongst themselves they could see no reason… why they couldn’t re-open the factories.  They were abandoned anyway. There were several examples given:  Women in a suit factory, which had gone bankrupt, occupied the factory and took over production.  It wasn’t quite that simple but after that, everyone was paid an equal wage.  Including managers.  All decisions were made by the group.  One interview was truly enlightening.  As a woman, one of the partners, was busy sewing she was curious that the executive somehow had not managed to make a profit and was constantly asking for government hand-outs. They were making a small profit now.  By using the same methods she used at home!  Buying whatever was needed, and paying the bills.  But now the profit, instead of being distributed from the top down, was spread amongst everyone who was contributing. The women workers.  And the incentive was to cut costs, be more efficient, and increase their shares.  This might be called Socialism by some.  But in fact it’s Capitalism.  Working for the benefit of people.  How unique.

    Is this an isolated incident?  One that takes places place only under extreme circumstances?   Not really.   If you watch Michael Moore’s award winning Capitalism: A Love Story, in nation that prides itself on rampant capitalism there are several incidents shown where companiesare run by the workers.  Where profits are shared.  Each one of them, surprisingly, has weathered the economic storm quite satisfactorily.  There have been no lay-offs.  Because that decision is left up to the group.  And as one shareholder in one company said "How could I justify it?  how could I lay-off a friend and co-worker?  without taking a pay-cut?  And the decision isn’t mine to make anyway."

    Each one of the people working in those businesses, which are still in business bye the way, has been given a stake in their future and the future of the company.  The decisions made about the company and it’s resources are also made collectively.  They are efficient, equitable. And profitable.  And as I said, are still in business.  While others who answer to boards of directors and shareholders have folded and jobs have been lost.  Or the company has re-located. 

    In this movie, in the case of a window manufacturer, the Bank of America foreclosed on the owners.  The workers then occupied the factory and demanded new financing.  The reasoning being if someone wanted the economy to improve, how could that be done by making people un-employed?  They now run their own factory collectively.  But only after they fought through the courts and won.

    Or as was shown in many cases jobs had been out-sourced to a cheaper "economic climate."  The true meaning of Free Trade.  Leaving the board of directors and shareholders maintaining the value of their shares, while local workers who were good enough in good times had been laid off and/or sacrificed.

    But fortunately, there is a movement afoot.  Where many workers are saying "wait a minute we helped build this business".  "we devoted our work to it."  "and lives to it."  The reality is of course they were dependent on the business.  But NO MORE than the business was dependent on them.  Interesting. 

    Therefore the decision should not be entirely left up to management, boards of directors, and shareholders when and if the economy takes a dive.  Or ideally, at any other time.

    Factories, and businesses, where there is equitable profit-sharing, good or bad and mutual day to day decision making, input and equitable future business decisions taking into account benefits for all.  Is the way forward.  That isn’t Socialism.  That is the way Capitalism is designed to work. 

    Sorry if this sounds like a Manifesto.  I still believe in capitalism.  It’s strange hearing me say that.  But as I’m also saying… it has been hi-jacked. By self-interest.  With needed modifications, Capitalism still could work if some would realize in whatever system we follow… we are all still dependent on each other for our economic well-being.

    Us trying to convince Wall Street, big business, or government of that.  Isn’t merely impossible. It’s necessary.  Because it’s been proven to work.  But it will mean… sacrifices on their part.  Maybe it’s time… to share this burden?

    Yeah mon.

  4. Joe Average says:

    This is becoming an interesting thread.  Thanks to everyone.  And thanks to you Wendy.  

    I’ve always believed in a moral compass.  A somewhat vague term. But one in which we, hopefully, use to guide our activities.  And most of us possess one.  Why then, do people who don’t seem to posses one such as George Bush, Dick Cheney, Ken Lay of Enron, and the likes of Bernie Madoff.  And various others too numerous to mention.  Seem to rise to the top of our heap?  Is it because they take advantage of our moral compasses?  Or are we just gullible?  It would seem that over time we’ve been confused by media, etc. and allowed this to happen.  If they’re on tv, they demand respect and must be speaking the truth.  For some reason I can’t get over how subservient we have become in our attitudes and allowing people, who are obviously criminals, rise to such positions of power and influence.  The point is, how are we going to be capable of directing young people if they see and witness the actions of some of the people we have allowed to be in control?  We did step aside for it.  And if we don’t demand higher standards, then we start to look at the least like hypocrites and at worst ineffective.  There isn’t a morality test for these positions, and we wish there were but we should still be able to use our own moral compasses. 

    What prevents us and why don’t we?

    Is it because:  We have allowed someone else to set the standards?

    And they have put the bar far too low?  Gradually?

    I’d like to hear someone else’s opinion on this.  Thanks.

    • Rufus B. Saye says:

      Wendy, Joe, and others here have all raised great points…

      As an expat lucky enough to have been herebefore Ivan [but unlucky enough to be here through it 🙂 ] I can testify to the much stronger sense of community in Cayman that used to exist, not to mention the communal push after the storm (the mutual misery was a great bonding exercise…)

      I think we have to take a step back (even further) and remember that children take cues from actions, not rhetoric. And one of the key points that I want to raise is how a country’s laws can help institutionalize disconnection from other people.

      Readers, please take your opinions (pro/con/in-between) out of the following issues – rather, think of how divisions may have been increased (probably unintentionally) by:

      1) Rollover – unintended message: people are expendable?

      2) Human rights &constitution – selective granting of rights and privileges versus universal application means two sets of rules…

      I’m sure that readers can come up with other examples…

      If you have a generation that sees callous disregard for the feelings, hopes, dreams, etc. of others institutionalized at the same time that religion (a great counter-balance to the above) diminishes in importance (in their eyes), is it any wonder that individualism is encouraged?

      Is it any wonder that we’ve seen more "demonization" of opposing viewpoints, more entrenchment of positions, polarization etc. making it all too easy to NOT walk in the other person’s shoes?

      The only suggestion that I can think of is a plea to ALL of the politicians: lessen the bickering and other short-term political games and look to encouraging unity… Leadership by example…

      "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand."

      Regards…

      • Roadblogger says:

        I like that theory Rufus.  Unfortunately you are giving politicians too much credit for assuming they even know what the Common Good means.  I believe they actually think their job Is… to point fingers… and create dissension.  Because in their minds, that’s how they got there.  Nothing else was required, AND they had the advantage that we were so fed-up at that stage we’d vote for ANYONE else.  But once there, they had no idea what they were going to do after wards.  Except to do more of the same.  Blame each other.   Until we were so fed-up with hearing it.  We booted them out.  In line, were the next group ready to their point fingers.

        We are partly, or even mostly, to blame for this as we stood there listened and yelled "You’re right! We’re angry too!"  But never once asked them a very pertinent question.  What THEY were going to do about it. 

        In lieu of that we were fed pablum and catch-phrases. "Accountability"  "We’re Listening"  "Change that’s Needed"  "The Dawning of A New Era"  "Yes WE Can"  blah blah blah.

        But, as you’re proposing instead of pleading with politicians to lessen the bickering and other short-term political games we should be demanding it, retrain them, or find another line of work.

        Because…we….always suffer the consequences, and children take cues from actions, not rhetoric:

        It’s really up to us to show politics is NOT a game.  It’s peoples’ lives and happiness and futures and we’re NOT divided.  Our Politicians always try to make us believe we are.

        Because that’s how they got there.

         

  5. M.R. says:

    Wendy

    Professor Brian Meeks attributes “as one of the key issues” of the rise of violence in Jamaica, to the culture of individualism over collectivism. It appears you have adopted this “key cause” of blaming “the relentless never ending pursuit of growth and accumulation of wealth which defines the system [of capitalism]” for the crimes of individualism committed by our young people. It sounds almost like if you get rid of or severely regulate global corporations and institutions, this matter of crime in the Cayman Islands will be resolved. I give you and the Professor credit.

    In addition, you said, “to suggest that the capitalist system is entirely to blame for Cayman’s crime surge is over simplification, but we must begin to recognize that the legitimate pursuit of wealth with few checks and balances, which is what led to the global meltdown and which lauds individual achievement over that of a society, fuels selfishness and breeds criminal disregard among those who would be inclined towards a life on the wrong side of the law.” So with you, to enforce laws and regulations, checks and balances, would greatly help to resolve selfishness and individualism expressed in Cayman’s culture. I also give you credit on this point.

    Nevertheless, Wendy, concerning Capitalism and regulating its system, IT APPEARS you tend to RELY ON government to make legislation or enforcement of “checks and balances” to resolve the country’s crime. The EXTREMITY of relying on this method is shared by communists and socialists alike.  Not to call you a communist, but this reliance on the law to solve this individualistic problem, lead to Fidel Castro, delivering Cuba from a corrupt capitalistic system under Baptista. In turn, Fidel created a communistic system (communism from the word community or collectivity) where it instead brought control over the entire country and infringed upon the freedom, creativity, and incentives of individuals. Wealth automatically was transferred into the hands of the State – really into the hands of those who dictated the law, the checks and balances. Cuba is now dead. There is no more progress in Cuba without the State sanctioning. The State has replace most (if not all) the violent crime against Cubans. Of course, Castro, you, I, and Professor Meeks have morals, but to go to the extremity of enforcing morals upon a natural system or way of life, is to declare (like a religious minister) that morals are ABSOLUTE; and thus, those who stray from the absolute conscience of government, should be penalized for it. This is very problematic if you as an individual should see right from wrong differently from the status quo. The truth is, morality is RELATIVE and constantly changes based on life’s arising situations.

    Human nature and those in power over the Capitalistic machine that is fueled by selfish ambition can never be “permanently” resolved by legislation of any sort. This does not mean we fold our hands and just allow abusive companies or individuals to do immoral or harmful things against other people. Don’t get me wrong. But the Law as we know it, should never be considered the absolute remedy for individualism. The law is human and temporarily helps. In this regard, taking and relying on laws and moral checks to the extreme, is dangerous if actualized in society. Please don’t entertain thisthought, and I hope that was not Meeks underlying message.
    Laws to regulate the market and society as a whole, can only keep things at bay for a time. Why? Because selfish human nature or the ills individualism, always find a loophole around established laws. You will find the more there are laws, the more there are loopholes for the criminals to hide. The legal system can only be used as a tool like any other man-made tool so to speak.

    What led to the global meltdown was not only a system to blame, but the “KEY” – is the lack of true education and the will-power to change human nature. You can say, until the nature of youngsters continue on the relentless pursuit of “Me” and “I,” they will continue to choose the more undesirable routes to wealth and status from behind a gun. Self-centered individualism can only be fully resolved and cured by the individual wanting to change him or her self.

    Anyways… this is my critique.

    M. R.

  6. Richard N. Parson says:

    Cayman is like the child who grew up too fast.  All of a sudden Cayman lost its innocence and was thrust into the "world" that was all too willing to show it the "other side" of life.  At the expense of tranquility, peace, community, pride of heritage, hard work, strong families and love for one another, Cayman now has become stressed out, financially strapped with debt, void of national identity, and practically strangers in their own Island home.  On one hand we read that Cayman has one of the highest per capita income in the world, but on the next page we read that Cayman is riddled with crime and murder is now almost expected every week.  What a price to pay for "prosperity".  There are some things that money cannot buy and Caymanians are finding this out the hard way. I pray it is not too late to save Cayman from the fate of so many tiny countries who lose their way in this wicked world. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    While well-written, I would disagree that capitalism is a root cause of the societal issues we have in Cayman.  I would agree that the complete breakdown in the family unit and education are core issues.

    I would highly suggest a reading of "Freakonomics" by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt.  It’s a great book and does an excellent job of explaining in economic terms why, for example, teens choose drug dealing over an honest living.

     

  8. what a mess says:

    So very well written!

    And at the root of so much of what is missing in Cayman (and the world) today.

    While "the rich get richer" (with material things and power) "the poor get poorer" and the masses don’t even have a clue…

    Greed!…the root of all evil…

  9. Lala says:

    Very well written article Wendy but I think it’s a bit idealistic to suggest that these monsters are the product of capitalism.  I agree that far too often individual wants are placed above societal needs but realistically, we should not have to choose one or the other.  In reality, they should work together "balancing the scales" so to speak.

    Whether we choose to adopt communism, capitalism, or socialism, the fact is that these tyrants are truly products of poor education, poor(er) parenting and utter laziness.  We ALL live in the same community.  We ALL have been exposed to the "capitalist" way of life and those of us who become murderers are few – it really is a poor excuse.

    Their level of selfishness is not one taught by global corporations, but quite the opposite – it stems from home.  It stems from not having good values and morals impressed and the concepts of right and wrong, action and consequence emphasized.  If parents can’t provide solid foundations then how can we expect an outcome of strong, respectable citizens?

    Until we all come together, develop and implement a zero-tolerance for violence policy, we are in for far sadder days ahead (as individuals and as a community)!

     

  10. whodatis says:

    Great post Wendy.

  11. Joe Average says:

    I’m sorry this is a little off the topic Wendy but it does say something toward what you mentioned about collectivism.  And the capitalist mentality.

    I think we all started to question just a tiny bit when we were informed of the global financial meltdown of just what was going on and what had happened.    For most of us all we had continued to do was go to work.  So where did the crisis arrive from?  That our governments fell over backwards "rescuing" special people and corporations from?  We didn’t stop going to work.  Stop paying our bills. Most of them.   Or take extended vacations. Better yet.  Who’s crisis was it? someone asked.  And who… did the banks owe money to??  It wasn’t me. It probably wasn’t you.  I don’t think a bank has ever owed me money! Has it ever owed you money?

    The questions we didn’t ask.  Why??  Who??  Where??

    Because, we were too pre-occupied with listening to Henry Paulson breathlessly telling us things were about to collapse, and we were all going to be in rags and eating insects. That was scary.  And it had the desired effect.

    But

    The answer to the question we didn’t ask now is clear.  They owed the money to each other!  Yes!  A lot.  Trillions actually.  And they didn’t have enough to pay each other back.  So they had to use our money.  This we were told, would, and must be a collective endeavor!

    On our parts at least.  It was then we were told "we’d all have to pull together"  to get "us" out of this mess. So collectivism does work.  We all suffered.  Well most of us.  Except for those giant bonuses.  That didn’t look too much like suffering.  But, our collectivism and their collectivism have two entirely different meanings. And come from different places. When times are good, we’re treated as individuals and competitors. Each of us is a separate, and valued consumer in this battle.  All ads are aimed directly at us and there is no one more important than you or I.  Life insurance companies, car companies, real estate companies, mattress suppliers, stores, even our own government, all they want to do is make our dreams come true individually and beat the competition.  Or at least get our dreams first.

    And we look at that and think.  "They must talking to me!"  "My dream must be important!"

    Collectively, we want something more, or suspect that there can be something more. Because, strangely enough, when times are bad, we’re no longer individuals. And soon our dreams are forgotten. We are a mass, a demographic, a large group of faceless peons who must now "come together".  To face whatever has been created on our behalf and it usually isn’t good.  Be it a war. An economy in a shambles. Or a worldwide financial crisis.  Bad times seems to be the only times anyone is prepared to share with us.  Notice that??  Collectively at least.

    No.  We have to create our own time to share.  And as Wendy said our own collectivism.  They, the powers that be, would rather call it something nasty, like Socialism (send shivers up your spine?… it’s supposed to.)  Because we have been convinced, or trained to limit, when we can act collectively, or as a group. First of all it must be sanctioned, and only when it is deemed necessary for us to act as a group. Not for us…for them.  For instance, in a disaster, or an election, which is the prelude to a disaster. At all other times, we don’t act as group, we’re not recognized as one and we’re not supported as that.  AND We don’t act as a community unless we are told it’s time and it’s usually too late.

    What people miss, more than anything, is a time when we didn’t need permission… to act as a collective. Community.  We didn’t need to be told.  It just was. And just were. And If we wait too long.  For permission.  Or to be told "now is the time"  we’ll forget.

    Or worse forget how. 

    I don’t think any of us want to wait for the next disaster, financial or otherwise to be told:  "Ok folks it’s time for us to all work together.  For the common good.  Now the bad news."

    Collectively we can create our own good news much easier than that!

    Sorry I drifted off topic Wendy but we’re on the same page.

    Power to the people.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well said Wendy.  Show me another country with a generation gap larger than the Cayman Islands.  Show me another country that has advanced 30-40 years in the short space of time we have.  Of course this comes with challenges warned about but never heeded.  

    Hello development. Hello crime,  welcome to Greedy Cayman.   

  13. Fuzzy says:

    Miss Wendy! I applaud you for this viewpoint.I agree with most of the seniments expressed.Sometime ago when Joey Ebanks was interviewed for a Net News article for Caymanian of the year or something similar he responded in a negative way towards people who missed the good old days.His response was basically that the old days were not that good and were mostly about lots of mosquitos and some other negative comment.He completely missed the point that we were missing the togetherness that was felt back then .Yes there was poverty and a lack of material things but there was so much more contentment and togetherness that we didn’t seem to notice.One constant in all of this was the presence of mothers in the homes.Nowadays mothers cannot afford to be at home and the result is a generation of kids who are disconnected .Imagine this. The modern mother has to disconnect from her newborn after 6 weeks and return to work or risk losing her job.That also means that at 6 weeks a baby has to disconnect from its mother from roughly 8am to 5pm while at daycare or with a helper at home;from 5pm to 8am the child is disconnected from from the care givers and reunited with its mother.This means that at a very early age our children are learning not to get too attached to any one individual,and that results in kids who seem to live in a vacuum with no conscience or consideration for the feelings of others ..Of course some mothers would love to be at home even if it meant fewer material things but society would never let them live it down.She would be looked at as lazy and unambitious if she was not trying to build a bigger house than her neighbour even if her neighbour has a bigger family,or buying the latest toy even though theres already too many toys in the house.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That is very simplistic in my view and may explain to a limited degree theft or stealing in general but certainly it does not explain away cold blooded murder. That is a different crime altogether.

    The complete negation of another human being the right to exist or in other words the lack of any personal feeling toward another implies a dehumanization that is indeed scary.

    I personally believe not receiving any love in childhood plays a big role in the development in this type of antisocial personality.

    There are many people of procreate yet have no interest in parenting and this includes both men and women.

    A child that receives love and knows that they are valued develops a different relationship with the world and a different self identity.

    The surest way to create a monster is to have them grow up without love.

    • Vertical Pig says:

      Good article Wendy, perhaps the best you’ve written.

      I think that aggressive Consumerism rather that ‘Capitalism’ per se is a key problem.

      The young men with guns follow the maxim "Get rich or die trying".  Most of use draw the line in a different place but there is still some level of greed in it.

       

      Consumerism is an adjunct of a capitalist economy so, yes, there is a relationship but some of the most selfish (and dangerous) people in history operated under the banner of collectivism. Consider Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Chauchescu, Mugabe and the like.

      Many a  dictator was a narcissist posing as a collectivist – don’t fall into that trap in Cayman.

      Paradoxically collectivist systems tend to gravitate towards autocracy and capricious decision making as opposed to democracy, consultation and the rule of law that underpins capitalist systems.

      Love of self above all others is one side of the coin, the other is a dehumanizing attitude to others. 

      Judging others as worthless or treating them as interchangeable chattels has a deep history in the Caribbean and a strand of it lingers on in Cayman.

      The flames of consumption are fanned by regional winds. The more you have the better a person you are.  Financial worth becomes a proxy for  personal worth. If you want respect flash some cash.

      A person caught up in all this, putting objects before people and treating people as objects also dehumanizes themselves. How hard is it to shoot anything in your way when what you see is a target not a person?

      Things like this only right themselves when people realize what they are doing can not be sustained but it can be painful, destructive and even bloody.

      The greater the denial and evasions the longer it takes to put things right but, in a quarrel with reality, reality always wins.