For most people, this is a worthwhile goal. However, it is important to realize that there are some who do not share this goal. These are the few outliers—people without affect who do not experience sympathy or compassion, co-operation, community, or love for their fellow citizens. They are only influenced by what effects them directly and by what they personally stand to either gain or lose.
Freed of self-restraints, these outliers are often highly successful in business. As ‘captains of industry’ they thrive on competition by bending or distorting the rules of the game to their advantage. They do not compete on a level playing field. They get away with enormous risks, skating on the edge and sometimes over the edge of legality, especially when the burden of the risks is borne by others. They take no prisoners. In a neoliberal economy, masquerading as normal businessmen or sometimes as politicians, they can become very wealthy, very powerful, and, ultimately, for civil society at any rate, very dangerous.
For example, the architects of the world’s greatest ecocide, the individual directors of the transnational tobacco companies, are responsible globally for millions of deaths annually and operate virtually with impunity. They have done so for years.
In Canada, these so-called Merchants of Death, have received an Order of Canada, voted Businessman of the Year, and even become Finance Minister and ultimately Prime Minister of Canada. These are people who have deliberately, actively and knowingly promoted highly addictive tobacco products that result in disease and death when used precisely as the manufacturer intended.
In other words, despite their wealth, despite their status and reputation, despite their accumulated power and influence, these are people who should be in jail.
But our present laws are not adequate to deal with this ecocide. Law is simply the rules of the game. We have to change the rules of the game.