Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Fakers

I recently had a conversation with a team concerning individuals and organizations who are the exact opposite of their professed title or mission.

Some examples would be:

  • Bigoted equal opportunity/diversity officers

  • Prevaricating or manipulative religious figures

  • Corporate HR executives who proclaim themselves to be "people persons" when in reality they are carnivorous people persons

  • "Community activists" who care little for the community but a great deal for a narrow agenda.

These charlatans are often hugely successful because the chutzpah behind their hypocrisy is so large that people naturally deride the idea that they could be complete fakes. So how do they do it?

Setting aside the sociopathic operators, I've come to the conclusion that the others succeed in their fakery by first deceiving themselves. They genuinely believe that they are doing good. They justify odious behavior by asserting that it's all for a good cause.

Historian Robert Conquest observed that some of history's most murderous movements were staffed by people who meant to improve the world. If the operators of death camps or the Gulag were able to convince themselves that they were helping mankind, then the amount of self-deception needed to become a corporate hypocrite shrinks in comparison.

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