It is a common refrain, repeated in Facebook memes and exploited in any number of corporate ads: “Be yourself! Celebrate who you are!” Which is all well and good, but what if you are a bastard?
For instance, I don't actually think Alan Joyce should keep on “being himself”. The union-bashing Qantas CEO, who last year locked out his entire workforce, just can't seem to control his anti-worker impulses — announcing in recent weeks that 400 more engineering jobs would be slashed.
I don't want Joyce to “be himself” — I think he should try his damndest to be anything but. He should try channelling Gandhi. Or therapy. Or get some pills — I know a doctor that can sort him out. Anything but keep on being such a fundamental arsehole.
It is not just Joyce. A study last year found “business leaders” were four times as likely as the rest of society to be psychopaths. Like, not just a little bit of a bastard, but actual clinical psychopaths, defined by a lack of any moral instincts.
It is no surprise when you think about how corporations treat humanity. Think about the role of James Hardie executives, who worked overtime to deny that asbestos was damaging to its workforce, and then worked equally hard to deny the victims compensation.
Think about Big Oil funding climate deniers at the same time as scientists warn Greenland and Antarctica have lost four trillion tonnes of ice in 20 years and October was the 322nd straight month of above average global temperatures.
You would have to either have a deep-seated loathing for humanity or a clinical inability to actually care in order to, consciously, push full-steam ahead with making the planet uninhabitable for human life.
“Don't let anyone stop you from being you” might make a catchy slogan for an insurance company ad, but stopping corporate bastards being corporate bastards is actually our urgent task. Should we let them “be themselves”? No, we should put them in straitjackets.
Don't get me wrong, I think everyone deserves access to whatever mental health treatments are needed to help them become functional members of society. I just don't think we should let them run our economy.