I remember learning about psychopaths and sociopaths in abnormal psychology in college, and immediately thinking, wow, no wonder why the world is so messed up.

I also remember being very unsurprised in 2016 when I read the study that found that 21% of corporate executives are psychopathic. For comparison, that’s the same percentage for prison inmates. Roughly 1% of the general population exhibits psychopathic behavior.

Psychopaths lack the ability to experience feelings of remorse, guilt, or empathy for others. They have excessively high self-approval and a nearly complete inability to form genuine emotional attachments to others. They manipulate the artificial relationships they do form to exploit others for their benefit. They’re superficially charming and generally appear normal to others, particularly due to their ability to maintain the appearance of a normal work and family life.

If you’re part of the working class, I’m sure you understand how these characteristics would make someone incredibly effective at climbing the corporate ladder. But if that person ends up in a position of immense power—in the government, for example—the decisions they make on a daily basis are incredibly high impact. Someone who also lacks empathy for others is more likely to value personal gain above all when making decisions, and if those decisions are made without considering their impacts from an ethical perspective, large numbers of people can experience immense suffering.

In the United States, the pandemic has accelerated the evolution of our system into late-stage capitalism. The ruling elite—made up of corporate executives, some who even made their way into our government—have fully manipulated the situation for their benefit, bailing themselves out (again) while having no empathy for the working class, ignoring their desperate cries for financial stability. Now, large numbers of people are experiencing unprecedented suffering.

It is time for the working class to realize our power and leverage, particularly at this moment in time. Our lives literally depend on it.