When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James (complete)

A couple of days ago, I saw a video that epitomizes the problem with the Philippines :

There is no better word to describe this guy except that he is an asshole.

What is an asshole?

If you Google “asshole definition”, you’d come up with some interesting entries :

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP )

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James

Urban dictionary defines asshole very specifically :

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Asshole definition

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Asshole definition

If asked, each person would probably have varying definition of “asshole.”

For the purpose of tackling the problems back home, I’d like to introduce the very insightful book by Aaron James, called :

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ).

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James .

According to Aaron James, person is an asshole when and only when

he systemically allows himself to enjoy special advantages in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.

His theory has three main parts:

The asshole :

(1) allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systemically

(2) does this out of an entrenched sens eof entitlement; and

(3 is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people

James further gives examples of asshole : someone who habitually cuts in line, or interrupts in a conversation, or who weaves in and out of traffic lanes. But take note that a “jerk” is not necessarily an asshole – the asshole is distinguished in the way he acts, his motivations to act in an abusive and arrogant way.  Being an asshole requires that the act is habitual,

 a vice rather than a particular act, mere lapse in conduct, or brief phase of life.

Let’s face it – we’ve all had out “asshole” moments , but that doesn’t necessarily make us into a full-blown asshole.

James further states that while assholes do cost society something materially and morally – it is not as enormous as the costs imposed by tyrants such as Hitler or Stalin (calling them assholes would be an understatement). The costs imposed on people by assholes are moderate or very small  – which is why assholes are not necessarily charged and imprisoned. They are free, roaming among us. Nevertheless, they are bothersome, they can ruin our day  and they can even drive us to fits of rage. Here is the list of eligibility to qualify as an asshole :

(1) a stable trait of character

(2) that leads a person to impose only a small or moderate material costs upon others

(3) but nevertheless qualifies the person as morally repugnant

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. p.5

James gives an interesting example :

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). The surfer asshole

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. p.16

The key thing about an asshole is is his “sense of entitlement”. A proper asshole thinks her deserves, or is due, or has a right to special advantages that from a moral point of view, he doesn’t have. An asshole may have many reasons to believe in such entitlements : he may genuinely believe it, or he may just use these reasons to “rationalize” his sense of entitlement. An asshole will also fail to recognize others – as a moral equal, or someone as a person endowed with capacity to reason. That immunizes him against the complaints of others, because he doesn’t regard others as worthy of consideration. It shouldn’t be confused with self-love or self-absorption – although they may occasionally show similar symptoms.

So, who qualifies as an asshole?

There is an interesting article on this page about the Top 4 assholes in Rock by Brett on his blog, Fat Flamingo. (Read the whole article here)

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ).  The assholes in Rock

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. The assholes in Rock

Types of Assholes According to James with Examples

The Average proper asshole – is the sort of person for whom assholish acts are quite in characters, and indeed, routine

The Royal Asshole – a distinguished sort of asshole.

The Borderline asshole – a person whose status an asshole is not entirely clear.

The Boorish asshole – willfully insensitive to  normal boundaries of courtesy and respect

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). HL Mencken

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. HL Mencken. Image from greatmindsonrace.wordpress.com

The Smug asshole – is someone who thinks that others are inferior; he expects others to treat him as their better

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Gustave Flaubert.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Gustave Flaubert. Image from aforismi.meglio.it

The Asshole boss – don’t we have it all?The asshole boss acts like his power was bestowed upon him by God alone. He condescends or sometimes even assaults.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Naomi Campbell

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Naomi Campbell .Image from www. huffingtonpost. com

**An interesting video on the asshole boss **

The Royal royal asshole – when an asshole is in a position of (almost unlimited) power to do as he pleases; he gets mad when he doesn’t and feel he has every right to bully those who disagree with him.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Henry VIII.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Henry VIII. Images from luminarium.org and sodahead.com

The presidential asshole – he goes beyond his rights accorded to him as the president of the nation  and would sometimes break established rules

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ).  Hugo Chavez.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Hugo Chavez. Image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ).  Silvio Berlusconi.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Silvio Berlusconi. Image from schlicks.com

* Silvio Berlusconi is the former PM but he is still classified under “the presidential asshole”.

The corporate asshole – the asshole flourishing in the corporate world : he enjoys laying off staff; he believes that outrageous bonuses are due him by birth; he also feels he has the license to hurt his employees when he feels frustrated

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ).  Steve Jobs.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Steve Jobs. Image from http://www.deyoungmedia.com

The Reckless Asshole – finds easy comfort in the sense of entitlement and therefore has become reckless

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Dick Cheney.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Dick Cheney. Image from rightweb.irc-online.org

The Self-aggrandizing asshole – one who strives to enhance his own power or influence and does so by invoking a moral cause (which is ultimately, himself)

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). John D, Rockefeller

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . John D, Rockefeller. Image from history.com

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Donald Trump.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Donald Trump. Image from eaglerising.com

The cable news asshole – a production of evolution, specifically designed for TV; tries to get attention on TV at whatever ways possible

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Bill O'Reilly.  Image from www.salon.com

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Bill O’Reilly. Image from salon.com

The delusional asshole – unable to comprehend how he is really perceived by the people around him

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). Kanye West.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James . Kanye West. Image from projectcasting.com

The delusional asshole banker – assholes thriving in the banking industry, who have an extra ordinary sense of self-importance  and grand delusions to monetary rewards

Assholes and Gender

So…are assholes all men? Nope. Not necessarily. We tend to refer to men as assholes and women as bitches only because of linguistic convention. If a person happens to be female, then she can also be an asshole as long as she qualifies.

Examples : amy chua

I won’t be long about this ridiculous and disproven nonsense from elitist Amy Chua and her memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. I’ll be honest. I haven’t read it and I’m not going to read it. All I know is Amy is a bad mother because she doesn’t allow her children to develop naturally and encourage them in their own interests. What she does is force children to learn things they have no interest in just like a harsher, more draconian form of public education where children are not only forced to learn things they have no interest in but things which are also untrue and counterproductive to their intellectual growth.

Amy Chua: Not a Tiger Mother, Just a Psycho-Bitch. Web. May 7, 2015. < racerules. wordpress. com/2011/ 01/25 /amy-chua -not -a-tiger -mother -just- a-psycho -bitch/ >


Responding to Ann Coulter is like what shooting fish in a barrel would be like if fish were immortal and guns had no effect on them: easy but pointless; fun for a second, but ultimately futile. Every inch of her is covered with the criticism-resistant armor of narcissism, Teflon-grade shamelessness, Kevlar-quality self-confidence so unearned as to be unfathomable. She just wrote a terrible article, bizarrely divided into a series of bullet points, about soccer. Now look — I don’t care if people don’t like soccer. I don’t care if people don’t like anything. Unless people don’t like the things they don’t like in the style of assholes. I don’t like Ann Coulter. I don’t like her so much it makes me an asshole. She sucks me into this wormhole of loathing where I loathe her so much that it makes me loathe myself. It’s like all your bullets ricochet off the impervious fish and caromb around the room before lodging in your own ass.

Ann Coulter is not so much wrong as stupid about soccer. Web. May 7, 2015. < flowbear. blogspot. jp/2014 /06 /ann-coulter -is-not- so-much- wrong-as.html > 

The cultural production of Assholes

James argued that an asshole is made, not born : Culture plays a big role in producing certain types of people. Culture also plays a factor in increasing or limiting the number of assholes-  certain cultures do seem to have a predisposition to produce more assholes than others. So, does the population  of assholes vary? The obvious answer is, yes : the ratio of assholes to the population per country does vary – they aren’t all the same. Are there more assholes in the US than, say Canada, Brazil, Japan or the Philippines? We cannot say for sure, as the definition of “asshole” would vary from place to place. What an American would call assholish behavior (such as not falling in line) may be considered the norm back home. Or talking loudly and drawing attention to yourself may be frowned upon in Japan but the norm in the US. Or hogging all the waves to yourself the norm in Brazil but not anywhere else. But yes, certain cultures seem to favor the increase the number of assholes. (well get into details later) In general, the population of assholes seem to be on a steady rise – although arguably, one can say that it is merely thanks to technology that we are now able to record assholes on a daily basis. Just a couple of days ago, I saw this on FB :

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James  (a WIP ). The surfer asshole acting like a hot shot back home.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. The real Pinoy surfer asshole

Translation : a friend was complaining about an unknown surfer acting like a hot shot at our home break.  Read : rude to locals. Interestingly, Mr James, also a surfer, offers an interesting anecdote as an example of how a culture can create assholes:

Traveling Brazilian surfers, so almost everyone agrees, are much more likely to be assholes than surfers from almost anywhere else. Acting like an asshole is plainly encouraged in the subculture of Brazilian surfers, who tend to travel in large packs (e.g., of five or ten people as compared to the usual one of two of three). This probably reflects the aggressive manliness of larger Brazilian culture but also has a more salient and direct explanation in the relative recent past. When Brazilians first started showing up on Oahu’s famous North Short, they were antagonized by local Hawaiians, despite mainly lying low. Hawaiian surfers had already become defensive about white visiting surfers from California, Australia, and South Africa and were especially sore about the bombastic Aussies who began to dominate in surf contests and brag loudly about it. White surfers seemed to be continuing a neocolonial expropriation of the last thing the islanders had left – they at least still ruled the world-class surf breaks. The brown-skinned Brazilians didn’t quite fit into the “hoale” mold, coming a bit too close for comfort to the local style. But after many sound beatings and much damage to surf surfboards, Brazilians learned both to fight and to travel in large,protective groups. This worked well. So well that they now regularly take the same aggressive ethos to surf breaks around the world. They trash otherwise mellow and joyous surf lineups in Tahiti or Indonesia in any number of ways : they show up all at the same time, shifting the lineup into a hypercompetive mode; they break or cheat the rules of positions and right-of-way; they threaten to “take it to the beach” when complaints are made; and they do indeed get into a number of fights.

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. p 99

Collectivist cultures – like Japan – are less likely to engender or tolerate individual assholish behaviors to begin with. If you’ve been on a Japanese train, they have a whole book of rules (“manner”) that blatantly tells you what to do and not to do so as not to be a “nuisance” to other people. Talking on the phone, eating, talking loudly, using your mobile near the priority seats are just some of the behavior considered “rude” . So never mind that early in the morning, there are 8 people crammed into a square meter of train space, you’d still be able to hear a pin drop. It’s a country where no one wants to “stick out” because the nail that sticks out (whether you by doing assholish behaviors or plainly doing anything different) can get you “hammered down”. In other individualistic countries , some philosophies tend to “encourage” or push many mere “would-be” assholes over the line. That, plus the advent of social networking and the narcissistic attitude young people have engendered today. If you ask me, the Philippines seem to have a booming population of assholes. Why? It’s not only because of the “me first before everyone else” culture . Look at how messed up the traffic is back home. Why? I suppose one reason is the lack of policing to control assholes or limit assholish behavior.  This, I realized, is what makes life so stressful back home : the abundance of assholes left, right and center, it’s almost enough to make me skip town (oh, if it weren’t for the surf!). So….. who do I think are the famous assholes at home? What, aside from motorists ?

Pinoy Assholes


The video also showed Binay stepping away from the guard house toward the side of McKinley Road. He was talking on his cell phone. An aide held an open umbrella for the mayor. One of the mayor’s security personnel loaded a handgun and cocked it, while another aide of the mayor carried a rifle. The video also showed the young Binay talking to the two guards a few minutes before policemen in uniform, armed with M-16 rifles, arrived. It was the Makati policemen who lifted the gate’s barrier and, shortly after, arrested the two guards and Virgilio Robang, the Dasmariñas Village security officer in charge.

Carvajal, Nancy. 3 Dasma guards who stopped Binay convoy held, freed.  Inquirer. net. December 19, 2013. Web. May 7, 2015. < newsinfo. inquirer.net/ 548765 /3-dasma -guards -who- stopped -binay -convoy-held-freed >


Such display of ill manners do not deserve to be seen on screen worldwide. It is like tolerating your talent to whatever he wants to do or say without being reprimanded at all by the management.

There is now a worldwide clamor for the ouster of Willie Revillame from his TV show to make him understand the extent of his bad behavior. No amount of apologies can we restore what has been damaged. Willie does not and will never epitomize the kind of charities that he disguises in the form of his TV show…. a mockery of what a true public service that he is flaunting around here and there.

A mud even covered with the most precious stones can not be camouflaged with its shining shimmering splendor…..it will only show later on, its true color. Revillame has done enough scandalous damages several times before, over and over again, even caused the death of 71 people in the ULTRA stampede.

Farol, Paul. Wowowee Scandal: Willie Revillame’s stopping of Cory Aquino coverage sparks outrage among TFC subscriber. Asian Correspondent. August 6, 2009. Web. May 7, 2015.  < asiancorrespondent.com/ 6936/ wowowee- scandal-willie- revillames- stopping-of-cory- aquino- coverage-sparks- outrage-among- tfc-subscriber-2/ >

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Korina Sanchez.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Korina Sanchez. Image from sarablack.  com

Pardon me for hating on her. I just don’t have a high opinion of Korina Sanchez. Sure, she’s had a good start. Wasn’t so annoying, then. Then became big. Huge. It all got to her head. I can’t find the sources now -but I do remember her giving an interview and stating smugly how she treated interns (dumping their work in the trash bin). If she did that before she was Mrs Mar Roxas, I wonder what she’s capable of now?

She was hated on for her Typhoon Yolanda comments. I suppose it wasn’t what she said, but the smug way she said it – “Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya.” Or her treacherous ways to get back at Andersoon Cooper through her show (blind item : isang “blonde reporter ng CNN” na “mali-mali” raw ang mga balita at hindi alam ang sinasabi.) (Source : Gabinete, Jojo. ABS-CBN anchor Korina Sanchez gets flak from netizens for slamming CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper. November 14, 2013. < pep. ph/ news/ 41129/ abs -cbn -anchor -korina -sanchez -gets -flak -from -netizens -for -slamming -cnn -news -anchor -anderson -cooper > ) I mean, why not just bow your head and apologize? Humility will get you a long way.

She does seem to have a penchant for making herself hated. Remember her  Typhoon Ruby comments ? (I kinda agree with her though –  Japan can handle typhoons much better than the PI. That’s  a fact) . But what really annoyed me was the tsinelas campaign. I saw a  picture of the yellow tsinelas (flip flops). Yellow, huh?

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Korina Sanchez. Tsinelas campaign.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Korina Sanchez. Tsinelas campaign. Image from Philnews. ph.

Maybe they are not all yellow.  But for me, all the charity work seem more like a papansin stunt, a way to score cheap pogi points for her husband. With Korina, everything seems carefully calculated and planned for the photo – op. Shameless.

Aside from that, I don’t know if Korina is still active in broadcasting. But when she was, she always made sure to share her “intelligent” opinion on Noy Noy Aquino  (“Pwede bang ikaw ulit presidente?” – mangled quote) and politics, live. Hindi ba iyon conflict of interest? Or am I just naive to demand the semblance of neutrality from the media?

Fine, then. Maybe she isn’t an asshole. Just an irritating bitch. Oops.

The fourth one on my list is Ted Failon. the Pinoy news anchor asshole.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Ted Failon.

Assholes : A theory by Aaron James. Pinoy Asshole : Ted Failon. Image from interaksyon.com

Ted Failon laughed about a Pagasa staff member dying.

In his commentary, Ted Failon used his signature parody in dealing with the issue on air in his popular morning radio program on dzMM. With canned laughter in the background, Failon talked trash about PAGASA’s ability in responding to storm surges. Illustrating this, he mentioned PAGASA even failed to save the life of its own employee when the storm surge leveled its station on the Tacloban coast.

When Ted Failon talks trash. Fashion Pulis. November 23, 2013. Web. May 7, 2015. < www. fashionpulis. com/ 2013/ 11/ when-ted -failon-talks -trash.html >

Maybe I am just being severely biased against Ted Failon, remembering how he ceaselessly hit on his ex-co anchor, Pinky Webb. Or because I kept hearing him make sleazy comments about Gretchen Fulido (I didn’t even know who Gretchen was!!!), stating how he wanted to see her go jogging in a specific attire, live , on air!! Isn’t that, I don’t know- sexual harassment?

Maybe he’s not asshole either. Just a pervert.

Although non-Pinoy, I remember the case of Dindi Gallardo at the hands of her boss from hell, Kimberly Cox

On top of the racist comments, Gallardo also suffered Cox’s “destructive, threatening and outrageous behavior” that caused the Filipina to fear for her life while working for Frank Miller. Cox’s worst outburst occurred on July 27, 2010, when she threw a cordless telephone and chair at Gallardo, barely missing her, and later “smeared human feces on the kitchen countertop of the loft space” of Miller’s office-apartment, which was Gallardo’s work area. About a year later, Gallardo arrived at the office and saw that her files containing 3 years of documents had been scattered across the floor. It was still not enough for Cox, the much younger girlfriend of the famous comic book artist. Between August and September 2011, the boss’s girlfriend again threw a phone at Gallardo and started stabbing boxes of files with a knife in her presence. She then left “her underwear soiled with feces and her used menstrual pad an left it near Mrs. Gallardo-Mill’s work area” alongside a a hat stabbed through its top with a knife.

Santamaria, Carlos. Abused Filipina fights back, sues ‘The Dark Knight’ creator. Rappler.  October 12, 2012. Web. May 7, 2015. < rappler.com/ entertainment/14057- abused-filipina- fights-back-sues -the-dark-knight-creator >

Jesus Christ! Underwear soiled with feces. Used menstrual pad! This woman is a classic case of a  psycho bitch!

On blame and accountability

Can assholes be blamed?

Can we blame an asshole for being an asshole? For not giving a shit about the people around him? After all, an asshole is responsible for his actions only if they are fully within his control. But what if he can’t help what he does, like a TB patient who can’t stop coughing?

Some countries do tend to produce more assholes than others. A Filipino asshole cannot be blamed for being born in the Philippines, a country where asshole production is on the rise. If he were born somewhere else – Japan? Canada? – maybe he wouldn’t have turned out to be an asshole. So maybe- just maybe, we shouldn’t blame an asshole for his misfortune of being born in the Philippines. Or living in a country where assholish behavior is tolerated; where going with cultural flow seems to promote development of assholes.

On the other hand, many people in the Philippines managed not to become assholes. If others managed not to become assholes despite being born in an asshole-friendly country, then we can safely say- it is him-the asshole himself -not the country he was born in nor the society he moves in – that is to blame. Like non-assholes, assholes (and would be assholes) have a choice. They can choose to become assholes or not. If we can blame non-assholes for their actions, surely assholes should be responsible for their actions too, even if he acts from a misguided sense of special entitlement.

Psychopaths vs Assholes

Gary Watson, author of “The trouble with Psycopaths”  claimed that psychopaths  :

1) act with malice deliberately and callously harming others, without coercion  or psychosis;

2) are incapable of recognizing the interests  of others as claims on their conduct

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. p 108

For Watson, because psychopaths act with malice (1) means they need to be controlled. But because they are incapable of recognizing  others (2) means “to hold them  accountable to moral expectations  are misplaced “. In simpler terms, while it’s proper to keep a psychopath locked up (or sent to the death row)to keep them from harming society, it is futile to get him to understand why his actions were morally wrong. There is no “getting through” a psychopath. An asshole, on the other, understands moral concepts. He may even use them to justify his sense of entitlement, when needed or when his interests are at stake.   But could a  “misguided” asshole simply be making innocent mistakes?

To make an asshole understand the error of his ways and to try to change him for the better may be futile – not because he is completely incapable of doing so, but because he is unwilling to do so. Nevertheless, according to Watson, blaming an asshole is a way to seek recognition, an implicit demand that the addressed person recognize  one’s status and claims to better treatment. Doesn’t it feel good to shout “asshole!” to an asshole?

Managing an Asshole

So what do you do when faced with an asshole?

One known strategy is to avoid assholes. Or avoid places where assholes tend to linger. Back home, there were places I used to avoid on Friday nights, where fights usually break. (I tried to explain this to my hubby, who couldn’t understand what I meant by “fights”! How foreign the concept was for him! ) It’s because of a combination of many things at once, that lets out the inner asshole shine : unregulated selling of alcohol to just anybody who can cough up Php 30, friends egging on each other, shallow definition of provocation (such as accidentally staring  or bumping into someone) and lack of serious consequences for trouble makers. Of course, to save myself the trouble, I avoided these places, but avoiding can only go so far as you are familiar with a certain place. This was also my strategy in Sri Lanka when I avoided “the reef”, after surfing it for three days and encountering various kinds of assholes. (I do have a low asshole-tolerance level!) But of course, that didn’t mean there weren’t any assholes at the beach break I surfed. The truth is, assholes are everywhere and no amount of caution can completely guarantee an asshole-free life.

So, if we can’t avoid assholes,  what do we do then? Do we just accept  it?  Assholes are assholes are assholes. When someone cuts in line in front of you, it takes energy to fight back and let them know that you actually exist and your time is as valuable as his. You also run the risk of physical confrontation- which can turn against you.  Plus, it seems like a waste of time – he is probably not going to change. So some people opt to just give asshole what they want so that they f*ck off. But is being a doormat actually a good strategy?

First, it might encourage the same asshole to keep abusing us. If he gets what he wants without resistance, then he’ll do it again and again.

Second, we are sending the wrong message : that what he’s doing is OK.

Third : your self-respect.

A better way to manage assholes is to stand up for yourself or for the rights of others.  James gives two pieces of advice :

1) Don’t try to change the asshole and cooperate only on your own terms

2) Take a stand at the right time.

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. p 130

(1) doesn’t mean being violent or physically harming the asshole. It means speaking up and protesting in  non-violent means to try to get the message across – never mind that he’s not going to change. (2) means picking your battles. Realistically, it’s draining to be fighting all the assholes we encounter all the time.

Asshole Capitalism

With the proliferation of assholes, “certain types of of capitalism are prone to decline.” According to James :

The culture of an asshole capitalist system, as we will understand it, sends just this kind of strong entitlement message. Roughly, the message is that you can rightly get something for nothing or get rich without having to worry about the cost to others.  This message creates powerful incentives for asshole-style reasoning and action, not just among those who are already assholes but among many who would otherwise be content to cooperate as equals in society. The result is a profusion of assholery throughout social and economic life that overwhelms the dampening systems that might otherwise keep the asshole population from exploding out of control. As assholes grow in number, or are simply perceived to grow in numbers, cooperative people gradually withdraw from upholding the practices and institutions needed for capitalism  to function by its own standards of value.  The capitalist system thus degrades: it becomes increasingly unable  to fulfill its own promises of freedom, opportunity, and general prosperity, the very reasons cooperative people  were supposed to want capitalism over  other forms in the first place. In a word, asshole capitalism  defeats capitalism’s main point .

Asshole capitalism has 3 main features (p 146) :

1) Incentives. It creates powerful incentives to think and act like an asshole because there is much to be gained from it (example : becoming extremely rich at the cost of others.)

2) Undermanagement. No proper dampening system in place. Assholes grow in numbers because there is no way to control their growth.

3)  Destabilization. The profusion of assholes undermines the cooperation needed for capitalist system’s healthy functioning.

Wow. The Philippines seems to be the embodiment of asshole capitalism. Why do people want to become politicians or remain in power in RP?  It’s because the system back home creates powerful incentives to become  a politician :one can get extremely rich, at (almost) no consequence at all !

There is a special term James coins to refer to a world when people want more than their deserved slice of the pie: entitlement capitalism.

Its very different message of basic expansive entitlement, for instance, to an ever-greater share of the fruits of cooperation (e.g., parking spots, usable air, wealth), regardless of social rationale and regardless of what may be a significant social cost to others. here we might think of bankers who profit from huge risks, knowing that their firms are “too big to fail” and that they will be bailed out in a crisis at a taxpayer’s expense. [] The message doesn’t tell one can claim some specifiable share of goods, but rather that one can rightfully demand the most one can get , or at least more than other are getting, and certainly as to take a loss or even simply gain less for the sake of others.  The message, moreover , is of basic entitlement, in the sense that one is entitled to ever more even when this has no further justification in terms of larger social purpose and perhaps despite significant costs for others.

James, Aaron. Assholes : A theory. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Print. pp 157-158

Upon reading asshole capitalism/entitlement capitalis,/incentives/social cost to others, I am reminded of certain names in Philippine politics:

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines. Jejomar Binay. Source : www. gmanetwork. com/ news/ story/  380645/  news/ nation/ vp-binay -s-net -worth -from -p2-5m -in-1988 -to-p60m -in-2013. Image from: newsinfo. inquirer. net


Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines. Jinggoy Estrada. Source / Image from : www. richest lifestyle. com /top-10- richest- filipino- politicians/

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.Cesar Purisima. Source : www. richest lifestyle. com /top-10- richest- filipino- politicians/. Image from http://www.serdef.org

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines. Source : www. richest lifestyle. com /top-10- richest- filipino- politicians/. Image from : Youtube

God knows if I mentioned all the Filipino politicians with suspicious wealth, this entry will never end.

(Mis)Managing Assholes

But how exactly do we manage assholes back home?

The answer is, we don’t! Heck, we don’t do anything to thieves who rob us blind, what more to assholes who aren’t necessarily criminally liable!!!

Take the case of the recent story about LTO Chief Virgie Torres who was spotted playing slot machines at a Casino, what has happened to that? Nothing.

How about the $30 Million Inekon extortion try that was exposed by the Czech Ambassador? Nothing.

Now we have this P10 Billion Pork Barrel Scam and if you remember, at the start of the whole thing, one of the first people mentioned was Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa.  What has happened to that?

THE SUSPICIOUS WEALTH OF FINANCE SECRETARY CESAR PURISIMA. Philippine Underground.  Web. May 10,2015. < philippine underground. wordpress.com/2013/ 09/22/ finance- secretary- cesar-purisima- and-his- unexplained-billions/ > 

There are just so many cases back home that were just left to rot.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines.. Undermanagement.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James . Asshole Capitalism. Proliferation of Assholes in the Philippines. Undermanagement.

A lucky few enjoy a sense of entitlement- they can do crime and not do time.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Entitlement to a select few. Ampatuan.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Entitlement to a select few. Ampatuan. Source : www. gmanetwork com /news /story/ 449181/ news/ nation/ massacre -suspect -sajid -ampatuan-released -on-p11-6-m-bond

I am not saying of course that this Ampatuan is an asshole – that’s an extremely nice way to label a monster. My point here is the special entitlement accorded Ampatuan. I am ignorant about Philippine laws, true – but I always assumed that if evidence against the suspect is strong, and that the crime he was being accused of was something really serious, like, um,…mass murder, he wouldn’t be able to post bail! Justice, asshole capitalist style. More fun in the Philippines!

When the false sense of entitlement for the privileged few goes unchecked…

According to James, these things can occur (pp 163-164) :

1) Switching – If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

2) Withdrawal – can take any or all of the forms below :

2.a) Exhaustion – people get fed up and lose motivation to cooperate

2.b) Underassurance – people will only do their part if they are assured that others are doing their parts as well

2.c) Rising cost – cooperating with assholes may cost people more than what they are getting in return for doing their parts

2.d) Unfair burdens  – because assholes get the biggest slice of the pie, the cooperators find that they are given unfair burdens and may not see the point in continuing a cooperative life

If a country has too many assholes, cooperative people may be discouraged from cooperating. Deterioration follows. Hello , Philippines! We sure do look like a portfolio of many failed things, don’t we? Despite being a hardcore Catholic country, our “dampening” system has also obviously failed us.

Example 1) The fact the assholes exist means there are some things to be gained at the cost of someone. If there was no queue to begin with, how does a person cut line? Oh wait. Just go to any Mercury drug store and see for yourself. Since there are no lines, you can just position yourself anywhere and demand to be entertained – how soon that will be depends on a combination of some things : the number of customers, luck, proximity to the staff, to name a few.

Example 2) Take the MRT. Notice how, when you’re about to alight, people coming in won’t let you, in their quest to be “first”.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Destabilization. Image from newsinfo. inquirer. net/ 658710/ senators-slam-mrt-lrt- fare- hike

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Destabilization. Image from newsinfo. inquirer. net/ 658710/ senators-slam-mrt-lrt- fare- hike

Example 3) Or the traffic. Drive around Manila and no one gives way- not to a fellow motorist; not even to walking pedestrians on pedestrian crossing.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Destabilization.

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James. Destabilization. Image from businessmirror.com.ph/dont-blame-traffic-on-traffic/

This is deterioration of cooperative life. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, survival of the fittest/the strongest/the richest, one against everyone, and everyone against each other. Everyone sees everybody else as a means to an end, a person to be used and discarded to get one wants.

On a more personal level : people take what aren’t theirs- and chances of you getting that phone back is as slim as a rich man’s chances to enter the Kingdom of God (Mathew 19:24). Ok, fine, maybe that isn’t being an asshole, simply a social situation where almost everybody is “kapit sa patalim“. From what I observe, though, people do what they can to beat the system or take advantage of each other. Not all, of course, but many. So in the Philippines, when I am out in a shared space with strangers, all my defensive instincts kick in. I become extra alert about my surroundings, I don’t use my phone in public, I carry just enough cash, my back pack comes to the front. I know that whatever I lose, I’ll never recover; and if something happens to me, no one can help me, because justice is too slow, too lenient and too selective. I know that cooperative life that James speaks of is a thing of the past, and that it’s safer to assume I am surrounded by assholes/borderline assholes who’ll take what they can given the chance. If you don’t agree – then I dare you – when saving a seat at a restaurant, leave your wallet or cellphone on the table. And if you can’t do that, then we agree on certain things. It’s a hard life to be always on a defensive mode – especially when you’re now used to sleeping on trains or dumping all your things to save a table at a restaurant. And I realized that -never mind how much I dislike Japan- I cannot work in the Philippines anymore. It’s stressful and tiring – where simple tasks such as going from one place to another, consumes not only a lot of time but also a lot of mental and physical energy. All of which, would be put to a better use at the gym!

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James

Assholes : a theory by Aaron James

Don’t we look like  the very picture of failure James just described?   You be the judge.

3 comments on “Assholes : A theory by Aaron James (complete)

  1. Joe America
    April 30, 2015

    I personally think there are more assholes per capita in the US Republican Party than there are in the Philippines, but maybe that’s just me. There are for sure a goodly number here in the Philippines. In the provinces, they usually drive big honkin’s black SUV’s. It’s the asshole vehicle of choice as near as I can tell.

    • ikalwewe
      May 7, 2015

      Obviously, you don’t drive in Manila. It lets out the inner asshole shine!!

  2. Pingback: Assholes : a theory by Aaron James (continuation) | When the nail sticks out

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: