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The Woke Grift

My conversation with narcissism expert Sam Vaknin on the characters and businesses that profit from victimhood

We tend to think of the people, and businesses, supporting Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights, and climate change advocacy as altruistic. They aren’t doing it for fame or fortune. They’re just doing it because they care about victims of violence, prejudice, and environmental degradation.

And yet over the last year, all three movements have been caught profiting from creating victims. BLM’s founder bought a $6 million home using donations intended to protect black lives from police violence. A British medical clinic is being sued by parents who allege that their gender dysphoric children were rushed into puberty blockers that can harm health. And climate activists funded by the heirs to the Getty and Rockefeller fortunes have staged protests on roadways that have caused several deadly traffic accidents.

Such behaviors shouldn’t surprise us, argues psychologist Sam Vaknin, who I interviewed at length on Monday. “Victim movements go awry when they are appropriated by the elites and become integrated into existing power structures, including profit-motivated power structures,” he argues. “Suffering becomes a commodity. The minute you monetize suffering, you have a vested interest. Victimhood becomes a permanent fixture because that's your product line. You're going to produce victims and suffering.”

Below is a transcript of our edited video interview, which can be watched above.


On Narcissism and Altruism

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The full video is for paid subscribers

Michael Shellenberger