Crime and Punishment is a novel by Dostoevsky but has a message for today. The focus of the story is about someone who convinces himself that with his ill-gotten gains, he could liberate himself and go on to perform great deeds and deludes himself that his crimes were justifiable if they are committed in order to remove obstacles for the greater good, this as he is an “extraordinary man”. Later on, as a result of his crime he finds himself among other things, racked with confusion, paranoia, a sense of self-confidence and self-delusion. His sense of justification loses all its power as he is confronted with the consequences of his deed. Let’s see how this plays out in today’s real-life events, one international, one national and one in business.
The international one is of Putin, convincing himself that conquering Ukraine is a good thing for Russia, the people of Ukraine (who are really Russian in his mind) and of course himself. Of course, the end of this saga is far from complete, as of now the following are self-evident: Putin himself has become a pariah in the world, their vaunted military has been humiliated on the battlefield, NATO has become stronger with Sweden and Finland joining the alliance and doubling the border with Russia whose economy is in ruins, there is a real possibility of a much wider war, and of course their aim of a swift victory and being seen as liberators has proved to be insane. This was a delusional dictator who was proven to be the classical emperor without clothes. The crime was indisputable, while the ramifications and punishment are yet of an unknown magnitude.
Domestically, we are seeing the US, once a beacon of hope for others with a common bond of a democracy, now on the verge of being ripped apart if things continue to unravel as the rule of law is now being tested as few times before. As it was stated many times “everyone is entitled to their own views, but not entitled to their own facts”. Evolution is a fact not an opinion. And the earth surely revolves around the sun and is round, not flat. These facts were not always known and even today not they are not believed by many people, some of whom are educated. Facts will never be self-evident by willfully ignorant people in order to bolster their beliefs. That the Flat Earth Society exists is a fact but is nevertheless based on a fiction. And facts are not true when they are made up to bolster someone’s opinion. The Earth is not flat, but one must accept that as a fact to become member of this organization. To continue with this allegory, we can’t ignore the obvious elephant in the room in our current events. Only the scope of today’s likely crime and its wide-ranging ramifications are to be determined, as well as the punishment that may than follow.
Lastly, I will give an example of ill-gotten corporate gains from someone who enriched themselves while harming others. There are unfortunately too many to examples of this type of crime to choose from, so I will use one case from 4 years ago and is it its final phase taking place just now. This is the biotech company Theranos and their infamous founder Elizabeth Holmes. Those following the case, will remember that Theranos was a high flying a biotech instant results, blood-testing machine, pitching revolutionary technology which was really just vaporware. It was revealed that Theranos was not using its own technology to run blood tests as this as impossible, but it was all a scam and surreptitiously ran samples thru a traditional lab as proved by the FDA. But the hype and testimonials by some of the most well-respected A-List personalities vouched for her as a genius and a female clone of Steve Jobs, made this into $9 billion company. When the dust settled, there were TV specials and many stories about the whole sorted affair. Her $4 billion in fraudulently acquire net worth enabled her to hire some of the best lawyers around and she was found guilty of only 4 charges of 11 charge including fraud. The crime was real, and she is now facing up to 20 years in prison in the upcoming punishment phase of the story.
In running your business and in life, surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth, not frightened yes men telling you what they think you want to hear, less they will be fired. You’ll be the better for it in the end. Truth and facts are real and stubborn things. Propaganda and the big lie can convince many people of almost anything from evolution is a myth to the Earth is really flat, and even that you are not their infallible leader.