A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
July 18th, 2014 by William


I just discovered the 1998 article “Tenth Circle Added to Rapidly Growing Hell” on the website the Onion.com humorously detailing the addition of a 10th level to Dante’s Inferno. While a bit dated it’s timely to my blog post of a couple weeks ago on Dante’s version of what Hell must be like. The article was written in the form of a humorous press release that reads as such:

“CITY OF DIS, NETHER HELL–After nearly four years of construction at an estimated cost of 750 million souls, Corpadverticus, the new 10th circle of Hell, finally opened its doors Monday. Located in Nether Hell between the former eighth and ninth levels it is expected to greatly alleviate the overcrowding problems that have plagued the infernal underworld in recent years. The circle is the first added to Hell in its countless-millennia history.

“A nightmarishly large glut of condemned spirits in recent years necessitated the expansion of Hell, inferno spokesperson Antedeus said. ‘The traditional nine-tiered system had grown insufficient to accommodate the exponentially rising numbers of Hellbound.’ Adding to the need for expansion, Antedeus said, was the fact that ‘a majority of the new arrivals possessed souls far more evil than the original nine circles were equipped to handle [and] these new arrivals represent a wave of spiritual decay and horror the likes of which Hell has never before seen,’ Antedeus said.”

Interestingly the Onion article also tells us, “Prior to the construction of the tenth circle, many among the new wave of sinners had been placed in such circles as Hoarders and Squanderers, Sowers of Discord, Flatterers and Seducers, and Hypocrites. Hell authorities, however, say that the new level, the Circle of Total Bastards, located at the site of the former Well of Giants just above the Frozen Lake at Hell’s center, better suits their insidious brand of evil. In the past, the underworld was ill-equipped to handle the new breed of sinners flooding our gates but now, we’ve finally got the sort of top-notch Pits of Doom necessary to give such repellent abominations the quality boilings they deserve.”

Sounds like the perfect final resting place for the Machiavellian sociopathic type personalities found in today’s typical workplace.

The article calls this new level of Hell: “Corpadverticus,” or the Circle of Total Bastards, which from the makeup of the word appears perfect for the sinners coming from the “vertical corporate” structures we see today. I always though Dante missed a place for all the bullies and cut-throat type personalities found in today’s corporate world. Thus, this level is for the new kind of sinner…sociopaths from everyday life in the workplace who screw over their co-workers or subordinates and make the workplace the Hell that it can many times be. This new level is necessary in today’s world as it probably wasn’t the same type work environment back when Dante wrote The Inferno in the late 1200 and early 1300s–which explains why he didn’t include them as sinners in his Hell hierarchy.

However, by the time of Machiavelli things were different. Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian Renaissance diplomat who lived in the late 1400s and early 1500s and wrote Il Principe (The Prince), among other works. The descriptions within The Prince have the general theme that the aims of princes (those who lead modern organizations) are glory and survival and the achievement of these can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends. Il Principe is the most remembered of Machiavelli’s works and the one most responsible for bringing the word “Machiavellian” into usage as a pejorative. It also is the perfect buzzword describing the personalities found in the workplace.

Machiavellian describes the kind of sinners we see in the workplace today. Thus the term for this type of evil workplace behavior is called Machiavellianism. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Machiavellianism is, “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct.”

Cunning means showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion. Cunning sociopaths are artists in their crafty use of wiliness and trickery to get what they want. Duplicity is a contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially, the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action. Sound familiar? Sociopaths are masters at fooling people.

These two Machiavellian traits lend themselves nicely to the other typical traits of a sociopath. Machiavellian managers have an excessive and exaggerated feeling of self-importance, i.e., they’re thoroughly convinced of their own importance. Another dangerous trait (for everyone around them) is that they firmly believe that the ends justify the means. To them the workplace is a game–their career, all the way down to every personal interaction, is all part of the “game.”

Another key aspect of the Machiavellian mind is that they subscribe to the mentality that they must have absolute control and they accomplish this through manipulation. They know just the buttons to push and have no problems pushing them. They accomplish this through the “games” that I’ve talked about many times. If you’re not doing what they want–don’t worry–you will be soon and you won’t even know how it happened.

Another, almost comical, aspect is that Machiavellians love to be loved–after all they’re narcissists and figure if they love themselves then they think everybody else should love them. But that’s not quite the reaction they’re really looking for–they really love to be feared. I’ve written about fear in the workplace before–it’s the prime tool of sociopathic management to maintain control.

All these behaviors conspire to make the typical workplace a living Hell. So now if you’re unlucky enough to work in an organization run by these Machiavellian sociopaths at least you’ll have the pleasure of knowing that there’s a special place in Hell for their breed–Corpadverticus, the Circle of Total Bastards. Unfortunately if you’re in an organization run by these ilk, you’re kind of stuck in a “Hell on Earth” right along with them.


2 Responses to “Corpadverticus”
  1. Cathy Ruud says

    Wow Bill! Very interesting reading! Sure gives one lots to thing about our society in general! I do think you really hit the reality of our world!

  2. Jasmine Billiot says

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

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