Is cruelty always the product of zero-sum games, and is all Life playing one at all times?

  • define zero-sum game

I was thinking about the idea that “people are only mean because of zero-sum games” - I think this was said on the radio or a podcast. The idea being that most instances of cruelty in society can be explained by the fact that resources are limited and sometimes one has to suffer in order for another to thrive because of those limitations. zero-sum.

But I wondered if that’s strictly true and suspect it isn’t… Take a dictator, for instance. If given all the power and resources in the world, would he still do cruel things to his people? Would any amount of power satisfy, or is there are certain amount of psychopathy of some sort behind some instances of cruelty?

Or maybe the original idea is true in this way: someone who is cruel seemingly for the sake of cruelty might be trying to win a different zero-sum game than the former paragraph assumes. He’s not after resources, he’s after the monopology on cruelty. as a proxy for power. as a proxy for resources?