I was listening to a worldbuilding discussion on another site and somebody came up with an idea for a dystopian setting that they called "the worst of all possible worlds". Basically, the idea was you have a setting where instead of the evil dictator being installed by inheriting the throne, manipulating their way to power, or starting a military coup, the got power by being part of an intrinsic societal system that sees the "Dark Triad" personality disorders are virtues and tries to put low-empathy people into power whenever possible.
In psychology there's the concept of pathocracy: the idea that people in positions of power IRL throughout human history are disproportionately composed of individuals that are likely diagnosable with one of the "Dark Triad" of personality disorders (sociopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism) because people with these disorders often have a deep-seated desire for power for personal gain and do not care if they cheat or perform unethical actions to get power. However this is less an intended result of the system and more of an exploited loophole as a result of sociopaths and narcissists gaming the system. I'm talking about a political system that explicitly tries to put psychopaths in power.
The idea sounded like a chilling idea for a dystopian setting and I was wondering what such a society might end up looking like. I was thinking this system results along the lines of one where individuals are given tests for empathy and those that score high on such tests for "dark triad" traits are earmarked or fast-tracked into positions of power, rather than flagged as in IRL. The societal "justification" those in power give to justify their rule is that only someone who isn't distracted by emotions and can see the "big picture" can make objective, difficult decisions without bias. Basically the "hard men making hard decisions" trope on a societal level. Also these kinds of people tend to be risk-takers and society needs people with ambition to survive. This is complete self-serving bunkum but has enough of a veneer of logic that people go with it.
The society is explicitly non-sexist. The "hard men making hard decisions" trope is often framed in terms of hyper-masculine behavior (the "you can't handle the truth" speech being a good example of this) and there is a correlation between dark triad traits and sexism in both genders, but women can exhibit dark triad behaviors as well (though there's some suspicion in IRL psychology that women exhibit these traits differently or are better at masking them) and as a result in this society can get into positions of power. The one explanation I thought of to justify this is there is a cultural idea in this society that the proles with empathy are prey, whereas fellow people that belong to the ruling class are competitors. Basically an argument of "lions eat gazelles, but they mate with lionesses".
There are still plenty of people with empathy in society, but they are shunned from positions of power both implicitly because of social norms and explicitly because the sociopaths in power don't like to share or be told "no". This isn't a society of people where everyone has no empathy, it's a society where those who have the least empathy have the most power. This is different from the previous questions on the site about a society where everyone is evil because the people in charge are neither cartoonishly evil (the Dark Triad has distinct symptons), and the rank-and-file are pretty much normal people. Good people who try to get power to un-frag the society end up being shunned by the society as a whole.
The biggest thing I couldn't figure out is how the society manages to not tear itself apart. Sociopathy and narcissism are characterized by being very short-tempered, impulsive, and quick to take insult, and the pathocracy hypothesis even goes so far as to suggest this is how most wars in human history start (after all, if you're in power, you're not going to be the one dying in a war for the sake of honor). However, people with these traits tend to be so catty how would a society not collapse into feuding parties fighting over the slightest insult and never getting stuff done?
If you're thinking this society sounds horribly dystopian and arguably outright evil: you are correct. The system is oligarchic at best and outright totalitarian dystopia at worst. The point is to create one of those topsy-turvy societies where what modern readers consider horrible is outright celebrated. They are probably going to be the bad guys in this setting, but the idea was to come up with a society that horrifies readers by being technically possible, if the "worst of all possible worlds". If anything it's intended to point out the problems with the "hard men making hard decisions" trope, pointing out how people with low empathy quotients IRL don't make logical decisions for the good of the whole but instead are usually horribly corrupt and motivated by their own self-interest, with the explanation just being an excuse to justify their behavior.