Take this from the Times:
What makes a bully? [Cary] Cooper believes that the majority behave so because they themselves are overloaded with work and pressure…In many cases bullies suffer issues common to many — feelings of insecurity, inadequacy in their own abilities, and a lack of sensitivity.There is, though, another answer here which is unsaid. What makes a bully? Opportunity, that’s what. The overwhelming majority of cases of bullying arise from inequalities of power. It is bosses who bully underlings - rarely vice versa. Quite simply, as Phil says, class matters.
However, this answer is missing from the pop talk of bullying. Instead of attributing bullying to inequalities in power, it’s blamed upon personal traits. This is exacerbated by what Frank Furedi called “therapy culture” - the tendency to regard increasing numbers of behaviours as the result of (perhaps mythic) personality disorders.
What we have here, then, is an example of how ideology** - the fundamental attribution error - distracts us from the realities of unequal power relationships.
This has a pernicious effect. It leads us to regard bullying not as an intrinsic aspect of class relationships, but rather as an accidental by-product which could be eliminated by better therapies or human resources policies. In this way, we fail to appreciate the true costs of hierarchies - that they contain inherent tendencies to being dehumanizing and demoralizing.
* I do not use the word “capitalism” here, because bullying exists not just in private firms, but in the public sector and non-profits too. And, of course, it was a feature of feudal societies. The key thing is inequalities of power, and real rather than merely formal legal power; it's possible, of course, for groups of people to bully individuals in situations (such as among schoolkids) where formal power is equal .
** “Cognitive biases” are just another word for “ideology.” It’s insufficiently appreciated that the cognitive biases research is a vindication of Marx’s theory of ideology.