Saturday, June 15, 2013


Political corruption is a problem inherent in world politics today. In many countries like Italy, Afghanistan, Japan, Turkmenistan, Morocco and many more besides, it seems to be part of the everyday workings of political life, as scandal upon scandal emerges as the years go by and governments change. Yet is it merely a case of dishonesty or is there a deeper reason for these recurring scandals? Why is there so much political corruption in some countries but not in others?
Answers to questions concerning a country’s political present are usually traceable back to its past. Looking back at the pasts of countries plagued with political corruption, we are struck at once by a similarity: they all have long histories of strong monarchies. It could be argued that other countries, western countries such as France and Germany, also had monarchies. There is a fundamental difference however: in France and Germany the people have a tradition of expressing their discontent with regimes, even toppling them, in the case of France. Germany also, despite all its religious fervor played host to the Reformation. Thus, the tradition of the people has gone as far as changing world politics and regimes in the past, so governments have every reason to think twice before they take a step to better their own ends rather than the people’s. It can be said that in modern times, it would be unrealistic at best to expect another revolution in Europe. This may be the case, but what counts is the changes affected in the mentalities of political actors over the generations. The people are not a nameless mass to be governed but a nation to whom they hold responsibilities. The state has authority as well as responsibility. And fundamentally, the people have a right to demand, and receive various changes concerning the way politics in that country are managed, if these changes are deemed necessary.
Were we to examine countries where corruption is rife, we would see immediately that they have all had long lineages of different dynasties ruling over them; sometimes right into the 20th century. Democracy did arrive in these countries eventually, but this was more of an import than an internalized process. It is true that the peoples of these countries relished the idea of deciding their own political destiny and having the ruling parties, at long last, answerable for their actions but the simple fact was that since the process wasn’t thoroughly internalized, even with democratic rules and appropriate control mechanisms in place, some things did not change. When people come “to power “as prime minister or as a high ranking government official, because of the mind set, feeling responsible towards the people is the exception rather than the general rule. A lot of politicians prefer to focus more on the authority than the responsibility simply because that is the traditional role of the ruler. Once a post is presented as a “once in a life time” chance to better one’s situation, changing that attitude is very difficult, if not impossible. Thus control mechanisms are less of a case of the people exercising a right and more of a case of “not getting caught”. It could be said that Italy does not fit this profile but it does; only in a different way. For a long time during the middle ages, Italy was ruled by city states, each with a separate king. And even after when late in the 19th century, Italy was unified, the memory of the kings lingered in Italian memories; all be it memories of different kings. Another factor to consider in the case of Italy is the Pope. For a very long time, the Pope has been a figure of authority over mostly catholic Italy. Even though most Italians would refuse to openly identify themselves with a post they consider sacred, a unique figure of authority with great freedom of action is always close at hand to reinforce the underlying tendencies.
In short, the problem in these countries is one of internalization. Democracy in some countries is a tradition, in others simply a matter of keeping up with the times. If a country hasn’t acquired a democratic system after the proper steps of adaptation, as a demand coming from the people met by a consensus of the ruling class, but as a fact of life which is seen to be in tune with the times, without the necessary education and preparation for the masses and the necessary sentiment on the part of those who govern, democracy is doomed to be marred with habits of yore. This is not to say that these countries should resign themselves to a corrupt system or return to being monarchies. They simply must be patient and those within those countries who truly feel responsibility towards those who elected them and wish, therefore, to establish a truly democratic and egalitarian regime must continue their work. It is after all simply a matter of habit and in the words of the sage, “The only constant thing in this world is change”

Provided by: Essie,

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