Saturday, October 10, 2009

What Is Corruption?

You have probably heard the saying "one person's garbage is another person's treasure".

"Corruption" could suffer a similar ambiguity.

However, if we limit its definition to the power that governments use, we can narrow the definition:
"Transparency International (TI) has chosen a clear and focused definition of the term: Corruption is operationally defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. TI further differentiates between "according to rule" corruption and "against the rule" corruption. Facilitation payments, where a bribe is paid to receive preferential treatment for something that the bribe receiver is required to do by law, constitute the former. The latter, on the other hand, is a bribe paid to obtain services the bribe receiver is prohibited from providing."
(Transparency International, emphasis added). Those type definitions are good, but they tend to describe the effects of corruption, if you think about it, instead of what corruption is.

While that is all fine and good, it is just that this blog wants to refine the definition a bit more. This blog, as one would surmise, defines corruption as:
The condition of having excessive effects of the toxins of power within oneself as a result of having been exposed to power.
(see Power That Corrupts). Thus, corruption is defined not as what it causes an infected person in power to do, but instead describes the condition of having an excessive amount of the effects of toxins of power within oneself.

This seems to be a better definition, because there are almost an unlimited number of corrupt things a person in power can do, once they have become corrupt; thus it becomes difficult to analyze politicians for corruption prior to them getting caught doing something corrupt.

Unless we use a microscope to look close, instead of using a telescope from afar, we could miss important factors and have to wait until politicians do something illegal to detect the levels of corruption within them.

Doctors tell us that we always have germs, viruses, and organisms ("toxins") in us that could corrupt us, that is, make us sick. However, they also point out that our immune system can handle a certain amount of toxins within us and we are still considered to be "well" or "healthy" at tolerable levels. In other words we all have various degrees of natural tolerance or immunity to toxins within us.

That is the way on this blog that we like to contemplate the toxins of power which corrupt.

Those in power can have a tolerable quantity of toxins in them, which is normal, because a certain amount of immunity is natural. The normal notions of resistance, the moral immune system if you will, can handle that degree of toxins, and the person in power can still be seen as not being corrupt.

It is when the toxins overwhelm the immune system that corruption, like disease, manifests and begins to grow.

What happens next is anyone's guess. The infected person in power generally surprises everyone because that person is seen as "not being themselves" it is sometimes said, when an illegal act is committed. That is the individual perspective.

But there is another concept to be contemplated, and that is group or collective corruption. This type of corruption is not based upon individual corruption per se, but instead is an observation of the cumulative effect toxins will have on a group or system.

This type of corruption can exist even though the individuals in the group or system do not manifest an individual corruption to an easily noticeable degree, such as illegal activity.

That is, they are not committing illegal acts individually, but the entire system is not acting according to its purpose as defined in our constitutional laws, so it can still be said to have become corrupt.

American government is designed to serve the betterment of the people, and when it is not doing that systematically, it can be said to be corrupt, even though the individuals within it are not doing anything illegal.

That is what this blog is about. Developing a standard system of analysis that can detect the effects of power toxins on the system itself, as well as being able to analyze individual politicians in power at any given time. Just like a toxin sniffer device does to biological or other toxins, we need a power toxin sniffer.

Consider the United States Civil War as a case for study. We can say that toxins built up in many people in government until the system became corrupt. It did not take individuals becoming corrupt to the point of committing crimes individually for the corruption to manifest. But individuals developed a toxin level, as a group or system, to the point it caused us to turn on ourselves and almost destroy the nation.

That systemic corruption can be compared to AIDS where the body turns on itself, because toxins can confuse and corrupt the immune system.

In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead we hope people will join in defining toxins and antitoxins which we can then use in the formulas to apply to individual problems politicians face, as well as the systemic corruption problems we face as a nation.

UPDATE: Recent discoveries may implicate aberrant microbes as originators of toxins of power. See Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power.

No comments: