17 December 2010

A Deal With The Devil

I am concerned about the internal strength and constitution of the Russian state. I am not alone.

Most Russians share the same concern. The consensus is that it is corruption that is undermining the state.  A few have explained to me that the recent riots in Moscow and Russia (to be written about shortly), seemingly about ethnic divisions on the surface, are rooted in far deeper frustrations with the state of the Russian State and corrosive corrupting forces therein.  Having said this, a brief discussion about governmental corruption is needed.

While this is counterintuitive, corruption can be a stabilizing force -  under certain conditions.

Let's Make a Deal:  I Will Stabilize Your Institution

These conditions typically surface when a new form of government comes into power.  Basically,  corruption serves as a stabilizing force when there are poorly established and badly functioning mechanisms for the private sphere to participate in public affairs. Under these circumstances, corruption serves as the mechanism for the private sphere to influence public sphere decisions and utilize the governmental machine in ways that benefit at least a few private individuals.

Left unchecked, that same mechanism becomes a disease that etches away at the very stability that it once created.  An enlightened government needs to quickly build the participatory mechanisms to replace the makeshift corruption path rather quickly - but this does require an enlightened government.  Because corruption is rather seductive, meaning that those in power can line their pockets in short term, there is - in actuality - little incentive for a newly formed government to replace it with something more constructive, sustainable, and permanent.

And as such, this deal with the devil, like nearly all others, becomes yet another mechanism to burn everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Can't help but agree with the author.

    I would only like to point out an importance of a "low level" corruption. I believe corruption starts low and gets high, not otherwise. 90% of police, officials, and bureaucrats get their "dark finance" from low or middle level entrepreneurs. Why do those entrepreneurs finance government criminals? Because they are all at the "dark side" themselves.

    Tax burden in Russia is somewhat similar to one in US or Western Europe (around 55%). At the same time, services and property security cannot even be compared. So, economically, you have to be either hero or just stupid to pay these taxes honestly. Historically, neither of these two groups is in business. So, we, entrepreneurs, ALL brake lows, here, in Russia. We ALL bribe officials. None fight these corrupt rules. None fight this corrupt system as far as are we all part of it. Russian political opposition is drained of blood, of financial support.

    As a result, we have in Russia what you wisely pointed out: corruption, not a real state.