Corruption and Power
The Transparency International’s report on the state of corruption in Guyana has raised the usual frenetic howls of denials from officialdom. It is not that corruption does not exist, they concede, but the quantum and reach is being exaggerated by ‘enemies’ of the state. Since the report is based on “subjective factors”, it is subject to manipulations and distortions.
Maybe. But the existence of pervasive corruption in the state sector is not just the concoction of external destabilizers and their comprador allies. If a poll were to be conducted in the country, few citizens would not be able to confirm corrupt activities gleaned from their personal experience. Even a former insider from the highest rungs of the governing PPP, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran has admitted that corruption must be contained.
Generally, corruption is regarded as a consequence of political and economic, socio-ethnic, and even moral reasons: politicians need votes; businessmen need favours; officeholders favour “their own” and all these are judged to be “bad” reasons for making decisions that involve the patrimony of the state. After all, the latter is supposed to be held in trust for all the citizenry and to be distributed fairly. Now all the foregoing might very well be true as far as the genesis of the phenomenon of corruption is concerned, in our country.
No one is saying that corruption only began in 1992. With the institutionalisation of the dictatorship, post 1968, gradually but inexorably a new form of the state and political system was created – in which their foundations were rested on the corruption of the electoral system. Corruption then expropriated the political system, altered the state apparatus to itself and promulgated new “rules of the game.” As a consequence, political authoritarianism and social demagogy of those in power have become unavoidable products of the pervasive corruption in the state system. Not much was changed post-1992. It is important to note that it does not matter what the nominal form of the state might be: what we will now have is a liberal-corruption, socialist-corruption or conservative-corruption state etc.
In this new world where corruption has become the norm, democracy and its undergirding principle of the “rule of law” inevitably become subversive elements which are just as inevitably countered by authoritarian Presidentialism. The democratic system of checks and balances, legislative and judicial autonomy, an unfettered and free press etc. are concrete mechanisms that facilitate an effective struggle against corruption. Consequently, the only path of survival for such corrupt systems (of whatever variety) is to attack and eliminate democratic principles from state and societal processes.