Corruption: When Bad Things Happen to Good Ideas

Wiki > Chapter 1: Lies We Believe > Corruption: When Bad Things Happen to Good Ideas

I know I’m human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.

Charles Lederer, The Thing From Another World

Okay, so far so good; wealth and power pyramids work together to provide a comfort zone where we can all live. Yippee! … Only that’s not the whole picture, is it? For only the very naïve and/or ideological see the world in such a simple way. No, in the real world, wealth and power don’t just obey the philosophic rules we foist on them. In fact, wherever we look, we are faced with a vast array of incredibly complicated problems that come into being as wealth and power are pulled from their mutually exclusive roots in order to then be smushed together to form unholy alliances.

Corruption is causal, meaning it’s an expression of causes. Things don’t just get corrupted all by themselves; they need to be corrupted by something else. The word “corruption” means to bring two different elements together in such a way as to destroy the integrity of each of them (from the Latin corrumpere, to destroy/break). So now the question we need to ask is: Exactly how does wealth corrupt power, and power wealth?

Let’s not assume that it’s going to be easy to define exactly when something (or someone) has been corrupted, for the fact is that in our ever-changing world there just aren’t any hard-and-fast rules to nail down exactly where power ought to begin (deeming things illegal) and where true wealth ends (deeming things undesirable). For example, in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, upon investigating a murder and seeing all the various leads, detective Hercule Poirot proclaims: “There are too many clues in this room,”…and therefore has to indict everyone present. Often when facing corruption, we also face much the same situation. And like Poirot, we need to ask ourselves: What has happened?

As long as there is a nice gap between wealth and power, we can all find peace and prosperity. But all too often an unscrupulous few cheats play the boundaries against each other in order to 1) dodge the law and 2) secure the best of everything… while using the same rules to keep the rest of us away from a rewarding life and in a state of hopelessness and misery. By drawing others into their corrupt schemes – with corrupted government officials, academics and the media in their pockets and a production line entirely driven to please their insatiable appetites – these people allow for all kinds of unethical and immoral lifestyles to propagate… and in the process make it harder and harder for the rest of us to have any say in controlling our lives and restoring some kind of common sense.

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