Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The pervasiveness of corruption

On the same say as the death of Kenneth Lay, Enron's founder and leading symbol of the evils of Western capitalism, Peter Schaefer has a well-considered piece on corruption and its continuance in the developing world. The key is the absence of law. Free democracy is not just about elections. In most instances the elected government is just another form of autocracy: an elite extracting its toll on the country. The reason for this failure is the absence of a functional judicial system. In the presence of state failure, law enforcement is the law of force and that law always is bought and paid for by those who can benefit the most.

A few months ago, a group of my students approached me and asked my thoughts on a petition being circulated concerning the situation in Dafur. The petition targeted the Canadian government and requested that it act to intervene and prevent further genocide in Dafur. While I was pleased to see Canadian university students wanting to become engaged in political action of any sort, my question to them was "what do you want/think the Canadian government can do"?

As Schaefer points out, upwards of 85% of member UN countries are failed, corrupt states. The world will not truly progress and consist of free functional, practising democracies until the basics of justice prevail over the prevaricates of politics. One advantage of a globalized world is the increased ability to expose those who act to hinder world passage towards justice.

Sadly, while large portions of the world's media vilify George Bush, the very medium we have for education and exposure is being utilised to obfuscate and indoctrinate. This is not about George Bush or any one individual: it is about our willingness and desire as a global society to address individual justice or pander to elite games of politics.