STABILITY IN CORRUPTION
Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, pepinsky.blogspot.com
May 25, 2011
There’s a whole lot of talk these days about how stable “economies” are for stranger/foreign investment. There’s also a whole lot of resistance to “corruption.” Here I suggest that the quest for economic stability is a global delusion—that interpersonal economic security rests instead on what we call corruption.
I get an image of the Buddha laughing at the idea of stability meaning that strangers can make corporate investments on the assumption that economic circumstances in any “market” will not change. Change is inevitable. Some of us may get by in our lifetimes getting rich without losing the wealth we accumulate, but no corporation, nation or empire lasts forever.
While I’m alive on this planet, the safest investment I can find in my future and of those I most personally care about, like my partner, our parents, children and grandchildren, is inherently corrupt. I was taught this lesson twenty years ago in Tanzania by an occasional roommate who for 3 days was acting prime minister, who stayed with extended family and hence with me when he was in Dar es Salaam. He lived as modestly and honestly as any major public worker I have ever met. As we discussed corruption, he told me of the duty he felt to take care of his extended family, including public employment..
Who among us who enjoys any amount of economic security is not corrupt? In academia, I have survived in part by personal ties to journal or book editors. Colleagues of mine publish by citing the right people. Just to take one example politically, how did the present mayor of Chicago get to be the chief of staff of a Chicago-established US president without being chosen to be inner political family? What member of the US Congress is independent of lobbyists who contribute to his or her re-election? (Well, actually, I can name a couple of members of the US house and one late senator who tried.)
Recovering criminologist that I am, I cannot pretend to be morally superior to my corrupt human fellows. Indeed, I believe that my social, professional and economic security depends most heavily on my putting my commitments to families of choice ahead of all else. While the human world is corrupt, I am of it. Let’s own up; we’re all corrupt. In my case, I figure corruption with people I know is more stable than investing for profit in the lives of people to whom my commitment, in legalese, is “limited.” Honestly, openly done, it turns out that stability IS corrupt. Love and peace--hal