Corruption And Class Rule
Dr. Mohammad Kazim Naqvi
Corruption is a curse for the toiling masses and a boon for the ruling classes. In the underdeveloped countries corruption permeates all spheres of human activity, it is endemic. Corruption in any society does not exist on its own, independent of and external to, the socio-political circumstances in which it exists. It is neither a genetically inherited disease. In class societies it exists to serve a distinct purpose and function. Since research and development and science and technology cannot go backwards, the progress and development of human society cannot be stopped, except in a scenario where by the use of weapons of mass destruction humanity destroys itself altogether. Although progress of humanity cannot be stopped it can be influenced and controlled. In class societies corruption is a mechanism by which the ruling elites control the process of progress and development in a manner such that it serves their specific needs and interests as opposed to the basic needs of the toiling masses, which constitute more that 80% of the total population. The obvious interests of the ruling elites are to keep the forces of development strictly under their grip and to maintain their privileges, wealth and power at any cost. By propagating and encouraging corruption the ruling classes control the bureaucracy and the government, i.e., the politicians so that they remain under their control and serve their interests as opposed to the interests of the masses. Generally this is not always done in a direct and obvious manner but comes about due to a very complex interplay of forces between the various social groups to improve their day-to-day existence and to protect their interests. Since the means of production are owned by the ruling class, it is socially, politically and economically the dominant class, it dominates the interplay of these social forces to its advantage, its ideology is the dominant ideology of the whole society.
For the lower middle classes, for examples policemen, clerks in various government departments etc. corruption is driven by necessity. To feed, clothe and educate their families and to maintain a certain standard of living they have to resort to bribery and corruption. They have no choice. The upper middle classes, e.g., the civil servants and bureaucrats are able to mass immense wealth and live a life away beyond their means and are pampered and bribed by the ruling classes to serve their interests through the mechanism of corruption. The same is true for the elected government of the ruling classes, namely, the politicians and ministers who also amass immense wealth and yield immense power as long as they remain the humble and faithful servants of the ruling classes and protect and serve their interests. Through these corrupt politicians and bureaucrats all the policies and schemes, budget allocation and investment done by the government is controlled by the ruling elites to serve and protect their class interests and further their greed for wealth and power. The real beneficiaries of this all-pervasive corruption are the ruling classes who suck the blood of the toiling masses through their agents â€“ the politicians, bureaucrats and civil servants, who in turn are handsomely rewarded. And all this is done on the blood sweat and tears of the oppressed and exploited masses who can barely survive and for whom the day-to-day survival is in itself an arduous task. In this well-oiled machinery of corruption only the highest bidders win and the masses are no match for the ruling classes in terms of money power. The whole government machinery is corrupt from top to bottom â€“ and not by a freak of chance but by a well laid out game plan.
There are people who are honest and love the nation and its people and want to serve them. But since this is diametrically opposed to the interests of the ruling elites they are an anathema to the ruling classes because they do not obey the dictates of the ruling classes and have the interest of the toiling masses at heart. This honest individual being a part of the chain, becomes a hurdle or a break in this well oiled machinery of corruption. He is ruthlessly squeezed out of the system and made redundant and placed in a position where he is no threat to the chain. Corruption serves as a mechanism of filtration by means of which such individuals opposed to the interest of the ruling classes are filtered out and placed in positions where they become helpless and powerless.
Corruption is a very important factor in the reality that 90% of the wealth of the country is concentrated in the hands of the 10% of the population (this is only an educated guess)
Considering India, the most important task facing the government is that of corruption. This depravity is eating right into the entrails of our country. It is a most formidable challenge. Billions of rupees are being siphoned off, which otherwise could be utilized for the development of our poor people. A parallel economy is running in the country based on black money and is ruining the country. Special courts should be set up to look into cases of corruption. They should deliver their judgment within six months and those found guilty should be punished severely. The country cannot progress until the menace of corruption is tackled head on and eradicated. The task is a monolith and everybody understands the difficulties involved but a beginning has to be made. Without this there is no hope for the future.
In developed countries the petty corruption, which exists in underdeveloped countries due to poverty and deprivation, does not exist. Relatively speaking some poverty exists even in the developed countries, irrespective of the government's claims of freedom, equality, equal opportunity etc. There are homeless people, people living in dilapidated housing in black ghettoes, unemployed youth â€“ mainly immigrants and blacks â€“ barely managing to survive on state handouts and unemployment benefits. But such people constitute a small percentage of the population. Majority of the working masses have their basic needs satisfied and can maintain a certain minimum standard of living â€“ which is not to say that they are not exploited and generate surplus value. In the underdeveloped countries the very survival of the masses is an arduous struggle against poverty, deprivation and corruption. This is not the case in the developed countries. But it is very important to realize that this is not due to the generosity of the ruling classes. After the depression of the thirties and the Second World War the rising political consciousness and awareness of the working masses had to be controlled and this was the main reason behind the advent of the welfare state. Social peace and harmony had to be maintained at home for the insatiable hunger of capital for profits and this was made possible by the super exploitation and generation of super profits from the blood and sweat of the toiling masses of the third world by imperialism. Imperialism and its indigenous partners and agents made possible the naked exploitation and expropriation of human and natural resources of the underdeveloped countries (Third World) which serve as more or less inexhaustible reservoirs of dirt cheap labor and generate super profits for the industries and multinational corporations of the developed world. The leaders of the trade unions and the working masses of the developed world whom Lenin referred to as the labor aristocracy are in cahoots of the ruling classes and align the working classes with their exploiters. These are some of the reasons why petty corruption is not prevalent in the developed countries. As opposed to the thinking of Marx the destiny has put the burden of the progress of human kind on the shoulders of the destitute and impoverished toilers of the third world. Unless they break through their chains any revolutionary transformation in the developed world is not possible.
In spite of directing a small amount of the super profits ruthlessly extracted from the third world to barely keep the working classes of the developed world alive and satisfied the scale of corruption in the developed countries is enormous. Corporate scandals in America, Western Europe and Japan are common. Billions of dollars are unaccounted for and big corporations regularly face charges for huge bribes in return for illegal patronage and favors. The gun lobbies and tobacco lobbies who are big business and control the policies of the government. Contracts worth billions of dollars are given to defense and aerospace establishments as favors to the ruling class in return for their financial and political support. In most instances the President and the members of the senate are themselves a part of the ruling establishment. Multinational corporations and industries of the developed world not only bribe their own governments but also dole out millions of dollars in bribes to the corrupt leaders of the third world countries to gain contracts and lucrative business deals, specially for example in defense deals which involve billions of dollars.
Demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact countries and the end of the cold war has been a great loss to the teeming millions of the underdeveloped countries. It is as if the naked and the hungry multitudes of the third world have been orphaned. The little support and say they had in the UN has been nullified. And the US and its allies have gone berserk showing total contempt and disregard for the views, hopes and aspirations of the under developed nations. International law and accepted norms of behavior have been trampled upon with total disregard..
The essence of corruption in the underdeveloped world and the developed world is the same. It is there to protect and propagate the interest of the ruling classes and to satisfy capital's insatiable hunger for profits. One important thing to note here is the fact that the gap between the rich and poor in developed countries is much larger than in the underdeveloped countries in spite of the fact that the level of existence of the working masses in underdeveloped countries is hunger, poverty and depravation whereas in the developed countries the basic needs of the working masses are provided for and a relatively comfortable level of existence is assured by the welfare state to maintain social peace and harmony.
Under communism also corruption continued to exist but for different reasons. After the October 17 revolution and formation of the Soviet Union, the new workers state came under attack from the armies of the imperialist nations and the remnants of the Czar's army. It must be remembered that at this time Russia was one of the most backward and underdeveloped countries of Europe. To meet the imperialist onslaught and protect the workers revolution it became necessary for governance and defense to become highly centralized. Centralization and authoritarianism are not an integral part of the practice of communism, as its critics would have us believe. This was forced on the young workers state due to the particular circumstances it faced. Then with the advent of WWII to counter the threat of the Nazi menace it only resulted in a further centralization of authority and power. The whole population was organized on a war footing.
With the liquidation of capitalism the ownership of the means of production by the capitalists was transformed into direct control of the means of production by the communist party leadership and along with it also came the power previously enjoyed by the ruling class, i.e., the capitalist class. Like money, power can also corrupt and absolute power can corrupt absolutely. One reason why power corrupts is that people in positions of power have the right to take decisions (e.g., in the government) on behalf of the working masses that involve transactions of enormous amounts of money. These money transactions can be manipulated and falsified to financially benefit the person or a group of persons who have the right to make the final decisions.. In the Soviet Union, after the revolution, there was no ruling class but the bureaucracy took its place and expropriated the wealth generated by the toiling masses and in their name. How else can one explain special shopping malls for party members and dachas on the seashore for the bigwigs of the Communist Party.
After the WWII in spite of the cold war, steps should have been taken towards decentralization and more powers given to the workers. This would have strengthened the workers state further. But this did not happen and power and authority remained concentrated in the hands of the vested interests, which had developed within the party due to the advent of corruption. The vested interests - the party officials and the bureaucrats â€“ enjoyed perks and privileges far above those, which were available to the working masses. The communist party bosses became fat and corrupt and totally alienated from the working masses. Any form of dissent, which even had the smallest possibility of questioning the corrupt vested interests, was brutally suppressed in the name of protecting the interest of the working class. This resulted in the further alienation of the working masses from the party and its leadership. How else can one explain that the generation which was born and brought up under communism which promised them freedom from the shackles of exploitation, expropriation, alienation and oppression and guarantee them true freedom and economic well being, rejected it in toto in a matter of less than two weeks when the opportunity arose.. The Marxist-Leninist theory may be the best possible available to date in terms of a scientific analyses but the practical failed miserably due to human or experimental error.. But at the same time let us not forget the incredible advances made by the most backward country in Europe, i.e., Russia, in education, health, aerospace and defense under communism. Also the moral and financial support it gave to the revolutionary struggles against imperialism, specially in the third world, defeating the reactionary imperialist forces, for example, in Zimbabwe, Angola, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Palestine etc. is a debt which can never be repaid by humanity, and the naked and hungry of the third world.
Let us not forget that communism was a new socio-political experiment and there was no prior experience and knowledge available to serve as a guiding light. The petit bourgeois, the educated and intellectually inclined, the so-called managerial class who managed the affairs of the bourgeois and looked after its interests, mobilized the working class. The petit bourgeois enjoyed a life style way above that of the working masses, yet it aspired to gain the power and privileges and wealth of the bourgeois, which was way beyond its wildest dreams. The petit bourgeois in the name of the working class- the dictatorship of the proletariat - organized the working class and over threw the ruling capitalist class and transferred the ownership of the means of production by the bourgeois and brought it under its tight control and with it came the power that was under capitalism enjoyed by the ruling classes. This in turn led to corruption of the bureaucracy and the leadership of the communist party.
Thus we can say,communism did not fail because of something, which was inherent in it, but because of the selfish and corrupt way in which it was practiced and because of the historical circumstances that prevailed.