Updated: Feb 1
Americans think of corruption as something that happens elsewhere; you know, in places like Mexico (hence, The Wall), Venezuela, Putin’s Russia or…Giuliani’s Ukraine. People in those countries have a different way of looking at public service. Or do they?
In America, Britain, and the Northern European nations, politics and government service are thought of as opportunities for selfless dedication to one’s community; you know, the old King & Country thing. On the other hand, the political sphere and civil service sector in other places is inseparable from the notion that ‘public property’ is something that is available for everyone to steal. Participation in government equates with an opportunity for personal enrichment. Think Greece, Italy, Spain - the economic sick men of the European Union. Better yet, think Ukraine.
Spain is a classic example of the corrosive effect of political corruption on the lives of ordinary people, both before and after the Black Years of Francoism. Spain is going into elections this season but ask any Spaniard which party is the best choice and he/she will likely answer that they are all the same in terms of corruption, so there is no real choice at all. Everybody knows that corruption is the wrench in the gears, even after King Juan Carlos handed the crown to his son amid a corruption scandal that rocked the palace. It was either divert the public's attention away from the royal family’s shadowy misdeeds or face the very real possibility of the abolition of the monarchy and its replacement with a Republic.
I won’t go into all the sordid details that in any case are too much for this limited blog entry; however, one is encouraged to consult UK-based author Paul Preston’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Preston) latest non-fiction work entitled ‘A People Betrayed (Un Pueblo Traicionado)’ (https://www.delectoralector.com/un-pueblo-traicionado/) for an excellent overview of the endemic corruption in Spanish governmental administration from 1870 to the present and its corrosive effect on society. One might even assert that Spain set the standard for corruption throughout Latin America where tax revenues and public subscriptions go directly into the personal bank accounts of powerful generals and other public figures.
Not that corruption is absent in America, Britain, or Northern Europe. In fact, it’s there in spades although more presentable, like a skillfully embalmed corpse or the lifelike fibreglass mask that the Catholic Church has installed over the skeletal remains of Padre Pio to convince believers – who contribute millions toward the promotion of his cult – that the late cleric’s physical body is incorruptible, a so-called ‘miracle.’ As death inevitably corrupts the body, money corrupts the soul. The Church's great achievement is to have successfully turned both processes into yet another money spinner.
America, Britain, and Northern Europe institutionalize and facilitate corruption by enabling international gangsters and multinational corporations to operate outside the realm of accountability through tax schemes and shelters that are unavailable to those who provide the labour in society and pay all the taxes, the so-called working class. Despite the occasional exposure of some low-level gangsters and the odd white collar criminal, money laundering is a slam dunk for those who move millions, billions, or even trillions out of the public purses of poor nations into the labyrinth of offshore banks and investment funds domiciled in America, Britain and elsewhere, for their personal benefit. When you or I do that, it's called stealing.
In order to participate in American politics, one needs to be already rich, a member of that esteemed 1% in society who easily afford private schooling and personal coaches for their children, who purchase university slots for them, and who shepherd their offspring through the international halls of power to eventually enter the kleptocracy, thereby completing the loop. If you think your kid has a shot at the White House - the Obama phenomenon notwithstanding - then please think again (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_richest_American_politicians). Instead, think Javanka, the Donald Junior/Eric tag team, and Hunter Biden. A recent billboard erected along a Kentucky (poorest state in the Union) roadside features a huge image of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and his wife mocking their constituents with “We’re rich. How Y’all doin’?”
So, what’s changed?
Well, nothing has changed - fundamentally. America is still a society predicated on racism, bigotry and greed. What has changed is that the mask has come off to reveal the painful truth that politics in the USA is just as corrupt and dirty as that of any of its neighbours to the south. Selfless devotion to public service as symbolized by the previous Administration is out. In the Trump Era, racism, bigotry and unadorned greed are in.
Lack of taste, a disinterest in intelligent dialogue, and a sneering contempt for the law. Does that sound like the political environment in Washington these days? Or Caracas?
As mentioned in an earlier post (www.francescorizzuto.com/post/shy-trump-will-win-in-2020), the war that led to the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the Thirteen Colonies’ split from Britain in 1783 was never a war for the rights of man, and the former colonists enjoyed no more rights and freedoms after separation than did Britain or some other nations that had opted for limited monarchies. At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, after all other nations had abolished slavery at home and in their territorial holdings, there was more value locked up in chattel mortgages on human beings (e.g., Black slaves – 4 million out of a national population of 31 million) than there was value in the entire industrial and real estate holdings of the entire nation, both North and South. In short, the United States is not, and never was, the country of the American revolutionary mythos. As almost any immigrant can attest, America is the place you go to make money.
Today, all signs point to the most corrupt Administration since that of James Buchanan (1858-61) that ushered in the Civil War. Biographer Jean Baker said of President Buchanan: "He was that most dangerous of chief executives, a stubborn, mistaken ideologue whose principles held no room for compromise. His experience in government had only rendered him too self-confident to consider other views. In his betrayal of the national trust, Buchanan came closer to committing treason than any other president in American history."
The Civil War was not primarily about honour, decency, and the abolition of slavery. And it wasn't about states' rights as latter day Confederates and Neo-Nazis would have us believe. It was about maintaining a political union that guaranteed the interests of a firmly entrenched political elite, the so-called 1% of that era, many of whom had their hands in the till. The Administration that followed Lincoln’s assassination – when Union General Ulysses S. Grant assumed the Presidency – was no more honest or corruption-free than Buchanan’s. If anything, it was characterized as having been even more corrupt.
If the fondest predictions of some cash-crazed televangelists and tweeted threats from a narcissistic, unhinged President come to fruition – that is, if a second American Civil War is in the cards – then what might emerge from the ashes? Certainly not the largely mythical ‘American Democracy.’ More likely, the outcome will be something uglier and far worse than anyone might have predicted. Even the collapsing Roman Empire or Nazi Germany of the 1930’s or China during the Cultural Revolution didn’t feature 350 million citizens armed with AR-15’s, more than one firearm per man, woman and child in the country, not to mention the most fearsome military machine ever conceived with its motor running ominously on the sidelines and a drug-addled Commander-in-Chief with his finger on the nuclear trigger.
Meanwhile, those who still believe that accountability is a virtue are languishing in America’s jails. Any candidate who doesn’t pledge to free Reality Winner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_Winner) and award her the Medal of Freedom doesn’t deserve your vote in 2020, yet not a single candidate has ever mentioned her name (to see how rich your favoured candidate is, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_richest_American_politicians). Reality Winner was sentenced to five years in prison for releasing a single document from the National Security Agency with proof of a threat to the national voting system when no one else would give the public the truth. That 'truth' led to the election of Donald Trump.
Think about it. The stakes are actually higher than anyone imagines.
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