Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Two Types Of Corruption

"When the industrialist pays money to a Party official to obtain privileges, that is indirect power—corruption as we know it. But when the Party official extorts tribute as a result of the capitalist's outright fear, without guaranteeing the latter an equivalent in return, that is an example of direct power and is the distinct contribution of fascism to corruption as such."
Günter Reiman, "The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism", p34-35, Mises Institute (2007 reprint).

The key to that distinction, whether a permission is granted or a punishment witheld, not only mirrors the distinction between positive ("obtain privileges") and negative ("the capitalist's outright fear") liberty, but also the special import of the latter in distinguishing ordinary corruption from fascist corruption: paying government officials to get stuff for you is ordinary corruption, but officials demanding you pay them in order to avoid some kind of punishment or retribution is corruption of a special, fascist kind.


Question: what happens when the "privilege" in question is nothing more than the selective non-enforcement of a given law?

Answer: the distinction collapses and thence a difference between ordinary corruption and fascist corruption must recede to considerations of scale, degree or else arbitrary criteria.

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