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Submitted by Dr Jon Cloke on
As someone who has been writing on corruption/anti-corruption in an academic capacity for a number of years now, I find these pages and this initiative fascinating. I am however fearful that the discourse under which ‘anti-corruption’ is being constructed is so partial that what is represented here is symbolic change that neglects the role of rich and powerful countries and corporations. This is a discourse that favours concentrating on poor-country public-sector corruption as a component of development rather than what it is, which is part of a global pandemic driven at the macro-scale by corporate-government patronage systems. Needless to say, over-arching this globalization of corruption is the wrong neoliberal model of economics which the World Bank and the IMF continue to promote. Having had the chance to look briefly through some of the literature on your site, I’m dismayed by the same dismal insistence on a public-government-governance nexus which completely ignores the substantial, indeed dominant role of the corporate sector in using corruption as a business strategy. In your document ‘Reforming Governance Systems under Real-World Conditions’ for instance you outline six sections, in not one of which is mentioned corporate influence, corporate/rich country strategic interests, corporate/elite alliances or imbalances of power – what ‘real world’ is this set in? Similarly, your Six Key Challenges cover governance reform through political leaders, policy makers and legislators, it covers gaining the support of public sector managers, transforming public opinion and encourages citizens to demand accountability and talks vaguely about vested interests. Of what help will an analysis like this be in understanding endemic corruption in (for instance) Nigeria, where as we have recently learned Shell has spent a considerable amount of time and effort in capturing the state and in dominating existing patronage/clientelism-based networks? Finally, the Bretton Woods Institutions need to analyse and understand their own role in fostering and promoting corruption in countries in development – a good example of this would be World Bank/IMF involvement in the Indonesian ‘poster child’ governments under Suharto. The World Bank cannot simply convert itself at will into a centre of expertise on anti-corruption by ignoring its own active (and continuing) role in promoting corruption through the application of a fundamentally flawed orthodox economic model and through continually putting the priorities of the developed market economies of the global north first.