Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What to do about corrupt institutions


(By corruption I mean an institution or person performing a function other than that which it ostensibly exists to perform. Taking bribes to do what the briber wants, rather than what ostensibly ought to be done, is an obvious example. But most modern corruption comes from the the State - and is coercive: institutions that ostensibly exist to educate, or heal, or administer justice are instead made by the State to perform political functions. So in the Soviet Union all powerful institutions were corrupt: they mostly performed political functions instead of their ostensible functions: hence very little got done in terms of, say, actual growing of food. The modern situation increasingly resembles that.)


What to do about corruption? Possibilities include reform, destroy and renew.



The first decision is whether the institution is, on the whole, Good or bad; necessary or harmful.

Most modern institutions are, on the whole, evil and/ or harmful - the United Nations or the European Union, for example. So these should be destroyed, if possible. Any necessary functions are simply re-allocated to other institutions.

Obviously, it is exceptionally difficult to destroy evil and harmful institutions, because if these were not serving powerful interests then they would not still be existing.

Indeed, as a rule, the more evil and more harmful institutions are and yet existing, the more viciously and dishonestly they will be defended.



Reform doesn't work.

By the time things have reached the state that an institution can be described as corrupt, then corrupt is what it is.

Especially, large modern institutions cannot be reformed - they never have been reformed.

Let's just say reform is all-but impossible for institutions of any size or complexity or duration. Of course you can make changes and claim that these are refroms, but I am talking about the real world: after 'reform' is the institutions actually better at performing its ostensible function?

Shoving extra resources at a corrupt institution (in hope of reforming it) will strengthen its corruption, rather than reforming it. Entrenched and strengthened corruption has been the consequence of attempts to reform the state education system, the health services, and so on.

(Possible counter-examples of apparently successful reform will be seen to fall under the renew category. For a technical argument from systems theory proving the impossibility of reforming complex organizations - see



But if an institutions does valuable work, then that work must be continued.

The answer is renew: to set up a new institution - with new people - alongside; and as soon as it is functioning, than transfer the function (and also transfer the minority of honest and competent people).

Don't reform a corrupt government - renew it.


So, if there is a corrupt but necessary office or school. (Let's assume it can't be destroyed - although most corrupt offices and schools can and should be destroyed.)

What you must not do is try to reform the corrupt institutions while maintaining its functionality.

You should not try to repair the ship while it is still at sea. Repair is not-impossible in principle - but in practice a difficult repair cannot ever be done by a corrupt crew (who do not actually want to repair the ship).


Renew, don't reform.

Instead of trying to change to old corrupt office or school, you set-up a new and non-corrupt office or school next door/ nearby; with a new Head, who is in charge of a (mostly) new leadership team and with (mostly) new staff.

Then close-down the corrupt office or school.

(Any decent staff from the old office or school - if they can be identified by the Head of the new office or school can then be transferred to the new school.)


The take-home message is that when an institutions function is necessary or desirable yet that institutions is corrupt - then it should be renewed and not 'reformed'.


(Our society is corrupt, and it cannot be reformed - but only renewed. The Head and leaders must be replaced. Either 1. by the miracle (and it would be a miracle - which is not to say it is impossible) of them being 'born again' and becoming different people; or 2. by physically being replaced with other personnel. If no new and non-corrupt personnel are available from within the institution, then they would have to come from outside it - from 'abroad'.)