The Levels by Barbara Nadel

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Governmental corruption is a big topic of conversation almost everywhere in the world these days (except possibly North Korea). Charges of corruption are levelled at politicians on an almost daily basis. So often does this happen in fact that one does get a bit immune to it.

A case in point are the recent local elections in Turkey. Absolutely mired in allegations and counter allegations of corruption, these were conducted amid an atmosphere that seemed to suggest something world changing was about to happen in their wake. But it didn’t. In spite of corruption allegations levelled against the ruling party, they won and, although they accused the opposition of a coup attempt, they increased their share of the vote. So what about all the accusations of politicians having their hands in the public coffers? Of people seeking to undermine the state and illegally changing the Constitution?

Well, not much really. As with the ‘scandalous’ cheap selling off of Royal Mail here in the UK, people have had plenty to say but haven’t done a whole lot. We know the Conservative government sold Royal Mail off cheap to their mates in the City who have subsequently made fortunes out of their shares but we knew that at the time. So why didn’t we try to do something about it then? Maybe try to stop them?

Putting aside questions about ‘how’, I have a theory which boils down to, basically, the existence of a level of ‘acceptable corruption’ in all societies. I think that in the modern world of mass communication it is impossible for politicians to entirely pull the wool over our eyes any more and so they can and do get found out in their lies. But finding something out and then seeking reparation for that thing are separate issues which, I believe, are culturally determined as well as limited by economics and by time.

For instance, although most working and lower middle class people in the UK do not buy into this nonsense the government peddle about our recession being over (food prices are too high, wages are too low) gunning for the politicians in charge of the Royal Mail sell off is not worth the effort. There’s nothing that can be done about it now, there are bigger issues at hand and nothing by way of reparation will ever happen. Those who did the deal will go on to get knighthoods and the directorships of blue chip companies and nothing will change. And this isn’t just, I believe, because those politicians who do these things can utterly destroy ordinary people, it is also because their corruption is at an ‘acceptable’ level. In the UK I think that this means that nobody has, directly, died, no member of the Royal Family is involved, any sexual shenanigans are vaguely farcical and the knocked off money goes to the same people it’s always gone to or to Russian oligarchs who are ‘essential’ to the economy of this country.

We can’t be arsed to take it on and maybe we’re right not to. Maybe. But there is a price and it is getting higher. Just heard that a load of new apartments are going to be built along the banks of the Thames in London. Not just any old apartments, but places for the rich. If, if funding can be found a few gaffs might be built for the ordinary people too. Not corrupt and completely out in the open all that. But such developments, I would argue, are based on corruption. They are built on the idea that certain people can have anything and everything they want irrespective of the suffering and discomfort of others. And that is where the ‘acceptable’ corruption become unacceptable. We shouldn’t be just forgetting Royal Mail, even though we will and everyone, everywhere should be asking questions of their politicians especially at election time. But we won’t because nobody really wants a revolution and all that that entails. Look at the chaos in the Ukraine and how their powerful neighbour to the north has exploited that situation. We don’t want that, do we?

No. But whether we are right not to, is another matter. When no-one but the rich can live within thirty miles of London maybe we will think otherwise.

And by the way, Gordon my goitre has now been removed and I am in recovery. Still hurts but then when someone cuts your throat that does tend to be the result.

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