Corruption is rife in politics because morality is banned
Published 01/03/2010 | 05:00
The former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, while still a dissident under Communist rule, identified the existential source of the malaise of contemporary politics in both the capitalist West and the communist East. This was, he said, the tendency of politicians to consign their conscience to the bathroom -- in other words, to separate their private moral convictions from their public commitments.
This tendency still prevails. Morality is thus privatised, banished from the public realm. As a result, politics necessarily becomes a naked power game. Manipulation replaces debate. Might becomes right. Corruption knows no bounds.
The effort to draw up ethical guidelines is no bulwark against corruption. For all their usefulness, ethical guidelines are but abstract principles aimed primarily at the behaviour of others. They result in increased red tape that can hinder decision-making and the exercise of personal moral responsibility.