Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Corruption and Politics of Transition Period


Corruption and Politics of Transition Period

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has recently issued a report on corruption in Afghanistan. The report says that the Afghan government had considerable progress in countering corruption despite numerous challenges. This is a thorough and documented report and includes interesting information. This report also has a reference to the political roots of corruption and quotes Fukuyama as provided bellow:
“Sources of corruption are deeply political. Without a political strategy to tackle this problem, all other solutions will fail. Corruption in all forms – namely, appointments and privileges based on political affiliations, benefiting from public sources and stealing from it – enjoy support from figures that are within the existing political system and are usually powerful players.” (Francis Fukuyama, What is political corruption. 2016”
Reference to Fukuyama’s theory is very skillful. When Fukuyama refers to main roots of corruption in the realm of political concepts, he explains deep and exact matters. I am going to mention a number of points towards explaining intentions of Fukuyama and for promotion of the needed literature on corruption and ways to counter it. Therefore, the main question is why from the view point of Fukuyama sources of corruption are political and what is the fundamental relationship between corruption and politics? This writing is made to answer this question and aims to explain the relationship between corruption and politics.
Transition period and corruption
Many political scholars believe that transition periods involve corruption. The proof for this claim is that all countries experienced corruption in their transition periods. From this point of view, there is no way to avoid corruption. Some scholars such as Huntington, who introduced the theory of clash of civilizations, believe that corruption is not only indispensible but is necessary for the process of development of countries. In his famous book titled “Political Order in Changing Societies”, Huntington has dealt with this issue and explained why corruption is indispensible in changing societies. Some political science scholars even count some advantages and positive effects for corruption. While counting positive effects for corruption seems exaggeration, however, this is true that corruption is an inevitable matter in countries that are in transition or in other words in the developing countries. Therefore, logical and reasonable confrontation with corruption and finding of solutions is an undeniable need.
Why corruption happens during transition times and why it is unavoidable? This is a serious and important question. Many answers are being offered for this question and if we want to deal with those, we would be wondering away from our main question. Therefore, I will briefly touch upon a few things that can offer answer to our question and are related to Fukuyama’s theory. Main reasons for corruption during transition and the things that make it unavoidable can be the following:
A. Change in Values:
Transition period means a time when a society prepares for renovation and acceptance of new culture and norms. When a society sees itself at the verge of  a new way, it needs to welcome new norms. These new norms cannot shape at once, but they shape in a slow and gradual process. In such conditions, old traditions and new traditions, or in other words, old norms and new norms, find contradictions. In such eras, many of the old traditions face rejection in the society and gradually become unacceptable. At the other hand, while new norms are not shaped, people feel a kind of freedom of action and do things that are not in line with any norm. One of these un-normative actions is corruption.
B. Creation of Sources of Power and Wealth
In transition period new groups rise, and this is a direct result of the transition period and is unavoidable. Therefore, each of these new groups and people seek their interests and sources of power and wealth. In such circumstances a competition of ownership of power and wealth is created. For example when the new government was established in Afghanistan and a rather wide freedom was offered for all segments of the society, new groups were created in political, cultural, civil, and economic arenas. Since the new government provide for proper foundations for their activities, as it was newly established itself, many of the problems caused by these new groups were put on the shoulders of the Afghan government and society. All these groups were trying to absorb some of the resources that were supposed to be used by the government. The issue of corruption in NGOs is a good example of such conditions. However, this problem was not limited to the NGOs. It is possible that some of the politicians and wealthy people to make investments from their personal wealth to get to power, and after that they want to take back their money through corruption. In recent years, many such examples existed and many times such stories were told by the media. However, this has been only since one year that such cases are put on the table of courts and judicial organs.
C. Creation of New Norms
Radical creation of new norms is another causes for corruption in government entities. In a country that is in transition, ideals such as democracy, freedom, equality, human rights, women’s rights, etc. are introduced by some amateur politicians and very soon deceive the public. In such circumstances, those who come to powerful positions, find themselves unable to act according to their mottos and resort to corruption again to continue deceit of the public. Therefore, when new norms are not well defined and institutionalized in the society, they can cause corruption.
D. Mutual Relationship Between Corruption and Political Instability
All said above were about characteristics of the transition period. In transition period, political instability is a common phenomenon. It is possible that the political and legal foundations are not strong enough, and the public opinion and people’s understanding in such conditions is mixed with doubt and uncertainty. Even those who are having the smallest share of power and decision making do not believe in the process they create and always are in a condition of fear and uncertainty. In such an atmosphere, even if one did not read Marx’s book titled the Capital, he would naturally feel the importance of wealth and capital. This is because wealth is more important during transition and instability compared to conditions where stability and democracy are well established. Therefore, the deeper the instability becomes, the more continuous corruption will be. This might continue to an extent where it is difficult to identify which one of corruption and political instability has caused the other.  (To Be Continued)

Mohammad Hedayat is the Editor in Chief of the Daily Afghanistan Ma. He can be reached moh.hedayat@gmail.com

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