Sunday, January 9, 2011

Corruption in recent times: A psycho-somatic explanation

[From my other blog]

Why do we see the powerful as the most corrupt? Here is an attempt to explain it in a neutral, pseudo-psychological way:

For the sake of ease of reading, I am using a masculine gender, no respect or disrespect intended. I start with three basic premises:

As a social animal, everyone holds onto an identity naturally. This identity can be that of caste, race, ethnicity, belief system or even ideology. This is what binds individuals to the rest. Some of these are fixed and some are not-so-fixed, allowing for new identities to be used for binding.
Man is programmed to protect this identity. Wars - ethnic, racial or ideological are effects of this urge to protect this identity.
The most insecure tend to become the most powerful. The reason is simple. With their paranoia, they are better suited to protect this identity. They get the ideas and energy to strengthen this identity because of their paranoia.
Now, let's see how this insecurity manifests in physiological and psychological spheres. In physiological space, insecurity reflects as lust - an urge to leave more copies of the individual before he gets destroyed. This explains why kings had wives and maintained harems. In psychological space, this reflects as greed for wealth, territory and power. This greed usually resulted in benefits for that society. (The neighboring kingdoms may be destroyed, enemies with different ethnicity or religion were butchered and so on.)

Things were clear black and white until democracy and pluralistic societies arrived. The ancient societies accepted warfare and amorous behavior of the rulers. It is like giving them the room to be their natural self.

With the advent of democracy, the insecurity itch of the ruling class remained, but there is no way to scratch it with laws against polygamy and no-war pacts. There is more set back to the identity - they can't be extreme right wingers to be rulers. They have to work out healthy co-existence with ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities living in their territories. So, identifying with one group will be counter productive when it comes to elections. (We also see non-democratic countries continue to start wars on the basis of religion, ethnicity or ideology.)

The lust and greed remain as they are the results of a more basic insecurity. The lust gets some avenues with changing social conditions that allowed for divorces, casual flirting etc. The greed remains. The greed that once served the society stops at the individual as the identities that he were once part of, have weakened. The individual tries to address the high insecurity with wealth accumulation. He strengthens his position by sharing this wealth with his nears and dears. The identity has shrunk from a big society to his family. If the avenues for the lust are shut (because of age, physical and social conditions), the greed fills in that space.

I've refrained from naming any powerful person - Indian or otherwise and would like the readers to correlate this article to their favorite ones.

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