Monday, December 5, 2016
Corruption as a driver for extremist violence
I just read the book Thieves of State, by Sarah Chayes. It describes the complex functioning of a corrupt state, starting with the example of post-2003 Afghanistan but expanding the analysis to other places like Nigeria and Uzbekistan, not to mention the financial free-for-all of the 21st-century US. Anyway, the basic thesis is that corruption not only slows development processes, but in fact drives and legitimizes the appearance of extremist groups that promise a return to a purer, more honest model of governance. Though most people in a given country don't agree with the details of these groups' sociopolitical agendas, many do at least subscribe to their attack on an oppressive, corrupt status quo. Maybe this has a parallel in the rise of Trump in the US, many of whose supporters may not agree with his exact agenda but who like the way he attacks a corrupt system.