No. 51, August 2011

No. 51
(August 2011):



To our readers

The first article in this issue concerns the issue of ‘corruption’. As we go to press, the ‘anti-corruption’ agitation led by Anna Hazare and his team occupies centre-stage in the corporate media. While spitting fire at the politicians in office, the Anna Hazare team maintains a telling silence on the corporate sector and other ruling class sections. This is rather like Hamlet without the prince of Denmark, for it is the corporate sector and other ruling class sections who are the principal beneficiaries of both corruption as well as thehonest’, transparent implementation of State legislation and policy.

Corruption is merely one aspect of the ruling class control of the State machinery, the other aspect being the shaping of culture, public discussion and State policy in myriad legal, respectable ways. Legal and illegal means complement each other. For instance, official economic policy leaves the country’s accumulated surplus as private property in the hands of a few per cent of the population, and merely levies taxes on the income arising from private property. It is child’s play then to hide that income and accumulate yet more surplus. Once you allow a class the power to bribe generously, it is hypocritical to expect that it will not bribe, and that Government servants will not accept bribes.

Under neo-liberalism, the ruling classes’ drive to accumulate wealth has become far more aggressive and predatory, involving not merely the extraction of surplus value created in the course of production but also the plunder of State-owned assets and the nation’s natural wealth. This predatory drive has so greatly expanded the role of ruling class representatives and the bureaucracy in the transfer of wealth that it is only natural that the former extract a correspondingly larger commission for their services. The mind-boggling increase in corruption in recent years is thus a by-product of accelerated accumulation of wealth. Once again, the legal policy of privatisation provides the basis and opportunity for corporate sector bribery of the ministers and bureaucrats in charge of privatisation.

Just as corruption is a necessary part of ruling class control of the State machinery, non-class anti-corruption politics is an integral part of ruling class politics. The Jayaprakash Narayan phenomenon of the mid-1970s and the V.P. Singh phenomenon of the late 1980s both gave vent to middle-class discontent but  reinforced the existing structures of power. The Anna Hazare phenomenon is the latest in this line, with an added edge of aggression. Divorced from a class angle, anti-corruption politics generates illusions among people that the system can be cleansed of corruption without a change in property relations. Further, behind its show of popular participation lurks the reactionary and anti-democratic notion that a group of ‘upright persons’ (in the words of the Hazare version of the Lokpal Bill, “persons with impeccable integrity and a record of public service”) can save the country. 

-- The Editor



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