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Is Corruption Motivated by ‘Self-Interest’?

January 30, 2012
Productivity is the actual proof of man's virtues and values; corruption is the proof of one's weakness.

Productivity is the actual proof of man's virtues and values; corruption is the proof of one's weakness.

I was asked this very interesting question via my Formspring account: “Is ‘corruption’ motivated by “Self-Interest”?

I gave the following answer:

No. It’s motivated by disrespect of one’s ‘self’. It’s a sign of weakness. It is SELF-DESTRUCTIVE. If you’re about to commit any kind of corrupt practice or act, you know for yourself that you’re going to commit a wrongful, immoral, self-destructive act, unless you’re a clinically insane or you’re living in an immoral, evil society that sanctions any kinds of immoral, evil acts. The very reason why man needs a government is to have an agency to protect his rights against immoral, corrupt rights-violators.

It is not in your self-interest to sacrifice others or to commit immoral acts. Immoral, corrupt acts are self-destructive!

Why is “an act of corruption” motivated by conscious disrespect of one’s “self” or “soul”? It’s because before you commit an immoral, dishonest act, you have to betray your “self” and “soul” first. You have to betray and negate your moral principles.

It’s a sign of “weakness” because your “evil, dishonest act” simply proves you cannot survive by relying on your own ability. You cannot survive or exist without cheating on or taking advantage of others. Or: You cannot live a decent life without stealing from government coffers.

Corrupt politicians who drive SUVs and live in tinseled mansions know deep inside that they’re immoral and not worthy to be called “honorable”, “sirs”, or “gentlemen”. Everyday in their lives they betray their “soul”. Everyday they support their family with stolen, ill-gotten money or resources. They’re not “human beings” if they’re not consciously aware that what they’re ‘doing’ is wrong or immoral.

Corruption is self-destructive because in a just, moral society, people who commit crimes and dishonest, immoral acts (that violate the rights of others) are punished by the legal, justice system. People who commit wrongful acts, in a just and moral society, are brought to justice. So corruption is NOT motivated by self-interest if you know for yourself that your “immoral”, “wrongful”, “illegal” act could send you to jail and destroy your name, your family, your future, and your life.

Self-interest must be long-term. What I like about Ayn Rand is that she clearly explained the concept of self-interest and why self-interest is moral, not immoral.

She wrote:

“When one speaks of man’s right to exist for his own sake, for his own rational self-interest, most people assume automatically that this means his right to sacrifice others. Such an assumption is a confession of their own belief that to injure, enslave, rob or murder others is in man’s self-interest—which he must selflessly renounce. The idea that man’s self-interest can be served only by a non-sacrificial relationship with others has never occurred to those humanitarian apostles of unselfishness, who proclaim their desire to achieve the brotherhood of men. And it will not occur to them, or to anyone, so long as the concept “rational” is omitted from the context of “values,” “desires,” “self-interest” and ethics.”

In “Objectivist Ethics”, Ayn Rand also wrote:

“The term “interests” is a wide abstraction that covers the entire field of ethics. It includes the issues of: man’s values, his desires, his goals and their actual achievement in reality. A man’s “interests” depend on the kind of goals he chooses to pursue, his choice of goals depends on his desires, his desires depend on his values—and, for a rational man, his values depend on the judgment of his mind.

“Desires (or feelings or emotions or wishes or whims) are not tools of cognition; they are not a valid standard of value, nor a valid criterion of man’s interests. The mere fact that a man desires something does not constitute a proof that the object of his desire is good, nor that its achievement is actually to his interest.

“To claim that a man’s interests are sacrificed whenever a desire of his is frustrated—is to hold a subjectivist view of man’s values and interests. Which means: to believe that it is proper, moral and possible for man to achieve his goals, regardless of whether they contradict the facts of reality or not. Which means: to hold an irrational or mystical view of existence. Which means: to deserve no further consideration.”

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