By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Image credit: Libertad.org
Fighting globalisation is not only counterproductive: it is useless. It is counterproductive, because one of the unintended consequences of globalization is the beneficial battle against corruption. Globalization leads us to behave better. When countries were isolated, it didn’t matter much if X or Y nation was corrupt. Today, as they are integrated into large circuits, the corruption of the other harms us much more directly.
Fighting against globalization is, moreover, useless. The Internet and social networks reign supreme. Everything is known instantly and there is some electoral cost to the shameless. Within the European Union, and within each society, there is less and less patience with nations like Greece, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Spain that have corrupt practices. For now, the notion of “conflict of interests” has been included in the penal code for years. Until relatively recently, German companies were able to deduct bribes from their usual costs of doing business. That is no longer possible.
The trend imposed by globalization is favorable. There is no longer glamour in corruption. In Cuba, when I was a teenager, there was no moral sanction against dishonesty in the administration of public goods. Jokes were told about political thieves and many people aspired to be “tax inspector” or anything with the aim of “lining up”. This attitude, present in almost all of Latin America, is no longer acceptable. It exists, but it has a social cost. You start out with something.
Broadly speaking, there are 180 nations in the world that deserve to be called that way. Approximately 150 are medullarly corrupt. That’s the way it’s always been. Economic power feeds the mandamases and the mandamases increase the resources of economic power. They are two social spheres that complement and reinforce each other. This happens in dictatorial regimes and in the imperfect democracies of the planet.
Corruption does a lot of damage. It creates a growing atmosphere of cynicism. It belies the principle that all citizens are equal before the law, which is fatal to democracy. It stifles competition. It discourages personal effort: why study and do things right if economic success depends on relationships? It makes prices more expensive. They are all inconvenient.
The most honest countries, according to Transparency International, are the Scandinavians and those spawned by Great Britain: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland. The countries of northern Europe are also on the list of the best, although in second place: Holland, Germany, the Baltic States.
At the head of the most honorable platoon is the kingdom of Denmark, but Singapore is very close to it, which belies the hypothesis that this is a cultural issue. Within Europe, nations of “Latin” origin tend more towards cheating: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Romania. Even France.
But we have to go further. It is not only a question of “moral rearmament” or the elimination of North American or European visas. It is not enough. It is important to put legal obstacles in the way of corruption. In Denmark, for example, the commission that studies and allocates auctions is made up of experts who have no access to those who offer their services and vice versa.
Antonio Maura Montaner, an honest Spanish politician from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spoke of his country’s need for “light and stenographers”. Today he would have recommended the Internet. Every public act must be posted on a website so that any citizen can find out what is being done with taxpayers’ money, with their money, including auctions.
It is necessary to create barriers between corrupters and the corrupted. There is no reason to prevent councils from existing, but they must display their comparative advantages through the Internet and not in obscure meetings with those who can use their services or products.
In Spain, “overwhelming” journalists were jokingly commented on. Corrupters handed them an envelope and they put it in their pockets with a smile. The Internet, cell phones and international circuits – all instruments of globalization – have wiped them off the map. Magnificent.
This article was published by Libertad.org on September 6th, 2019. Reproduced on Political Hispanic with authorization from said source. Also translated by Political Hispanic.
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