Saturday, 27 September 2008

Capitalism and Corruption

Neil Clark writes:

Somalia is 180th out of 180. Iraq is second from bottom. Haiti fourth from bottom. And Afghanistan lies in 176th place.

No, it’s not the FIFA world rankings- but the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, published by the Berlin-based Transparency International. All the countries above have one thing in common: they’ve all experienced ‘interventions’ in one way or another, in recent years by the US. Surely something for supporters of US interventions in the affairs of other sovereign states to ponder.

The other revealing thing about the survey is the countries at the top. Among the top fifteen least corrupt nations in the world are Norway, Austria, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden- and- at number one- Denmark. All are countries with a relatively small gap between rich and poor- in fact Denmark and Norway are among the most egalitarian societies on this planet. The message is clear: if you operate a mixed economy with progressive taxation and a welfare state you are much less likely to have a corrupt society.

As to Britain- well - turbo-capitalism is taking its toll. We’ve fallen four places in the ratings, to 16th, with Transparency International reporting “The weakening performance of some wealthy countries… casts a further critical light on government commitment to rein in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business”. The more openly capitalistic Britain has become, the more corrupt we have become too. If we do want to climb in the top ten, and reduce corruption, then have to return to the sort of progressive economic policies we followed back in the 1960s and 70s.


  1. Carl Alex Friis Nielsen.28 September 2008 at 01:03

    Actually you can hardly find a more capitalist country than Denmark - even the chairman of the Danish Socialist Peoples party has stated that nothing beats capitalism, when it comes to generating the wealth his party desires to distribute to the population. Perhaps you are confusing capitalism (which is strongly related to classical liberalism (John Locke, Adam Smith etc.)) with conservatism, which often oposes ideas like free trade.

  2. Do you think Neil Clark has ever heard of the saying "correlation does not assume causation"?

    Or to put it another way, do you think that the factors which make Somalia, Haiti et al failed states and caused US intervention might also have been the reasons why they were corrupt?

  3. Carl Alex Friis Nielsen, is there anywhere less conservative than Denmark? No wonder that it is so capitalist.

    And it has only quite lately become so. If it continues, then it will be extremely corrupt in 10 years' time.

    Sol, in a word, no. These places had interventions because certain people had no idea how to live without the Cold War to keep them going. So Aideed, Aristide and others, even down to the paltry Noriega, had to be held up as great threats to civilisation.

    Then Milosevic. Then bin Laden. Then Saddam. Then (and possibly again) Ahmadinejad. And now Putin, probably to be followed by Chavez.

    I am not saying that these are nice people. But that is entirely beside the point.

  4. Carl Alex Friis Nielsen30 September 2008 at 21:59

    What makes you think that Denmark has only lately become capitalist ?

    And only lately become non-conservative ?

    And you still haven't explained how such a highly capitalist nation like Denmark can be perceived as the least corrupt nation in the world - given your assertion that capitalism promotes corruption.