Developing Nations: Corruption:
The Sociology of Corruption
by Mr. Nguyễn Trần Bạt
Chairman, General Director of the InvestConsult Group
I. CORRUPTION - A CONSEQUENCE OF COMPETENCE LOSS ON SOCIAL SCALE.
main purpose when touching upon the issue of corruption is to determine the
reason why corruption has become a common phenomenon in the social life of
developing nations. At a reception party hosted by the Minister of Overseas
Development of the
2. The dialectical relationship between the loss of competence and corruption.
In most of economically and politically underdeveloped countries, the first social competence to be mentioned is labor competence. In such countries, people have to exhaust a great deal of labor to earn an income which is just roughly enough to regenerate their labor power, i.e. they have to work hard just to secure a simple life and existence. That is the reason why they are ready to commit wrongdoing. Why is this? Among many reasons, the inadequacy of competence is the most important one. It is because people are not competent enough. In other words, they do not have the necessary competencies to meet the demand of society, so they fail to find their own opportunities and to sell their labor, knowledge and talent. Failure to develop one's competence results in a lower quality of life, and few people accept that fate. So they try in illegitimate and unfair ways to earn their living, which creates the first stage of a social foundation for corruption.
The loss of competence on social scale has been a common occurrence in several underdeveloped countries. After a very long time of building socialism and a centrally planned economy, the whole social life was shifted to a new realm -- the realm of renovation and opening door. Then those who live in the inner palace of the planned economy, but without having any competencies to live in the realm the society has moved to, lag behind. For such people, their success in surviving through their "out of date" labor is already a corruption. Obsolete labor competencies can no longer generate added value and this means that such laborers have wasted an amount of energy and time in vain, i.e. they have wasted life resources and devastated development. Yet, such people still have to go on with their life and existence. As a result, such non-productive competencies are still sold as a common social service. Selling false competencies or the ones which can no longer generate added value so as to receive true profits is corruption. This is not only an intentional corruption of individuals but also a corruption which bears social meaning.
So far, corruption has always been regarded as a moral issue, but I consider it an issue of which morality is just one aspect, not a mere moral issue. Scrutinizing corruption under a sociological view, we can approach the issue more comprehensively. When regarding corruption as a moral issue, we often think that only intended embezzlements are corruption. We have forgotten that unawareness of one's wrongdoing is the worst since unintended negative deeds can bring much worse consequences than the intended ones. In an office, for example, an air-conditioner is turned on though no one needs it. People come in and out but none care enough to turn it off. They do not take away anything but they have uselessly wasted the energy of the society, and such an attitude is termed corruption. That is corruption, not waste. Corruption does not merely mean that you pocket something. If you take no action to economize for the society, you are corrupt yourself because you do not fulfill your responsibility. Receiving salary without doing anything to secure the benefits of the society means being corrupt. "Waste" is not an appropriate term. "Waste" in the administrative point of view is just a degree of a common crime that is corruption of responsibility. The ratio between embezzlement and destruction is 10/1. It is clear that "destruction" supercedes "embezzlement" regarding the effect of impeding development. Therefore, "destruction" should not be considered as waste but corruption. And corruption in this case is also an outcome of the loss of competence since people do not have the competence to realize the social responsibilities which they have to fulfill. The society also has neither the competence to require a sense of responsibility from its members nor the competence to realize the destruction which its members may bring about.
The loss and the obsolescence of competence are the causes for the appearance of corruption also because they cause a difference between the ability to contribute and demand. Demand is an issue of development and demand without growth means no development at all or, in other words, demand is the starting point of development and also a demand of life. We used to strive to have enough food to eat and enough clothes to wear, but now we strive to have delicious food to eat and nice clothes to wear. Thus, demand has been shifted from "having enough food to eat and enough clothes to wear" to "having delicious food to eat and nice clothes to wear". People still consider the latter as a sign of waste without understanding that it is the development of demands, which is a precondition for economic development. Demand is a factor which always develop. We cannot and should not mitigate nor condemn it but we can only condemn the incompatibility between contribution and demand. Human behavior is always as such. Behind such material demands is a genuine pride in spiritual values. People can only be proud of their spiritual values as long as they are honest or they pay earnest labor in return for their "having delicious food to eat and nice clothes to wear". Members of society shall not deceive if they can still have good results without it. So what makes people deceive? That is the incompatibility between competence and demand. It can be said that the incompatibility and the inadequacy of competence to provide genuine services or make up for demands in a truthful way are the sociological foundation for corruption.
The loss of competence in such societies is a concerning issue. Human beings become powerless both on an individual as well as a social scale. People do not have adequate competencies to perceive life or establish an appropriate status for their own and they are not confident enough in the position they are supposed to have in life. In other words, they fail to master their own lives. They have no aspiration for figuring their own future and hold no responsibility for completing their present life and they totally lose inspiration for enjoying past attainments. When people lose the competence to complete their present life, the competence and the inspiration to approximately forecast their future or the inspiration for admiring their histories, i.e. they become isolated entities who lose their own origin, prospect and past and this is when people are prone to corruption. Therefore, this is not merely a sociological issue but also an extremely important issue of philosophy, politics, economics and developmentism which should be studied seriously.
II. THE FACTORS WHICH CAUSE COMPENTENCE-LOSS ON SOCIAL LEVEL.
We should base on a more systematical research to clarify what makes competence-loss a common phenomenon in underdeveloped countries: the inadequacy of competence or the incompatibility between competence and demand? I have no intention to restrict my research within analyzing the natural laws of the relative obsolescence of human competence with the development speed of social life, especially in an age of globalization. The speedier development is, the faster experience and competencies become obsolete. Competencies are formed after a succession of experience and prepared in the past, so they can not closely keep pace with development. What life demands today and tomorrow are always different from what was demanded yesterday. Therefore, the competencies prepared to meet yesterday’s demand are always relatively obsolete. This relative obsolescence of competence has been recognized. Scientific researches conducted by universities and vocational schools on supplementing educational and training programs with new content in conformity with the demand of labor market is one measure to overcome the relative obsolescence of competencies. What I want to talk about is the wrong preparation for human resources, i.e. huge investments have been made in preparing competencies which are not responsive to demand. This aspect has not been realized. I also have no ambition to study all derogations in the preparation of competence, but I only intend to study the erroneous preparation caused by erroneous directions and the obsolescence of life in such main spheres as economy, culture, politics and education.
1. Erroneous Economic Guidance
For a long time, the selection of economic models has been a hot issue in most of developing and transitional countries. Up to now, economic models have always been adopted on political standards, not on economic standards or features. In other words, the selection of economic models is an outcome of politics. Among these models, a significant number have been selected on political viewpoints which are different to or even contradictory to the natural development of social life. For each economic model adopted, appropriate laborers should be trained accordingly. They should also train managers, build a legal system and establish an environment for economic life based on the demand of the selected model. As a result, such a politically-based selection of economic models has tied the destiny of a nation to a certain political viewpoint, impeding the dynamism and the freedom of economic forces, and also impacting the development of life.
The centrally planned economic model has the above-mentioned characteristics. The political feature of this model has impeded the natural development of economy. Under the historical logic-based explanation in which the economic regime is regarded to play a decisive role in the political life, the role of means-of-production ownership has been exaggerated and absolutized as a stative quantity. Under the influence of such ideologies, the roles of state ownership and state-operated economy are emphasized. Private ownership is, in contrast, condemned and eradicated. Private economy is a favorable space for the development of business sense, for the preservation and development of the competence of generating added value. In other words, it creates a more open space for individual freedom in the economy. Due to its superior status and illegitimate existence, however, private economy is no longer a natural space supporting the development of people's economic competence.
The deviated and unnatural development of the economy is one of the basic preconditions for the loss of competence. People equip themselves with the competencies which satisfy the standards of the economy established by the ruler and when such an economy collapses giving way to another economic structure, all prepared competencies become incompatible with new requirements. On the other hand, since private economy is overwhelmed, people do not have any conditions to acquire alternate competencies. As a result, they fall into a state where all of their competencies are lost. Why does corruption thrive in the transitional economy? It is because those whose competencies only satisfy the requirements of the planned economy are suddenly shifted to a new realm with totally different conditions and requirements, yet they still have to live and provide services when they have no competencies at all. This is a form of corruption, the nature of which is the provision of untruthful services because people do not have the competence to provide genuine services.
We should first consider members of society as an objective entities with natural development, not with the oriented development which some people may have mistaken. If we force people to accept and follow the things which are considered by someone as reasonable, we are accidentally destroying the diversity of human awareness and hence destroy people's adaptation competence in the face of risks they confront during the development process.
2. Wrong Political Guidance
Political obsolescence is one of important causes for the inadequacy of political competence. The obsolescence of politics leads to the obsolescence of regime, which is the biggest obstacle for the whole process of development. The political system is by nature a foundation for ruling forces and social organizers or leaders. Therefore, it has a decisive impact on every aspect of not only present life but also the future one. It can be affirmed that all politics without spiritual diversity and operational democracy are obsolete democracies since they do not have the competence to free people and they tie the people and their activities to limited standards for management. Every aspect of life is imposed towards a tendency set by the rulers' political ideas. Such imposition, especially when the political demand of that tendency is different from the development demand of life, has caused the loss and the inadequacy of political competence of the whole society. People are not encouraged to prepare responsive competencies so as to generate fruitful results for life but they are encouraged, attracted to or educated (at different levels, on different forums and with different cultural standards) to prepare competencies in conformity with forecasts and the urgency of political life. This issue is extremely important and quite popular in politically underdeveloped countries which typically lack or have no freedom.
People have long been educated for political purposes and political imagination and encouraged to equip themselves with the competencies which are suitable with the political aesthetic of the ruler, not the ones which are responsive to the natural demand of life. The political system uses all means available to guide its people to prepare competencies which are suitable with the demands of political life, i.e. to prepare what the political system needs, not the ones which life requires. It can be seen that competence loss is manifested quite clearly in an extremely important social class, that is the intellectual class. Intellectual contingents in developing countries are just supporting contingents whose spiritual and political life depends totally on the ruler. They do not have the competence to be independent in terms of awareness and politics so their voices are solely for supporting the political system, which means that they are also involved in wrong political guidance. The incompatibility or the loss of competence among intellectuals can be measured to a large extent because they still stick to the guidances which are no longer valuable and that phenomenon is by nature the loss of competence of the intellectual circle. The intellectual circle takes part in political guidance through scientific activities and they also help to make guidance but in developing countries they are losing the competence to guide the society. Such loss originates from the loss of the competence to be politically independent, i.e. they are just the supporters for the ruler.
The scattered or mass emersion of debates among intellectuals seems to arouse no response from the society. Nobody has the need for it. Why is this so? They find debates useless and risky. People are too prudent to expose themselves in debates, which accidentally results in one-way debates. As this phenomenon drags on, the society loses its diversity and its guidance competence. Accordingly, it also loses its acting competence, which is a natural consequence of the loss of politically guiding competence. The latter is also a consequence of no political freedom. That natural logic is close in a natural way and it is not a logic of the author but rather of a logic life.
In politically obsolete countries, it is taken it for granted people are the guided and the state is the guide. Since the people are acknowledged to have and only have the right to benefit from political guidance, these countries are not democratic societies. In such countries, people do not have the right to express their viewpoints. Such restriction, which is to secure the governance of a single viewpoint which enjoys every freedom, has misguided the society. As a matter of fact, the people are a political guide themselves. If the political guidance by the political system is not balanced by such counter-guidance, it shall deviate. For example, demonstration is a behavior which guides politics from the opposite direction. They signal to the ruler that he is so politically wrong that his people have to demonstrate. If the society has no right to guide politics, there shall be no pressure on the state for its self-adjustment when its political behaviors are no longer appropriate and suitable with life. Therefore, freedom of speech is one of the extremely important keys to balance all tendencies, so that every point in social life can receive diverse information in order to help them to acquire selection competence. The nature of freedom is the opportunity for selection and the political nature of freedom is the right of selection and the diversity for selection. In order to create diversity for selection, man should have the propaganda right, i.e. the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a precondition for people to enjoy a wide variety of alternatives and that is a basic condition for exercising the freedom of selection.
The loss of competence stems from the fact that the whole society is guided by one single tendency and it does not have any selection rights, which eliminates the spiritual diversity of the society. Different competencies make up a reserve to prepare the society for the competence to respond to different demands of life. Wiping out spiritual diversity means eliminating a reserve for social measures. The State not only gives wrong guidance for competencies and creates a dephasing between competencies and demand, but also makes it impossible for the society to be right in preparing competencies because the state has lost its reserve. Therefore, it can be concluded that the fact that only the state has the right to directly guide the politics is a state of political underdevelopment of underdeveloped countries.
The loss of competence can lead people to two phenomena: 1) being resigned to one's fate; or 2) not being resigned to one's fate and making negative responses such as terrorism. The two phenomena are extreme manifestations of the loss of political competence. The undevelopment and underdevelopment are combined expressions of the loss of competence of the whole society, which is specifically the competence to orient towards a better life. The society cannot develop if it has no aspiration for development. The self-satisfaction with one's own fate is the most vivid, typical and popular manifestation of the so-called loss of competence on social scale. Why? It is because people do not understand that self-satisfaction with one's destiny means standing on the same place, which means that they shall stand at a disadvantageous position in the present time. They think that self-satisfaction with their destiny means that they can secure themselves and everything of their own. They keep their little things in the development, the thriving and the prosperity of the other things around without knowing that they are losing happiness. Losing happiness is one of the most important manifestations of the loss of competence but the unawareness of happiness loss is a more vivid expression of the so-called competence loss. Competence eventually reflects one's ability to satisfy his/her interest in life. Those who are incompetent to enjoy life are competence losers, since the competence of enjoying beautiful things in life is the biggest and the most essential competence for each person. On the other extreme are terrorism and revolution. Revolution means overthrow or wasteful change. Changes by either method, terrorism or revolution, are all destructive. Revolutionaries in some underdeveloped countries have turned a force which is not capable of guiding politics into the only political guide in social life. They have accidentally fixed that the ruler is the political guide forgetting that only those who have the competence to guide the politics can become the ruler. Anyone who has guiding competence can become the ruler. This is a reasonable and favorable shift of political process. Such favorable shift can ensure that the society does not experience the loss of competence on a large scale.
3. Wrong Cultural Guidance
Another reason which cannot be ignored when analyzing the wrong competence preparation for people is the wrong cultural guidance, a result of political imposition on culture. People are guided to prepare competencies on cultural standards set forth by the demands of political life. Such standards totally contradict with life and do not acknowledge the natural laws of life.
Culture is a result of the accumulation of experience and habits of human beings in the interactions between themselves and their community and between their community with other communities or even between communities and time. Culture is present in every aspect of life, so it is possible to say that it is a spiritual environment of human beings. The matter of developing countries is that their cultures are at the same time obsolete and unnatural, which impacts the spiritual development of human beings. Culture always bears the relatively obsolete characteristic. If it does not open and flexibly receive new factors naturally, it shall become rigid and cannot serve as an ideal environment for the formation of individual values. The obsolescence of culture is due to its closure, and its unaturalism is due to the imposition of the ruling group's political will. Politicians all understand that culture can serve as the best tool to adjust the society on the largest scale. For this reason, they always have the ambition to control culture by propagandizing their political awareness into cultural life in order to create stability in their ruling. As such propaganda is a matter of course, it is not at all unhealthy. What is unhealthy is the way they reserve the only status for their political tendency and forbid the others, causing the disappearance of the legitimacy of diversity which is an indispensable feature in the spiritual life of the society.
Life is formed on competitive and cooperative rules. The acknowledgement of competition and cooperation means the acknowledgement of pluralism with many components and many factors are involved in that process. When they determine that factor A must win, they are interfering with the natural laws of life enabling one factor to win in a unnatural way. This is not a natural but an unnatural competition among spiritual factors of human beings. The subjective emphasis of certain factors in life is a way of destroying life balance most effectively. The development of individual competencies or the competitive competence of a social community and a society shall collapse if its competitive competence is weak. It is clear that breaking the diversity of spiritual life means pushing that society to the verge of collapse since it is destroying the competitive competence of a social community.
In some underdeveloped countries, the governance of one unique tendency makes culture a simple one. Spiritually, everyone becomes a slave to political tendency. Their individualities are all destroyed and replaced by the absolute collective worship. As a consequence, everyone becomes unreasonably the same under a predetermined model. The cultural competence of the human being is also prepared by that predetermined model. It is wrongly believed that simplicity creates stability in human awareness, and hence stability in ruling, without realizing that such simplicity can bring the society to a state in which all of its competencies are lost. Human beings are mechanically instructed via promulgated moral standards, competence standards, scientific and technological standards and political standards which are considered as unchangeable factors with both entertaining and controlling values. But if such promulgation is wrong, and especially if the promulgators no longer withhold their ruling position, such a promulgated society shall lose all of its competencies. The world is unceasingly changing. The globalization trend compels every culture to open its doors and no one and no nation has the opportunity to live an isolated life. So how shall people manage with wrongly prepared and ordinary competencies in the new conditions of the modern age? Of course, such competencies cannot meet the diverse and complex demands of the globalization age. More dangerously, they do not even realize the incompatibility of their competence. So for existence they have no choice but to deceive, hence causing a rampant phenomenon of corruption within the society.
As a matter of course, it is not that everyone shall surrender and allow their competence to turn obsolete, instead they have to strive. But it will be much better if they are not imposed to have only one single competence on a predetermined requirement and are not trained to the standards of an unreal society. They should bear in mind that never should we promulgate an unreal society because it can bring people to an extremely negative phenomenon, that is, they do not have sufficient information to prepare real competencies to live in the real zone. When people practice their morality, conduct of behaviors, and soul to live in an unreal society, they will have no resources to live within the society they have shifted to. That phenomenon may not be long-lasting and people shall gradually recover their own values, but as long as such an imaginative society is maintained, people will still develop so slowly that they can no longer recover their ordinary instincts. Causing people to fail to recover their ordinary instincts is one of the crimes committed by the unnatural culture.
4. The Obsolescence of Education
Education not only develops in line with economic, political, social and cultural conditions but also has to satisfy the requirement of social development regarding such aspects. Therefore, when politics, economics and culture become obsolete, education also becomes obsolete accordingly. Education is formed by the requirements of the society. The output of education must be people whose skills are responsive to the demands of labor market and whose competences are satisfactory to the requirements of the modern age. However, such different aspects of social life, such as economics, culture, and politics, are all in a state of obsolescence so they cannot establish requirements for people, especially laborers. Accordingly, education loses direction because it fails to set the tasks for itself. In circumstances where the economy, politics and culture are obsolete, people not only fail to set up requirements for the present but also fail to delineate requirements for the future of the society, i.e. the society loses direction in regard to human quality. And when the society loses direction vis-à-vis human quality, it cannot design educational programs. So how can the society prepare competencies?
Education is the direct phase helping people prepare competence. However, due to political imposition, people in underdeveloped countries are not equipped with the knowledge to improve the competencies which real life demands, but rather with the ones demanded by the political system. Such knowledge is not only obsolete but also totally unsuitable with the demands of the real world. Philosophically and politically speaking, educational programs do not have the necessary diversity of an ‘awareness science’ since they are only based on a single philosophy which suits the demands of the political system. A great amount of time in educational programs is dedicated to principles in order to maintain the stability of old concepts. They do not consider laborers as human entities with their own independent rights. They teach skills as though they are packing them into a box, forgetting that educational institutions cannot be likened to box of knowledge, but rather to a shop which provides knowledge, and that that knowledge can later be exchanged for income. The obsolete result is a contingent of incompetent laborers or a contingent of people whose competencies cannot be sold on the labor market.
Education, by nature, should orient human quality and abilities. Without freedom, to what extent shall such orientation go? Without freedom, such orientation is a kind of imposition. Being imposed as such, people cannot be the output of this living process and the input of the other, which means that people lose their own future. When leaving a past living zone and then failing to come and live in the new zone, people shall have no future at all. The biggest risk which people may confront is becoming a waste product in the new living zone which the society shall shift to.
III. OVERCOMING THE LOSS OF COMPETENCE ON SOCIAL SCALE.
People often speak of "combating" corruption. In my opinion, however, in order to solve the math of corruption, we should "prevent", not "combat”. The reason is that corruption bears the quality of human instinct. "Combat" means we eliminate human beings. Is such elimination on large scale humane? As for me, in order to solve corruption, we should first consider corrupt entities as human beings and work out the solutions to mend their defects. As mentioned above, the loss of competence on social scale is a sociological foundation for corruption. Therefore, the prevention of corruption should start by overcoming the loss of competence among people. This means that we should overcome the loss of competence due to wrong guidance as analyzed through basic reforms, that is economic reform, political reform, cultural reform and educational reform.
1. Overcoming the Loss of Economic Competence.
In order to overcome the loss of competence due to incorrect economic guidance, the economy – in particular the ideologies which guide economic activities -- must be reformed. As analyzed, when considering the factors of economy under historical (rather than economic) logic, people are wrongly guided, which results in the loss of economic competence. The nature of economic activities is the generation of added value. So, if such activities are not guided according to economic forecasts about development, they shall naturally create competencies which are not suitable with economic life. It should be emphasized here that all economic ideologies should be dynamic planning ideologies. Fixing all factors of life for research seems to associate a philosophy more closely with life, but it actually deprives people of all practical competences because the nature of life is development. If planning is established on static standards, it may become obsolete even before completion. Historically, the economies which were built on the planned economy model all became obsolete immediately after completion, and such phenomena were extremely common. Why were they wrong and obsolete in such a widespread way? Such plans are the result of stative thinking and stative methodology. Planning is an activity of futurist quality. But it shall be a theoretical and methodological mistake to describe the future as a stative entity. All policies or correct guidance should be the results of planning maths, and all planning maths are only correct when they are solved under dynamic planning methodology. It is essential that dynamic planning thoughts be considered as the basic thoughts for the establishment of directive economic viewpoints so as to give guidance in conformity with the law of development.
Along with reform in economic thoughts, underdeveloped countries should also reform their economic systems and economic forces. As I have analyzed in the book "Reforms and Development", however, these countries just pay much of their attention to the reform of their economic systems and little to the development of economic forces. Reform is just enough to make economic systems more progressive, but not enough to guarantee the development of the whole economy. In an age when competition has become a global demand, the development of economic forces is an indispensable or even the most essential issue. Developing economic forces is in fact developing economic competencies. The inspiration for the development of economic forces should be turned into the inspirations for the development of economic competencies. If only a few people change their economic viewpoints or thoughts while the whole society has no inspiration for changes, changes in the society are just insignificant. In order to create inspiration for the development of economic competencies, the society needs nothing better than freedom. Economic systems are just controlling tools, not freedom. The core of the process of developing economic forces is freedom, not adjusting tools which are just for supporting and ensuring economic freedom. Without political freedom, there cannot be a development of economic competencies. Therefore, in order to develop economic competence, there should be political liberalization in addition to economic liberalization, which means that a favorable political environment should be created for the development of economic forces.
2. Overcoming the Loss of Political Competence
Finding out the ways to overcome the loss of political competence is one of the most important tasks in the overall program of overcoming the loss of competencies on social scale. In order to acquire the competence of actively utilizing basic freedom rights for preparing competencies which correspond to the demand of the modern age, people are required to be politically competent. The task for underdeveloped countries is to overcome the loss of political competence since it is a precondition for the wrong preparation for competence of the society.
These countries should get rid of the monopolist political guidance of the state, which regards itself as the only entity to have the right to guide politics, and depriving the society of such a right, pushes the society to the state where its political competence is lost. We should not think that political guidance is the monopoly of the state. Political guidance is mainly the activity of civil society. If we define the state as the only political guide, we are making a great mistake. When the state appropriates civil life's right to guide politics, it becomes an egoistic political guide which just provides political guidance for itself, not for the progress of the society. Political guidance is the job of civil society and on the top of it is the formation of political tendencies, i.e. the formation of preconditions for political parties. When a political party takes rule, it is still significantly influenced by political negotiations among different tendencies. That is, the political guidance of the state is balanced by different political tendencies, not by a single tendency. Once becoming the ruling party, that political party should sacrifice its individual extremism. Each political message brought forward by such party is no longer its own property but a negotiated message. That is the reason why they mention the role of the state of law in which main political guidances are balanced through the formation of social commitments-laws. This means that the state only has legislated political messages and the state is responsible for changing or abolishing them when they are no longer appropriate to life. Non-ruling political parties are entitled to propagandize or directly guide politics, but the state is not. Undeveloped countries are the ones which go against this logic. As long as the state maintains its direct political guidance, other political guidances shall disappear, which means that the state overwhelms the society in such a way that the latter cannot develop or even dissolves. It is said that the society is like a cube and the state is a sphere located in such cube. No matter how much the state fills out, there are still free spaces in the right angles. I do not agree with this idea. We cannot argue that the society is forced into the free spaces in the angles to which the state cannot reach out. When the state swells out to its greatest extent, the society shall not shrink into the remaining space but instead it will deny the state and form another society. Then there will be two societies in a territory, one gathers around the interests of the state and the other takes no heed to the state and operates under no rules, i.e. a non-governmental society. The more the state encroaches, the greater the society formed out of the influence of the state and the anarchy in social life become and such are the signs of the disruption of the society. The society shall not nestle itself in the remaining space abandoned by the state. It is more exact to describe the society as a sphere and so is the state. If the inner sphere is so pumped that it even overwhelms the outer sphere, the air shall be pressed to a degree at which the society disappears. More freedom will bring better advantages for people and less freedom will bring better advantages for the state. That formula is not the author's but Plato's. Therefore, politically underdeveloped countries should essentially conduct political reform. The task of political reform is to establish basic freedom rights for people to actively utilize and turn them into the political competence of their own.
Political guidance is an essential task, especially for the future. It typically illustrates one's political activeness. People oppose the monopoly of the state in political guidance rather than refuse political guidance. The political guidance by the civil life is extremely important. That is the reason why after hundreds of years now, they still study about Kant, Nietzsche, etc, i.e. people are still searching for the factors to guide politics. Political guidance is an objective demand of individual life as well as community life. The future needs political guidance even more since people have no experience for future. It is not that we have just recently talked about the future or prospect zone. The future has long been an aspiration and a demand of the whole society and the study on the future of such states of development is of great importance. The future means everything for developing nations, especially underdeveloped ones in which people are 'pastists' rather than futurists. Being pastist when the country is underdeveloped is negative. The fact that the encouragement, maintenance and preservation of identity do not balance with the future-oriented aspiration is a negative expression. When people have a love for the future, initiatively design the future and hope for the future, they have the right to search for the past as a means to perceive future and this is a positive sign.
3. Overcoming the Loss of Cultural Competence
Culture is a spiritual environment and people cannot form their values on a poor and wrong spiritual environment. Therefore, it is essential to conduct cultural reforms so as to overcome the loss of cultural competence. The target of cultural reform is to recover the state of freedom for culture and return naturalism to culture. Cultural reform is not to impose cultural values but to make freedom the main technology to form cultural values. Without the freedom to formulate cultural values, culture is still an image drawn by the subjective will of a certain force. If such force is a complete and humane entity, perhaps the society shall not realize the negativity of such imposition. But as such political force starts to deteriorate, there shall be differences in life, which deform people's spiritual life at the greatest speed. Culture should be returned to natural life so as to give people the opportunity to recover their natural competencies. For that reason, no political force has the right to take advantage of their ruling position to promulgate and impose their individual viewpoints on cultural life.
should be not only natural but also open in order to overcome obsolescence. In
the book "Reforms and Development",
I have a concluded that cultural reform should create the openness for culture,
to make it an open system which can both reject out-of-date values and select
progressive cultural values from other communities in the world. The openness
of one culture shall boost its cooperative competencies with the others. There
has long existed the drift of different factors of different cultures to
different lands, which is a typical feature of global culture. The
Ensuring spiritual freedom rights for people to select their favorite cultural factors is one of the greatest works of diversifying spiritual life and that is the core of cultural reform. It creates the freedom to select cultural tendencies, cultural values, and cultural balances as well as creating the openness and attractiveness for culture, making culture the homeport for global cultural drift. New cultural factors will create national spiritual diversity and diversify the spiritual life of a nation, and that is one of the most important factors for the recovery of human cultural competencies in obsolete countries.
4. Educational Reform
It is clear that developing countries should no longer maintain obsolete education, the output of which are people whose competencies are incompatible with life’s demand. Together with economic, political and cultural reforms, underdeveloped countries should implement educational reforms synchronously. Education is an activity to help people find their own freedom zone in awareness activities, to provide initial techniques for awareness or propagate awareness methodologies on different aspects of social life. Without freedom, education shall become the cover of propagandism and deprive people of freedom. Without freedom, people shall fail to create a flexible responsive competence towards different situations in life and then they shall have no future at all. Therefore, the first and foremost target of educational reform is to reestablish the spirit of freedom in the formation of initial personalities. This means that the self-governance of education should be reestablished. The self-governance of education is an objective, essential and vital demand of all nations. The purpose of educational self-governance is to prevent politics from being so influential that it distorts the social naturalism of educational life. Creating self-governance or the independence of education from politics is creating the compatibility of education with future. If politics is allowed to bind education, there shall be no way for people to organize forces for the future and come to the future.
The task of education is to prepare future forces for the society. Therefore, another target of educational reform is to define a model for the future society and, on such a foundation, to orient human education and train comprehensively in both skills and personalities to meet the requirements of that society. Educational reform should point out what competencies the future society needs and equip people with appropriate competencies. In order to prepare competencies for people, the society needs to bear in mind that the goal of education is to equip people with abilities, knowledge and inspiration to live in even unfamiliar spiritual spaces and to develop in their unfamiliarity with other spaces. Humanity in general is still mistaken when only orienting people in the familiar space of their spiritual life, i.e. people are just trained to be competent enough to live in and to exploit their familiar spiritual spaces. I realized a warning when watching the film "The Gods Must Be Crazy": People have been trained just to become fish out of water once they get out of their familiar environment. Therefore, in order to generate people who can get accustomed to different spiritual spaces, educational environment should be a place which generates and preserves the diversity in social awareness; in other words, it should be a nursery garden for the competencies of the society. Good education should be diverse and close to life and always compatible with the demands of life, and its output should be the people who always have the demand and the competencies to respond to changes of life.
Another target of educational reform which is of equal importance is the socialization of education. Education is an aspect of social life. It has been mistaken that school is the unique means of education. I do not suppose so. It is neither unique nor the best means. School is the destination for social factors in order to create educational products, not the birthplace of the factors generating education. It is the same as factories which are the destined places for energy, workers, materials and design, etc. The greater the globalization is, the more people realize that educational reform is in fact social reform since the society should anticipate their human targets. Educational reform is not a way of using education to impose on the society or to use the society by setting impositions on education. It is the creation of communication between society and education since education should correspond to the requirements of the society and reflect the real situation of the society. Educational reform should vitalize the society to stimulate and nurture human development and in doing so thus provide spiritual encouragement, material supplies and a legally controlled educational output -- that is to say, human competencies. Thus, the socialization of education involves the preparation of bricks from the current resources to build the future house.
IV. CORRUPTION - AN ISSUE OF CIVIL LIFE
1. A Reconceptualization of the Relationship between Corruption and Civil Life
It has been long believed that the party affected in all corruption cases is the state, so corruption has always been regarded as a criminal issue. Therefore, all court judgments on corruption use the term “corrupt or embezzle the State's assets". Regarding the ownership issue, however, the State has no property. The state only controls national assets, or controls the reserve of assets accumulated by the society. Where do such assets come from? They are contributed by taxes paid by the people and other incomes provided by the society and via loans. Governmental officials mistakenly think that loaned capitals such as ODA is owned by the state because the state arranges the borrowing. But who pay the loan? They commend the borrowing role of the state forgetting the loan-repayment role of the people and the society. Foreign investment capital is another inflow the payee of which is also the society. The government still calls for foreign investment, forgetting that foreign investment, when transferred into a country, shall become that country's debt, since only about 30% of the capital is owned by the investors and the remaining 70% is borrowed. A foreign-invested enterprise is still a domestic one, and an enterprise whose business structure is 70% domestic means that country is indebted. Foreign investment does not mean that we are not responsible for debts. The Government may not be responsible for it but the society must be. When corruption occurs during the management and the use of such borrowed capitals, people believe that the affected party is the state, forgetting that the state only represents the people to borrow capitals, and the state uses people's reserve of assets for investment. The affected in all corruption cases is the people. Therefore, the term "corruption involving the state's assets" should be replaced by a more accurate term "corruption involving the people's assets managed by the state".
From a political aspect, we can see that in politically-underdeveloped countries where the civil society does not exist, there is no voice of the civil society towards this popular phenomenon of civil life which we call corruption. Those societies lack real non-governmental organizations, and the current available organizations are, in actuality, simply the lengthened arms of the state, and hence there are not plaintiffs which are civil organizations. The root reason is that in such countries, the state is not an outcome of people's election, so it plays the role of a ruler, not as an administrator. Therefore, the prosecution organs lose their civil meaning right within the prosecution process. Simply put, a state which is not representative of its people cannot be capable of representing its people. Such states always wrongly describe the aspirations of the society. The fact that the society gets upset realizing that it is the sufferer of all corruption cases should be considered as an issue of civil life, not a criminal or individual issue of the state. The criminalization of all social issues is a common approach of non-democratic states. When directing civil attention to corruption issues towards criminal attention, the state has become corrupt on a strategic level, i.e. the state has appropriated people's power. In poor countries, the first step to handle corruption at an instinctual level is to control assets. If assets are well controlled, stealing shall lessen. Each person should become the guard of their own assets and possessions and it is a bad fortune if someone does not have the right or is not competent enough to guard or protect their own assets, or if he or she has no assets to safeguard. The matter of politically-obsolete countries is that people do not have the right to create another government, thus all of their rights are limited. If people want to guard their assets but they do not have right to discharge a specific corrupter, they are standing outside politics. As a result, that country will become the property of political groups. Political groups turn their country into their own property by using extremely simple terms such as "corruption is stealing the state's assets". In such a manner, they prevent a negative phenomenon by affirming a more negative one, that being the appropriation of people's ownership of their own country. That is the highest manifestation of corruption, i.e. corruption of the people's power.
2. The Role of the State and the People in Anti-Corruption
Governments are making attempts to orient all relationships to criminal concept in order to achieve the highest power in punishing some entities. So, it is the state that prevents corruption, not its people. People only participate as tools off the state, which means that people are not the subject in anticorruption. All activities at state level should be based on theoretical foundation and the state should the most regular supervisor of the changes in theories since, as a driver of the national train among countless opportunities and risks, it should know where to stop to catch the opportunity and where to get through fast. It is wrong to think that a Prime Minister with immediate actions is an active prime minister. There are routes which need to run fast but some need to run at medium speed. It will be dangerous for a country if the prime minister drives the train fast in every situation. Getting too deeply involved in the criminal process of corruption prevention can be a danger for a country because it can create an extremely profound social division and unnecessarily sow hatred, while the basic requirement of a development is cooperation. Moreover, it even instructs hooked-up channels: due to the need for cooperation, people are obliged to associate with all forces to earn profits and bad-willed forces shall specifically be instructed to avoid traps. Criminalization of anticorruption means that we are training the society to acquire the competence to prevent corruption. Therefore, it should be affirmed that corruption is by nature an issue of civil life. Thus, the state is not the subject of anticorruption. The state comes into being to manage and assist civil life. Therefore, it should clearly be defined that the subject of anticorruption is the people, and the state has the duty to implement such task under the people's spirit.
means unifying the society on political, social and moral aspects. In order to
do this, the society should concentrate all civil strength in the corruption
issue, i.e. turning corruption issue into an issue of civil life.
Anticorruption cannot be effective if it is the idea of the state, implemented,
controlled and evaluated by the state. So what should people do to prevent
corruption? People should set up their own social action program on
anticorruption, the most important content of which should be equipping people
with the competencies which are suitable with requirements and demand. This is
a basic and long-term task. The second task is to supervise political
behaviors, which is an essential process to supervise a professional phase of the
corruption phenomenon. The most effective way for people to supervise political
behaviors is by way of regime, and no regime is better than a democratic one in
this sense. Since only a democratic regime can create effective a supervision
mechanism for people. i.e. only democracy can offer favorable conditions for
the society to get involved in political management and political guidance. In
non-democratic regimes, the society does not have the right to supervise
political behaviors but only has the duty to contribute ideas to politicians.
It should not be mistaken between the right to supervise politics and the duty
to contribute ideas to the political system. Turning people's natural rights
into their duties is one of the most incorrect of political guidances.
Therefore, it should concretely be defined that only a democratic regime can
become a regime for people's anticorruption. With such a regime, people can
prevent corruption by way of displacing the government if it is corrupt or
pressuring the government to discharge corrupters. Even in unprofessional
democracies such as
V. ENHANCING PEOPLE'S COMPETENCIES
1. Overcoming the Difference between Competencies and Demand by Enhancing the Competencies of the Labor Force
Overcoming the loss of competence of the society is just an initial step to enable people to recover their ordinary competencies in life, but still not enough to prevent corruption. If we only consider corruption as a social phenomenon without analyzing the spiritual life of each individual and the conflicts inside each individual, the math of corruption cannot be solved. We should pay attention to the difference in degree between corruption on a social scale and corruption on an individual level. In other words, the difference should be drawn between two states of incompatibility of competencies. It is necessary to observe these two phenomena in parallel: one is a category of social life and one is a category within an individual. As analyzed in the first part, the incompatibility between competence and demand shall lead to corruption and it is also a manifestation of the incompatibility of competencies. However, this incompatibility is of different degree and in order to solve it people are required to enhance their competencies.
If the corruption due to the loss of competence on social scale is referred to as a cheating due to the failure to provide true services, the corruption which occurs in the second case is not a mere cheating but is an immorality. The immorality due to the difference between competencies and demand is much different from the immorality in the layer of competence inadequacy of the society. Immorality in the layer of the difference between competencies and demand is a result of irresponsibility and unawareness of the equality which people need to have to become an honest person. For example, if one has an important status and wants to maintain that position to enjoy the benefits from it while one’s competence is not compatible with that position. It is unequal and dishonest. Honesty means balancing between the competence and the demand of each individual. Failure to set up a process to search for the balance in each behavior of daily life means that people cannot be honest.
In nature, this kind of corruption is also a result of inadequate competence, but at higher level, i.e. people fail to conform their sense of responsibility to the requirements for the position they have been appointed to by the society. Therefore, the matter of concern here is that when people have recovered their ordinary competencies they should continue to enhance their competencies to avoid another incompatibility of competence at another degree. This is the task of each individual as well as of the whole society. In order to balance between competence and demand, each individual should enhance his/her competencies to create a compatibility between the competence to contribute and the demand for benefits. For example, an incompetent minister is corrupt if he still maintains his position. There are two ways to settle this issue. The society can dismiss him as a minister or let him to make his own decision to resign as a result of his lack of self-improvement. The settlement of this phenomenon is the task of not only individuals but also of the society since due to the natural attractiveness of power, it is in fact not easy for people to refuse power, high status or benefits. Therefore, the society should also establish the compatibility between competencies and duties in order to make appropriate choices when assigning any position or duties to any individuals.
2. Protecting Spiritual Diversity – A Basic Condition for Maintaining and Enhancing Competencies
Solving the imbalance of competence is always the protection of human spiritual diversity. The concept "spiritual diversity" has repeatedly been mentioned in my researches on humankind. I always call for spiritual diversity because it is the nursery garden for different competencies and there shall come the moment when every competence has its own opportunity. In other words, people always have appropriate competencies for each opportunity. That is the strength of "spiritual diversity". We should strictly protect the diversity of spiritual life in the same way we protect the biological diversity of natural life since spiritual life is also an expression of nature. I have once stated that objective externalities all have reflections in people's spiritual life. The more people interact and the more experienced they are, the more diverse the zone of reflections becomes. Spiritual diversity reflects the respect for natural diversity and increases the diversity of living entities in natural life. Any intention to turn people's spiritual life into a unique one by any ideological tools is inhumane in all senses and it is against development.
The maintenance and development of human
spiritual diversity is a math which is revolutionary to the maintenance and
development of life. It is impossible to attach the human soul with competencies
of which it has no prior notion. It shall be unsuccessful in all ways and
costly. No country has more advantages than
In order to protect spiritual diversity we cannot go without freedom or democracy. First, we should create a society of freedom. Only a free society can offer many opportunities for interaction which alert each individual about the incompatibility of their competencies. Without interactions, people shall lack the competencies to realize, evaluate and to compare. In other words, people lack the experience for action. The lack of freedom results in the lack of competencies which are responsive to the demand of the modern age and people cannot realize the slow development of their own competencies. I have come to a conclusion that "No development comes before freedom is established". When the society has no freedom, it shall fail to determine a right development for itself; thus lies the primary reason why people request freedom. Freedom is no longer a political right but the right of development. Every competence converges to the concept "freedom" and only freedom can solve the loss of competence or the incompatibility between competencies and the demand of development at all degrees. It is impossible to teach people how to prepare competencies, in fact, even schools can only serve as a guide. Schools are also incapable of such teaching since productive competence and working competence in our time are the creative competence rather than the competence to repeat what have been instructed. Therefore, freedom gives birth to modern development since it creates creative competence -- the working competence of modern times. In the global competition to most effectively utilize the whole source of competencies of humanity, people are required to be creative. And creation is the most important guidance for the quality of competition. Secondly, there should be a democratic regime. People can train or invest in themselves under certain freedom tendencies but in a non-democratic regime such freedom is only temporary. Such freedom can be accepted today but may be forbidden one month later, i.e. the states and the spaces for rights in a non-democratic society are unstable. Such instability results in a sort of dephasing of people's awareness and accumulation of experience. Therefore, democracy is needed to ensure the stability of freedom.
Policies in which human entities are objects are all incorrect. Talking about human beings means talking about competencies since competencies create people's values. The society has the duty to mend people's defects and assist them in reaching the most prosperous state of competence. In order to achieve this, the first thing to be done is to teach and to educate the people in such a way as to assist them in awareness and suggest the future necessities to overcome. That is the extension of the concept "freedom". Extending the concept of freedom is of great importance to the development of the society.
V. PREVENTING CORRUPTION IS SOLVING THE ISSUE OF DEVELOPMENT
1. The Drift of Competence Flows in an Age of
Globalization - An
Solving the math of corruption in underdeveloped countries is by nature solving the issue of development since underdevelopment occurs in all aspects and all constituents of a society. The slow development of politics, economy, culture and educational organization results in the incompatibility of competencies. The untruthful provision of competencies, or competencies' failure to generate added value, in turn drives back the development of the society. It is clear that the society cannot grow materially because it does not generate added values, but also downgrades spiritually since it creates the loss of prestige, mutual respect, honor and especially the loss of direction towards future. In the present context of the world, globalization is an opportunity and a fortune for underdeveloped countries to solve this issue.
in the world, it can be seen that the flows of competencies are shifting all
over the world day by day. In an age of globalization, people can physically
shift to other countries, which enables emigration flows. Emigration flows are
people's escape from the binding of the nation. They do not result from of
states' expansion but from global pressure. People move to the places which
offer better opportunities for doing business, and money is transferred to the
places where lower taxes are charged. These emigration flows are the flows of competencies
and the sources of competencies since human is not a mere biological concept
but a combination of competence sources. For example, finance is a source of
competence belonging to humankind. People may sit in one place while their
money and assets may be in
2. Creating Political Attractiveness to Lure Competence Flows - An Escape for Underdeveloped Countries
An escape for
underdeveloped countries to make up for their deficiency of competencies in the
context of globalization is to create political attractiveness to lure inward competence
flows. Developing competencies means attracting different sources of competencies
to a territory and fully utilizing them. Without resources, technology, and
adequate competencies, human beings are just unalive entities in economic and
development viewpoints. Therefore, underdeveloped countries should create
political attractiveness to lure the competencies it lacks. For example, we in
Undeveloped countries, rather than anything else, should be aware that the free shift of competence flows on a global level is an ideal for political development all over the world, and that is a pre-condition for the theory of saving global life resources. Resources shall flow to the places where they can be best utilized in the most cost-effective way. Saving on a global level is creating the freedom of shifting for all competence flows. In the free shift of competence flows, there are inflows and outflows. For example, the export of experts and laborers are competence outflows. For highly populous nations, the outflows of human resources have become a demand and it is a positive sign. If the society shall obtain greater economic effectiveness if it turns the outflows of such human resources into the outflows of high quality human resources. Labor export is simply a natural outflow; however, the export of experts is an unnatural one, it is an invested outflow. Therefore, the society should base on the operational law of the natural life to create the attractiveness for investment flows. No one wishes to attract worthless competence flows. Thus, competence flows should be invested to become attractive, and political spaces in return should also be attractive enough to lure such competence flows. Therefore, we should build political spaces which are responsive to the requirements of the natural development of each territory. In other words, we should match territories with appropriate political space. Since competence flows shift between political spaces, we can measure the degree of development of such political spaces. The theory that "Freedom is the origin of development” has clearly been affirmed in this global process. Without freedom, there shall not be a flexible shift of competence flows and competence flows shall not be imported, as there are not enough modern factors to make such flows attractive. The attractiveness of competence flows is a result of social investment, and the political attractiveness to draw competence flows is a task resting with the state. As for me, political attractiveness includes every factor. A good court system, a good legal system, a good knowledge system and a good educational system all create political attractiveness. Political attractiveness is the current quality of all good and prospective sources of competencies.
It should be defined clearly here that the target of
political attractiveness is not merely creating attractiveness of competence
sources. The core of the study on
development is human beings and their happiness.
3. Balancing the World or Letting the World Balance Itself?
issue posed for developing countries in the context of a global shift is how to
avoid disadvantages in other development relationships. In the context of our
study, we cannot do anything beyond our ability. We are still confused about
what to do to balance the world. In no way can we balance the world
immediately. In other words, we should let the world balance itself. During the
self-balance of the world, competencies, especially political competencies,
shall come naturally at different speeds. The world shall draw the outflows of
simple labor from developing countries and return to us greater competencies;
business trip in the Vietnamese city of
The state of absolute relaxation should
be further discussed here. Absolute relaxation does not mean passiveness. All
rulers hold their powers via available forces. The invasion of different
sources of competencies and energy has made the old ruling competence obsolete
or, at the very least, severely weakened in value. Therefore, the rulers have
different reactions under different forms and at different degrees towards
globalization, not only in developing countries but also in the advanced
nations; for example, an anti-globalization sentiment is also existent in
The root of the opposition against globalization from the rulers or benefit-holding forces is the protection of their conservatism or prejudices. Such rulers do not understand that the replacements for what they are holding shall be suitable with the tendency of development, that being the twin positive forces of potential and opportunity. Potential and opportunity combine to create a spiritual escape which humankind should have. Without awareness of potential and opportunity, people dare not sacrifice short-term benefits and thus they cannot develop. And development is in conformity with the natural tendencies of life.
Society member Mr. Nguyen Tran Bat graduated from
From 1963 until 1975, Mr. Bat served in the army as soldier and Construction Engineer. After 1975 he held positions at the Institute for Transport Science Research, the State Committee for Capital Construction, the National Office on Inventions under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, and from 1987-89 he served as Deputy Director of the Bureau for Promotion and Development of Industrial Properties Activities.
Mr. Bat is Chairman and General Director of the Investconsult Investment
Consultancy and Technology Transfer Company, under the
Bat is a member of the Executive Board of the Club for Enterprises with Foreign
Investment Capital and is a member of the Australian Economic Development
Committee, the Board of Directors of Beta Mekong Fund Ltd., the Vietnam
Engineering Consultants Association, and the Nam Dinh Bar Association; he is
the Director of International Affairs of Hanoi Lawyers' Association and Vice Chairman
of the Vietnam Industrial Property Association. Mr. Bat is a well-known speaker
at many important forums and seminars concerning Vietnamese development issues
at home and abroad. In his free time, he enjoys studying foreign cultures,
religion, philosophy, reading and economics.
Mr. Nguyen Tran Bat was a Featured Speaker at the 2003 International BWW
Conference in Malaga,
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