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Kleptocracy

From Academic Kids

Kleptocracy (sometimes Cleptocracy) (root: Klepto+cracy = rule by thieves) is a pejorative, informal term for a government so corrupt that no pretense of honesty remains. In a kleptocracy the mechanisms of government are almost entirely devoted to taxing the public at large in order to amass substantial personal fortunes for the rulers and their cronies (collectively, kleptocrats), or to keep said rulers in power. Kleptocrats typically use money laundering and/or anonymous banking to protect and conceal their illegal gains.

Kleptocracies are by and large dictatorships or some other form of autocratic government since democracy or other civilized forms of government makes thievery more difficult to accomplish and conceal. Kleptocratic states consistently tend to be politically and socially unstable, while being stably kleptocratic. That is, the political governance of such states typically consists of one set of thieves displacing their predecessors by subversive or violent means.

The economies of kleptocracies tend to perform badly, as the systematic corruption engendered by kleptocratic governance imposes a massive tax on enterprises. Kleptocrats realize that they have more to gain from taking a large share of a stable or shrinking pie than from a shrinking share of an increasing pie. Economies based on the extraction of natural resources (eg. diamonds and oil in a few prominent cases) can be particularly prone to kleptocracy, as the kleptocrats simply tax the Ricardian rent. Historically, the socio-political environment associated with colonial rule - in particular the dominance of colonial economies by a small number of commodities - has been particularly conducive to the later creation of kleptocracies, especially in Africa and South America.

The creation of a kleptocracy typically results in many years of general hardship and suffering for the vast majority of citizens as civil society and the rule of law distintegrates. In addition, kleptocrats routinely ignore economic and social problems in their quest to amass ever more wealth. As kleptocrats do not attempt to build or maintain functioning states, or even maintain large security forces for fear of coups d'état, kleptocracies are generally incompetent in the face of social crises, and often collapse into prolonged civil war and anarchy.

Some observers use the term 'kleptocracy' to disparage political processes which permit corporations to influence political policy. Ralph Nader called the United States a kleptocracy in this sense of the word during the 2000 US presidential campaign. A more accurate term for this influence over a state is plutocracy.

Transparency International ranking

In early 2004, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International released a list of what it believes to be the ten most self-enriching leaders in recent years. [1] (http://www.laksamana.net/vnews.cfm?ncat=25&news_id=6841) In order of amount allegedly stolen, they are:

  1. former Indonesian President Suharto (USD 15 billion – $35 billion)
  2. former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos ($5 billion – $10 billion)
  3. former Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko ($5 billion)
  4. former Nigerian President Sani Abacha ($2 billion – $5 billion)
  5. former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević ($1 billion)
  6. former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier ($300 million – $800 million)
  7. former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori ($600 million)
  8. former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko ($114 million – $200 million)
  9. former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán ($100 million)
  10. former Philippine President Joseph Estrada ($78 million – $80 million)

See also

de:Kleptokratie it:Cleptocrazia pl:Kleptokracja sv:Kleptokrati

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