Fukuyama on corruption


In reviewing Francis Fukuyama’s 2014 book Political Order and Political Decay for this edition of PortVitoria I distilled the important concepts contained in it. I was especially drawn to the subject of corruption, which according with Fukuyama stands on the way of political development, a reducer of inequality. Fukuyama shows the many other forms of government corruption apart from the direct kind, which he classifies into two types: rents and clientelism. He explains that although a ‘rent’ is not necessarily a corruption, since it simply means any special gain derived from a situation of scarcity, it becomes a form of corruption when resulting from an abuse of government power. Governments can be extremely creative in generating scarcities in order to collect rents, says Fukuyama. As for clientelism, Fukuyama defines it as the reciprocal exchange of favours between two parties: the ‘patron’ and the ‘client’. A further concept that caught my attention is ‘political trust’, which to Fukuyama is a kind of social capital and the most important intangible factor for good political functioning. There are lower and higher trust societies, and the latter has many advantages over the former, especially a functioning Rule of Law. A further idea that Fukuyama tries to inculcate is that each country has its own pattern of political order and democracy and therefore must find the solutions to its own problems.

There are many other interesting features for our readers in this current edition such as José de Ortega y Gasset’s The Coming of the Masses, which is the first chapter of his seminal 1930 book The Revolt of the Masses. My own essay (Knowledge of the Individual) quotes Ortega, namely his vision that people in the nineteenth century regarded the knowledge held by the minority with greater sensibility than the people of early twentieth century. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one who has helped PortVitoria over the past five years and to ask for your continued support with contributions, ideas and further promoting PortVitoria among all Lusophone and Hispanophone peoples around the world.
Jan 2015

Pires-O’Brien, J. Fukuyama on corruption. Editorial. PortVitoria, UK, v.10, Jan-Jun, 2015. ISSN 2044-8236.