Evolutionary Benefits of Corruption

Both relentless competition between countries and insider power struggle destroy weak governments and preserve strong and powerful ones.  In most all modern states, we see corruption is present in larger or smaller degree.  This could be an argument that after several thousand years of wars and survival, selection preserved systems that have some viable advantages over other systems that died and long gone.

Let’s first close the moral side of the problem.  This article in no way justifies the corruption.  Instead, author is driven by desire to replace an endless frustration with a rational analysis.  Corruption is bad and dangerous phenomenon, but why it perseveres?

In any system – democratic or tyrannical – there are small and powerful private interests that can concentrate efforts and achieve success in a battle with very large, but unorganized general majority.  In other words, small group of people is very highly motivated to demand favorable decision, because it will bring a significant benefit to the small group and it will cause only a very minor setback to public in general.  There is no good or bad label here.  This is a universal rule that we need to remember each time when we encountering a group that loudly (or quietly, but very aggressively) demanding a solution in its favor.


Benefits of Corruption


Let also remember that any private group have only two major routes of achieving its goals: either gain access to a top decision-maker or engaging in power struggle with current decision-makers. Any combination of these two extreme tactics is also possible.

Now, based on these simple notions, let’s proceed to examine potential evolutionary benefits of corruption.


What is Corruption?

Corruption is a flow of money from private groups directly into public decision-maker pockets. These monies potentially can go around the Government to fight the system.  Instead, these monies are working along with the system, using the system to achieve desirable results.

Corruption is a form of conflict resolution.  Political power is the concentrated form of conflict resolution, and corruption lubricates the decision-making process and sways the bias towards contributing groups.


Potential Benefits of Corruption

Two potential benefits of corruption are strengthening the Government and facilitating decision-making procedure.

Corruption makes Government stronger

Corruption is a sign of strong Government.  Corruption indicates that it is more beneficial to connect with officials and give them money rather than fight the government of the streets.  Corruption indicates the strong Government and serves to further strengthen the Government. If many private groups are working with Government to achieve their goals, all these groups are invested in current Government and are interested in its preservation and stability.

Corruption helps with decision-making

Private groups bring to decision-maker attention the most pressing needs, and very often the ready steps that they are advocating. That allows politicians to better understand the urgency of the requests and potential problems in trying to circumvent the decision.


Corruption on International Scale

As Government grows in strength ad influence more and more foreign dignitaries “flock to the throne” and test their luck with large sums of money in exchange for small favors.  In this case the probability that interests of foreign entity are in conflict with national interests of the bribed country are much higher.  In very many cases corruption on this level changes it color from facilitated decision making into betrayal and treason.



Social evolution favored systems with moderate degree of corruption compared to systems were conflict of interest is mostly resolved through destructive power struggle.  If only we can slightly improve the system and create a kind of open private bidding system that would show both politicians and public how much money competing camps are willing to put on the table to resolve the conflict.  Yes. Let money do the talking, but public needs to know how much this “conversation” will cost and how much detriment to public interests it will cause. Only slow evolutionary process can discover the right solution, but nothing stopping us from visualizing what such system would look like.  For example, top elected public officials would use an auditable account were private interest can deposit their contributions.  Motivation to arrive to an optimal solution could be achieved if ministers can draw their salary or bonuses from this account, but show the public the benefits and negative effects of legislative initiatives.  Such system will take a working evolutionary process – corruption, and try to utilize it to everybody’s advantage.

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