Understanding The Depth Of Impacts Of Corruption
During this time the anti-corruption movement in Indonesia and the world adheres to the rationalist approach. Supporters of this approach believe that the existence of democracy, organizational culture and good governance developed in Western countries can suppress corruption. This approach also sees corruption as a moral problem in society.
But the construction of the meaning of “corruption” of this kind needs to be scrutinized. As the World Anti-Corruption Day commemorates on December 9, we need to criticize the dominant voice in defining corruption and how anticorruption is then articulated into a movement.
Scandals such as Paradise Papers , and earlier Panama Papers , as well as the Enron and Unaoil cases , show that countries deemed to have more mature democracy, culture, work ethic, and best governance are not immune from corrupt behavior.
The economist Jeffrey Sachs calls for, if the world wants to be free from corruption, start with Britain and the United States, because they also have a “culture of corruption” by letting corruption happen blatantly. The existence of a legal tax haven essentially makes it easy for the rich to avoid paying taxes.
Global anticorruption movements often face difficulties in encouraging behavioral change. The reason, the global anticorruption movement is too dominated by the ideas of the anti-corruption elite from the Western countries. This dominance tends to marginalize the voices of those most affected by the movement, the marginalized.
For David Kennedy , Harvard Law Professor, the concept of anticorruption is more appropriately seen as a tool to control those who play outside the agreement of the ruling parties.
Anticorruption also creates a stigma against local economic and political systems that are different from those of Western economies. The stigma that the local economic and political system is inferior to Western systems and politics, according to Kennedy, has an impact on the increasingly unbalanced forces between countries in the world.
Kennedy also criticized anti-corruption practices that view corruption as an acute moral problem that infects all sectors and layers in society. How to view corruption as a moral problem ignores the condition of post-colonial societies such as Indonesia that can not be separated from the historical context, the process of changing the political, economic, and social cultural system.
Kennedy’s opinion is in line with the thoughts of Kartini , an Indonesian female character during the Dutch occupation. He revealed the same thing when he wrote down how corruption that existed in his day was a combination of economic pressure, a system of government that was far from ideal and societal expectations of society.
The same challenge is still faced by Indonesia in the present. As the World Bank reported , the poverty slowdown slowed while economic inequality widened. On the other hand, public sector management still has a lot of homework that can not easily be attributed to individual morality.
Globally anti-corruption has become an industry worth more than US $ 5 billion . Seminars and workshops related to anticorruption and governance are held not only in Indonesia but also in various parts of the world.
Various treaties and conventions have been born such as the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention and Protocol on Corruption , the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption , the UN Convention Against Corruption , and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
At the organizational level-public and private-has also attended various anti-corruption instruments in the form of educational curriculum, various modules, pocket books, to children’s games .
In 2001 Tara Polzer wrote a global anticorruption movement fronted by international bodies such as the World Bank and International Transparency that could not be separated from the decisions of leaders in related bodies and the conditions of world politics in the late 1990s.
The World Bank, whose function is to raise funds from developed countries to finance the development of poor and developing countries, was then pressed by donor-developed countries in connection with the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s. Donor countries highlight corruption by political elites in developing countries and want their funds to be managed in a way that is accountable.
This impacts on the Bank’s strategy change. The body then goes into the realm of corruption eradication in borrowing countries, something that was originally regarded as a domestic political domain and off limits to the international financial institution.
The anticorruption movement was so enthusiastic that it was launched, without a critical attitude, as a movement targeting the values of societyand the overall state management system that was considered “primitive” or “distorted”.
On the other hand, anticorruption is often the wrong target. For example, in cases of corruption related to the procurement of goods and services the spirit of anticorruption precisely leads to the criminalization of things that are not sufficient conditions to be classified as acts of corruption.
The need for an alternative approach
Recognizing the above weaknesses, alternative approaches have emerged aimed at understanding how corruption is interpreted by related individuals, no longer from the “outsider” perspective.
For example, ethnographic studies in Russia explore how Blat’s practice of categorizing nepotism by anticorruption movements is seen as an ordinary social relationship and even an important part of the identity of local people, with no nuances of moral decline in it. Furthermore, Blat’s practice as an unwritten rule proves to have its own mechanism for covering ineffectiveness of written regulations.
Meanwhile, corruption studies in Tanzania reveal that the anti-corruption movement has spawned a variety of laws and regulations that are conceptually aimed at encouraging the emancipation of a weak society. However, this anti-corruption legislation at the same time suppressed the weak community. Precisely through the practices commonly called corruption, marginalized communities gain access to public services and enjoy re-distribution of income. This is similar to the existence of “tired money” and “cigarette money” in Indonesia.
My dissertation also reveals the similarity that the global anticorruption movement tends to ignore the alternative meaning that is so strongly rooted in the identity of related individuals. Giving money or objects as a “sign of gratitude” that is considered corruption by the anti-corruption movement, in the community many interpreted as the embodiment of repayment and sense of social responsibility.
The phenomenon of corruption needs to be understood contextually. Corruption at the bureaucratic level in the context of a transition society is seen as a growing pains , a growing pain that will disappear as education and equity increase.
Currently a handful of rationalist approaches are also starting to question the notion that corruption is bad for growth. Some countries that do not have the ideal governance grow because of “corruption” . In some Asia Pacific countries , “corruption” is good for economic growth.
These findings need not be seen as a defense against corruption, but rather as a record that every economy has different growth mechanisms. Corruption that is often seen as a growth barrier can be addressed through the formulation of problems and the elaboration of more context-sensitive solutions.
Corruption as a social construction
Sociologist Mark Granovetter writes that the so-called corruption and not corruption depends on the position and interests of the individual concerned.
Corruption has subjective meanings that are vulnerable to conflict with official definitions. This demands the opening of space on alternative meaning because it is often the alternative meaning that is a stumbling block in the application of anti-corruption instruments in many situations. The terms “transport money”, “sustenance”, to “infak”, need to be interpreted from the perspective of related individuals so that resonant solutions can be achieved.
One strategy that can be done is to recognize the existence of meaning and then think about how to manage it atentif, not dismisif. Various acts currently classified in large baskets of “corruption” need to be sorted out and recognized root cause and solution separately by looking at the economic, socio-cultural context of the act.
Contextualization of anti-corruption is not an attempt to defend corruption, but an attempt to enhance the sense of ownership and effectiveness of the movement. Indonesia as part of Third World society needs to observe the adoption of universal concepts in order not to create new social problems by alienating its own identity in order to fight for abstract ideas that are not based on the values of community life such as reciprocity and interdependence .
This effort may be seen as a radical or even strange approach to reformulating the anti-corruption movement. However, an oddity is not to be feared as long as it has a strong and legitimated base of thought. More importantly, this effort aims to prevent anticorruption from becoming an empty slogan that has no real impact on everyday behavior.