News & Views 2
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The news that there has been corruption at a high level in the EU will have shocked no-one except the most ignorant and credulous. It is endemic in the capitalist system for large organisations to become corrupt.
We’ve heard of corruption in police forces, in domestic international sports and culture boards, even in management of charities and, of course, in governments. Those high places occupied by elites bring to their occupants a sense of entitlement beyond even the usual rewards.
WHICH CULPRIT STATE – OR STATES?
When the news first began to break, the reports were saying that the responsible state was unknown, though some speculated on Qatar. We certainly knew was that it wasn’t Israel, since that state gets access to the EU and other bodies without difficulty – but that’s political corruption, which is different.
The speculation is now solidifying around Qatar as the foreign power buying influence but increasingly Morocco is getting mentioned too. What results exactly Qatar is trying to buy is not clear at the moment and the same can be said for Morocco.
The latter state has been trying to normalise its occupation of Western Sahara despite Saharawi political and guerrilla resistance and the EU agreed to exploit Saharawi natural resources as “Moroccan” – until the EU Court of Justice ruled that agreement illegal last year.
Difficult to see what other gain Morocco can get from EU politicians with regard to Western Sahara – unless it’s going to buy some judges which, if it could, it would surely have done before now.
Meanwhile the USA has recognised Moroccan occupation in exchange for its recognition of Israel1.
“UNDERMINING EU DEMOCRACY”
Among the expressions of concern and shock that were expressed from within the EU was the amusing one that the corruption was in danger of undermining democracy in the EU, which would presuppose that the organisation is a democratic one.
Some years ago, the Ministers of Labour of each member of the EU voted to extend the working age before pension entitlement. Of course, that was unanimous and therefore democratic – except that not a single one of those ministers took the question to their own electorate.
Of course not, knowing that the vote would be a resounding NO. Already too many people die before receiving their pension and those statistics are worse as one goes ‘down’ the social scale to manual workers and people in the ‘lower’ social groups2.
CONCERN ABOUT LOBBYING
It was also amusing to see the concern about money being spent on lobbying, which ALL big capitalist companies do – anywhere they hope to reap benefits, the EU being one of them. In 2017, Google spent nearly $ 7 million on lobbying in the EU, Microsoft tipping on $6 million.
But in lobbying terms, these sums would be considered small.
In the USA, an estimated 3.73 billion U.S. dollars was spent in 2019 -an increase from the 3.53 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 on lobbying its parliament, the House of Representatives.3
Much larger quid pro quo arrangements are made gaining access to markets and facilities through USA state politicians or, in the EU, through individual national states.
Irish politicians may for example offer a good factory site in Ireland, low tax, rent-free years, tax evasion in the company’s home state and of course access to an English-speaking highly-educated workforce. Would those politicians then vote against the company in the EU?
Since just about everything except air (so far) is a market commodity under capitalism, which is the world system, can it ever be possible to eradicate corruption anywhere in the world? It cannot and legislators know this; they seek merely to control it at an “acceptable” level.
Which means that even a socialist country is going to have corruption as long as it exists in a capitalist world.
CORRUPTION IN CURRENT AND PROSPECTIVE EU STATES
Finally, discussing corruption and the EU reminds us that some European states have been criticised by the EU higher circles because of their endemic corruption. One of those is Hungary, which of course rejoiced in the ongoing scandal, declaring that the EU is no position to lecture them.
But it should remind us too that some years ago another European state was judged more corrupt than Hungary – in fact the most corrupt state in Europe. That was the Ukraine, whether under the control of pro-Western or pro-Russian oligarchs.
One of Zelensky’s election platform positions to depose Petro Poroshenko, the West’s choice for Ukranian President in the 2014 coup was to be anti-corruption. Has he cleaned up Ukraine? Hard to say since he controls the media and the opposition groups and individuals are banned or in jail.
But on the other hand, we do know from a number of sources that large amounts of western arms supplied to the Ukrainian regime are believed to be finding their way on to the black market. Yet opposition to Ukraine’s membership of the EU has suddenly melted away.
Which might be an appropriate point at which to remind ourselves again that there is another kind of corruption, other than financial, usually linked to the latter but not always directly — and that’s political corruption.
Corruption is inevitable in fruits of the system because the very seed is contaminated.
1One of Trump’s last decisions on his way out in 2020 but not rescinded by Biden.
2 “Research for former pensions minister Malcolm Wicks has shown that 19% of men from the lowest social classes, including cleaners and manual labourers, die before the age of 65 compared to just 7% of men from the highest social group. It also highlighted that 10% of women from poorer backgrounds die before they reach 60 compared with 4% of women from a better off demographic.” Fifth of men die before state pension age – Investment Sense
3 “In 2021, the total lobbying spending in the United States amounted to 3.73 billion U.S. dollars. This is an increase from the 3.53 billion U.S. dollars spent on lobbying in 2020.” Total lobbying spending U.S. 2021 | Statista
WEAPONS SENT TO UKRAINE: