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The Rubinshteinic Theory of Corruption -- How to Reduce Corruption

Updated: Apr 8

A fat man

(For the sequel for this article, click here)


Summary by Ms. Tamara Moskal

Corruption is the tyranny of power and passion over moral judgment. It applies to actions that cause harm to others or ourselves and are motivated by gratification. Corrupt deeds include bribery, embezzlement, and extortion. Addiction and risky behaviors are also corruptive when people destroy their health and other lives for the enjoyment of passions like alcohol, gambling, smoking, or unprotected sex.
Corrupt politicians taking bribes can become depraved role models for society. We must uphold our moral values and avoid following their negative examples. Some corruption is a natural and inevitable feature of life. However, many avoidable, hedonistic temptations are widely accepted by society and harmful in the long term. We, especially public figures, should restrain ourselves and become more rational and less corrupt. Mental strength, resulting in morality, is the condition for our health and good reputation.

How Unchecked Passions Corrupt Good Judgment

In short, I would describe corruption as "the tyranny of power and passion over one's good discertion." In other words, a corrupted person would commit deeds not out of goodwill or morality, but simply because they obey their passions without questioning their nature enough.

This applies only to passions which cause unnecessary harm on either the short term or long term; passions that reward you, through gratification for being corrupt. As such, while certain passions such as sexual desires are not corrupting by default, gambling rewards you with gratification despite its ability to make you waste money aimlessly. With that money you could've used for savings or for better uses, such as paying your bills. But paying bills, which is the moral thing to do to survive in this monetized world, is not as gratifying as gambling and other money-related addictions.

When we question our deeds after they are done, we may feel compelled to regret and atone for them. Discertion, therefore, is there to make us avoid certain actions without the need to regret and to suffer their consequences. As such, morality allows us to avoid unnecessary harm to us, to others, and to our assets.

Any reference to "passion" in this article is only a reference to that kind of passion, making following our passions partially problematic.

The Spectrum of Corruption

There is no significantly-corrupt person that is moral. A murderer won't be forgiven by donating to charity. They will be punished first, and may serve a life-time sentence. Thus, every corrupt person is immoral to an extant. And of course, one's corruption is evident by their immoral deeds. A person can't be corrupt if they don't commit corrupt deeds.

Corrupt deeds include:

  • Bribery:  This involves offering or accepting something of value to influence a decision. Examples include paying to get a speeding ticket dismissed or a politician taking money in exchange for a vote.

  • Embezzlement: This is the act of stealing money that has been entrusted to your care. An example of this would be a cashier taking money from the register.

  • Extortion: This is the act of threatening someone to get money or property from them. An example of this would be a gang threatening to beat someone up if they don't pay them protection money.

A corrupt deed is any deed that opposes morality and threathens it. Of course, we're assuming here that there are at least some features of ethics that are objective (or universally agreed at least). Very few of us are, what can be called, "saints", or people whose deeds were never immoral. Thus, we are all corrupt to an extant. I suggest that the more actions we perform, the likelier we increase our corruption.

(I'm not a saint myself, no).

Many corrupted people would commit corruption because they put their passions as their highest authority, above the authority of law and justice. I dare to say that it goes beyond politics or criminal activities, but can also be described as such in any other field that creates addiction.

Addiction is a set of behaviors that overcome rational thought, and can be destructive for us and/or others. Therefore, not only people with large authority can be corrupted, but also the common people, who corrupt their health in the name of enjoying alcohol, smoking, unprotected s*x, and so on.

Passion can be tyrranical in a sense that it could "control" you like an "evil spirit" so to speak. And no tyrannical feature is ever moral, correct? A moral tyrant is a paradox.

Corruption is the moral impurity of a situation or entity. From relative or complete purity, into a state of abuse, harm, betrayal, and manipulation. Therefore, addicts are also corrupted, because they let their passions, which grant them happiness and satisfaction, also harm them and the people around them. Gambling, as stated, can ruin the future of your family, if you provide to them.

The notion of harm by corruption is also present in politics. Politicians may take bribes out of greed, as stated again. And the more corruption they will commit, the more depraved their influence will be on their own country and people. I suspect that even if we may despise certain politicians, we might still follow their example, in one way or the other. We unconsciously learn more than we might think we do.

The whole idea of becoming more moral is to not be like such negative examples, after all. To not be like them, as much as possible. To be better, and not to enable, by our own actions, the very deeds we despise, and the people who commit them remorselessly.

Loss of Innocence to Hedonistic Slavery

Some corruptions are natural, or an inevitable feature of life. For example, those who lose their childlike innocence become mature by the corruption of their childish purity, which is caused by experiencing life. Making your teeth dirty is also a form of corruption, even though it is only a result of eating, which is necessary for one's survival.

Even exercise is technically the destruction of your muscles. You get stronger not when exercising, but when resting after it. You "sacrifice" some of your muscle mass to gain even more mass. You "corrupt" the current verison of your body by harming it positively. This leads to pain, which is normal, despite much of morality having to do with the overall reduction of human suffering. If anything, accepting pain can reduce the overall suffering being felt.

Just because some corruptions are natural does not mean that some of them should be overlooked. It is human nature to be corrupted by the impurity of life and society, and to be prone to temptations by said life and society. Surely it is far better than being sheltered from reality?

It is only sensible to enjoy ourselves and what we have, without constantly caring about the harm that said joy can cause us. After all, do we truly want to overthink every move of ours?

Just like an alcoholic wishes for more alcohol, a corrupted politician wishes for more money and power. Just like an alcoholic would ruin his health by their addiction, a corrupted politician would betray the morals of their position and commit crimes for the sake of more money and more power.

This would feed their passions for the short term, until the inner monster that is lust torments them to damage themselves, whether by health or reputation, in the name of filling the demand of their unregulated passion. A candy in that regard is no different than political power least: You may be tempted to want more and more of it.

This is why corruption is the incitement of passion against one's self-regulation. It is an inner bully that society has taught us is best to submit to. And so, we may be inclined to believe that, this bully, our passion, is a worthy source of meaning for our lives. That is, although it can cause great harm to us, and especially to others, when we are in a position of greater power than the average person. That is especially true to in the long run.

How pathetic. It's pathetic because passion can easily taint us with unnecessary corruption, and inflict unnecessary suffering on others, along the way. There is no need to atone if we can avoid regrettable actions. Thus, the interests of others, deserve to be our interest, too, in some degree, if we wish to reduce corruption of any kind.

Corruptive tendencies are a part of our primitive nature, and always have been as such. See it as our "inner monkey" that we're trying to run away from becoming. The primitive self that we repress in order to survive and thrive in society. That is also done through learning and applying morality. Because repression is not healthy for us, being a morally-upstanding human being could be an individual health sacrifice.

What we should do, especially as public figures, is to be more rational and restrained, because rationality is there to protect ourselves from external and internal threats that can harm, if not destroy us in the long run. There's much sacrifice in going public, dear readers. I may need to restrain myself more than many of you. I learned from my mistakes. And I'm only going to grow my publicity indefinately in the name of Philosocom.

Anyways --- commit a crime, for example, and it can destroy your life for good, and seal it in a prison cell. Sometimes, being right and being wise, may correlate, and not necessarily contradict one another.

As we gain more and more addictions, we slowly begin to lose the most vital authority, which is our authority over ourselves. How come? Our ability to resist temptations may decrease in accordance, making our spirits weaker. By "spirits" I refer to the strength of their vigor, or mental strength, specifically. We lose our sense of morality, the condition of our health, and our reputation in the name of dominating passion.

So as you can see, there may be a strong correlation between the strength of the mind and between our sense of morality. It isn't to say that the strong in mind is necessarily moral, yes? I'm saying that mental strength can surely help one be more moral.

Being a moral person may also mean doing things you don't want to do, and avoid things you want to do. As I wrote in the beginning -- discertion. The moral being restrains themselves in accordance to their developed sense of justice. Those who comitted adultery may know what I'm talking about, first-hand. So what if someone other than your partner looks fine and tempting? A corrupt man or woman wouldn't ruin their own marriage over some affair.

Overcome your passions and restrain them, and you will be cleaner from the dirtiness of corruption. Learn to distinguish between the rational self, which is you, and the passionate self, which is like a dog that needs to be constantly taught lessons until it submits to its master — you. We have several components within the bigger thing we call "the self". The moral person knows to which component is wise to listen when.

A corrupted person is always a slave to something that binds them away from the overall good of him and others.

Sadly, our culture is one of slavery, not of mastery. By constantly filling our passions, we lose our liberty in the name of the primitive parts of our consciousness, and thus we also lose our individuality and submit to the hedonistic herd mentality.

Conquering Corruption Through Self-Awareness

You may still have a chance to save yourself from addictive corruption, regardless of who you are or what you are addicted to. We all can do this by looking beyond our emotions and urges, into a more clarified vision. A vision enlightened by a good sense of rationality and foresight. This is done by learning how to be wiser.

Save yourself from the tyrants of immediate pleasure, for you are not a blind animal, but the ruler of a world — the human being. A being that can overcome themselves with the gift of logical clarity and meta-cognition.

May you become your greater self—a self freerer from the leash of harming primitivism under the fake mask of rewarding joy -- a more judgemental self. Judgemental of one's own actions, of course.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback:

I have a warning to share with people. Do not try to escape being corrupted by becoming the corruptor towards others in return. This is two sides of the same coin. The difference is you want to be the "right" kind of corruptor. One who corrupts that primal part of one's self in order to become who you want to be.
By corrupting the bad parts away from yourself, and unto others, this would only enable the very corruption you despise as a self-defense mechanism.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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