It seems to me, once government corruption has reached such levels the corpus political bursts open revealing all the corruption inside, and the people are not revolted, that is when we have become a “Corruptocracy.” The utterly and openly corrupt in power, ruling by corruption to satisfy their own corrupt wants and pay their corrupt cronies, to keep them in power. A Corruptocracy can exist under any system of government, it’s primary attribute is the widespread acceptance of corruption, and so it is not a system of government but a environmental factor. The environment in which government exists could be meritocracy, (the rule by those who merit it), but those occasions are rare, because there is no incentive for meritocracy to start and meritocracy corrodes itself. When you look at our government, the vote rigging, the double standard, arbitrary application of law, open antipathy for our Constitution and outright corruption, would you characterize our government as a Meritocracy or Corruptocracy?
There is a story about an African king who was under Roman rule. His people hated him, he so abused his people he brought them near to riot, until the Roman governor had to step in and arrest the African king, sending him to Rome for trial. Upon reaching Rome the African king started paying bribes to all the people in power. When his trial came he was immediately acquitted. When he returned to rule his home country he abused his people all the more and was arrested again. The cycle happened several times until the African king, shaking off the dust of Rome from his sandals for the fifth time said, If only one were rich enough the Romans would sell their very city… Rome had become a Corruptocracy. So you see, there have been Corruptocracies throughout human history and under many systems of government.
Think about various ecologic systems for a moment. Some are rife with vegetation, a plethora of plants and an abundance of animals. The well being of which depends on the environmental factors. As a desert gets less rain than a rain forest, an arctic tundra is colder than a jungle and so produce different types of flora and fauna, and verdancy (environmental prosperity), economic environments are different producing different type of enterprises as well as different levels of prosperity. Economies have different levels of taxation, regulation, culture, infrastructure, population, demographics, work ethic, rate of natural disasters, access to sea ports… and corruption. Corruption, especially when it has reached the point where the economic and political systems have become corruptocracies, stifles new growth in favor of old rotten existing growth. It is like sacrificing babies so old people can live longer. Forfeiting vitality for infirmity.
Meritocracy is an economic and political environment where people get what they merit. To put it another way, people get what they deserve, those who are smart, hard working and creative get ahead, generating incentives for everyone to be smart, creative and hard working because that will get them ahead. Unfortunately, the congenital nature of man is evil, the good in us a learned trait, which is why, to put it as Schumpeter did… once someone get to the top the first thing they try to do is close the door behind them. If there is no penalty for it, as in government, the door will be closed creating conditions for corruption to grow and stratifying society into haves and have nots, but if there is a penalty, as in the business world absent of cronyism, or in some military services, excellence becomes the norm. So Meritocracy, while a means for rapid rise in the standard of living, has within it the means and incentive for it’s own destruction.
Corruptocracy is the result of Aristotle’s wrong forms of government, tyranny, oligarchy and democracy, gone too far, and has been with us since time immemorial. Since it is in our nature to become corrupt in the absence of penalty for bad behavior, and the greater the stakes the more the incentive to push the boundaries, there is always a tug towards corruption. Meritocracy, while an excellent environment for economies and government to flourish, has within it the seeds of it’s own destruction. So the question remains, looking at the political and economical landscape which we find ourselves today, our political candidates, the incentives around us, our culture, the media, crime rates, racial harmony, the whittling away of liberty, etc… would you say we live in a Corruptocracy?