Posted by: Dr Churchill | January 15, 2014

Radiation and the Virus of Corruption

The opposite of Corruption is not transparency but Liberty.

Another opposite of Corruption is Integrity and what a great virtue that is…

Integrity is not simply a personal virtue, but a social one as well.

In fact, there may be no other virtue in which an individual’s personal cultivation of it has such a large effect on society as a whole.

This is what the social contagion theory explains… because when an individual decides to act in an unethical way, his example can influence someone else to do likewise, resulting in a domino effect that lowers the standards of an ever-widening group of people.

And this explains in large measure how Greek Society works and why it is so difficult to change for the better.  Passed from person to person, dishonesty has a slow, creeping, socially erosive effect. As the ‘virus’ mutates and spreads from one person to another, a new, less ethical code of conduct develops. And although it is subtle and gradual, the final outcome can be disastrous. This is the real cost of even minor instances of cheating and the reason we need to more vigilant in our efforts to curb even small infractions.

You don’t need to know Aristotelian Ethics and to have read the Moral Judgement by Thoma Aquinas or Augustine of Hippo’s  Politics through and through.

The virus of dishonesty is no abstract idea.

Think of the corruption that seems to run rampant in our government and economy.

It surely started with a few individuals who were willing to let things slide. Those around them saw this as the new norm and began to adopt the same standards.

When new guys came in, they adopted what had by then become the standard culture of the enterprise. Even the “doctors” who promise to come in and clean things up end up infected by the same disease they were supposed to cure.

It doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale either.

Consider the high schooler who illegally downloads music. He may have thought he had a strong moral stance on the issue, but then sees his friends doing it, and not getting caught. He may say to himself that it’ll just be one song or one album…but then his entire library is illegally downloaded. His little brother grows up thinking that’s how you get new music, and he influences his friends to pirate stuff too, and this behaviour spreads on and on.

Of course from the small to the big there is a certain space and corruption is not spreading in a linear fashion.  Because the bribing and the cheating and constant theft by dishonest public figures has an outsized effect on the overall integrity level of society, as their odious examples get broadcasted to so many people.

This is why it’s hard to say whether our time period is more corrupt than previous ones, or whether the insatiable 24/7 media simply brings more attention to the kind of corruption that has always existed…since that very attention can actually be driving even more corruption!

We are perhaps caught in a very destructive downward cycle.




What can we do to throw a wrench in this cycle?

To throw a spanner in the works of corrupt politicians one has to be adamantly pure and to report and fight all instances of corrupt behaviour as a whistleblower and as a vigilant Citizen protecting Democracy and the Republic.

And even though this behaviour comes at a certain great cost to the individual it offers a great service to society and one must engage in this fully — thinking of the generations ahead and of the preservation of the Commons.

Godspeed to those affected and ready to act because of this….

When we talk about the evils and effects of Radiation, Corruption, Pollution, and the all too frequent toxic spills we need first and foremost to be open and truthful about the reality of the situation we are in — just so we have a hope of addressing it.


  1. Reblogged this on Bleeding Edge Blog.


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