Emeritus Professor Michael Johnston speaks to the futures of the anti-corruption industry, and asks what possible reforms we may see
The contemporary anti-corruption movement – really, by now, more of an anti-corruption industry – has devoted remarkably little effort to articulating its goals, and even less to spelling out the sorts of futures it might help bring about, intentionally or otherwise.
If we accept it that a world without any corruption at all is impossible, then where might we be headed? The question is not just a matter of idle speculation; rather, it requires us to think about trends and changes in politics, national and global economies, technology, the role and vitality of the nation-state, popular trust and estrangement, leadership, and the evolution of civil societies, to name just a few major influences.
We will discuss these and other influences that might help bring about a range of possible outcomes, including Civic Virtue Triumphant, Data to the Rescue, the Privatization of Everything, the Piratization of Everything, Populists Ascendant, and…Something Like Justice. Which of those scenarios, if any, come to pass will have much to do not only with the choices reformers make, but also with our understanding of the nature and sources of social change, and of the law of unintended consequences.
Hard and fast answers are highly unlikely to emerge from our discussion, but perhaps we can become more keenly aware of the insights and cautionary tales we all can offer, based on our experiences in analyzing and challenging corruption problems.
The Transnational Research Institute on Corruption
ANU Crawford School of Public Policy
The Centre for Social Research and Methods