The corruption of government officials, illustrated nicely in Illinois.

With the recent revelations about the brazen corruption with seemingly unprecedented scope and breadth, of the governor of Illinois (can’t spell his name), the scriptures comes to mind from the Doctrine and Covenants 121 which says:  “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

“Almost all men…”  Does that mean 90% of men?  95%?  What think ye?  When you look at it this way, we elect our officials to power and give them our trust to manage the affairs of this country and they are immediately exposed to lobbyists and all sorts of opportunities to abuse the power which has been given them.  Almost all men.  Does that mean that the vast majority of our politicians are corrupt?  What a dreary thing to imagine.  The governor of Illinois is apparently as corrupt as they come, but is this sort of thing rampant in our nation’s leaders?

To varying extents, I think so.  This is why it is a good thing that we have checks and balances written into our system of government.  However, checks and balances don’t work if the checkers are as corrupt as those they are checking.  In that case, it is a good thing to have an objective media to keep the government honest. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have that benefit either.  The vast majority of the media in the US is owned by big corporations.  These same corporations have agendas of their own and lobby government in their own self-interest.  Just like Chiquita Banana when they were called the United Fruit Co. which lobbied in congress in the 1950s to overthrow the popular government of Guatemala so they could continue to make their big profits down there.  The US government complied and installed a military dictatorship with shed the blood of thousands of Guatemalans.  These corporate owners of media make sure that the news they broadcast is within well defined limits.  This sort of phenomenon is well documented in Noam Chomsky’s “Necessary Illusions” and “Manufacturing Consent.”  When I lived in Seattle, the Seattle Times was a very pro-Gulf War I newspaper.  There was no question whatsoever if what we were doing was right or not.  It turns out, the Times, at that time, was 49% owned by Raytheon, the producer of the Patriot missile.  They must have made a killing in that war. 

It turns out that the owners of broadcast media (who are hugely powerful in our society) are subject to the same curse members of government are subject to.  “Almost all men” will immediately exercise unrighteous dominion and that includes all of us who have any authority or power.  Thus, we are really left without much recourse here.  

In my humble opinion, this is the situation we call a bigtime secret combination.  This is what Moroni was talking about in the Book of Ether when he said:  “Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.”  

Moroni knew that we would have this secret combination among us… much like the secret combination that overtook the Nephites in the Book of Helaman, which combination had infiltrated their entire government.  First, we need to all awaken ourselves to a sense of the awfulness of our situation.  Only then will we have the motivation to truly make change.  Perhaps the only way for us to overcome this secret combination, is to do as Thomas Jefferson suggested.

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure.”

2 Responses to “The corruption of government officials, illustrated nicely in Illinois.”

  1. 1 Grégoire December 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Great article.

    Society is structured in such a way that people are always out for their own short term advancement; even when such tactics betray them in the long run. People are so infused with the spirit of corruption that they imagine it to be normal, and society has organized itself in precisely this way, to this effect. Gramsci called this hegemony.

    “Almost all men…” Does that mean 90% of men? 95%? What think ye?

    That’s such a good question, and I think in asking it we’re all forced to take a bit of personal responsibility for the state of society. While we can criticise this latest example of corruption, it’s always fitting to use the most egregious cases to see an element of our own false consciousness at work. Governor Blagojevich is all of us, writ large and dancing on the stage of history.

    • 2 theradicalmormon December 14, 2008 at 2:55 am

      Good points. The true battle for good and evil in this world is in the heart of each individual. It is easy to see the corruption of another person and equally easy to ignore one’s own faults.

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