In many countries around the world today, governments are designed not primarily to govern but to serve the personal enrichment of ruling elites. Kleptocracy is the term used to describe such ‘government by thieves’, whereby top political elites systematically raid state resources with impunity. Kleptocracy is enabled by the absence of democratic checks and balances on those in power. Kleptocratic governments undermine the rule of law, subjugate the courts and media, and deploy state security services to enrich the ruling elite and pacify the population. Kleptocracy is largely responsible for creating and perpetuating many of today’s global crises, including acute poverty and hunger, war, religious extremism, and global inequality. Continue reading
When institutions are strong, citizens demand rights; when institutions are weak, citizens beg for favors.
In many countries today, governments are designed not to govern but to serve the personal enrichment of ruling elites. Under such kleptocratic systems those in power do not exercise the functions of state but concentrate instead on extracting resources for personal gain. For such regimes, governing is just a front activity.
Kleptocracy is a major factor fuelling instability across North Africa and the Middle East, and is a major cause of the rise of Islamic extremism across the region. Continue reading
During Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972, the Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai, was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. He famously replied that he thought it was too early to say. Although it appears that Zhou may have misunderstood the question, it was as one diplomat remarked, a misunderstanding that was ‘too delicious to invite correction’.
As is well known, the French revolution, like the Chinese revolution in which Zhou played a leading role, resulted in a prolonged period of death and destruction. Here are 8 reasons why revolutions often fail. Continue reading
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda secured their place in infamy with the attacks of 9/11. Within one month U.S. and U.K. forces had invaded Afghanistan. Within two months both the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaderships had been forced into hiding across the border in Pakistan. With the Taliban deposed and Al Qaeda on the run, George W. Bush announced a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Afghanistan, promising substantial assistance for state building and democracy. That promise was soon forgotten, however, amidst the furore of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Continue reading
The movie Wadjda, by Saudi Arabia’s first female director Haifaa al Mansour, is an entertaining and endearing story of headstrong ten year old Wadjda who can’t make sense of the crippling restrictions that Saudi society imposes on women and girls. By the end of the film we too are left wondering at the childish tyranny of the adults in charge. Continue reading
The global struggle for gender equality is not only about justice. Women’s equality is an essential precondition for the reduction of violence and greed in our world.
The debate on women’s rights is about to change radically. Continue reading
The biggest danger to our rights today is not from government acting against the will of the majority but from government which has become the mere instrument of this majority…. Wrong will be done as much by an all-powerful people as by an all-powerful prince.
When psychopaths and people with other dangerous personality disorders hold power, the result is political tyranny. Continue reading