form of dishonesty or criminal offense undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for one's private gain
Corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.
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The more corrupt a society, the more numerous its laws.
Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990).
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
Lord Acton, in a letter to Mandell Creighton, (5 April 1887), published in Historical Essays and Studies (1907).
The corrupt fear us · the honest support us · the heroic join us.
Anonymous motto, used in many placards, quoted at
He that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one.
Edmund Burke, In letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, (4 April 1777)
I have nothing against the smell of rot but something against what hides the smell of rot in the United States of America."
Giannina Braschi, "United States of Banana," (2011).
Corruption exists because there is too much, not too little, market.
Ha-Joon Chang, in Bad Samaritans (2008), Prologue, p. xxv
History shows that, at earlier stages of economic development, corruption is difficult to control. The fact that today no country that is very poor is very clean suggests that a country has to rise above absolute poverty before it can significantly reduce venality in the system.
Ha-Joon Chang, in Bad Samaritans (2008), Ch. 8: Zaire vs Indonesia, Should we turn our backs on corrupt and undemocratic countries?, Prosperity and honesty, p. 151
Thieves at home must hang; but he that puts
Into his overgorged and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes.
William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book I, line 736
When men realize the depths to which they have fallen they will take stock of themselves and begin the journey back to sanity and safety. This will take time, of course, for the fall from Grace into the present corruption and chaos has a long history. For thousands of years, man has made a steady decline from the spiritual base which once ordered his life. He has forgotten his origin and purpose as the Dark Age clouded his memory and waylaid his heart. Lost in the twin glamours of Matter and Time man is only now awakening from his long dream and illusion.
Benjamin Creme in A new beginning, Share International magazine, (January2019)
More and more, the nations are beginning to recognize, to take seriously and to deal with, an age-old problem, namely corruption. In some parts of the world corruption has been a way of life for centuries. This has benefited the few, of course, at the expense of the many. For untold ages, corrupt leaders and powerful politicians have waxed rich on the taxes imposed on their subjects and citizens. In modern times, the large corporations of the West have been found guilty of ‘cooking the books’ on a massive scale, while in the East it is taken for granted that every transaction needs the ‘greasing’ of someone’s palm.
Corruption is endemic, and runs through some societies from the president or prime minister to the police and sport. Electoral corruption is rampant, as recent elections have demonstrated, even in countries supposedly dedicated to freedom and democracy. Such corrupt governments fail and betray their peoples and so surrender their right to govern.
In the midst of such corruption is it possible to engender trust without which the future for men would be bleak indeed? ... Without blessed and beneficent trust, men would forfeit their right of Stewardship of Planet Earth, and would seal themselves off for aeons from further evolution. Thus would it be, and thus should men tackle seriously, and without delay, the corrosive impact of corruption on every strata of society, and every nook and cranny of our planetary life.
Benjamin Creme in The end of corruption, Share International magazine, (April 2005)
But Jehovah looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see whether anyone has insight, whether anyone is seeking Jehovah. They have all turned aside; they are all alike corrupt. No one is doing good, not even one.
David, Psalms 14:2-3, New World Translation
While Washington consistently wields as weapons political abstractions such as transparency, corruption, and freedom, it is unwilling to apply to itself those same cornerstones of America’s collective self-conception. Hypocrisy is perhaps not strong enough a word.
Eric Draitser, "Hillary Clinton’s Email Absolution: Two Parties, One Criminal Regime," Counterpunch, July 14, 2016
Der Umgang mit einem Egoisten ist darum so verderblich, weil die Notwehr uns allmählich zwingt, in seine Fehler zu verfallen.
Corruption is a tree, whose branches are
Of an immeasurable length: they spread
Ev'rywhere; and the dew that drops from thence
Hath infected some chairs and stools of authority.
John Fletcher, The Honest Man's Fortune (1613; published 1647), Act III, scene 3.
Corrupted freemen are the worst of slaves.
David Garrick, Prologue to the Gamesters.
When rogues like these (a sparrow cries)
To honours and employments rise,
I court no favor, ask no place,
For such preferment is disgrace.
John Gay, Fables (1727), Part II. Fable 2.
אֵיכָה֙ הָיְתָ֣ה לְזֹונָ֔ה קִרְיָ֖ה נֶאֱמָנָ֑ה מְלֵאֲתִ֣י מִשְׁפָּ֗ט צֶ֛דֶק יָלִ֥ין בָּ֖הּ וְעַתָּ֥ה מְרַצְּחִֽים׃
כַּסְפֵּ֖ךְ הָיָ֣ה לְסִיגִ֑ים סָבְאֵ֖ךְ מָה֥וּל בַּמָּֽיִם׃
שָׂרַ֣יִךְ סֹורְרִ֗ים וְחַבְרֵי֙ גַּנָּבִ֔ים כֻּלֹּו֙ אֹהֵ֣ב שֹׁ֔חַד וְרֹדֵ֖ף שַׁלְמֹנִ֑ים יָתֹום֙ לֹ֣א יִשְׁפֹּ֔טוּ וְרִ֥יב אַלְמָנָ֖ה לֹֽא־יָבֹ֥וא אֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ פ
As the world changes the forms of corruption also gradually become more cunning, more difficult to point out—but they certainly do not become better.
Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (1847), as translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (1995), p. 76
In the developing world, corruption is public enemy number one.
Every dollar that a corrupt official or a corrupt business person puts in their pocket is a dollar stolen from a pregnant woman who needs health care; or from a girl or a boy who deserves an education; or from communities that need water, roads, and schools. Every dollar is critical if we are to reach our goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity.
Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, 2013
Then there is a very small remnant, Adeimantus, I said, of worthy disciples of philosophy. ... Those who belong to this small class have tasted how sweet and blessed a possession philosophy is, and have also seen and been satisfied of the madness of the multitude, and known that there is no one who ever acts honestly in the administration of States, nor any helper who will save any one who maintains the cause of the just. Such a savior would be like a man who has fallen among wild beasts—unable to join in the wickedness of his fellows, neither would he be able alone to resist all their fierce natures, and therefore he would be of no use to the State or to his friends, and would have to throw away his life before he had done any good to himself or others. And he reflects upon all this, and holds his peace, and does his own business. He is like one who retires under the shelter of a wall in the storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurries along; and when he sees the rest of mankind full of wickedness, he is content if only he can live his own life and be pure from evil or unrighteousness, and depart in peace and good will, with bright hopes.
Plato, The Republic, 496d
None of the governments, as they now exist, is worthy of the philosophic nature, and hence we see that nature warped and corrupted; just as a foreign seed, when sown in an alien soil, generally loses its native quality, and tends to be subdued and pass into the plant of the country, even so this philosophic nature, so far from preserving its distinctive power, now suffers a decline and takes on a different character.
Plato, The Republic, 497b
At length corruption, like a general flood
(So long by watchful ministers withstood),
Shall deluge all; and avarice, creeping on,
Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun.
Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle III, line 135.
A corrupted mind can't recognize the beauty of the world.
Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspiration. Inner Light Publishers. 2010. p. 39. ISBN 978-93-82123-31-6.
If we were to ask which country is the most corrupt in the world, the first answer to come to mind would be dictated by the perceived level of corruption. Perhaps one might think of Mexico, of South American countries, of African countries, of the Middle East or Italy. But the most corrupt is the UK. It’s not a type of a corruption that concerns civil servants, policemen or mayors; it’s a type of a corruption that is consubstantial to economic system. The British economic system feeds itself on corruption. And in the midst of this, the British government and its citizens have not woken up to the plight that their country is going through. A plight greater than earthquakes, greater than terror attacks.
Roberto Saviano, Dirty Money in London event (May 31, 2016), translated by Claudia Colvin.
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 140.
Spiritalis enim virtus sacramenti ita est ut lux: etsi per immundos transeat, non inquinatur.
'Tis the most certain sign, the world's accurst
That the best things corrupted, are the worst;
'Twas the corrupted Light of knowledge, hurl'd
Sin, Death, and Ignorance o'er all the world;
That Sun like this (from which our sight we have)
Gaz'd on too long, resumes the light he gave.
Sir John Denham, Progress of Learning.
I know, when they prove bad, they are a sort of the vilest creatures: yet still the same reason gives it: for, Optima corrupta pessima: the best things corrupted become the worst.
Owen Feltham, Resolves, XXX. Of Woman, p. 70. Pickering's Reprint of Fourth Ed. (1631).
So true is that old saying, Corruptio optimi pessima.
Samuel Purchas, Pilgrimage, To the Reader; of religion. Saying may be traced to Thomas Aquinas, Prim. Soc., Art. I. 5. Aristotle, Eth. Nic., VIII. 10. 12. Eusebius, Demon. Evang. I, IV, Chapter XII, St. Gregory, Moralia on Job.
The men with the muck-rake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck.
Theodore Roosevelt, address at the Corner-stone laying of the Office Building of House of Representatives (April 14, 1906).
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