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Quotations about Kleptocracy

Lookups on spiked yesterday for the word "kleptocracy." M-W defines it as "government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed." Well of course, with my morning coffee I just had to dig through old Google Books to find quotes on this topic. Below is my harvest.  —Terri, 2017 August 1st

I love to read of the difficulties which Claude Du Val surmounts; the ingenious manner in which he wins his way into the good graces of some rich, purse-proud, callous old hunks of a stock-jobber; the adroit sophistries with which he reconciles his modes of thought and action to that slender, spare-rib concern which he calls a conscience; and the gallant front which he opposes to danger. Nor need the most fastidious moralist be shocked by this avowal; for the history of such adventurers inculcates, in nine cases out of ten, this useful moral — namely, that honest is the best policy, seeing that without it the most winning exterior and the most consummate address lead infallibly to ruin. These loose thoughts on Kleptocracy — as Leigh Hunt ingeniously calls it — were suggested to me by the sight of a painting of two convicts in a prison-yard, one fellow prisoner relating his adventures to the other. ~“The Picture Gallery: No. IV,” 1838

This brings us to a consideration of the present outlook for responsible government in the United States... From the day of our independence the soul of the American people has been growing more and more democratic, and where the spirit of democracy is, whatever the institutional maladjustment, even a kleptarchy cannot go far wrong. The spirit of rightness in a democratic people must in the end prevail... If we read the signs of the times aright the great American democratic electorate will not much longer continue to accept the domination of an irresponsible oligarchy in matters of election and appointment because American democracy has come to look to the Government and its leadership as something vital to the people. ~Frederick A. Cleveland & Arthur Eugene Buck, The Budget and Responsible Government, 1920

Only blunders worse than crimes — blunders due to lack of candor, or to prejudice, distrust and fear — can destroy the revolution and restore the autocracy or the bureaucratic kleptocracy. ~Victor S. Yarros, "Russia Since the Revolution," 1917

Corruption, inefficiency, and kleptocracy are the three most important challenges of international development policy. ~Holger Strulik, quoted in 50 X 50: For Stephan Klasen's 50th birthday 50 economists answer 50 questions, 2017

Now, if these statements are thought trite or lecturesome, please to remember that they set forth the two pillars of our State; which, if they fall, bring down house and inmates together, in one ruin. Remember that abundance of evils are attacking our nation to-day, — social disintegration, official corruption, legislative debasement, business monopoly, political ambition, ecclesiastical zeal, personal impatience of law and of any restraint, — all of them having their only possible life in subtracting strength from those two pillars. Suppose, for instance, the average voters in New York City had been thoroughly good and intelligent, by the standard which George Washington would accept; would they have submitted to the vulgar tyranny of the kleptocracy which has ruled them to their world-wide shame for years? If the average of our voters, all over the country, were such, would the storms of political lies be possible, that periodically sweep over the land? Or would the decorous attempts of one and another sect succeed, to get away the control of the schools from the people, and even to pervert the use of public money for the purpose? Or would the singular eruptions of personal scandal, under color of "enterprise," be possible, that so often disfigure so many of our newspapers? Or could efforts after reform be muddled and defiled, because vain persons find themselves able to confuse their vanity with well-wishing, and to hide their evil traits under a cloak of fair profession, and in a throng of personages, who are clean enough, no doubt, but very far from being shrewd enough, or wise enough? None of these things could happen. ~“Record of Progress,” Old and New, 1872

It has been my habit in my lectures on "Social Evolution" to call this dynamic nuclear group a "protocracy." Every kleptocracy of brigands or conquerors, every plutocracy, every aristocracy, and every democracy begins as a protocracy. It comes into existence and begins its career as a little band of alert and capable persons who see the situation, grasp the opportunity, and, in the expressive slang of our modern competitive life, "go to it" with no unnecessary delay. We now have arrived at the first induction, the fundamental principle of political science, which is, namely: The few always dominate.... Democracy, even the most radical democracy, is only that state of politically organized mankind in which the rule of the few is least arbitrary and most responsible, least drastic and most considerate. ~Franklin Henry Giddings, "Powers of the State," The Responsible State: A Realization of Fundamental Political Doctrines in the Light of World War and the Menace of Anarchism, 1918

It is only on such a principle that we can account for the existence in the heart of our civilisation of that imperium in imperio — the kleptocracy of England... ~Tlepolemus, "Ticket-of-Leave," a letter to Irenæus, 1856

Sooner or later it must be carried out. The people of the United States must either confess their inferiority in practical good sense to all other nations, or they must redeem their administrative system. That reform will save revenue and lighten taxation; it will paralyze the hand of the public thief, and stop the political bully's wages; it will speed despatch, perfect accuracy, and lesson cost in the transaction of the public business; it will open an honorable career to the tens of thousands of young men and women who will gladly fit themselves to serve the state when honesty earns a place and diligence can keep it for life. By that reform the strongest bond connecting the carrion of the lobby with the living body of the Legislature, will be cut asunder; the great departments that share supreme power among them will again work, each in its limited sphere, without discord or encroachment; official virtue will cease to be a by-word, and private faithlessly lose the excuse it takes from public laxity. State administrations may mend by the example, and the overthrow no longer seem hopeless of the kleptocracy that tramples our great cities under its satyr hoofs. For the first time we shall stand in the brotherhood, of nations equals of all the rest in mutual knowledge and intelligent discourse; and for the first time justify our boast of model republicanism, as a commonwealth ruled by common-sense and common virtue. Of two fatal presents made by the Old World at our birth, we have cast away one, the slavery which belied our political theory, before the first century of national life ended; the second will be nobly begun by the perfect practical development of that theory, when we reject the other evil gift of patronage. ~Thomas Jenckes, 1870

...the kingdom of Kharizm, or more appropriately the Kleptarchy or Kleptocracy of the Turkmans... ~Frederic J. Goldsmid, "On Journeys Between Herat and Khiva," 1840

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published 2017 Aug 1
last saved 2023 Aug 15