The systemic rot that makes a society corrupt may not be apparent if we focus on the deviant behaviour of a few individuals are —Sudhir Chella Ryan.
High crimes and cabals is the title of an essay written by Sudhir Chella Ryan and edited by Sam Dresser.
The writer made some salient points about what he termed grand corruption as a systemic parasite on society. These include: The observation that while the official definition of corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain the definition does little to capture the reality. The writer also used terms such as ‘power elite networks, cabals and cartels of special moneyed interests to highlight the strategies used to deform Government programmes and divert money while betraying the public interest.
According to Ryan: corruption can be classified in three ways—petty corruption, administrative corruption and grand corruption. He further said that grand corruption isn’t only limited to the government and the public sector. Reference was made to wealthy patrimonial sports organisations such as FIFA where there have been allegations of corruption involving massive amounts of money.
The networks are - social structures of patronage. Large and powerful modern cabals where established patterns of mutual favours and obligations continue to be dominant at the expense of fairness and equal treatment.
Sport being a microcosm of wider society, the debasement of sport mirrors the debasement of society. Clientelism, predatory capitalism, cronyism, nepotism and prebendalism prevail.
The protection racket ensures those who are perceived as not part of the network, clique or cabal are kept in their rightful place. If the principals and agents of the network and cabals can’t figure you out or read you. Then you can’t be trusted. Mind you all of this is done under the guise of democracy and good governance. It’s subtle and persistent the elite network rule.
The role of history and entrenched arrangements of power are insidious. Sacrosanct is the maintenance of interlocking relationships that have institutionalised patronage and exchange of favours. Institutional inertia isn’t an accident - it is an intentional strategy that works to the advantage of the elite network and cabals.
The impact of the elite network and its legacies have already run for a lifetime. In the contemporary world when the network asserts its authority and power some call it neocolonialism or neopatrimonialism. But the days of the Cabals and elite network as we know, experience and are held enthralled by it may be coming to an end. The reality of the modern world defies old-world structures, tradition and modus operandi.
The youth who can and want to make a positive difference aren’t going to allow themselves to be ‘owned’ by the network. They don’t identify their talent by their nationality they identify themselves by talent. With the right skills, today’s young talent can move anywhere they want. Hustling is life- and you can’t hustle standing still.
In the age of digital—files aren’t stored in cabinets but in the cloud, payments aren’t made by cheque but by apps, and documents aren’t signed by ink but by digital. Meetings and conferences are held by Zoom, Blue Jeans and Microsoft. We live in the era of cloud lifestyle, digital nomads and blockchain protocols. Corrupt Cabals and entrenched power centres for centuries have treated ‘others’ as dispensable and expendable tools and means to an end. They don’t treat others as their most precious resource. In the decades ahead sports organisations especially those in small vulnerable economies will have to reinvent themselves to escape the aqueduct of the elite network and cabals.
I close by recognising that one year ago - today- Deon Lendore—one of Trinidad and Tobago’s brightest and best talent left us. Deon is gone but not forgotten and remains a source of inspiration and motivation to his family, friends, peers and teammates.