Corruption – from an evolutionary point of view

Many would claim that corruption represents major threat to human civilization, even larger than global warming and migrations recently, or nuclear war not so recently. Corrupted bankers brought us to economic depression in 2008, corrupted countries are threatening world peace and their own people, corrupted private interests are bribing public representatives and lowering the level of democracy and lowering common welfare and as the consequence build up global warming.

Wikipedia is quite clear about what to understand as corruption:

In government it is when an elected representative makes decisions that are influenced by campaign contributions rather than their own personal beliefs. In government, when an elected representative makes decisions based on creating jobs or distributing money which raises support/votes in their district using tax money raised in someone else’s district.


Political corruption is the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, e.g. by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes.

But there it comes as well in Wikipedia:

In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal.

Problems with “ideal”

There are many places in this blog challenging all instances that are referring to ideal as something that could be reached or even understood from objective point of view. There is no absolute ideal apart from God. Since absolute ideal con not even be apprehended, we should leave God out of any discussion. This does not only lead to a conclusion that ideal can only be operational on individual level, but also to a conclusion that common good is not an entity per se, but an entity fought out of battles of zillions of individual ideals.

Common ground, laws and social norms are not fixed points on fixed background that individuals would or could take possession of.  There is no fixed background; fact that is not so easy to incorporate in our understanding of reality, but proved by contemporary physics and used in this blog many times. Ideal, that wikipedia refers to, is not even a moving target. By saying “moving target” we imagine something outside, that moves, while we as aspirers are stuck to a fixed background. No: ideal is a moving subjective target driven by neuron-like network of memes. Those same memes that drive and are driven by each individual in the process of memetic (and genetic) reproduction. Ideal is target and a tool helping us to aspire for that target at the same time. Refer to Munchausen trilemma.

If we apply such explanation of “ideal” on corruption, we should conclude that ideal, a world without corruption is at least something not so easy to define as is defined in Wikipedia. At least! What I want to challenge is a world without corruption as ideal.

A possible topology of memes

If there exists nothing like objective common ground, there is no other way for any community that is larger than 1 individual, to lobby for a certain meme, to be implanted in as many individual apprehensions of reality for as long as possible.

I guess that previous statement was understood as memetic paraphrase of mass communication or persuasive communication theory. With the important upgrade of a definition of one quanta of communication as meme. (And memes to behave like physical quantum particles).

It is quite clear, I hope,  that one should not understand such a meme as a specific paragraph of a certain accepted law, for instance. I am talking about a position, memetic position, that this paragraph is occupying within individuals. We are not talking about interpretation of such paragraph, but about it’s position.  Position is a result of measuring effect (objectification) that happens when measurement tool, individual meme complex interferes with its object, meme complex existing within paragraph potential. I have devised a topology, a simple landscape of meme positions of liberalism, progressivism, conservatism in Political brane topology.

From this viewpoint corruption is one of many memes. But the question weather such meme is evolutionarily beneficial or malign is still open.

Evolutionary foundations for corruption

The premise I would like to prove goes like this: There is no life without corruption. But how then to understand  the ideal that that Wikipedia is aiming to? Let us use thought experiment about what life would we have without corruption?

If there is one picture that comes first to my mind when thinking about such ideal is nirvana as the absolute equilibrium. And what is absolute equilibrium? From a physical point of view: maximum entropy. Our universe is subjected to the law of entropy; meaning, that it has in fact one final goal (I am joking with this “goal” of course): absolute entropy, absolute equilibrium, death. Absolute equilibrium is nothing but dead universe. Absolute extinction of corruption would bring such absolute equilibrium.

As already Schroedinger pointed out (What is Life, 1944), life is nothing but a force aiming in opposite direction to entropy. Thus: life is nothing but corruption. And we should not take this metaphorically. Each multi-cell body was built as a result of a corruption of mono-cell common law, for example. The fact that each human is born as 100% equal to any other, and dies as equal, does not change the fact that in between (while living) is living exactly because he is corrupting this initial and final equilibrium. He is corrupt because he lives and propagates unfair discrimination. One clever guy in Africa is hungry while another stupid caucasian is driving Ferrari. One company is being oppressed by a new law, while another is flourishing on for the same reason. One NGO is having loads of resources from global warming meme, while another is stick to a leprosy meme that is positioned in a “no man’s land” zone. One country is sitting on a sea of oil, while another is sitting on a knowledge that no one is willing to buy. It is hard to accept, but the corruption of equality is the only driver of life.

I have to make important remark about buddhism here. Buddhism is all about individuality while contemporary egalitarian ideologies are all about collective. If one man achieves nirvana and de-socializes completely, that does not harm me. But if flower power contemporary collectivistic ideologies of left and right provenances force me to follow equalization, that gos not only against Schroedinger, but also against mine and yours interests.

What is “the right” level of corruption?

Thus we have to say further for our representatives that decide instead of us for what common laws or common rules should be: whatever decision they make, each decision should increase the level of corruption if they want to enhance life and not suppress it. Each decision maker on whatever level he or she acts, has to understand, that he or she is corrupted already only by being alive.

Society without corruption would be frozen society, while on the other side a society with too much corruption falls in chaos. The level of corruption that is the most beneficial to society (that makes it stronger, more reproductive, more fertile, with better evolutionary strategy) lies on the edge of chaos on the power – law graph (Stuart Kauffman, 1993, ….). If we fight against corruption too vigorously, we are most likely to freeze our society and make it incapable to adapt to environment, that is of course poor ESS; if we allow too much corruption, we fall over the edge of madness and chaos. Both too much and too less are deadly strategies.

Corruption is not an enemy of civilization, but a friend that has to be treated with care. Just enough corruption might not sound as a position that would attract much admiration. But are we talking about admiration here or about best possible sustainable strategies?

Change “corruption” for “mutation”, if you feel better.


As I have already made clear in Brandlife, more than markets prevail over the state, less there is a need for lobbying and less there is a place for the type of corruption that rests on parasitism. Since this blog proves in almost every post that whenever markets prevail over the state there is more freedom, economic prosperity and social equality, it seems impossible that in this post positive attributes of corruption are explained.

There is though no inconsistency in may statements. Both are true for I have developed my plea for corruption on Wikipedia premises. Corruption that happens in almost all countries has nothing to do with memetic, power war amongst conflicting memes, but power war against any meme. For where decision-makers care about their power only to guard themselves against market liberties, memes stay silent. Unfortunately I cannot find a single example where majority of decision-makers would dare to decrease their powers for the advancement of liberties. Corruption in such cases cannot play a positive role inasmuch as cancer as a phenomena of mutation does not play a positive role while the rest of mutations do.


Andrej Drapal