Tuesday, February 01, 2022

The Corruption Tango

A dance in four movements.

I. A Touch of Sleaze

I know, I know, an oil company bribing in Kazakhstan,
Angola, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia and Uzbekistan?

Captain Obvious, who would have thought it? Why bother, very passé
Or, alternatively for the more world weary, isn't that so blasé?

It's the very definition of oil barons everywhere in the wild west
That's how robber barons and monopolists amass their treasure chests

So nineteenth century, so railroad tycoon, so captain of industry
So very Portuguese explorer, so very East India Company

And truth be told, it's really no big thing,
A bit of imperialism or monopolistic trading

To make a such a fetish out of a few bribing actions
In a world of rampant stock market manipulation

Where we celebrate ruthless and unscrupulous business practices
On a frequency and scale worthy of a swaggering industrialist

It's not like rubber farming in Liberia by way of the Dunlop family
It's not like a banana republic run by the United Fruit Company

It's a small thing, just a temporary lapse in ethics
That found ordinary Joes caught looting in a crisis

The post-facto rationalization of age old greed is termed mercantilism
Humbug, as Marx might have remarked, it's the thin veneer of capitalism

Fortune favors the bold, the lure of black gold makes brave men take chances
Well... yes and no. Bear with me if you will, as I invite you to a dance.

We aren't talking of eccentric moguls in wonky health
Using exploitative strategies to amass wealth

Profit making for those with an aversion to shame
Pure pricing power for winners of the great game

Rapacious, these highway bandits, to the third degree
The simple secret of their success is a touch of sleaze

There will be blood, if not exploitation, by these canny merchants
There's always a shortcut when you encounter Never Never Man

The preferred tactic of this nouveau aristocracy
Best exemplified by Rockefeller and Carnegie

Is to scrub reputations with overdue philanthropy
Extravagant gestures, museums and public libraries

Serenely unrepentant in his lifetime was the colossus named Rhodes
Even since, the legacy scrubbing has taken on colleges and scholarships

So manifest was his destiny - his confession of faith doth nakedly appall
That centuries later, the cries continue to ring out that Rhodes must Fall

The biographers can argue about his complicated legacy, of course
But unlike Alfred Nobel's example, there was no buyer's remorse

Fallen angels like him and King Leopold
   practiced the conqueror's catechism
What many forget is that, during their lifetimes,
   they faced the charge of racism

But these are merely the opening steps,
   as when the dancers gather for the show
The intimate legacies of men,
   it takes two to do the corruption tango

dance by wiz

The Corruption Tango: A Playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)

The Corruption Tango

A dance in four movements.
  1. A Touch of Sleaze
  2. Cease and Desist
  3. The Temptation of Black Gold
  4. The World's Lawyer
I nominate this internal displacement for The Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

Next: Part 2: Cease and Desist

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Writing log. Concept: July 7, 2005; March 8, 2021

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