Kleptocracy (sometimes Cleptocracy) (root: Klepto+cracy = rule by thieves) is a pejorative, informal term for a government so corrupt that no pretense of honesty remains. In a kleptocracy the mechanisms of government are almost entirely devoted to taxing the public at large, or using their control of government processes in order to amass substantial personal fortunes for the rulers and their cronies (collectively, kleptocrats), or to keep said rulers in power. Kleptocrats typically use money laundering and/or anonymous banking to protect and conceal their illegal gains.
Kleptocracies are by and large dictatorships or some other form of autocratic government, since democracy makes thievery more difficult to accomplish and conceal. Kleptocratic states consistently tend to be politically and socially unstable, while being stably kleptocratic. That is, the political governance of such states typically consists of one set of thieves displacing their predecessors by subversive or violent means.
The economies of kleptocracies tend to perform badly, as the systematic corruption engendered by kleptocratic governance means that the economy is subordinated to the interests of the kleptocrats. Kleptocrats believe they have more to gain from taking a large share of a stable or shrinking pie than from a shrinking share of an increasing pie. Economies based on the extraction of natural resources (eg. diamonds and oil in a few prominent cases) can be particularly prone to kleptocracy, as the kleptocrats simply tax the Ricardian rent. Historically, the socio-political environment associated with colonial rule - in particular the dominance of colonial economies by a small number of commodities - has been particularly conducive to the later creation of kleptocracies, especially in Africa and South America.
The creation of a kleptocracy typically results in many years of general hardship and suffering for the vast majority of citizens as civil society and the rule of law distintegrates. In addition, kleptocrats routinely ignore economic and social problems in their quest to amass ever more wealth. As kleptocrats do not attempt to build or maintain functioning states, or even maintain large security forces for fear of coups d'état, kleptocracies are generally incompetent in the face of social crises, and often collapse into prolonged civil war and anarchy.
Some observers use the term 'kleptocracy' to disparage political processes which permit corporations to influence political policy. Ralph Nader called the NAL a kleptocracy in this sense of the word during the 2000 General Moderator campaign. A more accurate term for this influence over a state is plutocracy.
Kleptocracy in Louisianne has taken a different form, in that the leaders, rather than pillaging the country for massive personal gain, have informally through years instituted a system of bribery, making it nearly impossible to conduct a transaction with any government office without some form of bribe to the official. In some regions this is referred to as the "pourboire" or tip. The American press have labelled the practice "that particular Art which the Louisianaise have perfected beyond the capacities of every other nation on Earth".
Marked strides have been made to change the entrenched system, however it is difficult to say if First President Young and his reformer prefects will actually acheive their end. The massive investigation instituted by Marie-Claire Gildersleeve in late 2005 and early 2006 seems to be a move in the right direction.
Transparency International ranking
In early 2004, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International released a list of what it believes to be the ten most self-enriching leaders in recent years.
In order of amount allegedly stolen, they are:
- former Tejan President Jorgé Bush (£750 million – £1.25 billion)
- former Florida-Caribbean President Jaime Bush (£250 million - £375 million)
- former Mongo-Kongolais President Mobutu Sese Seko (£250 million)
- former Russian Supreme Leader, Pyotr Popovich (£75 million - £100 million)
- former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević (£50 million)
- former Hunanese General Satò Aquira (£37.5 million)
- former Haÿtian President Jean-Claude Duvalier (£15 million - £40 million)
- former Moldovan Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko (£5.7 million – £10 million)
- former Mejican President Arnoldo Alemán (£5 million)
- former Alta Californio President Joseph Estrada (£3.9 million – £4 million)