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transparency | John Feffer
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The Anti-Corruption Revolution

During rush week, aspiring frat boys endure all manner of indignities. They all want to join the exclusive club, and they’re willing to pay the steep initiation fee of risk and embarrassment. One day, they too will be­ seniors who can haze the newbies all they like. Such are the perks of following orders, rising through the ranks, and waiting one’s turn in the hierarchy of power. In...
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Black Ops for Peace

Transparency advocates love to quote Louis Brandeis to the effect that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Who could dispute the beneficial impact on politics of throwing open the doors and flinging open the windows? But sunlight can have other effects as well. If too intense, sunlight can wilt. It can scorch. It can even kill. Transparency has been a trending topic for several decades. The...
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The Misrule of Law

The success of the free market reforms that took place in East-Central Europe after 1989 was predicated to a large degree on the rule of law. The privatization of state assets, for instance, required a high degree of transparency and a strong set of regulations. Otherwise corrupt individuals and groups could easily vacuum up the assets at low prices and make a killing. Two decades after these...
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The Czech Culture of Corruption

The Czech playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel popularized the notion of “living in truth.” He was dismayed at the degree to which lies had permeated Czechoslovak society under Communism. It wasn’t only government and Party officials who lied about history, the economy, the state of human rights, the opposition Charter 77 movement, and so on. Virtually everyone in society was complicit in...
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Creating an NGO Culture

When I started working on U.S.-Soviet relations in the 1980s, I encountered my first GONGO. This was a “government-organized non-governmental organization.” It was like something out of Alice in Wonderland. An early GONGO, the Soviet Peace Committee styled itself as an NGO. It worked with various NGOs in the West. But it closely hewed to the Party line. Later, as Gorbachev began to shake up...
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