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Political Corruption in the Age of Transnational Capitalism

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From the Relative Autonomy of the State to the White Man’s Burden

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AbstractThe emergence of the ever-growing anti-corruption movement from the early ’90s onwards has proven itself to be of considerable importance in how we understand and explain global inequalities as well as in redefining corruption as a lack of transparency. This paper examines the timing and content of this international anti-corruption movement. It argues that, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the deepening of an increasingly transnational capitalism, anti-corruption discourse has arisen as a new version of the ‘white man’s burden’, a justification for intervention into the domestic politics of less powerful states as well as an explanation for their relative poverty. Concurrently, the anti-corruption movement has functioned to push states into increasing their autonomy with respect to local interests and fractions of capital in order to become more subservient and hospitable to transnational capital as a whole.

Affiliations: 1: Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New


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