Q: What is the cycle of corruption?

A: The cycle of corruption is a positive-feedback mechanism that tends to become amplified, in this case, in its Machiavellian machinations as well as in its deleterious effects.  Those machinations may achieve a level of illicitness according to standard operating procedures or other administrative rules.  In the extreme, these bad practices may involve illegal, felonious  actions.

Organizations within the grips of ever-darkening secrecy, exhibit runaway organizational paranoia. Control over the movement of information is perceived by the in-group of managers to be ever more critical.  As increasingly questionable decisions are acted up, there is an anxious apprehension of possible consequences that must be controlled for.  This increase constrains actions of the organization to sometimes absurd levels, it encourages angry treatment of subordinates who are well-intentioned but unaware of the needlessly self-imposed fetters of the superiors and it further deprives managers of necessary inputs.

The initiating stages of the cycle of corruption may not involve improper or illegal activity at all.  It probably usually does not.  What can act as the “butterfly that starts the hurricane” might be nothing more than an agency’s attempt to hide an error that it as an organization, or one of its employees in particular, has made.  Hiding errors from the public and oneself internally as an organization has no more better consequences for a group or an agency than it does for an individual.  Please see the associated article at this site, on the correction of errors, by Astronaut Jim Wetherbee,


As President Kennedy stated eloquently in a speech that I will have will have frequent recourse to elsewhere at this website: “This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.” (1)

But, as I described, uncorrected errors not only become mistakes, they foster a community of always increasing secrecy and distrust, and that itself creates a Petri plate for nurturing increasingly undesirable activities, if not crimes.  Again, President Kennedy in the same speech:

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.” (2)

It is as though a certain type of individual is attracted to an environment where there is ample signaling that inordinate systems of secrecy reign.  Please see the attached article entitled: “Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variation and Why Some are Tempted to Become Corrupt,”



  1. An embarrassing error, wrongful act, abuse, fraud or crime of various degrees;
  2. Systems of secrecy; inordinate “discretion”; clandestine operations; distrust and testing of the honest; pre-existing systems of secrecy such as the CIA, FBI, military organizations and criminal enterprises; ad hoc communities of criminality; rackets; secret societies and nested organizations; church organizations; pet players; stool pigeons & infiltrators;
  3. Cover ups after the fact involve various items of the following, including illegitimately employed–that is, abuse of–authority; the penalizing and harming of potential or realized whistleblowers; perks, pay, privileges, and bribes for minor collaborators; initial bullying often followed by more shrewd methods of gaslighting, mobbing, gangstalking and defamation of those selected as targets by wrongful systems; there is the possible neutralization by various means of witnesses; the destruction, alteration, spoliation or substitution of evidence and chains of custody and identification; inordinate control of systems whereby evidence could be obtained; resisting or tampering with legal discovery of evidence, subpoenas, and depositions;
  4. Malignant obedience; blind obedience; pre-obedient signaling and obsequiesceness; sycophantism; misconstruel and narrow misapplication of the admonition that “all authority comes from God”; collusion, conspiracy, wrongful collaboration, misprision, culpable acquiescence; hiding one’s head in the sand; throwing colleagues known to be honest or innocent “under the bus;”
  5. Repeat, escalate and entrench


(1) Kennedy, President John F., “The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association,” Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
April 27, 1961, Part II, ¶3, from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/American-Newspaper-Publishers-Association_19610427.aspx

(2) ibid, Part I, 1.

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