You must have heard of the rotten apple fairy tale. You know how it goes. It’s the standard establishment explanation for corruption or incompetence: He/she’s a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel. According to this theory, rotten apples are either weak assholes in the guise of human beings who have slipped through organisational screening processes and succumbed to the temptations inherent in positions of power, or deviant individuals who continue their deviance in an environment that gives them ample opportunity so to do.

Police departments, governments and the military tend to use the rotten apple theory, or some variation of it, to minimize public backlash after every exposed atrocity or act of corruption or incompetence.

Another approach is the occupational socialization explanation, the polar opposite of rotten apple theory — rotten barrel theory, if you will. According to this view, the very structure of front-line agencies of the state provides ample opportunity to learn the entrenched patterns of deviant power-based conduct that have been passed down through generations.

A functional explanation may be closer to the truth: corruption and institutionalised barbarism may be inherent in society’s attempts to enforce unenforceable laws and undesirable hegemonies.

The footage below pertains to the current US adventure in Iraq but it could, mutatis mutandis, be about Vietnam, Somalia, or the war against the American people at home.

Click here to watch it.

Advertisements