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By Milton Goldsmith

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The spectacle is that the rich who have plundered live, unconscionably, amid those who will die early deaths amid grinding and implacable poverty; and that the rich are concerned more with their own welfare than the incidental needs of development. But, as with all things, corruption is more complex than the spectacle, no matter how sorry that spectacle is. It might even be a normative condition in many places – something is wrong if there is no corruption. I want to explore this complexity. However, I do not wish to deny the aspirations of the young revolutionaries who imagine the invention of the slow-drilling bullet, to be used by the firing squads at the moment of reckoning for those who have stolen hugely and benefited their fellows minutely.

London led Paris in every round and ensured, as each rival city dropped out – Moscow, New York, Madrid – that votes were transferred to London. Simple lobbying did it. The French thought that their style alone would carry the day. In many ways it should have. Paris already had facilities in place. The London Olympics looks good only on paper. But lobbying is a fine art; the French did not do it and now accuse the British of perfidity. The British left no heart string unpulled. Some 30 children of appropriately mixed races were presented to the International Olympic Committee almost as specimens that the games would indeed benefit the young.

But he had stumbled upon an amazing multinational cast of car thieves – more accurately, a car thieving syndicate. Senegalese, Zaireans, Zambians and Zimbabweans were all involved, not to mention non-white South Africans: if the elite drove Mercedes Benzs bought with stolen money, the next level down drove Peugeot 504s that had simply been stolen outright. This is a caricature of an uneven and complex situation, but the idea of levels of engagement with informality is real enough. In the slums of Addis Ababa it is a rewarding spectacle – if your honestly gained car breaks down – to walk down the street of Somali mechanics who have produced quite good working replicas of every mechanical part a car owner might need.

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