230. Innocence Compromised – On Being an Adult (?)

The short­est path to power for a scoundrel is to com­pro­mise either good peo­ple (hard to find) or almost good peo­ple (most of us). The wicket gate is left open a crack, one small short cut is taken, an inno­cent favour is returned with unex­pected con­se­quences – it is all grist to the oppor­tunist weav­ing his web to entrap the unwary. Once com­pro­mised, it takes a strong char­ac­ter to hack free. The open­ings are end­less and inescapable – the guile­less party girl laid by a pimp, the wide-eyed school leaver “inducted” into a cor­rupt com­pany or mil­i­tary cul­ture, the aca­d­e­mic pres­sured by his dean into ignor­ing pla­gia­rism, the novice politi­cian unwit­tingly accept­ing “a favour”…. The vic­tims might pray for strength, ratio­nal­ize, kick their dog, become cyn­ics or enthu­si­as­ti­cally go over to the side of evil. What­ever. The mas­ter com­pro­miser though is not entrapped. He has a free “get out of jail” card, and it is called betrayal. For advanced lessons in this dark art we might turn to Mao Zedong, who seems to have com­pro­mised then betrayed every­one who ever knew him, and left a legacy of ruth­less cyn­i­cism which his coun­try has still to cut free from.

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