An article in Der Spiegel today got me thinking about responsibility and corruption. Called Fraud Factory: Helping Careerists get Ahead as a Ghostwriter, the article is about the explosion of ‘ghostwriters’ in academia, who enable lazy and corrupt people to get ahead with bogus degrees they paid for in hard cash. Read it here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-ghostwriter-helps-careerists-get-ahead-with-phd-theses-a-883726.html.
The ghostwriter in question talks about what he does and admits that it makes him kind of sick. But the money is good and he hasn’t been able to find another job with his Ph.D. credentials.
He claims that in capitalism, ‘everything is for sale’ and he is ‘just a cog in the wheels of the capitalist system’. I have done ghostwriting myself, but never of that type where outright fraud is going on. And it made me very uneasy because he is absolving his personal responsibility for the swamp of corruption in public life. It sounded so much like Adolf Eichmann, the notorious holocaust killer, excusing his crimes with the observation that he was ‘just following orders’.
If nobody takes responsibility for what they do, then we get Neo-Fascism. It comes down to whether or not a person can commit this kind of fraud and just dismiss it as something the ‘system’ is somehow responsible for. In the face of massive public scandals and widespread corruption, are we going to blame ourselves or ‘the system’ ??? Are we all going to be like this young, highly educated Ph.D. who excuses himself while aiding and abetting a corrupt system? I know I wouldn’t do it because something prevents me from selling out. That’s the system I was raised under, and I can’t walk away from it. The article shows that we are living in a cowardly new world order. We need to fix this.