CASE STUDY: BRITAIN
British ‘exceptionalism’ in regard to the collusion-corruption process is characterized by the ‘pursuit of virtue’ motivating leading elements of British society. Even so, such normative strengths only gradually eliminated the canker of corruption—just as representative government was only gradually extended to the entire adult population. It was well into the Victorian era before appointment and promotion by merit (and not by favouritism, birth or wealth) was institutionalized in the civil service, later to become the greatest source of pride in the British establishment. And it was not for another twenty years that legislation against electoral bribery was finally enacted.
Yet the normative strengths imbued in Victorian public life, whatever their inhibition of economic dynamism later on, were truly remarkable: faith in freedom, the rule of law, religious tolerance, lofty moral standards, encouragement of education, uplift of the poor, and so on.
Indeed, for a brief moment (historically speaking) one country pioneered the reconciliation of the individualist ‘morality of wealth’ (during the early maturity of the Industrial Revolution) with the ‘morality of power’ (expressed in terms of social uplift): a fusion that resulted in the unprecedented integrity of public life. This exceptional state of affairs can be attributed to a number of factors: the ‘gentlemanly’ ideal (in contrast to ‘money-making’); the administrative requirements of empire; utilitarian standards of efficiency and rationality; an age of high moral seriousness; and the laissez-faire regime of free trade, peace and prosperity, under which capitalist enterprise flourished without influencing politicians corruptly.
Britain, by the mid-nineteenth century, was not only the ‘first industrial nation’ but also the greatest imperial power and the financial centre of