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Abstract

This is an ethnography of the political culture of Tanzania as compared to the political culture of the United States. Endemic and harmful corruption among the political leadership of Tanzania and the United States alike stems from widespread popular equation of order with patriarchy, made worse by extending the logic of patriarchy to belief that social order and welfare rest on the strength of the nation state. The Tanzanian war on corruption and ensuing shutdown of the University of Dar es Salaam during the first half of 1990 affirm the radical feminist premise that the models of legitimacy we apply in the privacy of our families are identical to and inseparable from the models of legitimacy employeed domestically and internationally by our political leaders. Corruption and other violence are more directly expressed in Tanzania and more indirectly expressed by Americans who as a consequence are more enslaved to corruption and violence than Tanzanians. The contrast in Tanzanian and U.S. political cultures and the nature of patriarchy itself leads to a set of paradoxes about achieving freedom from corruption through exercise of patriarchal state power—as that children who are the ultimate victims of corruption are at once most blamed by adults, more responsive to change than adults, and unable to change as long as they remain the subjects of patriarchal discipline. Bribery is not necessarily a part of the problem of corruption but is a part of the solution. Freedom from corruption basically requires democratic accountability. Tanzanians and Americans are linked symbiotically: neither people can free themselves from corruption without before the other. There is no logical starting point for a patriarchal approach to freeing people from corruption. On the other hand radically effective emancipation from corruption is occurring across Tanzania and the United States.
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