When a regime outlives its usefulness, the characters in play will definitely start the grasshopper in a bottle like kind of fight. This is not bad for a system renewal; it is normal and happens everywhere. Cracks are signs of a tired systems at play.
This is the grand illusion: that “decent people” will make all the difference. We know that in corrupt systems, decent people end up with two options: conform or be crushed.
Happily for human nature, there are always good, moral people who look at what’s happening around them and decide that they can’t live with themselves if they go along with it. Unhappily for human society, such people are almost always bullied, marginalised and destroyed.
In bad systems, the decent person is the freak, the oddball, the awkward crank who is not a team player, not one of us.
This is what bad systems do: they reward the compliant with tribal approbation (“Done, for you big boy”) and recast conscience as negativity. They invert altruism, using the instincts of decency – working co-operatively, being “in this together”, upholding a communal ethic – to normalise sociopathic behaviour and make decency despicable.
Even good intentions are useless in such a world. Consider, for example, the Catholic bishops who ended up colluding with predatory paedophiles by shifting them from parish to parish. These are all men trained for many years in moral thinking. All of them, perhaps, dreamed of being saints in the same way that other boys dreamed of being footballers. Most of them are individually decent, compassionate and well-intentioned men. Yet they ended up enabling and covering up the most horrific crimes against children.
Why? Because they had too much power. Because they had to account to no one outside of their own institution. Because they had a fierce loyalty to their colleagues. Because they didn’t want to be the one who betrayed the tribe. Because what might have seemed outrageous the first time you did it gradually became normal. And because they could convince themselves that, really, it was all in the service of a higher moral purpose.
Political philosophers have long known that when people have the power to get away with anything, they will try to get away with everything. Two and a half thousand years ago, Plato told the story of Gyges, who finds a ring that makes him invisible. Within weeks, he has turned from innocent shepherd into corrupt monster.
Getting the old system crushed and replace it with a new one required a sober and tolerant mind, we need one chap who can stand up to the crook and call him by his immoral baptized name that depicts his character with no fear. This game is not by the book unfortunately, it is by common sense and experience.
Those who have been standing out for reforms call this moment crunch time; they need to thoughtfully and critically seek out the good and build on it rather than standing out to play God.
Sometimes men that end up causing for a revolution or change are necessarily not the saint-like but are those that believe that a better day can unfold with hope of a better living and leading of people by rule of law.