Tyler DeJoe Help Received: Maj. Hierman All works including this Reflective essay are on eportfolio IS-337-01-W-X Reflective essay Throughout this course I have learned a lot about the culture and society of post-soviet countries. These countries have numerous similarities. In many of these countries one such similarity is corruption, each country having varying degrees of severity and effect but many still have corruption. The corruption has played an important role in state building and has even found its way into post-soviet cinema. Corruption generally is elites using their power and influence illegally. Usually taking money and assets from the state and claim it as their own. Two of the post-soviet countries I have focused on in particular are Russia and Georgia. In both I have found various effects corruption has had. I have explored the various effects of corruption on state-building in Russia and Georgia. I’ve also done a movie review where the effects of corruption can be seen when interpreting various characters. The effect of corruption on Russian politics is profound. It almost runs the Russian political machine.1 Many within Russian politics trade favors and grant positions to those loyal to them, particularly those close to Putin. I had a vague understanding that this occurred prior to the course. However, I did not realize how extensive corruption was throughout the post-soviet sphere until I was in this course. The assignment that really proved it to me was the first comparative essay. In this essay I chose to compare Russia and Georgia and the effects of corruption on state-building. Through this assignment I observed how many people feel that political parties, courts, the police and other agencies are corrupt, in some cases 89% of Russians feel the organization is corrupt. 2 I was also unaware of the effects corruption has had on Russian cinema. I came to realize this when I reviewed the movie Ward No.6 which is based on the book written by Anton 1 2 DeJoe, Tyler. Comparative Project: Russia and Georgia. DeJoe, Tyler. Comparative Project: Russia and Georgia. Chekov. When I reviewed this movie and analyzed the characters I observed the various positions they represented in Russian Society.3 In the paper I compare a scene where two characters are eavesdropping on another to a group observing dissenters to report them to the capital, after which expecting some kind of benefit. This is comparison within Russian cinema the desire to turn dissenters into the government for benefits is obvious and shows how integrated it is into Russian society. However, there is an aspect of corruption I did not see prior to this course. Before this class I saw corruption as one dimensional, to me it was cut and dry that corruption weakened the state and was horrible for stability. I came to learn that this is not the case. After some in class assignments and especially after working on my first comparative paper I learned that there is state strengthening corruption. This is the type of corruption that I have found to be most prevalent in Russia and parts of the post-Soviet sphere. In Russia this type of state strengthening corruption, often referred to as state strengthening graft, helps to support the regime and its authoritarian tendencies.4 In comparative paper 2, Democratization and Corruption in Russia and Georgia, I discuss how corruption and authoritarian tendencies in Russia are linked. I describe it as a cycle where each portion feeds of the other to become more influential.5 The authoritarian tendencies help to protect the corrupt endeavors of some while those officials who are corrupt take various actions to ensure the regime stays in power. These are not the only things I’ve learned in the course. However, I found corruption and its effects to be an overarching effect throughout the post-soviet sphere. The cycle of corruption 3 DeJoe, Tyler. Review of Ward No.6. DeJoe, Tyler, Comparative Project: Russia and Georgia. 5 DeJoe, Tyler. Democratization and Corruption in Russia and Georgia. 4 and authoritarianism as well as the potential for corruption to strengthen the state are some of the most overarching themes I’ve gotten from this course. It has provided me with a new understanding of various governments, corruption and how states are formed and how they operate.