For example, our whole education is ambition-oriented. Our whole society is ambitious and an ambitious society can never be anything but corrupt. If you create ambition in everyone, not everyone will be able to fulfill it. You may say that anyone can be president, but only one person can be president at any one time. When you teach that everyone can be president, ambition is created: if everyone can be president then why shouldn’t you be? But since only one person can be president, a mad rush begins. Every means will be used – even evil means will be used.
Ambition corrupts, the ambitious mind is bound to be corrupt. Ambition is the seed of insanity. Yet our whole education is ambition-oriented. Your father says, “Become someone!” and the fever is created – you become diseased. Only one person can be president, and thousands of people who will be unsuccessful are aflame with the same ambition. Then you cannot be sane – you become insane. Because so much tension is created you become corrupt: you will use any means to achieve your goal.
It is infectious. If you see that someone else is using corrupt means you know that if you don’t use them you will be left behind. So you have to use equally corrupt means. Then someone else sees you being unscrupulous, so he has to be unscrupulous. It becomes a question of survival. Nothing else is possible within this framework, this structure. If you look to the very roots of society you will see that corruption is a natural outgrowth of our conditioning, our education, our cultivation.
The complexity of our social structure is such that those who succeed can hide their corruption. Corruption is seen only when someone fails. If you succeed no one will know that you have been corrupt; success will hide everything. You have only to succeed and you will become a pinnacle of goodness – you will become everything that is good, pure, innocent. That means you can succeed in any way you like, but you must succeed. Once you succeed, once you are successful, nothing that you may have done is wrong.
This has been true throughout history. A person is only a thief if he is a small thief. If he is a great thief, then he becomes an Alexander the Great, a hero. No one ever sees that there is no qualitative difference between the two, that it is only a quantitative difference. No one will call Alexander the Great a great thief because the measure of your goodness is success: the more successful you are, the more good. Means are only questioned if you are a failure; then you will be called both corrupt and a fool.
If this is the attitude, how is it possible to create an uncorrupt society? To ask a person to be moral in this immoral situation is to ask something absurd. An individual cannot be moral in an immoral society. If he tries to be moral, his morality will only make him egoistic and ego is as immoral and corrupt as anything else.
This situation is a human creation. We have created a society with a mad rush for wealth, power, politics; we go on supporting it, and then we ask why there is corruption. Where there is ambition, corruption will be the logical consequence. You cannot check corruption unless the whole basic structure that encourages ambition is destroyed.