-4

Everyone knows what happens to the police and the military in corrupt states: these are the kind of places where you carry extra cash for bribes.

Everyone knows what happens to the police and the military in authoritarian states: disappearing people in the night, extrajudicial executions, firing on protestors, etc.

In either case, these groups end up doing exactly the opposite of their original purpose: upholding the rule of law and to protecting the citizenry, respectively.

Based on historical examples, how (if at all) have other emergency services behaved in corrupt/authoritarian states? Did Nazi Germany/the USSR/South American military dictatorships etc. even have civil ambulances, fire services, etc.? Did those services continue to act as before, or did they change their fundamental character, goals, behaviour, etc.?

Some possible examples

Perhaps Nazi and Imperial Japanese experimentation on human subjects would count here, but I don't know how much that was endemic corruption of the entire medical establishments of those countries at the time and how much it was a handful of (usually military-associated) sadists.

Perhaps a better example would be the APA's complicity in US torture policies, but this is specialised body's moral lapse rather than a case of the whole field of psychology going rogue.

Coast Guards seem to be the only other force who suffer from this kind of corruption—see Greek and Libyan examples—but their role is naturally more police/military-esque than the services I am curious about.

Incidentally, this question was inspired by this news story about Chilean police allegedly blocked paramedics from treating a protestor suffering a heart attack, which I had initially misread as claiming the paramedics refused to treat the protestor. That is how I would expect to see this sort of corruption manifest, but I am not aware of any stories of that sort of thing from Nazi Germany, Syria, the USSR, North Korea, etc.

  • 3
    I'm afraid this question may suffer from the Anna Karenina effect. While the contrapositive might be answerable, there are just too many ways to screw things up to say anything general about all of them. – T.E.D. Nov 21 '19 at 16:48
2

Nazi Germany's Euthanasia murders would probably not have been possible without a reasonable amount of collaboration from the medical sector. Not sure if that is relevant to your question, however.

I think your lumping together of authoritarianism and corruption is not particularly useful. The two sometimes come hand in hand and sometimes not. E.g. I would claim that in East Germany (which was quite authoritarian but not very corrupt), fire brigades and emergency services were reasonably similar to what it is now. The equipment was worse and the civil defense forces were somewhat more geared towards military conflict than the THW is. But fire brigades and ambulances generally did what fire brigades and ambulances are supposed to do.

As far as I have heard from countries with greater problems re. corruption, the health sector often is quite corrupt, but that generally applies more to hospitals and doctors and not so much to emergency services. It is mainly a matter of opportunity and social acceptance. Nobody will complain to authorities if you give the doctor some money for a day of sick leave, or for moving you up a few places on a waiting list. But if the fire brigade refuses to put out a fire if it does not get a bakshish first, then some people will get really upset, report it to the media etc.

P.S. police in authoritarian countries would still claim that they are protecting order and thereby protecting citizens.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.