Kleptocracy is "rule by thieves". The ability of rulers to perpetuate the plunder of public resources for their own self-enrichment is often associated with the ability to command military forces to suppress democratic dissent.
It is seen in history as a last stage of government before the collapse of polity -- where a lack of ethics and agreement on procedures to resolve disputes leads to an increasingly competitive and fractious market and black-market economy in which only frauds prosper.
- the regime of the late Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines
- the former Suharto regime in Indonesia
- the government of the late Mobutu Sese Seko in the former Zaire
- the former Duvalier regime in Haiti
- the former military dictatorship of Sani Abacha in Nigeria
- The collapse of the Soviet Union is an obvious example, and also demonstrates how oligarchy tends to succeed a political collapse.
Maurice Strong, a UN insider, in his book Where On Earth Are We Going described the condition as "leaders preying on the people who look to them for help."
Liberia under Charles Taylor was a near-perfect example of this phenomenon, with his cronies including Gus Kouwenhoven "managing" the mass deforestation of the country and purchasing and distributing arms with the cash proceeds.
Of course, with the amount of other people's money flowing through the hands of any national government, it is never difficult to find friends willing to facilitate the transfer of public to private assets.
For instance, while the Bush regime doesn't appear to pilfer public asset directly into their own personal pockets, they certainly do profit indirectly, by the direct contributions of their benefactors and cronies who themselves do receive public assets and who do contribute their profits from that public asset back to the personal and campaign coffers of their kleptocrats.
- Chasing the Kleptocrats, New York Times, September 29, 2003.