Standard “House of Cards” views of corruption in government were quite out of date as they considered corruption only at the highest levels, and as abnormal, something ‘normal, honorable’ people didn’t do. Because corruption had been so institutionalized, most people benefiting had no need to break laws. That was optional, and handled at beyond-arms-length by specialist organizations when needed.
Also, that naive view over-rated the need for an evil schemer to move the worst people to the most lucrative positions and select the best fronts, facades, puppets, spinners, framers and PR people to put the nicest lipstick on any pig of a situation, and thus to increase their share of this year’s spoils at the expense of ‘the other party’ after the next election cycle. As complex as these outcomes were, any system engineer viewed them as the natural results of the political market place as it allocated political capital to the policies with the highest return. It was an ecosystem with a large flow of energy for the primary recipients and all those who depended upon them. A rainforest, nurtured by money, an ecosystem consisting entirely of parasitic species.
In the ‘It’s Just People, All The Way Up’ view*, conspiracies are part of human nature, the way we get things done in groups. From a child deciding to enlist one parent to convince the other through business associates deciding over lunch what arguments their boss will believe, much of social decisioning is conspiracy. At the same time, the finite grasp of human minds limit conspiracies to a fraction of Dunbar’s number of people, beyond that trust does not go. Elites are ‘just people’ and have no special attributes beyond charisma. Conspiracies require trust, quids preceding quos. Thus, they do not scale, and New World Order or International Banking conspiracies cannot exist. In this view, all large-scale trends and results are the result of shared goals and understandings responding to the same environment, mediated by political market places around the globe.
Other views accept that analysis, but point out that long-term cultivation of laws and institutions can produce the shared goals and understandings as well as the environments to be responded to. Or at least ‘good enough’ versions for a person to become wealthy. Crony capitalism is a lot more profitable and very reliable compared to the real thing, long-term cultivation is just farming in another arena.
*In the creation myth of Ankh-Morpork on DiscWorld, the flat world rests on the back of an elephant, which is standing on the back of a turtle, then turtles all the way down. Myths from more sophisticated cultures leave out the elephant. (Recursion as sufficient explanation, no additional attributes needed, is the point, in case you wondered.)