I don’t know if it’s fundamentally corrupt, although the question of “who are these ‘peers’ and where does their bias lie?” is a question I’d ask of publications whose accepted entries seem to have a certain slant or bias.
There’s also financial motivations: the peer review system is of an era of expensive science publications. It costs money to publish journals that will be purchased by relatively few: some corporations, some universities, some libraries and are overpriced for most individuals.
Is that corruption? I don’t know really. Money does strange things and when it comes down to it, running a journal is a business venture, whatever its motivations may be.
So, it’s hard to say. I’m biased TOWARDS more open access. Freedom of information, good or bad. At the same time, there’s also a need for trusted information. Quality. Information that’s been scrutinized before being published.
So, there’s a case for peer review, when it’s done right.
I suspect many journals do peer review correctly, in the name of good science and to avoid scandal. Perhaps mostly to avoid scandal but it works out to the same thing in the end, which is a greater likelihood of Good Science.
A very good question. I don’t have a straight answer.