Power and the Corrupt

May 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm 3 comments

Everyone is familiar with Lord Acton’s quote:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

The problem I have with that quote is that it is misleading.  The biggest problem with power is not that it corrupts the innocent, but that it attracts the people that are already corrupt.
I don’t think there was anything special about the Catholic church back in the middle ages when Martin Luther got fed up.  That’s where the power was concentrated.
Lenin and Hitler weren’t decent men corrupted from power, they were horrid bastards that sought power at any cost.
Today’s politicians weren’t corrupted by Washington.  They pursued public office because that’s where the power is.
Creating bigger and bigger government and then complaining about the corruption is like spraying a picnic area with sugar water and then complaining about the ants.

(Mostly a copy of a comment at left at Farmer Frank’s)



Entry filed under: Politics.

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  • 1. aretae  |  May 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I’m not as certain of that. Most people are not villains. Most dangerous people are not people seeking their own aggrandizement. Rather, the dangerous ones are the ones who want to accomplish something…and need power to do it.

    And those people? Power corrupts them.

  • 2. Mycroft  |  May 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Very few people see themselves as villains.
    Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Mao all saw themselves as visionaries leading humanity into a glorious future. It wasn’t the power they attained that corrupted them, they sought power because they needed it to force everyone else to live according to their demands.
    I am not saying that power doesn’t corrupt the innocent. I’m saying that the bigger danger is that corrupt, tyrannical villains are drawn to power because it serves their purpose.
    In LOTR, the One Ring corrupted all who wielded it, even Frodo. But Sauron was a bastard before he made the ring.

  • 3. royminor  |  June 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

    SO true…Mad props for bringing up Hitler and Lenin while keeping it light– not easy 🙂


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