Friday, January 20, 2006

power corrupts

power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely

Lord Acton's epic warning that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"
Historian Lord Acton (1834-1902) issued epic warnings that political power is the most serious threat to liberty.
Born in Naples, he was educated in England, Scotland, France and Germany, developing an extraordinary knowledge of European political history.

While he never wrote the history of liberty he dreamed about, his essays and letters abound with memorable insights. For instance: "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end...liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition...The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern...Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
In his inaugural lecture as Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, Lord Acton told students: "I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong."

No comments:

Metropolitan Cooperation and Administration in Mexico

The Role of Metropolitan Cooperation and Administrative Capacity in Subnational Debt Dynamics: Evidence From Municipal Mexico Authors ...