Who said absolute power corrupts absolutely

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who said absolute power corrupts absolutely

Quote by Lord Acton: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

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"Absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Darn clever these earthmen, wouldn't you say?

What Does Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely Mean?

He is perhaps best known for the remark, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men John Acton's grandfather succeeded to the baronetcy and family estates in Shropshire in The estates had previously been held by another English branch of the Acton family. John Acton's grandfather was a member of a younger line of the family which had transferred itself to France and, subsequently, to Italy , but, subsequent to the extinction of the elder branch, he became the patriarch of the family. She became the mother of John Dalberg-Acton who was born in Naples.

Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton in a series of letters concerning the moral problem of writing history about the Inquisition. I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong.
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Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority. For the defence of conscience need not arise. Property is always exposed to interference. It is the constant object of policy. All liberty is conditional, limited and therefore unequal. The state can never do what it likes in its own sphere.

Definition: Having power corrupts a man, or lessens his morality, and the more power a man has, the more corrupted he will become. They are primarily focused on their own benefits, and they may abuse their position of power to help themselves. If you follow the thread that absolute power corrupts absolutely, you can believe that monarchs—those with the most authority—have the least amount of morals. Kinder souls would be found among poorer, less influential people. Naturally this is not always the case, as there are many examples of kind and good leaders. Of those who are corrupted, it is it is hard to distinguish whether the power corrupted the man or the men who were drawn to power were already corrupted.

What I found striking, when I went and looked for the quote, is the line that comes directly after. I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Mirko Y. says:

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  2. Natasha S. says:

    John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton - Wikipedia

  3. Ferlainisro says:

    Lord Acton Quote Archive | Acton Institute

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