Why Power Doesn’t Corrupt (Absolutely)

Excellent discussion of a common (yet misunderstood) phrase

The Anarchist Notebook

Why Power Doesn’t Corrupt

There is the common adage that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrects absolutely” when discussing government and politics.

First used by Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, the saying is used to describe how people are seemingly corrupted by power when they obtain it. It is often used to argue for limited government and separation of powers.

This adage, however well-intentioned, is incorrect, and until this misunderstanding is corrected it will be difficult for people to move beyond the concept of government as a means of justice, law, security, and other services.

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