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That old "power corrupts" saying is detrimental to society

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posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 12:19 PM
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"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton

This famous and often repeated phrase, ironic in it's absoluteness (especially when repeated with "tends" taken out), is usually recited by good people... or at least people who strive for goodness. And what happens when good people believe that the pursuit of power is evil? They don't seek it. Instead it's the evil people who seek power, and power they do obtain.

More than any other demographic I hear this phrase recited by Christians. Motivated by fear, plagued by guilt, these so-called "good people" are guilty through inaction. They seem to care significantly more about the "next life" rather than striving to make this one better, all the while letting power slip further into the grasp of those who would impose their will on us. I guess it's no surprise that Mr. Acton was a Christian. Catholic to be precise. Of all other religions, Catholicism is perhaps the most guilt-ridden.

Oh and the best part... if absolute power corrupts absolutely then what does that make God?

Power is an idea. It is neutral. A tool that can be used for good, evil, or something in between. What might have been different in human society today were that quote stricken from history?




posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 01:01 PM
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Originally posted by circlemaker What might have been different in human society today were that quote stricken from history?


No, because the fact would still remain.

Nice thread



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 01:20 PM
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Actually I never hear that phrase repeated in religious circles. Not very often in the political realm either.

You mostly hear it from historians and media outlets.



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 01:30 PM
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Its actually very simple, the people who seek and attain power tend to do so not for altruistic motives. I would say that its not the power that corrupts, more the lust for it that does.

The people who lust after it are most likely already fundamentally flawed.
edit on 24-2-2013 by benrl because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 01:44 PM
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You bring up an interesting phenomenom. In the military we have had a recent string of top-level generals caught for unethical behavior and corruption. The big one is General Petraeus with his affair with Paula Broadwell, but there is a more little known case with the AFRICOM Commander (General in charge of all American operations in Africa) who was caught embezzeling millions of dollars that was supposed to go into military operations.

Even military officers, who are supposed to be the most upstanding and ethical citizens in the country, often are caught being unethical in high-level positions of power.

Personally, I don't think it's the power that is corrupting people. I think we are putting corrupt people in power... well actually corrupt people are putting themselves in power. In the military the people who are the most successful are often the people who care solely about their personal success, and are willing to ruin the careers of others to achieve their goals. These people are also often immoral and unethical in their methods but are able to get away with it because they perform so well. These are the people that seek power the most.

The officers that truly care about their subordinates, their peers, and their country often go unrecognized because their achievements don't look as good on paper. Through lack of an appreciation of ethical officers, and good officers leaving because of cynicism with the system of promotion, the cutthroat unethical officers who crave power often end up at the top.

This isn't to say officers like General Petraeus didn't perform their duty well. General Petraeus was the most competent general we had to run the show over in Iraq. But his competence in his military duty didn't translate into competence in regulating his life, and this divide between duty and personal life is something the Army, and our country struggles with.



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 01:53 PM
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Originally posted by benrl
Its actually very simple, the people who seek and attain power tend to do so not for altruistic motives. I would say that its not the power that corrupts, more the lust for it that does.

The people who lust after it are most likely already fundamentally flawed.
edit on 24-2-2013 by benrl because: (no reason given)


I agree. Its the current concept of Power that is the problem - Materialistic wealth derived from Capitalism & how that wealth is achieved.



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 02:01 PM
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An important enough point to make, I disagree that Christians are "plagued by guilt" on par. Moral awareness, defining, and accountability could lead to a guilt complex, but more often than not it leads to self-correction, which leads to self-discipline and good habits. If it does result in guilt, then please acknowledge the assessment is an individual choice over something they want to change, but it may take time, or rely on another's activity, the end of a work cycle, living arrangement, etc..

For a personal example, as part of building log homes up here, one of the package of duties I had to undertake in the job description was weed-wacking an acre of overgrown land with a heavy duty rental for our client. As a nature lover I hated that, felt guilt about it, and didn't want to repeat the experience. The point is, many wouldn't care, but the moral impetus in my mind made me feel guilty about it to the point where I made dour reference to the activity to my bosses (the fine line between grumbling and getting the job done : it was a rare duty after all).
I also approved of building with logs for a few years because people need homes. But ...

The end result is that I no longer work for that company, openly profess my preference to work with the permanance of stone or steel over wood, and consider tree-planting for the future to atone for what's already been done and my part in that. Tell me the "guilt" had a bad result, and I'll correct you by pointing out it had the best result. That's only one facet for an example. If anything, moral drive leads to an end to attributing false blame on others and aquiring false guilt from those whose moral compass is rather directionless, who like to power-trip in your life.



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 02:04 PM
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I don't have guilt,God helps not hurts.Man on the other hand...
If something is true why deny it?



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 02:22 PM
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I would have thought the adage was born out of statistical accuracy, if not cause and effect.

I'm not so sure I disagree with it either. I think our country (US) was founded on principles of individual liberty, which in and of itself is contrary to 'power'. And the more powerful our federal politicians get, the more corrupt they are. I can't support an argument that would place the chicken before the egg or vice versa, but corruption seems to be rampant with more powerful people.



posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 10:52 PM
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Certain occupations definitely are showing a trend toward attracting the corrupt. Politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, judges, cops. Consolidation of power in certain specific roles make it easier for the corrupt to impose upon us, and obviously those particular positions of power are likely to attract the corrupt.

Life here is a bit like a MMO (massive multiplayer online) game. But the stakes are so high that the testers and developers sell out to the highest bidders. The very people who are supposed to balance the system by finding exploits and fixing them are some of the most corrupt... or they're just too stupid for the job. Probably both.

There are a few ways of remedying (or at least alleviating) the situation:
One way is the idea the forefathers of the United States had which was separation of powers. With enough power separation too much power is not consolidated into any one role or group, and the idea is they balance each other out. Unfortunately it was just a matter of time that this system was infiltrated.

Another way is harsher penalties in certain cases. The main reason some of the biggest companies do shady things are because they get slapped on the wrist with a settlement that is nothing compared to the profits they reap through their treachery. This is a relatively recent phenomenon due to the massive consolidation of wealth and power in private corporations. They're reach is bigger than countries now, but they still focus mainly on profit with little focus on responsibility and betterment for humanity and the Earth.

And yet another way that could help is for good people to step up and bloody do something! Perhaps it's natural for the corrupt to seek power and the well-meaning to not, but that must change. As long as wannabe-good people believe in the kinds of quotes like the one which was the inspiration for this thread, they are less likely to make meaningful change.

The reasons I brought up Christians was because I was recently viewing some comments attached to an article (I wish I could remember where & what it was about), but anyway I noticed that many who were throwing around that "power corrupts" quote seemed to hold Christian values, talked about Jesus, etc.. I was also brought up in a Catholic family so I have a bit of experience with this crowd and am very critical of religion. Christians perhaps more than any other group have their eyes focused on heaven instead of earth. I bet if all of you believed that you were immortal and stuck here on Earth you'd take a lot more responsibility and action in order to curb the rampant corruption in our world. Without power what are you going to do? Protest in the streets? We've all seen how effective that is. /sarcasm

For whatever it's worth I made a choice years ago to bind myself to the Earth. This gave me a greater feeling of responsibility and interest in the future here for generations to come. As a result I have little patience for those who look forward to "checking out" in 50 years or so while leaving my home a mess, whether through their action or inaction. It's the "inactionables" in particular that I speak out against here. Power must be sought and used responsibly by those who wish to act as proper caretakers of this world. And when those "in power" fail as spectacularly as our current so-called leaders have, they should be usurped by the willing.

This is getting a bit long winded, but there are a couple other things I'd like to add such as fewer laws (I suggest just one, "Do not impose your will, but if you do make up for it in spades.") Also, 100% inheritance tax. No more dynastic families passing down wealth to increasingly less mature children who didn't earn it, yet somehow are in a position of power to rule over the rest of us. Oh and this one word: Symbiosis.

If you read this far, thanks for listening.



posted on Feb, 25 2013 @ 12:17 AM
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Interesting that you brought up Christians.

I grew up as a Christian, and I noticed a severe lack of Christian leadership in America. There are plenty of Christian leaders within the religion, but next to none outside of the religion influencing mainstream America. Seeing as Paul spent his life spreading his beliefs to non-believers, I saw it as a duty of true Christians to become a leader in secular America. Using this position of power in non-Christian organizations like the military and corporations, I as a Christian would be able to influence people positively using my Christian beliefs. My first step towards becoming this Christian leader in American society was to join the military to develop my leadership skills and positively influence the organization.

Well that was the idea, but it hasn't quite worked out that way. I got really into philosophy and re-examining the world around me and decided Christianity was stupid (I apologize for being so blunt but I don't know how else to say it). So now I am a philosopher in the military.

So... that is one thing that can happen when a Christian decides to be a Christian leader outside of the Christian religion. I reckon I'm not the only one this has happened to.



posted on Feb, 25 2013 @ 02:30 AM
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This subject comes up a lot for me, because I have to face a clash of the so called Catholic ethics, against the Protestant ethics every day, between my early conditioned values and those of the environment I am currently in.

This does not limit the values and ethics to religious people- these terms are used by sociologists to refer to the ethical principles that were established long ago by religion, but that stayed with the people long after the rest of the religious practice might be gone. In particular, these terms are often used in contrasting the most common value systems of the USA (Protestant) and Europe (Catholic).

In our capitalist values, we find Protestantism- in which it was determined that having wealth (which is power) results from the blessing of God- it is a sign of ones moral rightiousness. It means you worked hard, it means you were fair to others, it means you made the necessary sacrifices.

In the European Catholic based values, the wealthy powerful are looked upon with suspicion and assumed to be corrupt. If they have it, it had to be come upon by unethical means- they cheated, they stole, or they were just born into a family which selfishly kept power trapped in their own circle. Even if they didn't, they will , once they have it. A great danger is seen in power, and this is why many people will avoid it, -or hide it.
This was the mentality that threw Nietzsche into fits.

I, being an american, didn't even understand what his problem was as I had never come across this mentality before coming to France. But just yesterday, I got into a long debate/argument with my husband concerning it.

I have a lot to say on this, and am trying to keep this short. But one thing I can say is that these two extreme views are self fulfilling, in societies that believe them.
Here, the systems (economic, social...) grow from this premise and guarantee it. So many obstacles are put up to acheiving power, that it becomes impossible to get there without "cheating".
And yet, a society needs sources of power, (to have employees, you must have employers, for example) so some have to be "the corrupt" or "bad guys" for the society to continue.
When I was forming my own business, I was told at the Chamber of Commerce - "You must understand, you are now one of the "bad guys" in this country. You will have obstacles put up before you, you will be treated with disdain by many people- be prepared and know it."

On the other side, our systems makes it more possible for one to get ahead and be more powerful through moral and ethical means, and does have a way of culling out those who don't along the way. It is created to do just that. We look with admiration and respect upon the successful and powerful. Unfortunately we also look upon the less successful and the poor with disdain, and put up obstacles for them, assuming they are morally corrupt. We have lost our recognition of the value of the employee to the society. A society made up only of bosses eventually makes them dependant upon whatever other society they hire!

In my own personal view, however, I believe the truth might lie somewhere in between these extremes.
Everywhere, in everything, there are two opposing forces- call them Yin and Yang if you wish, but one draws us forward, one pushes us back. Between the two, they create stability, or an experience in time and space we can appreciate. Go to fast it is a blur and you'll see nothing, go too slow and you will begin to deteriorate before you've seen much at all.

Power comes with responsibility. I try to move forward and accept more power only according to the development of my capabilities to handle responsibility- progressively.
In the long run, (longer than one lifetime) I think the universe just has a natural way of straightening things out. Those who had more power than they could handle will fall (like Rome), those who limited too severely their power will be forced to suddenly stand one day and accept it. (then you get your revolutions)

My complaint here, in the country where everyone limits their power in concern for being ethical, is that I find their real motivation is actually to avoid responsibility. This pisses me off.

edit on 25-2-2013 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)
edit on 25-2-2013 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 25 2013 @ 05:17 AM
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reply to post by circlemaker
 



"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton 

This famous and often repeated phrase, ironic in it's absoluteness (especially when repeated with "tends" taken out), is usually recited by good people... or at least people who strive for goodness.


Either address the quote as is, or amend your thread. The quote is not entirely an absolute and is a generalisation that is true. 


And what happens when good people believe that the pursuit of power is evil? They don't seek it. Instead it's the evil people who seek power, and power they do obtain.


Men of God don't pursue earthly power not because it's an evil, but because the lust for earthly power is not present within them. Therefore, those who seek earthly power are those who have a lust for power or a lust for things which power can bring - riches, wealth, control over people, slaps on the back, praise from fellow men instead of praise from their Creator. That is hugely different than what you are stating. 


More than any other demographic I hear this phrase recited by Christians. Motivated by fear, plagued by guilt, these so-called "good people" are guilty through inaction. They seem to care significantly more about the "next life" rather than striving to make this one better, all the while letting power slip further into the grasp of those who would impose their will on us.


Whether you want to believe it or not, all happens according to God's Plan and according to His Will. I do not think you realise how similar your thoughts are to the Pharisees who rejected the Messiah for numerous reasons, but specifically because His Kingdom was not what they desired and lusted for  in their hearts - world domination. It was all about "their will" and not God's Will. I will ascend, I will be like, I will I will I will. Just like the Pharisees you are condemning innocent Christians in the court of human public opinion. They too condemned him "for inaction ", when in actually, every act that He did was to save mankind. Little did Judea understand that as they placed God in the flesh on trial by mere mortal man, that in actuality, it was He that was passing judgement on them. They found out a generation later.

When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, He asked "Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME"? Think on it very carefully before you condemn innocent Christians who refuse to advance the kingdom of man on this earth, especially when you are using the faulty reasoning of man who cannot fathom how they are actually fighting God each and every time their slanderous mouths open. Slanderers of God are devils. Does that not put a new perspective on Revelation? Every evil that you see rising is because true faith in Our Creator is disappearing, and since everything truly good comes from Him, when that Spirit of God is withdrawn, the world is left with the "good" defined by mere men which is simply evil redefined as good. Evil as defined by God produces only death and misery, yet man keeps pursuing it thinking delusionally that he can get it to produce life and happiness if only he calls it "good" long enough.


Oh and the best part... if absolute power corrupts absolutely then what does that make God?


Sovereign. King. Creator. Lord of all.  All knees will eventually bow.


Power is an idea. It is neutral. A tool that can be used for good, evil, or something in between. What might have been different in human society today were that quote stricken from history?


Just because a "tool" can be used for good and evil and everything in between certainly does not make it inherently neutral. Pilate mistakenly thought that he had power over Jesus life and death, and Jesus corrected his human thinking by stating that all his "power" came from His Father in Heaven.

The lust for earthly power is a flaw within Adamic man, the iniquity within us which wants to reject Our Creator and stand in His place instead. It is not He that rejects man, but rather, man who rejects Him as King. From start to finish, this is the Truth found within scripture - that man not only rejects Him, but rejects Him for man and earthly power over the perceived meek, the perceived less fortunate, the perceived helpless and the perceived "useless eaters". If that isn't absolute corruption, then I don't know what it is. Absolute earthly power does, more often than not, absolutely corrupt. Removing that quote from reality doesn't change truth, it's just an attempt by man to justify his own desires.



posted on Feb, 25 2013 @ 06:06 AM
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Originally posted by Hopechest
Actually I never hear that phrase repeated in religious circles. Not very often in the political realm either.

You mostly hear it from historians and media outlets.


That is because you are in America. Historians are well aquainted with it because our history stretches back to Europe where the concept of humility and poverty as being morally superior was a basic precept for a very long time. It still is.

In the US, there was an attempt to set up a society which revolted against that view and went to the other extreme, in which "being a boss" is a positive thing, and being in power considered a sign of moral superiority.

I assure you that the opposite and older ethic system is still alive and well in Europe, including the UK, where we still include much of their media sources with ours .


I think at this time is becoming painfully obviosu that either extreme is mistaken, as we watch societies falling from both types of inequity!
edit on 25-2-2013 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 27 2013 @ 04:29 PM
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God doesn't have to be viewed as a person, it can be viewed as a focus point for many people to imagine and make real after a long time because they all listen to the same source and are all told the same thing about that source so they eventually would reach synchronicity.

However, it is then that God would have to manifest into either a woman or man to speak to other religions, who would then have to accept their focus is the same and they would also have to manifest. Then after all the manifestations have had their say, it would be like an eternal moment of silence, but then either the male of female has to speak first and whoever's soul that was and all it's intentions would determine that eternal moment and that is when power corrupts as existence needs 2 souls who both have to speak at the same moment in order for that eternal balance to happen.

Why then you say can't they agree they both speak at the same time? It's because of other religions who would all want that power, to decide whether or not humanity would be forever Christian, or Muslim, or Hindu, Buddhist, Jew whatever. Even further down the road while exploring space they would still regard that first manifestation as the one true God and all others as manifestations of that one true God.

This event could only happen on Earth, not in the afterlife for those interested. That is because life is first on earth and the goes to the afterlife and needs to say this first on earth, not through possesed people because that would make it real in the past and future also.

And to those interested, what if an alien civilization would raise a child on a deserted planet full of artificial intelligent life, raised by robots and machines, in a quatantined area so no one could disturb such a project. Now that child would become all powerful since it would be all knowing, all powerful, expects everything to be like robots and comply, become telepathic like, there would still be others feeding the child information on what to do otherwise it would be the most powerful being in all of existence, without any control. Even in 2 scenario's where a male planet would be added for balance and a story set out where the male realizes he is trapped, learns about the woman and rescues her and they fall in love, there would still be others controlling everything on the outside because no one is going to invest in something like that and not want power, even if it is just because those 2 are not going to be happy when they realize their entire life was one big lie. Otherwise, there would be the neighbours who would want either power or compensation or maybe they would demand freedom since they would be oppressed by those 2 beings and their controllers.



posted on Feb, 28 2013 @ 09:45 PM
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reply to post by Bluesma
 


You bring up a good point. I now am reminded of the idea where people in good favor were considered to be blessed and therefore rewarded with material wealth (and power as a result). However now, at least here in the states, material wealth is often considered a sign of corruption. Interesting inversion. Balance is the key, as always.



reply to post by Dragonfly79
 


Wow that's deep. I feel an intuitive understanding in your words yet am currently incapable of commenting in a meaningful and logically way (via ego).


I just wanted to add, because people often equate power with money... certainly money is power in society today. Money is potential influence over others. But there are other forms of power. There's logic, creativity, and love, among other things. I'm not trying to be patronizing, but I want to remind everyone that we can obtain power in ways not currently recognized by the mundane world.

Also, it is not my intention to lambaste those (in particular Christians who I have singled out) who are really trying to make the world a better place. I know some of you are. I just wanted to make a few people uncomfortable. To light a fire under a few asses so to speak, so that we might realize a better future. I put off one of my greatest desires, to have children, because I find society unworthy of them (especially since the start of the bailouts in 2008). It is my great hope that before I am unable to have children that I will feel confident that my potential future children will have a fulfilling life here on Earth. This is my motivation.






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