The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man

The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Thomas Bailey Aldrich (November 11, 1836 – March 19, 1907) was an American poet, novelist, traveler and editor, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Wikipedia)

(Since) power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely (therefore) 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. Here are the greatest names coupled with the greatest crimes; you would spare those criminals, for some mysterious reason. I would hang them higher than Haman, for reasons of quite obvious justice, still more, still higher for the sake of historical science.

Lord Acton Dalberg in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887, arguing for greater, not lesser accountability for those in high offices such a popes and presidents

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: