Does Power Corrupt?

Does power corrupt?
I think the answer is No. The idea that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (according to Acton and the rest of ’em), is to me, a statement not only farthest from truth, but also serves a three-pronged purpose.
a) It normalizes the status quo, which might be indulged in corrupt practices. Many democracies have got away with this idea of normal corruption trends, quoting Acton.
b) It criticizes some of holding “absolute power” since they do not practice Western model for Democracy.
c) It does not recognize that Power to the People can lead to a change in society, since the skeptics and the pessimists would always sigh: “What’s the point? Power will eventually make these people corrupt too. So let’s not get into misadventure of challenging the existing structure.”
Power dynamics are not as complex as they are often made out to be. Power is not in isolation to leadership. Indeed even in Eisenstein’s movies, the toiling masses have become leaders themselves as one unit while defying the royal families. So what happens when power is delegated?
Instead of the cliche question as to who can be a good leader to use power, one needs to ask: for whose benefit the power will be used. Its more important to know which side one takes than to philosophically complicate the issue by weighing if its worth taking a side. I think there is nothing more powerless an act than to be indifferent. Unless that is, if one can afford to be stoic.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

One thought on “Does Power Corrupt?

  1. i think that power does corrupt despite what the points you have discussed. power over the generations have always been corrupt…whereever government or politics are involved power is always corrupt. Just look back a history and count how many revolutions have occured and ask yourself why?….Power was corrupt.. look at times when the mighty kings ruled… power was corrupt and even now look at the political leaders of the world. Their polemical actions driven by power have cuased the incessant war over in Iraq…Power is corrupt.

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