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View Poll Results: Does power corrupt, or do the corrupt seek power?
Absolute power corrupts like a M.F. 40 54.79%
Those who seek to lead are the least fit to do so. 17 23.29%
It's not that simple. (explain) 16 21.92%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 06-28-2011, 08:17 AM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

I mean it's kind of expected, really, that the denizens of our pedestals eventually weather and crack, and in the end are ground into the gravel that paves the path of civilization. And it sounds to be a good and reliable human algorithm: with increased power comes increased and irresistible ability to skirt personal responsibility. But is that really how it has to play out? Must all paladins fall to temptation? Is there really a hardy seed of evil in all of us that will inevitably sprout when watered by opportunity?

Or perhaps there is an even simpler explanation: The inherently corrupt seek power because it is an irresistible light to a world without personal responsibility, whereas the true blue among us find no charm in a life centered upon directing the will of others. In other words, “Those who seek to lead are the least fit to do so.”
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2011, 08:22 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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A long time ago a group of coworkers and I were discussing political power and how only the corrupt seek office and surely it would work if instead of elections we just dropped in a dedicated and hardworking individual for a specified term. A contract leader so to speak.

As luck would have it we had in the office a particular lady who was a hard line rule follower, hard worker and a compassionate person.

In the course of a 30 minute discussion we managed to break her. It wasn't even real money and she was giving out jobs and making new rules to benefit those closest to her. Apparently when you give a rules follower the ability to make the rules they go nuts.
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  #3  
Old 06-28-2011, 08:25 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is online now
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I voted that absolute power corrupts like a MF.

When someone has absolute power they tend to get surrounded by yes-men and sycophants who, out of fear, will tell them what they want to hear. Even if the person starts out honorable, eventually they will begin believing their own press of their own infallibility. They might not get corrupted to the point of evilness, but corrupted they will.
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  #4  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:37 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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It's not that simple.

The problem with absolute power is that a ruler, no matter how benevolent, will inevitably trample upon the will of some of his/ her subjects. If that faction is very small or the infractions minor and not difficult to bear then they would be remembered fondly. As the faction grows or the constraint grow more difficult to live under then it could be said that they grow more corrupt.
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  #5  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:44 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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A "Thought For the Day" in my classroom reads:

Power corrupts.

Absolute power...is kinda neat.
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  #6  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:14 PM
Oredigger77 Oredigger77 is offline
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I prefer;

Absolute power corupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutly too.
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  #7  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:15 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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The problem isn't so much that power corrupts - it's that power tends to insulate its wielder from criticism. Thus, if you do start to become corrupt, you have less assistance in noticing and correcting the problem.
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  #8  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:52 PM
code_grey code_grey is offline
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it's not a matter of only the "corrupt" people seeking power. It's much more a matter of who will actually end up successful in the quest. If the system is so setup that "corrupt" people can rise to power much easier than others, then they will be overrepresented there.

That's not to say that even the nicest individuals are not likely to get corrupted to some extent given power. But for somebody like Calvin Coolidge there is a lot further to go down that road than for somebody like Bill "meaning of the words 'is' is" Clinton.
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  #9  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:17 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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I don't see why it can't be both; Power corrupts (or at least fertilises corruption), but the already-corrupt also seek power.

There are, I suppose, those who are incorruptible, but as well as those who are corrupt since before they had power, there is a category in the middle consisting of the not-yet-corrupt - kept honest by societal constraint, fear of the consequences, or other circumstance - power affords the relaxation of those constraints keeping them honest.
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  #10  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:28 PM
Lukeinva Lukeinva is offline
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Darn I thought this thread was about vodka.
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:49 PM
Max the Immortal Max the Immortal is offline
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If knowledge is power, does knowledge corrupt?
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:21 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max the Immortal View Post
If knowledge is power, does knowledge corrupt?
Sure, it can, or can enable corruption to be implemented.

Knowing how to make explosives enables one to blow things up, for example.
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2011, 07:31 PM
Max the Immortal Max the Immortal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
Sure, it can, or can enable corruption to be implemented.

Knowing how to make explosives enables one to blow things up, for example.
But surely someone typically has the intent to blow thing up before learning how to make explosives. If someone with a good heart were to study bomb-making just out of idle curiosity, he would be more likely to use that knowledge to disable bombs, should the opportunity present itself. He may even be inspired to pursue a career as a bomb disposal technician.
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  #14  
Old 06-28-2011, 10:10 PM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is online now
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If God exists, he must be absolute corruption!
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  #15  
Old 06-29-2011, 12:56 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Excellent View Post
The problem isn't so much that power corrupts - it's that power tends to insulate its wielder from criticism. Thus, if you do start to become corrupt, you have less assistance in noticing and correcting the problem.
It also makes it easier to get rid of those who are criticizing you.
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  #16  
Old 06-29-2011, 05:15 AM
YaraMateo YaraMateo is offline
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I voted it's not that simple. I think people are confusing corruption with benefits and favoritism. I wouldn't consider someone who says give friends/relatives raises and cushy jobs corrupt as I would consider someone corrupt who refused to hire certain people for ANY job despite how qualified they were. Thems the breaks, yes men, friends, friends with benefits (the office hoe), and relatives are always going to be higher than moral magee. Now, if Moral MaGee isn't allowed a job I'd think hey that guy's corrupt. Why would you want a position of power if you got no perks from it? There's no reason to be (or have) a boss, if everyone is treated exactly the same.

I don't think power corrupts good people. I think power corrupts those who a ill suited and those who have a good facade. So, really think about how good that person was if a little power corrupted them.

I do notice that choosen to run are usually the most ill suited. I think the better question is why aren't people choosing a good person who is also right for the job? We want the popular person, not Moral MaGee. Then we can complain about corrupt our choice was.

Last edited by YaraMateo; 06-29-2011 at 05:17 AM..
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  #17  
Old 06-29-2011, 06:26 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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[Mod mod]Changed "absoulte" to "absolute" in title.[/Mod mod]
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  #18  
Old 06-29-2011, 06:53 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max the Immortal View Post
But surely someone typically has the intent to blow thing up before learning how to make explosives. If someone with a good heart were to study bomb-making just out of idle curiosity, he would be more likely to use that knowledge to disable bombs, should the opportunity present itself. He may even be inspired to pursue a career as a bomb disposal technician.
Of course - but again, I think there are three categories:
Already corrupt (can't wait to hear about bomb-making, in order to make use of it)
Incorruptible (you described above)
Corruptible (kept honest for now by circumstance, in this case, to include ignorance)
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  #19  
Old 06-29-2011, 09:25 AM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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I don't think your two choices are mutually exclusive. Both statements are true.
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  #20  
Old 06-29-2011, 09:49 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Let's put it this way: enjoy the conceptual debate, but on a pragmatic basis, assume that power corrupts absolutely and manage your own interests accordingly within that context.

The human species' survival strategy is adaptability; we progress through making mistakes. Power gives a leader access to the opportunity to make more mistakes - based on good or corrupt intentions - that have greater implications. Do the math.
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  #21  
Old 06-29-2011, 10:02 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonlitherial View Post
A long time ago a group of coworkers and I were discussing political power and how only the corrupt seek office and surely it would work if instead of elections we just dropped in a dedicated and hardworking individual for a specified term. A contract leader so to speak.

As luck would have it we had in the office a particular lady who was a hard line rule follower, hard worker and a compassionate person.

In the course of a 30 minute discussion we managed to break her. It wasn't even real money and she was giving out jobs and making new rules to benefit those closest to her. Apparently when you give a rules follower the ability to make the rules they go nuts.
Well of course. The inherent "corruption" is not that those who actively seek power and authority are particularly evil or greedy. It is that they have a particularly strong vision on how they believe things should work. They will logically align with and support those people who appear to share their beliefs and visions and turn against those who don't.




Quote:
Originally Posted by YaraMateo
I voted it's not that simple. I think people are confusing corruption with benefits and favoritism.
No, benefits and favoritism (including nepotism) IS a form of corruption.


Quote:
Originally Posted by YaraMateo
I wouldn't consider someone who says give friends/relatives raises and cushy jobs corrupt as I would consider someone corrupt who refused to hire certain people for ANY job despite how qualified they were. Thems the breaks, yes men, friends, friends with benefits (the office hoe), and relatives are always going to be higher than moral magee. Now, if Moral MaGee isn't allowed a job I'd think hey that guy's corrupt. Why would you want a position of power if you got no perks from it? There's no reason to be (or have) a boss, if everyone is treated exactly the same.
That doesn't make sense. What is the difference between not allowing someone a job and jobs not being available because they are all taken by cousins and idiot nephews?

The reason to be (or have) a boss is that people often need to be organized and managed when working on large, complicated projects. As a boss, your "perk" is that you have more direction and control and you usually get better compensation, however you also have more responsibility.

There is a difference between being "treated the same" and "having the same responsibilities". I treat all my coworkers with the same amount of respect, regardless if they are interns or the vice president of the office. However, they do not all have the same responsibility nor is all their opinions valued the same.

Your attitude is that of junior employee with average ability/ambition who has internalized lessons that with power comes entitlement. IMHO, people with that sort of attitude make the worst leaders. Like battered housewives, they have learned that corruption, nepotism, favoritism and other abuses are "just how things are done" and as soon as they gain a bit of power, they do things the same way.
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  #22  
Old 06-29-2011, 11:05 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
Well of course. The inherent "corruption" is not that those who actively seek power and authority are particularly evil or greedy. It is that they have a particularly strong vision on how they believe things should work.
Or a diminished appreciation of the negative outcomes (affecting others) of their choices.

Relatively speaking, I suppose it amounts to much the same thing - "I want what I want very much more than I care how it affects you", but at the extremes of the scale, you could have megalomaniac corruption vs apathetic corruption.

Megalomaniac corruption: "I'll do what I want regardless how many corpses I have to climb over"
Apathetic corruption: "I need to do this - screw the consequences, whatever they are" (perhaps more likely to backfire)
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  #23  
Old 06-29-2011, 11:29 AM
Ají de Gallina Ají de Gallina is offline
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I read a saying that went something like "A man is a he is when he can do as he wants", it's not the power that corrupts, is that you can now be the asshole you really were.
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  #24  
Old 06-29-2011, 11:37 AM
Icarus Icarus is offline
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IMHO it's important to distinguish real corruption (Stalin, et. al.) from the reaction of one-who-has-less-power to the actions that one finds disagreeable of one-who-has-more-power.

History has many examples - too numerous to mention - of leaders with essentially absolute power who did not descend into real corruption.

Last edited by Icarus; 06-29-2011 at 11:37 AM..
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  #25  
Old 06-29-2011, 12:28 PM
Vihaga Vihaga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
Your attitude is that of junior employee with average ability/ambition who has internalized lessons that with power comes entitlement. IMHO, people with that sort of attitude make the worst leaders.
This is absolutely consistent with my experience, even when laughably trivial amounts of power are involved. The difference between those who see power as a responsibility and those who see it as an entitlement is vast and is also the easiest-to-spot difference between a potentially good leader (it's necessary, but not sufficient) and a poor one.
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  #26  
Old 06-29-2011, 01:13 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
Or a diminished appreciation of the negative outcomes (affecting others) of their choices.
Typically as the all powerful leader becomes insulated from dissenting views, those with those views tend to become viewed as ""outsiders", "rabble rousers", "criminals" and "traitors". Once you create that "us vs them" mentality, it becomes very easy to wield the power of the state against those who disagree with your views.
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  #27  
Old 06-29-2011, 02:42 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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From all the evidence, Mugabe started out as a relatively decent man and then turned into a monster. Stalin started out a monster and never changed. And fought like hell to become the head.

I know that if I became dictator over all mankind, there are many things I would do that would anger a lot of people. Might I destroy them? I don't think so but since I have never had any power over anyone, I cannot be certain.
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  #28  
Old 06-29-2011, 04:47 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I know that if I became dictator over all mankind, there are many things I would do that would anger a lot of people. Might I destroy them? I don't think so but since I have never had any power over anyone, I cannot be certain.
This approach reminds me a lot of J.R.R.Tolkein's approach to power with regard to The Ring. At it's basic level, it enables you to control the will of others, thereby depriving them of their own. So even if your ultimate goal was to make a better world, it would be so at the cost of everyone else's free will--and how can that ever be a good thing?
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  #29  
Old 06-29-2011, 09:29 PM
El_Kabong El_Kabong is offline
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I'm not sure, so I volunteer to be given absolute power for some reasonable period. Then we shall see.
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  #30  
Old 06-30-2011, 09:05 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
Your attitude is that of junior employee with average ability/ambition who has internalized lessons that with power comes entitlement. IMHO, people with that sort of attitude make the worst leaders. Like battered housewives, they have learned that corruption, nepotism, favoritism and other abuses are "just how things are done" and as soon as they gain a bit of power, they do things the same way.
So you view the best leaders as those who take their responsibilities seriously, know what they "stand for" and make decisions accordingly? I happen to agree, and agree with your statement above - but it feels like it conflicts with your normal "don't hate the playa; hate the game" view of the inter-changeable, bureaucratic, suck-up world of Big Business...
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  #31  
Old 06-30-2011, 10:34 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Robert Caro, LBJ's biographer, had an interesting answer to this question. His belief was that absolute power doesn't corrupt, but reveals. The rise to power is what always corrupts people.

That makes sense if you look at LBJ's life. He did many corrupt things to gain power in the senate, including stuffing the ballot box to win his senate seat. However, once he becomes President he goes ahead and passes the Great Society and the Civil Rights Act.

I tend to agree with this. Once you're in power you don't have to be corrupt. It's the rise to power that's problematic. Many honest people have to face the choice of either remaining honest and going nowhere, and resorting to some corruption so that they can get power and change things.
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  #32  
Old 07-01-2011, 02:50 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
So you view the best leaders as those who take their responsibilities seriously, know what they "stand for" and make decisions accordingly? I happen to agree, and agree with your statement above - but it feels like it conflicts with your normal "don't hate the playa; hate the game" view of the inter-changeable, bureaucratic, suck-up world of Big Business...
What they "stand for" also matters as well.

I don't think my own views on what makes good leadership are inconsistent with the pragmatic realities of the corporate world. The typical corporate hierarchy often is not designed to produce or reward "good leaders".
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  #33  
Old 07-03-2011, 01:01 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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I have found it to be true. that's why I got Checks & Balances. meet Checks (my husband) & Balances (my kids.) they keep me honest
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