Best Answer

This is one of the most important messages in politics and it derives from Plato and Aristotle in Ancient Greece. Essentially, Plato said that the last person you should give power to is somebody who wants it. His argument was that power should be exercised by those who wield it only because they are extremely competent and have a strong sense of civic duty. In reality, they are reluctant leaders and can't wait for their period of dutiful civic service to be over.

The modern version was succinctly put by Lord Acton in 1887 - "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." This is a major weakness of modern democracy, that we elect leaders who are utterly desperate to be leaders. The problem is, therefore, that once they are elected, they will do almost anything to stay elected - this is the corrupting influence of power in a democracy. The bit about "absolute power corrrupts absolutely" is just voicing the implication that the more power you have, the more corrupt you are likely to be. In a democracy this doesn't matter too much since every 4 or 5 years we get the chance to kick them out. That is why it is important to vote. Irrespective of who you vote for, politicians generally fear high electoral turnouts - it means the voters are angry. But in a dicatatorship, we can see the long-term corruption in leaders from Stalin and Hitler, to Hussein and Gadaffi. The problem is that, the longer you have total control, the less likely you are to be able to see and correct the flaws in yourself.

User Avatar

Wiki User

12y ago
This answer is:
User Avatar

Add your answer:

Earn +20 pts
Q: What did it mean to have absolute power?
Write your answer...
Still have questions?
magnify glass