TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, would you agree or disagree?

Specifically relating to world governments or leaders, once a party or individual rises to the top of the power structure will they predictably abuse that power?

Furthermore, if the party or leader attains power but doesn't use it in a way that helps the most people possible, does that constitute corruption in your mind?

In party politics, does political gridlock constitute a failure of leadership akin to corruption?

What do you think?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 25 2013: I have come to believe that power is not an inherently evil thing.

    It comes in many different forms; strength is power, fame is power, money is power, trust is power. All power is, is the ability to change things. Willpower is the power to change your mind, even to the extent of changing your body. Charisma is the power to sway others with personality. Position is power given to an individual by a group, by virtue of being more being more qualified to use it.

    Power is a form of change, and change is natural.

    I think that power does corrupt, but not necessarily in the manner of "evil". People use power to further their own purposes. Even if power is used in an altruistic way, it still serves the user’s purpose. For example, if the user funds a charity that provides for abused children, they are still furthering their purpose. Their purpose could be to be a better person, to provide for those less fortunate, or to alleviate some personal guilt. Regardless of intent, they are furthering their chosen purpose. To do otherwise so would be rather silly. No one with sanity uses power to further ends they disagree with.

    I figure that what we call corruption is the use of power to further any purpose that we don’t personally support.
    In that case it is inevitable that power corrupts. No matter what purpose is chosen, someone, somewhere, will believe that the power could’ve been better used elsewhere. Using this definition, corruption becomes a more relative term.

    To exemplify this, consider: What is the "way" that helps the most people possible? If you believe strongly enough that it is that of your chosen party, or that the opposing party is most certainly not it, are you corrupted when you fight for that cause? We don't know who is right (otherwise there wouldn't be multiple parties). Consequentially, we have no moral high- or low- ground. Without right and wrong, the general definition of corruption simply doesn't work.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.