Power - Corruption

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton 1834-1902

I've been thinking recently about corruption and its causes of late. I think that while Acton's phrase is true, there is more to it. I'd like to add this corollary.

Powerlessness corrupts.

Or "If you ain't got nothing, you ain't got nothing to lose." (Millie Dilmont in Thoroughly Modern Millie)

The real message is those who think that they can act without fear of consequences lose some of their motivation to follow social norms. The powerful fit that description, but we forget that those with no power similarly have nothing to lose. This is part of the reason for much social upheaval.
originally posted 2006/09/13