This was a best-known quote of the 19th century British politician, historian, and moralist Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton 1834-1902, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. But, he was borrowing from other speakers or writers who earlier said it differently.
A king was the one with the most wealth and power. This person thinks that all in their “kingdom” are pawns to do with as they please and they’ve done it so long that they believe their own hype. They rule by threats, coercion, bargaining, murder, and compensating. “…this option to impose on without any regard whatsoever for due process, becomes, in the hands of most, a license to harm, if not destroy the careers and lives of others. Leadership incompetence” 1
“Absolute monarchies are those in which all power is given to, or as is more often the case, taken by, the monarch. Examples were Roman emperors who thought they were gods and Napoleon Bonaparte who declared himself emperor”.2
There’s no room for absolute power in a democracy of checks and balances. As seen recently, if you act only to build your own wealth, it will eventually come back to bite you in the behind.
As in the movie, The Man Who Would Be King (1975), based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1888 original story, two con men (Carnehan and Dravot, “British adventurers in British India”) sought their fortune in a foreign country, Afghanistan. They were fellow freemasons to the journalist that they convinced to help them with their research. They started out by helping people who were warring against each other and came up with satisfactory solutions. But, then they went a few steps too far by becoming kings themselves over people whose customs they didn’t understand.
Since the holy men who lorded over all the local tribes declared Dravot (Sean Connery) a descendant of a God because of the freemason symbol he wore around his neck, he basically was thought to be a God for a few months until he told the holy men that he was going to marry a local girl and father children. The local girl was instructed to bite Dravot on the face causing him to bleed. Seeing Dravot bleed, the holy men knew he was not a God, and executed him.
Two years later Carnehan (Michael Caine) returned to the journalist. They had paid for their deceit. Carnehan had been tortured, crippled, and released. But, he showed the journalist (Christopher Plummer) the skeletal head of Dravot that was still wearing his golden crown.
Both actors did a wonderful job, especially Sean Connery’s character explaining that he felt this Godship was his calling, and he intended to mend his ways. Had they left with the spoils before they were outed, as Carnehan wanted to do, they would have been wealthy men. But, Dravot believed his own hype.
And, now we have another example of absolute power in the case of the Saudi Arabian American journalist executed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey recently. He was the same journalist who accompanied President 45’s business dealers to Saudi Arabia on past trips. And, don’t forget the arms deal President 45 already made with the Saudis.
- Dr. Robert Aziz, Huffington Post, https://m.huffpost.com
- Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely (A Quote), https://www.phrases.org.uk
- Wikipedia, Rudyard Kipling, The Phantom ‘Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales
Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin