“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
– Lord Acton
As I see it this quoted statement is ontologically incorrect and philosophically asinine. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then God, the Uncaused Cause, who is and has absolute power, would be the Devil—whoever that is and whatever that means. God would be the quintessence of corruption and Jesus the embodiment of Evil. Since the alleged extra-terrestrially authored tomes—the Bible,the Torah,the Koran—prophesy that in the fullness of time, whatever that means, the Devil will encounter and experience his bipolar situational and existential demise, then he cannot be absolute evil, or absolutely corrupt. He is not “essence”. He is not “being” but “becoming”. And so, from a metaphysical perspective, he has a beginning and an end: thus he endures an inferior level of existence, as compared to the Uncaused Cause or First Principle.
The Alpha and the Omega repose in God in its sublime plenitude and Unity. The two states of being are one and thus “Time” does not exist, thus making God immortal. Metaphysically, homo sapiens is “becoming” and “Time”, a function of his mortality, is existentially relevant. And so going back to the pronouncement of Lord Acton, there is no such thing as absolute power in the terrestrial realm. The timeless repetition of his pronouncement over the silent legions of years, and made in the 19th century (1834-1902) should be couched thus: “Power tends to corrupt; but it is the abuse of power that corrupts the potential limits of our depravity.”
For there is nothing like absolute power and absolute corruption. Power is a positive force, and it is the abuse of power that is problematic. It is our humanity that qualifies power, thus making it a condition precedent to evil, which is the adulterated quintessence of nihility. From the perspective of a certain human dualism, and unlike power that is, it is and is not. Evil is not the antithesis of Power since qualitatively they are on different levels of being, not “being”. In all of this we perceive a certain Cartesian paradox: “I think, therefore I exist – Cogito ergo sum.” Or is it “I exist, therefore I think”?
If it is possible to have absolute power then absolute corruption would not be possible since its existence would be a negation of absolute power and corruption further is transformational. Power and corruption are not inextricably linked, but power facilitates corruption. Does it? Like Lord Acton states, power tends to corrupt and it is this tendency or propensity that imports the element of “Free Will.” It is this faculty that differentiates human beings from the animals. Hence my dog, Tiger, is incorruptible. It is only a rational being that can be corrupt; and it is only homo sapiens that can exercise power with the consciousness that it is being used and exercised.
Power tends to corrupt that which is corruptible. Man is corruptible because he has “Free Will.” Is God, then, the author of his corruptibility since, according to those tomes alluded, he endowed Adam and Eve with “Free Will?” Is “Free Will” the bane and sine quo non of human existence? Without it Man would still have the rational capacity to invent the wheel or the computer, which essentially is a function of the complexity of his cerebral hemispheres.
And so the questions that come to the fore are: What makes Man human? Is it the endowment of “Free Will” or is it the complexity of his cerebral orbs? “Free Will” connotes choice but on what level? There can be the rather mundane choice between the use of clay and sand in the making of a brick; and then there is also the exercise of choice in strangling or not strangling a crying baby. Is this exercise one and the same? The provenance of the latter reposes where? If you strangle the child it reposes where? If you do not strangle the child . . .?
The endowment of “Free Will” connotes power and that power, does it tend to corrupt? What really is meant by “tending” to corrupt? Does it mean that with power one has an innate, inherent, intrinsic, immament capacity to corrupt, thus making that capacity a probability, possibility and statistical necessity and certainity of “becoming”? Again the Cartesian paradox comes to mind, thanks to Rene Descartes, who has left me somewhat perplexed.
And so thus bemused, we continue our self-cerebral immolation by stating that the antithesis of Power is “weakness.” Since Power is a positive force, it is the lack of power that corrupts. And evil is the nth degree of that corruption. Its genesis does not repose in the supernatural, since that which is supernatural, that which is transcendent, is beyond measurement.