The Cost of Power and Hierarchy

from The Commoner

On April 5th, 1887, Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton proclaimed, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Obviously, we could poke fun at the evident contradiction of the prestigious position Lord Acton held and the intent and meaning of the quote, and if we were to get into Lord Acton’s politics, it would be incredibly difficult to take his word seriously when speaking on the subject of power. However, this isn’t about Lord Acton, this is about the truism that power corrupts. Yet in contemporary discourse, not everyone sees it as a truism. It is still a highly contested claim in many circles, and I’d like to attempt to settle the issue if I can. I’d like to examine some of the early conceptualisations of consciousness and psychology in the field of philosophy and relate that to current discoveries in modern science. I’d then like to loop back around to show how this is all relevant when considering the claims that have been consistently made by anarchists for as long as the political philosophy has existed.

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