“Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.” Eric Hoffer

Last night, a friend and I went to see 2012 and ended up in a discussion on power and how it corrupts. He preferred to use the word "corrodes" as in "corrodes the backbone making it harder to stand up for what is right". I am not so sure of that.

I am inclined to think that the powerful end up thinking – believing – that what they want is the right thing because it is what they want. In the same way that Charlie Wilson, the then head of General Motors, said  – and presumably believed – "What's good for General Motors is good for the country."

This brings us to Eric Hoffer who was a Longshoreman from our very own San Francisco. In a book called The True Believer, Hoffer  postulated that fanatics, no matter what they are fanatical about, are all the same in their fanaticism. This was way before we were worried about Islamic true believers but his Thesis "Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." fits perfectly. (The Video below starts a little hysterically, but the interview that follows is scary because it is so unhysterical.) 


2 thoughts on ““Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.” Eric Hoffer

  1. I have to say, I agree with your friend. And I think your point is not inconsistent with your friend’s views. In first coming to power a person has a sense of what is right. As their power grows, their sensitivity becomes corroded. The backbone weakens and with it they can lose sight of the vision that brought them to power in the first place. Often, for example, the desire to stay in power and the ideas of what is needed to stay in power, like rust, replaces the original structure of the backbone. Left unchecked, the backbone collapses, The corrosion is absolute.
    That said, there is also virtue in staying in power. At least to a point. Just as a little rust shows character, working to stay in power can be a good thing. We need leaders who know how to walk that tightrope.
    Your next post makes tha point most eloqiuently I think.

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