Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man.
(John Emerich Edward Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834-1902), British historian. Letter, April 3, 1887, to Bishop Mandell Creighton. The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, vol. 1, ch. 13, ed. Louise Creighton (1904).
William Pitt the Elder had made a similar observation, in a speech to the House of Lords, Jan. 9, 1770: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." In the present century, the economist J.W. Galbraith wrote, "In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes." ("The United States," published in New York Nov. 15, 1971, repr. In A View from the Stands, 1986).)
Our drives are reducible to the will to power. The will to power is the ultimate fact at which we arrive.
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 11, p. 661, selection 40, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). Unpublished fragments dating to AugustSeptember 1885.)
You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother's milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.
(George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic. (First produced 1905). Cusins, in Major Barbara, act 3, The Bodley Head Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with their Prefaces, vol. 3, ed. Dan H. Laurence (1971).)
The law of nature is, do the thing, and you shall have the power: but they who do not the thing have not the power.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Compensation," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
This is reminiscent of Emerson's advice in "Self-Reliance": "But do your thing and I shall know you." What is this "thing"? It might be argued that Emerson chooses such an ambiguous, open- ended word to concentrate the reader's attention on the verb "to do," for he is as much a philosopher of action as he is a theologian of contemplation.)
Authority and power are two different things: power is the force by means of which you can oblige others to obey you. Authority is the right to direct and command, to be listened to or obeyed by others. Authority requests power. Power without authority is tyranny.
(Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), French philosopher. "The Democratic Charter," Man and the State, University of Chicago Press (1951).)