What is it about Power?
The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men (and women) are almost always bad men (and women).”
Years ago an entrepreneur that I had backed went to meet a well-known person in the tech industry. A person whose name is known outside of the tech world. She was nervous, excited and a bit overwhelmed with the prospects of meeting with this person who was interested in hearing about her and her business. What I said to her before the meeting is when you pass that bathroom on the way to his office, remember he went to the bathroom in there just like everyone else.
What is it about power? Why does power corrupt so many? Why do some people in positions of power become someone else? Why does some start to believe that they are untouchable and able to behave in ways that are morally reprehensive?
Les Moonves, Harvey Weinstein, Sheryl Sandberg, Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Imelda Marcos, Benjamin Netanyahu and plenty more. Is it that they have been kow-towed by everyone for so many years and combined with their financial power it has made them feel above it all?
There is no doubt that a lot of power comes financial success but it does not give anyone in that position the right to take advantage of others and manipulate the system for their own purposes. Believing that you are above it all is very dangerous behavior. When start sweeping dust under the carpet because you believe you can, it eventually creeps out.
People always get caught. You don’t pay your taxes, you get caught. You prey on young girls, you get caught. You hire people to destroy someone else to benefit your company and manipulate social media, you get caught. You steal from your country, you get caught. You launder money, you get caught. You operate illegal businesses, you get caught.
Is it the thrill of power or is it the belief that power makes you above it all? Power does not have to corrupt but time and time again we see that power creates strange bedfellows who somehow have lost their moral compass and believe that this time they won’t get caught. The reality is, you always do.