What does David Brin's quote about power and corruption mean?

I am having trouble understanding this quote by David Brin and how to interpret this. Please help me understand!

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”

~David Brin

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    In 1887, Lord Acton wrote (in a letter to a bishop): "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

    He meant that if you have power you tend to do things because you can, rather than because you should; and if you have absolute power, like a dictator, it's impossible for you to know the difference any more between right and wrong.

    Brin is saying that if that's true, it's because the people who seek power in the first place are morally weak, and mentally confused. People who are sane, he says, don't seek power. They prefer other things, like love, perhaps, or pleasure, or intellectual satisfaction.

    You can see what he means, but I shouldn't set too much store by it. It's not a great revelation, just a slightly cynical comment.

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