Political Thought

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Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts totally, Montesquieu would mostly agree. The quote relates to companies, governments, and individuals, and it is as relevant today as it was in ancient times. When people have power or responsibility over others, they frequently develop undesirable habits that end up ruining their mental process. Power is described as having control or authority over others. When people rise to positions of power, they tend to focus on their own wants and forget about the people they are supposed to help. Power has a corrupting effect on those who use it.  Political power tends to have a corrupting effect on those that hold it in any form of government. Some of these persons, once they ascend to power, they change their views on their followers and focus on meeting their needs. Mussolini, a former Italy prime minister rose to power, and his reign was decorated with the dictatorship, corruption, and intimidation. Those persons that went against his rule were tortured, and some of them ended up being killed. Mussolini used his political power to amass wealth, silence the opposition and use military measures to his advantage. Similar atrocities were also witnessed during Hitler’s regime (Nagendra 23). His ambitions for political power drove him to slaughter more than six million innocent Jews. The two leaders symbolize the corrupting effect that political power has on those that chase it.

The corrupt effect as a result of political power has also been witnessed in various developing countries. Iddi Amin Dada was a Ugandan leader that promoted evil during his reign (Nagendra 17). He sponsored death squads to eliminate any of those persons that were opposed to his leadership. To maintain his power, he also chased the Asians and the Israelites from the country. In the same way, Sudan has experienced decades of civil wars, and this has been pushed by the quest by some of the persons to stick to power. Mobutu Sese Seko, the once powerful leader of Democratic Republic Congo, formed an authoritarian regime that was marred with high corruption levels and dictatorship.

With the above few examples, it is clear that politicians will always tend to increase their power and in so doing corrupt institutions of government. Some of these leaders are voted into authority by people who would in return expect utmost services from them. However, upon ascending to authority, most of the politicians grasp the opportunity to enrich themselves through corrupt dealings, look for underhand means that can enable them to retain their power and engage in atrocities (Aziz Web). The evil acts by the politicians begin with their engagement in voter bribery and increase once they get hold of power. Absolute power and high levels of government misappropriation are mainly experienced in those countries that are considered communist. Nations such as Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, and Burundi have had institutions of government infiltrated and tampered with by the same leaders that are supposed to offer services to their followers.

Democratic voters cast their votes because it is their right. However, in most countries, some of these voters do so to satisfy their selfish interests. Electing specified politicians to elective posts, on some occasions is pushed by bad faith. Some of the voters believe that once the chosen leader ascends to power, he or she will meet their needs. By having their own in an authoritative position, democratic voters tend to believe that they may benefit immensely from the government regarding resource allocation and preferential treatments (Aziz Web). In the democratic countries, those people that are aligned to the governments benefit regarding tenders and corrupt dealings. Absolute power governments will in most cases serve the interests of those individuals that vote them into power and marginalize the non-supporters.

Separation of power is mostly applicable in the liberal democracies, and it focuses on the promotion of checks and balances. On a bigger picture, separation of power refers to the division of the various government responsibilities into branches with the aim of preventing one branch from exercise full mandates or core functions of the other. Apparently, this helps in the prevention of power concentration and enhances functionalities and the efficiency in which governments are run (Nagendra 31). It should, however, be noted that separation of power is not an adequate defense against the corruptive impacts that comes along as a result of ascending to authority. In the quest for the preservation of liberty, some of the measures that can be embraced entail equal allocation of resources among all civilians in a nation, adherence to the laws of the land and allowing all the government institutions to fully discharge their mandate without interference from those persons in power (Nagendra 42).


Based on the above argument, it is clear that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and Montesquieu would mostly agree with the statement. Most of the persons, upon ascending to power tend to focus on selfish interests and transforming institutions of government into corrupt grounds. In the quest for the preservation of liberty, some of the measures that can be put in place include separation of power, which may not be adequate, equal allocation of resources and ensuring that the voice of everyone in a country is heard. All in all, corruption of absolute power has been the reason behind the downfall of several nations around the world.

Work Cited

Aziz, Robert. "Why Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely." HuffPost. N.p., 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2017.

Nagendra, Harini. "Power Corrupts - Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely...." Conservation Ecology 3.2 (1999): n. pag. Web.

May 02, 2023



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