Time and again, we’ve heard and even quoted on how power corrupts and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those are the words of John Emerich Dalberg-Acton, commonly known as Lord Acton.
Recently, as I was having a fist-on-the-chin time, I came to a conclusion that it is the desire of the human nature to be subjectively corruptible to power; a conclusion that is however founded and premised on pure relativism and not opaque absolutism.
Power is sweet. Who doesn’t want to be associated with power? Like an ogre, it bays for the human blood and because our faculties are structured along the metric of seeking comfort from power, we give in to its trappings.
One of the ways through which somebody’s character can be revealed is when the individual has no power and when the same individual acquires power.
When an individual’s proximity to power is peripheral he/she tends to think in a clear manner, devoid of any uncorruptedness (sic) in his/her thought process. But once at the nerve centre of power, the thought process suffers from an unrivalled and unparalleled form of delusion and an unmatched form of illusion.
It’s the latter circumstance that generates narcissistic tendencies and characteristics for the incumbent. For some of the followers, this situation that’s aforementioned creates a perfect brooding and breeding ground for the act and art of sycophancy which generates an army of hireling ruffians and henchmen.
In the world today, we have people who are direly obsessed with the acquisition of power. It’s usually quite unfortunate that individuals whose rationality is subjugated and superimposed with the trappings of power, end up with warped minds that are devoid of par-excellence type and way of thinking and reasoning.
For a moment, let’s try to reflect on our various societies and ponder about this particular matter. I am sure you can figure out one, two, three or so individuals who can clearly be used as specimen in establishing the reality of this phenomenon; of/on how power corrupts not just the mind but also the soul.
The backslappers/sycophants engendered by the fabrications of power, further degenerate into simpletons and automatons that grace the horizon and skyline of humanity. In profound polities, these are individuals who have the ability and capability of sending the entire state to the dogs due to the nature of their thinking that is wholly atavistic and purely incongruent.
Within my intellectual framework and disposition, I strongly categorize such individuals as humans whose cognitive abilities are impotent. The lack of the independence of the mind is the greatest threat to the existence of humanity.
Across the world, all forms of wicked and intransigent political leadership are as a result of personalities being brainwashed and obsessed with power; an act whose consequence has led to the occurrence of atrocities in the history of humanity.
For instance, the World War One and World War Two happenstances can be traced to the tendencies of the different nations that participated in fighting and ultimately defeat their enemies so as to emerge as the most powerful nations on Earth. The point is that these nations were manned by individuals obsessed with power.
Moreover, it’s because of power that coup d’états and revolutions have taken place. It’s also because of power that revolutionaries hardly exit the dais of power. Let me cite some examples so as to give credibility to my exegesis: in Cuba, the charismatic, communist leader and revolutionary Fidel Castro seized power through a coup and never retired, only to give the presidency to his brother Raul Castro after he was overwhelmed with sickness. This was a path that set a precedence for others like Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Paul Kagame and many others.
However, an interesting fact is that some of the revolutionaries have been hounded out of office because of the percolation of power to the masses. An example of this is the famous Arab Spring that emerged in Tunisia and spread to other Arabic states such as Egypt, Libya and Syria. In Syria however, the toppling of the incumbent, President Anwar Sadat never materialized. The Spring also penetrated into the polity of Algeria but the power holders managed to emasculate and eventually obliterated it. Another good example is the civilian coup by the Burkinabe that ended the reign of Blaise Compaore.
Similarly, in the process of my intellectual sojourn I have noted that the staunch oligarchs and demagogues of communism like Josef Stalin of the former Union Of Soviet Socialist Republic and Chairman Mao Tse Tung (Mao Ze Dong) of China, are good examples of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It’s because of their obsession and fascination with power that so many millions of lives were lost. This silly obsession to create a personality cult by the two of course paid out leading to the transfusion of dogmatic ideals to the people. But the obsession and fascination of power is anchored on the paranoid repressiveness that is a malfeasance in the personality schemata of such individuals.
To them humility is for the “weak”. I really admire Pope Francis as I can single him out as an individual who despite wielding a lot of power, has emerged as a quintessential representation of humility; a virtue that has eluded most political leaders. I salute all the humble leaders in the world and strongly abhor those entrenched in narcissism. But because we have different traits, then having such individuals in the society is a reality that we have to embrace but strongly preach against and possibly root it out. My advice to leaders especially the young ones who have the ambition of restoring political order is to stick to one of the thirteen rules of leadership offered by General Colin Powell: Avoid having your ego so close to your position so that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.