• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Why do liberals believe this and what are its implications.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Why do liberals believe this and what are its implications This familiar saying originated as a comment in a letter written by Lord Acton and had become the basis for Liberal thinking. that power has the potenial to have a corrupting affect on people. This has been constantly illustrated through history. For example Liberals believe institutions such as the monarchy and church have dominated society without allowing them progress through rational and logical means. Much of the impetus for libertarianism in the seventeenth century was a reaction against monarchs and aristocrats who lived off the productive labor of other people. Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers. Liberals believe that power corrupts since people start to become self-seeking and an elite is formed of people who manipulate the political system to benefit the rich through powerful methods. However Liberals are also aware that a state is needed to keep social order and heramony. ...read more.

Middle

This allows for greater equality of opportunity and meritocracy to be exercised. Liberalism abstains from the absolute state and hence the essential characteristic of the liberal theory of the state is the doctrine of jurisdiction. That is, the idea that there is such a thing as a limited area of power and authority for the state The implication on the state would mean that an entrenched constitution needs to be in place. A separation of powers would need to be in place in order to ensure this. This can be achieved through an entrenched constitution. This will not only protect the citizen from arbitrary government but will also provide a framework of checks and balances within the government. One way of doing this ensuring there is a separation of powers. The separation of powers will ensure that all three institutions: Legislature, Judiciary and Executive can check each other's power. All this leads to a government which in every way accountable to the public. Furthermore, separation of powers ensures that the judiciary retains its neutrality and independence from any external political influence. ...read more.

Conclusion

All this would contribute to a more a pluralistic society. The possibility of single-party 'elective dictatorship' is greatly diminished. Tolerance is an important element of classical liberalism since society consists of individuals with varying values and principles and as far as possible these differences should be respected; minority groups need the protection of the law in some cases to prevent the 'tyranny of the majority'. To protect rights, individuals form governments. But government is a dangerous institution. Libertarians have a great antipathy to concentrated power, for as Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Thus they want to divide and limit power, and that means especially to limit government The implication of this lies with consituional devices such as devolution. It is by minimising the concentration of power in any one centre and by setting up many alternative, counterbalancing centers of power that limited government can be retained. Devolution essentially involves the setting up of an elected regional assembly whose powers are carefully and clearly defined by national government. However devolution would not have full powers to raise tax or control over foreign policy and thus as liberals would agree have less chance of becoming corrupt since they have only limited powers. n:\mywork\politics- elders\power tends to corrupt.doc 30/04/07 97aftab ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. How much power and influence does the civil service have?

    This too can strengthen the Civil Services' position. Whenever there is a change of government, the incoming minister cannot see the papers of his predecessor, because of this each change of government gives the Civil Service a sharp, if temporary, increase of power.

  2. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely

    The problem with a sovereign state is as elucidated by Lord Acton that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." It is a concern that those who are appointed to enforce law and order are susceptible to the same self-seeking motivations as the people whom they governing.

  1. Scottish devolution.

    The Westminster Parliament is still the sovereign parliament of the United Kingdom and it retains the power to legislate on any matter, including devolved matters, in Scotland. As the Scotland Act gave specific powers to the Scottish Parliament, the two parliaments currently operate under a system where the Westminster Parliament

  2. Comparative Analysis: The churches and their affect on society and politics in the cases ...

    Another factor, which made it difficult for the South African Church to affect politics and society, were the sheer number of divisions, not just between races but in the number of different denominations. In Namibia the opposite was initially true.

  1. Conflict Analysis: Angola

    Government offers of 'special status' for Savimbi were all declined. As had been the case prior to this time, both leaders failed to communicate, wanting only to meet each other in their own respective strongholds. The fact that there were numerous failed attempts to bring about meetings, caused more suspicion

  2. Asian Values in Singaporean Perspective.

    Singapore society succeeded because it was quintessentially Singaporean. Lose that, and all will be lost" (Kwang, Fernandez, and Tan, 1998, p. 191). The difficulty lay especially in the problem of bringing together the different ethnic groups in Singapore. Therefore Lee increasingly saw Singapore's identification in contrast to the West, and since he could not base Singapore's identity on

  1. Did Gladstone Unite or Divide the Liberals?

    Much of his stature as a politician was based on his ability to think of political problems as moral issues. His opposition to the Bulgarian Horrors, his opposition to Beaconsfieldism in 1879-80 and his campaigns on Irish issues all seemed like religious crusades.

  2. At the heart of Liberalism lies a fear of unchecked power.

    It appealed to classical liberals because minimal state intervention increased their freedom to pursue their own self interests and economic activity. It appealed to the modern liberals because it eliminated the possibility for excessively high profit through competition and therefore was a fairer way to run the economy.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work