Lord Acton, 1834-1902, historian and political scholar

I was doodling around on Google trying to find an appropriate quote for some piece of nothing I had just written when I stumbled on a quote from Lord Acton.

Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
Lord Acton

I found it so profound that I sought out more information on Lord Acton. Unbeknownst to me, I was already familiar with one of his quotes.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton

My not knowing Lord Acton was the the author of that quote didn’t surprise me; my state of ignorance is becoming more and more apparent every day. Still, as I read the writings of this brilliant man (who considered himself a liberal), they looked like they were musings on today’s headlines. I wondered what Lord Acton would think about the present administration in the United States. Here are a few more quotes from a revered liberal of an earlier age.

There is no worse heresy then that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.

Socialism means slavery.

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern: every class is unfit to govern.

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.

The man who prefers his country before any other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the state. They both deny that right is superior to authority.

There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.

Progress in ethics means a constant turning of white into black and burning what one has adored… I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases.

Fanaticism in religion is the alliance of the passions she condemns with the dogmas she professes.

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.

If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh.

What could I possible add to that?

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Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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