Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
I am not predicting the dawn of global democracy or global socialism. What I am predicting is an era of turmoil and uncertainty. Moreover, like all forms of power, interdependent power has a dark side, and it has always had a dark side. The hungry and diseased mobs who terrified the burghers of late-medieval Europe were not enlightenment thinkers, nor are the suicide bombers thrust forward by a resurgent Islam. Even the struggles of the Western Federation of Miners had a dark side, as they fought state and company violence with their own violence. Still, the defiant movements from the bottom that are fueled by interdependent power hold at least the hope that the needs and dreams of the great masses of the planet’s people will make their imprint on the new societies for which we wish. Of course, the process of reform will be complicated and the outcomes shaped not only by interdependent power, but also by the complex institutional structures we inherit, cultural memory, and the concentrated power resources of aggrandizing elites. All that said, without the tempering influence of movements from below and the interdependent power they wield, our future is ominous.
I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education.
Our inner world has a reality and a power that can keep us from being victims of circumstance and compel us to take responsibility for our own lives.
Great is the issue at stake greater than appears whether a man is to be good or bad. And what will any one be profited if under the influence of money or power he neglect justice and virtue?
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow.
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
Where justice is denied where poverty is enforced where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress rob and degrade them neither persons nor property will be safe.
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.