The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Dr. Velon L. John

“Power tends to cor­rupt, and ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely.”

– Lord Ac­ton

As I see it this quoted state­ment is on­to­log­i­cally in­cor­rect and philo­soph­i­cally asi­nine. If ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely, then God, the Un­caused Cause, who is and has ab­so­lute power, would be the Devil— who­ever that is and what­ever that means. God would be the quin­tes­sence of cor­rup­tion and Je­sus the em­bod­i­ment of Evil.

Since the al­leged ex­tra-ter­res­tri­ally au­thored tomes—the Bible, the To­rah, the Ko­ran—proph­esy that in the full­ness of time, what­ever that means, the Devil will en­counter and ex­pe­ri­ence his bipo­lar sit­u­a­tional and ex­is­ten­tial demise, then he can­not be ab­so­lute evil, or ab­so­lutely cor­rupt. He is not “essence”. He is not “be­ing” but “be­com­ing”. And so, from a meta­phys­i­cal per­spec­tive, he has a be­gin­ning and an end: thus he en­dures an in­fe­rior level of ex­is­tence, as com­pared to the Un­caused Cause or First Prin­ci­ple.

The Al­pha and the Omega re­pose in God in its sublime plen­i­tude and Unity. The two states of be­ing are one and thus “Time” does not ex­ist, thus making God im­mor­tal. Me­ta­phys­i­cally, homo sapi­ens is “be­com­ing” and “Time”, a func­tion of his mor­tal­ity, is ex­is­ten­tially rel­e­vant.

And so go­ing back to the pro­nounce­ment of Lord Ac­ton, there is no such thing as ab­so­lute power in the ter­res­trial realm. The time­less rep­e­ti­tion of his pro­nounce­ment over the silent le­gions of years, and made in the 19th cen­tury (1834-1902) should be couched thus: “Power tends to cor­rupt; but it is the abuse of power that cor­rupts the po­ten­tial lim­its of our de­prav­ity.”

For there is noth­ing like ab­so­lute power and ab­so­lute cor­rup­tion. Power is a pos­i­tive force, and it is the abuse of power that is prob­lem­atic. It is our hu­man­ity that qual­i­fies power, thus making it a con­di­tion prece­dent to evil, which is the adul­ter­ated quin­tes­sence of ni­hility. From the per­spec­tive of a cer­tain hu­man du­al­ism, and un­like power that is, it is and is not. Evil is not the an­tithe­sis of Power since qual­i­ta­tively they are on dif­fer­ent lev­els of be­ing, not “be­ing”. In all of this we per­ceive a cer­tain Carte­sian para­dox: “I think, there­fore I ex­ist – Cog­ito ergo sum.” Or is it “I ex­ist, there­fore I think”?

If it is pos­si­ble to have ab­so­lute power then ab­so­lute cor­rup­tion would not be pos­si­ble since its ex­is­tence would be a nega­tion of ab­so­lute power and cor­rup­tion fur­ther is trans­for­ma­tional. Power and cor­rup­tion are not in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked, but power fa­cil­i­tates cor­rup­tion. Does it? Like Lord Ac­ton states, power tends to cor­rupt and it is this ten­dency or propen­sity that im­ports the el­e­ment of “Free Will.” It is this fac­ulty that dif­fer­en­ti­ates hu­man beings from the an­i­mals. Hence my dog, Tiger, is in­cor­rupt­ible. It is only a ra­tio­nal be­ing that can be cor­rupt; and it is only homo sapi­ens that can ex­er­cise power with the con­scious­ness that it is be­ing used and ex­er­cised.

Power tends to cor­rupt that which is cor­rupt­ible. Man is cor­rupt­ible be­cause he has “Free Will.” Is God, then, the au­thor of his cor­rupt­ibil­ity since, ac­cord­ing to those tomes al­luded, he en­dowed Adam and Eve with “Free Will?” Is “Free Will” the bane and sine quo non of hu­man ex­is­tence? With­out it Man would still have the ra­tio­nal ca­pac­ity to in­vent the wheel or the com­puter, which es­sen­tially is a func­tion of the com­plex­ity of his cere­bral hemi­spheres.

And so the ques­tions that come to the fore are: What makes Man hu­man? Is it the en­dow­ment of “Free Will” or is it the com­plex­ity of his cere­bral orbs? “Free Will” con­notes choice but on what level? There can be the rather mun­dane choice be­tween the use of clay and sand in the making of a brick; and then there is also the ex­er­cise of choice in stran­gling or not stran­gling a cry­ing baby. Is this ex­er­cise one and the same? The prove­nance of the lat­ter re­poses where? If you stran­gle the child it re­poses where? If you do not stran­gle the child . . .?

The en­dow­ment of “Free Will” con­notes power and that power, does it tend to cor­rupt? What really is meant by “tend­ing” to cor­rupt? Does it mean that with power one has an in­nate, in­her­ent, in­trin­sic, im­ma­ment ca­pac­ity to cor­rupt, thus making that ca­pac­ity a prob­a­bil­ity, pos­si­bil­ity and sta­tis­ti­cal ne­ces­sity and cer­tain­ity of “be­com­ing”? Again the Carte­sian para­dox comes to mind, thanks to Rene Descartes, who has left me some­what per­plexed.

And so thus be­mused, we con­tinue our self-cere­bral im­mo­la­tion by stat­ing that the an­tithe­sis of Power is “weak­ness.” Since Power is a pos­i­tive force, it is the lack of power that cor­rupts. And evil is the nth de­gree of that cor­rup­tion. Its ge­n­e­sis does not re­pose in the su­per­nat­u­ral, since that which is su­per­nat­u­ral, that which is tran­scen­dent, is be­yond mea­sure­ment.

Velon John chal­lenges the well known maxim of Lord Ac­ton who at­tempted

to see how the prin­ci­ples of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion and free­dom worked in prac­tice, from an­tiq­uity to his own time.

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