Acton was a famous historian and thinker who also said that, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He must have had a prophetic moment when he made his gangster statement and, in his mind’s eye, perhaps he saw the frightening image of Bush and the neocons (or, to a far lesser extent, John Howard and the Coalition).
Of course, equally possible is that Lord Acton, from his wide knowledge of history, was an astute judge of human nature and realised the full extent of its inherent weaknesses.
As the corrupt Bush uses and abuses his power as Commander in Chief and pursues a military course which will inevitably lead the world up to and over a precipice (one which may be too deep to survive) most of the world leaders are silent (but not our John who enthusiastically supports Bush’s every action and even offers criticism of the Democrat’s Presidential choices). Of course many leaders remained largely silent when Hitler was making his run for world domination too.
In palatial surroundings, Presidents and Prime Ministers watch nervously from the sidelines and try to work out which horse to back or whether to remain uninvolved. There are many phone calls and secret meetings which the voters who put them there never hear about.
It’s as if an exhibition of brute, unlimited power, no matter how misguided and dangerous, has a mesmerizing effect, one that turns normally intelligent, educated people into goggling idiots. This applies not only to most leaders but to most of the public as well.
The media licks its lips waiting for the bombs to drop so they can present all the gory details (at least those sanctioned by the military). Market analysts and financial advisers rub their hands and work out which equities and property will go up as a result of a major war. Nations which supply the raw materials used in the waging of war excitedly count the coming jump in exports. Armament manufacturers are in seventh heaven as are their shareholders.
So the gangsters grab the power while the world does little more that goggle in amazement. Lord Acton, had he been alive today, might have now said that, “Power both corrupts and hypnotizes. Absolute power corrupts and hypnotizes absolutely.”
And, meanwhile, the merry-go-round of fools continues to turn and the music plays!