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Tue, 12/11/2007 - 11:47 — frlarry
- It is bad to be oppressed by a minority; but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.
- Lord Acton, "This History of Freedom in Antiquity"
- Yet the most profound and penetrating of the causes that have
transformed society is a medieval inheritance. It was late in
the thirteenth century that the psychology of Conscience was
closely studied for the first time, and men began to speak of it
as the audible voice of God, that never misleads or fails, and
that ought to be obeyed always, whether enlightened or darkened,
right or wrong. The notion was restrained, on its appearance, by
the practice of regarding opposition to Church power as
equivalent to specific heresy, which depressed the secret monitor
below the public and visible authority. With the decline of
coercion the claim of Conscience rose, and the ground abandoned
by the inquisitor was gained by the individual. There was less
reason then for men to be cast of the same type; there was a more
vigorous growth of independent character, and a conscious control
over its formation. The knowledge of good and evil was not an
exclusive and sublime prerogative assigned to states, or nations,
or majorities. When it had been defined and recognised as
something divine in human nature, its action was to limit power
by causing the sovereign voice within to be heard above the
expressed will and settled custom of surrounding men. By that
hypothesis, the soul became more sacred than the state, because
it receives light from above, as well as because its concerns are
eternal, and out of all proportion with the common interests of
government. That is the root from which liberty of Conscience
was developed, and all other liberty needed to confine the
sphere of power, in order that it may not challenge the supremacy
of that which is highest and best in man.
- Lord Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 1906, "Beginning of the Modern State"
- 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. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Lord Acton, commonly attributed, but I could not find a source reference.