Love of Power – 2 Quotes

In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and cruelty. – Leo Tolstoy

The above makes me wonder how difficult it is for a good government to exist anywhere in the world if it is nearly always made up of the types of people described above?

Force always attracts men of low morality. – Albert Einstein
Isn’t government nothing more than organized force?

6 thoughts on “Love of Power – 2 Quotes

  1. I think this may be why the writers of the US constitution decided that checks and balances were needed… To ensure that no one branch of government gets too powerful. Do you think these ideals were effective?

    • Yes, the writers did a good thing there. I’m in favor of the concept/approach of separation of powers and checks and balances as a practical structural feature. But, these only provide barriers to slow the growth of government and abuse of power. They do not effectively stop it, or reduce it enough. Even in our present Constitution, each level of government and each branch still has too much power. And, even if some branches can check to some extent the activities of another branch, the above two quotes are still true about the nature/character of people who will tend to come to power in any of those branches or levels of government.

  2. So what power do you feel the branches should keep? What power should people get and how would the population make decisions?

    • Good questions. I know this may seem repetitive, but I will again refer to the definition of libertarianism on the home page. Your first question is essentially asking what powers the government should have. The government’s only powers should be relating to its job of enforcing the natural rights system of libertarianism. In other words, it should enforce the laws of no stealing, no damaging other people’s property against their will, no harming others, and no contract violations or fraud, and no forceful inhibition of others from exercising their own freedoms. So, police and judges and normal law enforcement are ok. As to exactly how these powers are distributed among the various branches of government, and exactly what the Constitution should say, that question is somewhat out of my league, as that is one of the most difficult questions that humanity has been trying to answer for centuries.

      I’m not sure of exactly what the best “structure” of government should be, but it seems that our current structure is pretty good, with the three separate branches and a Constitution, and so forth. Our founding fathers did a relatively decent job making some good first steps. However, what I don’t like is the content of most of our laws within this structure, and I don’t like that our Constitution grants a lot of power to governments, both federal and state, and even local. So, I’m generally in favor of Constitutional amendments that restrict taxation levels to almost nothing (probably 2% at most), and amendments that limit government power (no more commerce clause, because almost everything wrong that the government does is legal because of the commerce clause), and amendments that specifically state that everyone has broad freedom (not just some specific freedoms in the Bill of Rights) and can do what ever they want except the usual limitations in the definition of libertarianism, and amendments that state that no one can steal or damage other people’s property. Then, Congress’s only job is to clarify the specific applications of this Constitution.

      Just to let you know, I generally try to talk about what should and should not be legal, as this is the first step toward deciding what kind of government structure and Constitution to have. So, this blog doesn’t focus on overall structure as much because most people don’t even agree on what should and should not be legal. So, I’m sorry that I sort of dodge your question a little. I just want to focus on the first questions first, and then move on to the structure and Constitution much later.

      One more thing. Your last question is about how a “population” would make decisions. This is not possible. Only individual people can make decisions. A population or group is merely a collection of individual people. A population cannot make decisions in and of itself. So, I will usually not speak in terms of how a “group” does something, I will speak about what people can do. I just want to highlight the correct perspective.

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