One Who Knows: John Dalberg Acton

“There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.” – John Dalberg Acton, English historian, politician, and writer, illuminating the cause of so many of humanity’s persistent woes.

John Dalberg Acton was a brilliantly insightful student of the bedrock actualities that shape both human nature and human history, and that is why in so many of his quotes he seems to be addressing contemporary issues and events. Please take the time to ponder his words carefully.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”
“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”
“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”
“The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.”
“At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition.”
“Universal History is . . . not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”
“There is not a more perilous or immoral habit of mind than the sanctifying of success.”
“The science of politics is the one science that is deposited by the streams of history, like the grains of gold in the sand of a river; and the knowledge of the past, the record of truths revealed by experience, is eminently practical, as an instrument of action and a power that goes to making the future.”
“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”
“Save for the wild force of Nature, nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in its origin.”

This entry was posted in Opinion. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply