Power

 


 

[1835]  Alexis de Tocqueville,  De la Démocratie en Amérique, vol. I, Flammarion, Paris, 1981

-  "Il n'y a rien de si irrésistible qu'un pouvoir tyrannique qui commande au nom du peuple, parce qu'étant revêtu de la puissance morale qui appartient aux volontés du plus grand nombre, il agit en même temps avec la décision, la promptitude et la ténacité qu'aurait un seul homme." (p. 314)

 

[1887]  Lord Acton,  Letter to Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887

-  "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

 

[1897]  Piotr Kropotkin,  The State [L'Etat - Son role historique], Freedom Press, London, 1987

-  "When the king ... knocked at the gates of the city [the medieval commune], promising the 'lower classes' royal protection against the rich and to the submissive rich his protection against the rebellious poor - the towns, already undermined by the cancer of authority, lacked the strength to resist him." (p. 38)

 

[1911]  Roberto Michels,  La sociologia del partito politico nella democrazia moderna [Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie], il Mulino, Bologna, 1966

-  "Prima di intraprendere la marcia per la conquista del potere, i nuovi movimenti di classe sono soliti annunciare solennemente, in cospetto del mondo intero, il loro programma di liberazione dal giogo di una minoranza tirannica." (p. 45)

-  "L'organizzazione politica conduce al potere. Ma la partecipazione al potere rende conservatori coloro che vi sono giunti." (p. 486)

 

[1938]  Ignazio Silone,  La scuola dei dittatori, Mondadori, Milano, 2001

-  "... il colpo di grazia contro ogni opposizione [è] metterla fuori legge e appropriarsi del suo programma. Non ne resta più nulla. Nel 1917 Lenin si servì con successo di questa tattica contro i suoi pericolosi concorrenti, i socialisti-rivoluzionari. Essi avevano dalla loro i contadini, e per la rivoluzione proletaria, promossa dai bolscevichi, non v'era minaccia maggiore di un movimento autonomo dei lavoratori della terra. L'obiettivo di sbarazzarsi dei socialisti-rivoluzionari fu perseguito mediante un opportuno coordinamento dell'azione terroristica della polizia con l'adozione del loro stesso programma agrario. All'uopo Lenin promulgò il suo famoso decreto di confisca della grande proprietà terriera a benefizio dei comitati agrari locali e dei soviet regionali dei contadini.  Naturalmente, in seguito, non avendo più avversari nelle campagne, i bolscevichi sono tornati alla propria politica agraria, considerando i contadini come cittadini di seconda categoria e sfruttandoli a beneficio dell'industrializzazione. Il magistrale esempio fu seguito da Stalin nella sua lotta contro Trotzkij. Prima egli l'accusò di deviazione industrialista e, dopo averlo esiliato, si è affrettato ad adottarne il programma di industrializzazione.  Quando, per incompatibilità ideologica o politica, il neodittatore non può osare tanto, lo tenterà almeno a parole o in maniera simbolica. Non v'è espediente più economico e innocuo di risolvere i problemi che alterare la loro denominazione. Così, sotto il fascismo italiano, i diritti e privilegi del capitalisti sono stati, di fatto, rinvigoriti, mentre nella Carta del lavoro, promulgata dal regime, il capitalismo è definito superato. Esso vi è semplicemente chiamato corporativismo, secondo l'esempio di quel monaco che, in omaggio alla regola del digiuno, prima di mangiare bistecche le ribattezzava baccalà." (pp. 172-173)

 

[1944]  F. A. Hayek,  The Road to Serfdom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986

-  "There is no justification for the belief that so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary." (p. 53)

-  "The enemy, whether he be internal like the 'Jew' or the 'Kulak', or external, seems to be an indispensable requisite in the armoury of a totalitarian leader." (p. 103)

 

[1943-1944]  George Orwell,  Animal Farm, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1966

-  "Squealer was sent round the farm to explain the new arrangements to the others.
'Comrades,' he said, 'I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrade, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball ... who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?'
'He fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed,' said somebody.
'Bravery is not enough,' said Squealer. 'Loyalty and obedience are more important'." (pp. 49-50)

 

[1945]  Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power : its nature and the history of its growth (Du pouvoir : histoire naturelle de sa croissance), Liberty Press, Indianapolis, 1993

-  "The essential reason for obedience is that it has become a habit of the species. We find Power at the birth of social life, just as we find a father at the birth of physical life. Power is for us a fact of nature." (p. 24)

-  "As a description of Power ... we may now call it a standing corporation, which is obeyed from habit, has the means of physical compulsion, and is kept in being partly by the view taken of its strength, partly by the faith that it rules as of right (in other words, its legitimacy), and partly by the hope of its beneficence." (p. 27)

-  "History never lack instances to show us of vast masses of men submitting to a yoke which is hateful to them, and lending unanimous and willing aid to keep in being a Power which they detest." (p. 87)

-  "... the king of the Bantus, for whom ruling is, in essence, nothing more than swimming in wealth and eating enormous meals - so that the same word, fouma, serves to denote both ruling and eating." "They heap up tribute in the form of food, we pile on taxes. The king eats his revenues, but he is joined in this by his dependants and those who help him in governing - the equivalent of our administrative corps and our police forces. So that there is a group of 'tribute-eaters' with a vested interest in the enlargement of the tributes, a group into which the governed, who pay the imposition - here the same word, louba, denotes governed and taxpayers - strive to break, so as to exchange the position of nourisher for that of nourished." "The king employs a considerable part of the tribute in grants of largesse, bestowed by way of banquets or presents, to those whose support consolidates his authority, whereas their defection would endanger it. Do we not see modern governments as well using public funds to endow social groups or classes, whose vote their are anxious to secure? Today the name is different, and it is called the redistribution of income by taxation." (p. 128)

-  "Ever since the divine dreamings of Plato ... the search has gone on for an entirely virtuous government and one which lives only for the interests and the wishes of the governed. For thinkers this illusion has done no more harm than thwart the creation of a political science worthy of the name; but, reaching the multitude, the disposer of Power, it has become the fruitful cause of the great disturbances which desolate our age and threaten the very existence of civilization. The vices and abuses seen in the Power that is in being are not actively restrained by the citizens, as knowing that such vices and abuses are inherent in the nature of Power. Civically passive, but emotionally active, they take these vices and abuses for the stigmata of a bad Power which should be overturned to make place for another Power which shall be infinitely just and beneficent." (pp. 130-131)

 

[1948]  George Orwell,  Nineteen Eighty-Four, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1999

-  "What kind of people would control the world had been equally obvious. The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organisers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians. These people, whose origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralised government." (p. 213)

-  "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the goods of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power." (p. 275)

-  "We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." (p. 276)

-  "Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing." (p. 279)

 

[1953]  Robert A. Nisbet,  Community & Power, (formerly : The Quest for Community), Oxford University Press, New York, 1962

-  "Power, I conceive as something external and based upon force. Authority, on the other hand, is rooted in the statuses, functions, and allegiances which are the components of any association. Authority is indeed indistinguishable from organization."
"Apart from authority, as even the great anarchists have insisted, there can be no freedom, no individuality. What the anarchists said ... is, first, that there must be many authorities in society, and second, that authority must be closely united to objectives and functions which command the response and talents of members." (p. xii)

- "It is power, not authority, that seeks homogeneity, regimentation and the manipulated articulation of parts by hierarchies of administrators." (p. xiii)

 

[1957]  Leopold Kohr,  The Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986

-  "If prison guards and police officials have such a universal record of brutality, it is not because they are worse than other men but because in their relationship with their captives they are nearly always equipped with the critical quantity of power." (p. 27)

 

[1962]  Milton Friedman with the assistance of Rose D. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1982

-  "First, the scope of our government must be limited." "The second broad principle is that government power must be dispersed." (pp. 2-3)

 

[1964]  Vance Packard,  The Naked Society, Longmans, London, 1964

-  "If information is power, Americans should be uneasy about the amount of information the federal government is starting to file on its citizens in its blinking memory banks." (p. 42)

 

[1980]  Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman,  Free to Choose, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1983

-  "The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny." (p. 21)

 

[1988]  Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine. The future of work and power, Heinemann, Oxford, 1988

-  "The more blurred the distinction between what workers know and what managers know, the more fragile and pointless any traditional relationships of domination and subordination between them will become." (p. 308)

-  "... authority is located in the process of creating and articulating meaning, rather than in a particular position or function." (p. 308)