Thursday, 15 October 2009

Morality, Democracy, Leadership

The question is "Are the majority more or less moral than the ruling elite?"
In 1887 Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, wrote "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." But why should this be so? Is it that leaders have to make tough choices that can always be perceived by some to be immoral? Tough choices lead to hardened hearts! Or is it that our leaders are sustained by large egos that blind them of empathy for the "little man"?
We could assume that the majority of common folk are averagely moral. Interactive Democracy gives them power. Could it be the case that they could countermand the immoral tendencies of despots yet be enriched by the teachings of greater folk, thus improving the moral sentiment of the nation? History suggests otherwise (Hitler's Germany, Israel's democracy).
I think the best we can say is that the majority are neither more nor less moral than rulers.
For more on how situations lead to brutal behaviour, please see "The Lucifer Effect".

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