The Current

Power corrupts. Absolutely?

Power Corrupts. It's an old saying that's sure seems to be ringing true as of late, as figures at the top of their game from soccer, to the senate, to the political media, have been laid low by allegations. But does power always corrupt, or are some people more susceptible than others?
Is power and corruption inevitable? (REUTERS/FIFA/Pool )

There may be nothing inherently new about this trend. After all, it was back in the late 19th century that Lord Acton famously quipped that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

And we have seen many powerful people experience very public falls from grace of late.

From the upper echelons of sport, such as the FIFA officials accused of corruption, and their outgoing president, Sepp Blatter.

People hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the football community whether it is a decision for hosting world cup or corruption.- Sepp Blatter

To the upper echelons of politics, the Canadian senators caught up in this week's Auditor General's report, and upbraided here by the NDP's Charlie Angus.

How can it be in 2015 who believe they are above the house, above voters and are still out there whining about how bad the auditor general has been to them.-  NDP's Charlie Angus

And then there are the upper echelons of media and journalism, earlier this week. Evan Solomon, the latest in a string of examples that raise questions about ethics and entitlement, power and profit.

To discuss it all, we were joined by:

  • Stephen Hicks is a professor of philosophy and Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University in Illinois.
  • Margaret Heffernan is an author whose latest book is "A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better than the Competition."  She was in London, England. 
  • Adam Galinsky is Chair of the management department at the Columbia Business school, and-author of upcoming book "Friend and Foe." He was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Have you seen good people corrupted by power? Have you ever walked away or blown the whistle on behaviour you felt wasn't right? Let us know your own stories and experiences.

Send us an email. Find us on Facebook, or tweet @TheCurrentCBC.

This segment was produced by Lara O'Brien, Sujata Berry and Leif Zapf-Gilje. 


Why Power Corrupts - Smithsonian

Why Power Corrupts - Huffington Post

How Power Corrupts the Mind - The Atlantic