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Eric Hoffer

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It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.
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Section 42

 
Eric Hoffer

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It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression. St. Vincent De Paul cautioned his disciples to deport themselves so that the poor "will forgive them the bread you give them."

 
Eric Hoffer
 

What is true is that the idea of power corrupts. Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don’t want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it.

 
Gregory Bateson
 

You know, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"? It's the same with powerlessness. Absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely. Einstein said everything had changed since the atom was split, except the way we think. We have to think anew.

 
Studs Terkel
 

The weak are not a noble breed. Their sublime deeds of faith, daring, and self-sacrifice usually spring from questionable motives. The weak hate not wickedness but weakness; and one instance of their hatred of weakness is hatred of self. All the passionate pursuits of the weak are in some degree a striving to escape, blur, or disguise an unwanted self. It is a striving shot through with malice, envy, self-deception, and a host of petty impulses; yet it often culminates in superb achievements. Thus we find that people who fail in everyday affairs often show a tendency to reach out for the impossible. They become responsive to grandiose schemes, and will display unequaled steadfastness, formidable energies and a special fitness in the performance of tasks which would stump superior people. It seems paradoxical that defeat in dealing with the possible should embolden people to attempt the impossible, but a familiarity with the mentality of the weak reveals that what seems a path of daring is actually an easy way out: It is to escape the responsibility for failure that the weak so eagerly throw themselves into grandiose undertakings. For when we fail in attaining the possible the blame is solely ours, but when we fail in attaining the impossible we are justified in attributing it to the magnitude of the task.

 
Eric Hoffer
 

In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams. Fear of conflict and the weapons of war. Fear of a future that is different from the past. Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy. Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way. In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear. She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it -- “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” That's the fear that you can leave behind. We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people's fears.

 
Barack Obama
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