Is JRR Tolkien part of our libertarian tradition?
Jeff Riggenbach thinks so.
This week’s episode of the Libertarian Tradition podcast is about Tolkien the anarchist (“philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs”) and the great classical-liberal historian Lord Acton.
And while we’re on the subject of Lord “power corrupts” Acton, this is from The Economist (January 21, 2010, print edition):
Power corrupts, but it corrupts only those who think they deserve it
Reports of politicians who have extramarital affairs while complaining about the death of family values, or who use public funding for private gain despite condemning government waste, have become so common in recent years that they hardly seem surprising anymore. Anecdotally, at least, the connection between power and hypocrisy looks obvious.
Anecdote is not science, though. And, more subtly, even if anecdote is correct, it does not answer the question of whether power tends to corrupt, as Lord Acton’s dictum has it, or whether it merely attracts the corruptible. To investigate this question Joris Lammers at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, and Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University, in Illinois, have conducted a series of experiments which attempted to elicit states of powerfulness and powerlessness in the minds of volunteers. Having done so, as they report in Psychological Science, they tested those volunteers’ moral pliability. Lord Acton, they found, was right.