â€œPower tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.â€ Lord Acton
Well, no, actually.
Power allows existing personality traits to manifest themselves–it may enhance, but it doesn’t create the traits.
Naturally military dictators willing to kill and crush all opposition to achieve power aren’t likely to be the nicest of people. They are already “corrupt.” Though they may have initially put on a mask of niceness to get support, the moment they achieve their goals, the mask falls and their basic dictatorial personality is manifest. Absolute power does not corrupt them–it is simply an enabler to allow a preexisting condition to express itself.
Unfortunately, since they themselves are quite unpleasant people–willing to do anything to achieve power–they often assume everyone else is the same, and can be quite paranoid. And to paraphrase the joke, just because they are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not hated and that everyone is indeed out to get them. Again, the traits were all there to start off with, power is not the cause, though it does enable the effects.
But examine people that have not acquired power through force. Look at people who were born into power–kings and queens–to see how the opportunities that absolute power offers is always transformed by the personality in power throughout history. Even though England’s present royalty doesn’t have much actual power, you just know that Prince Charles would not go around beheading people (except for a few architects perhaps) if he had absolute power. There’s even variety in dictators, Stalin, Tito, Castro all present quite different profiles in power.
Even the “power” of modern day celebrities demonstrate a great deal of variety. Some achieve power through talent and/or luck, not trampling on others (actors Vs reality tv stars). Some actors are clearly total egocentric jerks (and worse), using and abusing their spotlight. Others clearly are fairly normal human beings.
So don’t blame power. It’s just a door opener to the jerk within…