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1. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian. Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (April 5, 1887)


2 .A friend in power is a friend lost.

Henry Brooks Adams (1836-1916) U.S. historian. Education of Henry Adams (1907)


3. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God’s service, when it is violating His Laws.

John Adams (1735-1826) U.S. president. Letter to Thomas Jefferson (February 2, 1814)


4. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

Saul Alinsky (1909-72) U.S. activist. “Tactics,” Rules for Radicals (1971)


5. Power tires only those who do not have it.

Giulio Andreotti (b.1919) Italian prime minister of Italy. Reply to question about how he remained in power so long. Quoted in independent on Sunday (London) (April 5, 1992)


6. Whosoever owns the river bank owns the fish.

Anonymous. Russian proverb.


7. I was allowed to ring the bell for five minutes until everyone was in assembly. It was the beginning of power.

Jeffrey Archer (b.1940) British novelist and politician. Referring to his experience at school. Quoted in Daily Telegraph (London) (March 16, 1988)


8. It is a strange desire to seek power, and to love liberty or to seek power over others, and to lose power over one’s self.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher and statesman. “Of Great Place,” Essays (1597-1625)


9.. Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher and statesman. “Of Great Place,” Essays (1597-1625)


10. But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.

James Baldwin (1924-87) U.S. writer. November 4, 1971. A Dialogue (1973)


11. Where the people possess  no authority, their rights obtain no respect.

George Bancroft (1800-91) U.S. statesman and historian. “To the Workingmen of Northampton,” Boston Courier (October 22, 1834)


12. You carry forever the fingerprint that comes from being under someone’s thumb.

Nancy Banks-Smith (b.1929) British journalist. Guardian (London) (January 30, 1991)


13. He did not care in which direction the car was travelling, so long as he remained in the driver’s seat.

Max Beaverbrook (1879-1964) British newspaper owner and politician. Referring to Lloyd George. New Statesman (June 14, 1963)


14. The purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.

Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960) British politician. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan (Michael Foot; 1962), vol. 1, ch. 1


15. The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.

William Blake (1757-1827) British poet, painter, engineer and artist. “Auguries of Innocence” (1803?)


16. Those who have been once intoxicated with power and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief.

Edmund Burke (1729-97) British philosopher and politician. Letter to a member of the National Assembly (January 19, 1791)


17. The greatest the power, the more dangerous the abuse.

Edmund Burke (1729-97) British philosopher and politician. Speech on the Middlesex election (1771)


18. Power intoxicates men. It is never voluntarily surrendered. It must be taken from them.

James F. Byrnes (1879-1972) U.S. politician. Quoted in New York Times (May 15, 1956)


19. The less people know about what is really going on, the easier it is to wield power and authority.

Prince Charles (b.1948) British prince. Quoted in “Sayings of the Week,” Observer (London) (March 2, 1975)


20. In order to be influential a man must be by nature straightforward and a lover of right.

Conficius (551-479 B.C.) Chinese philosopher, administrator and writer. Analects (500? B.C.)


21. You have more control and less ambiguity today than you are likely to have for the rest of your life.

Daryl R. Conner (b.1946) U.S. management author. Managing at the Speed of Change (1993)


22. The need to exert power, when thwarted in the open fields of life, is the more likely to assert itself in trifles.

Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) U.S. sociologist. Human Nature and the Social Order (1902), ch. 2


23.. Why should I run for Mayor when I’m already King?

Walt Disney (1901-66) U.S. entertainment entrepreneur and founder of the Walt Disney Company. Responding to Ray Bradbury’s suggestion that he run for Mayor of Los Angeles. Quoted in Listener (London) (October 7, 1982)


24. Power has only one duty-to secure the social welfare of the People.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) British political prime minister and novelist. Sybil (1845), bk. 4,ch. 4


25. I repeat…that all power is a trust-that we are accountable for its exercise-that, from the people and for the people, all springs and all must exist.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) British political prime minister and novelist. Vivian Grey (1826), bk. 6, ch. 7


26. All empire is no more than power in trust.

John Dryden (1631-1700) English poet and playwright. Absalom and Achitophel (1680), pt. 1, 1. 411


27. In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) U.S. general and president. Farewell address (January 17, 1961)


28. Power ceases in the instant of repose.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, lecturer and poet. “Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)


29. Life is a search after power.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, lecturer and poet. “Power,” The Conduct of Life (1860)


30. Power is the ability to change things.

Carly Fiorina (b.1954) U.S. president and C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard. “Secrets of the Fastest Rising Stars,” Fortune (Patricia Sellers; 2000)


31. Men of power have no time to read; yet the men who do not read are unfit for power.

Michael Foot (b.1913) British politician and writer. Debts of Honour (1980)


32. Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a situation in a particular society.

Michael Foucault (1926-84) French philosopher. The History of Sexuality (1976), vol. 1, pt. 4, ch. 2


33. In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes.

  1. K. Galbraith (b.1908) U.S. economist and diplomat. New York (November 15, 1971)


34. “Power may be at the end of a gun,” but sometimes it’s also at the end of the shadow or the image of a gun.

Jean Genet (1910-86) French playwright and novelist. Referring to a quotation by Mao Zedong. Prisoner of Love (1986), pt. 1


35. You must either conquer and rule or serve and lose, suffer or triumph be the anvil or the hammer.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, playwright, novelist and scientist. Der Gross-Cophta (1791), bk. 2


36. Power is neither male nor female.

Katharine Graham (1917-2001) U.S. newspaper publisher and owner of Washington Post. Quoted in Company Man: the Rise and Fall of Corporation Life (Anthony Sampson; 1995), ch. 19


37. In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s substance amounts to a power over his will.

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) U.S. lawyer and politician. The Federalist (1787)


38. My speciality is omniscience.

Charles Haughey (b.1925) Irish former prime minister. Attrib.


39. The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line; everyone has a small part of himself in both.

Vaclav Havel (b.1936) Czech writer and president. Disturbing the Peace (1990), ch. 5


40. Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.

Eric Hoffer (1902-83) U.S. philosopher. The Passionate State of Mind (1955)


41. The great secret of power is never to will to do more than you can accomplish.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) Norwegian playwright. Attrib.


42. An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) U.S. president. Letter to John Melish (January 13, 1813)


43. I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) U.S. president.  Letter to Thomas Leiper (June 12, 1815)


44. My opinion is, that power should always be distrusted in whatever hands it is placed.

William Jones (1746-94) British jurist, linguist and orientalist. Letter to Lord Althorp (October 5, 1782)


45. Power is the ability to get things done.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (b.1943) U.S. management theorist, academic and writer. Getting It All Together: Communes Past, Presetn, Future (1996)


46. In the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding on the back of the tiger ended up inside.

John F. Kennedy (1917-63) U.S. president. Presidential inaugural speech (January 20, 1961)


47. Whenever you’re sitting across from some important person, always picture him sitting there in a suit of long red underwear. That’s the way I always operated in business.

Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969) U.S. entrepreneur, government official and diplomat. Quoted in No Final Victories (Lawrence O’Brien; 1974)


48. The cyclone derives its power from a calm centre. So does a person.

Brendan Kennelly (b.1936) Irish poet and academic. The Power of Positive Thinking (1972)


49. four things greater than all things are-Women and Horses and Power and War.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) British novelist, poet and short-story writer. “The Ballad of the King’s Jest” (1889-91)


50. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Henry Kissinger (b.1923) U.S. diplomat. New York Times (January 19, 1971)


51. We should keep silent about those in power; to speak well of them almost implies flattery; to speak ill of them while they are alive is dangerous and when they are dead is cowardly.

Jean De La Bruyere (1645-96) French essayist and moralist. “Of Great Nobles,” Characters or Manners of the Age (1688)


52. The stronger man’s argument is always the best.

Jean De La Bruyere (1645-96) French essayist and moralist. “The Wolf and the Lamb,” Fables (1668), bk. 1, fable 10


53. The important thing about power is to make sure you don’t have to use it.

Edwin Land (1909-91) U.S. inventor and founder of Polaroid Corporation. Business Week (March 1981)


54. What is hateful are not rebels but the men, who having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; they are the men who, having the power to redress wrongs, refuse to listen to the petitioners that are sent to them.

Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) Canadian politician. Speech, House of Commons (March 16, 1886)


55. The quality of the will to power is, precisely, growth. Achievement is its cancellation. To be, the will to power must increase with each fulfillment, making the fulfillment only a step to a further one. The vaster the power gained the vaster the appetite for more.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b.1929) U.S. author. The Lathe of Heaven (1971), ch. 9


56. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) U.S. president. Letter to A. G. Hodges (April 4, 1864)


57. Power? It’s like a dead sea fruit. When you achieve it, there’s nothing there.

Harold MacMillan (1894-1986) British prime minister. Quoted in The New Anatomy of Britain (Anthony Sampson; 1971)


58. Power never takes a back step-only in the face of more power.

Malcolm X (1925-65) U.S. black consciousness leader. Malcolm X Speaks (1965)


59. Every Communist must grasp the truth. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) Chinese revolutionary leader. Speech to Central Committee, Communist Party (November 6, 1938)


60. Being chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee is like being a mosquito in a nudist colony.

John McCain (b.1936) U.S. senator. Quoted in Fortune (March 2003)


61. Wielding that sort of influence is easier when one controls tremendous sums of money.

Carl McCall (b.1935) U.S. former Comptroller of New York State. Referring to the achievements of African Americans in Business. “The Players,” Fortune (Eileen Gunn; April 1997)


62. A man comes into a great hotel and say, I am a messenger. Who is this man? He disappears walking, there is no noise, nothing. Maybe he will never come back, maybe he will never deliver the message, But a man who rides up on a great machine, this man exists. He will given messages.

Arthur Miller (b.1915) U.S. dramatist. A View from the Bridge (1995), Act 1


63. The power of kings and magistrates is nothing else, but what only is derivative, transformed and committed to them in trust from the people to the common good of them all, in whom the power yet remains fundamentally, and cannot be taken from them, without a violation of their birthright.

John Milton (1608-74) English poet. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649)


64. Not necessity, not desire-no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything-health, food, a place to live, entertainment-they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited; for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher. Daybreak (1881)


65. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

George Orwell (1903-50) British novelist, critic and essayist. Said by O’Brien to Winston Smith. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), pt. 3, ch. 3


66. Power-worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.

George Orwell (1903-50) British novelist, critic and essayist. “Second Thoughts on James Burnham,” Shooting an Elephant (1950)


67. God must have loved the People in power, for he made them so very like their own image of him.

Kenneth Patchen (1911-72) U.S. poet. Quoted in Guardian (London) (February 1, 1972)


68. Great men can’t be ruled.

Ayn Rand (1905-82) U.S. writer. The Fountainhead (1943)


69. The least one cn say about power is that a vocation for it is suspicious.

Jean Rostand (1894-1977) French biologist and writer. 1939. “A Biologist’s Thoughts,” The Substance of Man (1962), ch. 10


70. The new source of power is not money in the hands of the few, but information in the hands of many.

  1. W. Rostow (b.1916) U.S. economist. Megatrends (1982)


71. Women have so much power that even hearing the word power frightens them.

Harriet Rubin (b.1952) U.S. author. (2000)


72. The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.

Bertrand Russell 1872-1970( British philosopher and writer. The Conquest of Happiness (1930), ch. 1


73. The man who is activated by love of power is more apt to inflict pain than to permit pleasure.

Bertrand Russell 1872-1970( British philosopher and writer. Attrib.


74. We cannot all be masters.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English poet and playwright. Othello (1602-04), Act 1, Scene 1, 1. 43


75. The good want power, but to weep barren tears. The powerfull goodness want: worse need for them…And all best things are thus confused with it.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) British poet. Prometheus Unbound (1819), 1. 625


76. Power like a desolating pestilence

Pollutes whate’er it touches.

Bertrand Russell 1872-1970( British philosopher and writer. Queen Mab (1813), pt. 3


77. Power can be taken but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.

Gloria Steinem (b.1934) U.S. entrepreneur, editor and writer. “Far from the Opposite Shore,” Ms. (July 1978)


78. Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely.

Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-65) U.S. statesman and author. Referring to Lord Action’s quotation about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely. Quoted in Observer (London) (January 1963)


79. In the new organization, power flows from expertise, not position.

Thomas A. Stewart (b.1948) U.S. journalist and author. Intellectual Capital (1997)


80. One still strong man in a blantant land, Whatever they call him, what care, I, Aristocrat, democrat, autocrat-one Who can rule and dare not lie.

Alfred Tennyson, Lord (1809-92) British poet. Maud (1855), pt. 1, st. 5


81. I shan’t be pulling the levers there but I shall be a very good back-seat driver.

Margaret Thatcher (b.1925) British former prime minister. Referring to the appointment of John Major as prime minister. Independent (London) (November 27, 1990)


82. You don’t have power if you surrender all your principles-you have office.

Ron Todd (b. 1927) British labor union leader. Quoted in Daily Telegraph (London) (June 17, 1988)


83. Go for an interview when you feel dead-ended. If someone calls you at 9:30 a.m. to set the time for your luncheon date and you want to say “Right now,” it’s time to get out your contact list and set up some interviews.

Jane Trahey (1923-2000) U.S. copywriter and author. Jane Trahey on Women and Power: Who’s Got It? How to Get It? (1977)


84. I have, I fear, confused power with greatness.

Stewart L. Udall (b.1920) U.S. politician and conservationist. Commencement speech at Dartmouth College (1965)


85. Powerful men in particular suffer from the delusion that human beings have no memories. I would go so far as to say that the distinguishing trait of powerful men is the psychotic certainly that people forget acts of infamy as easily as their parents’ birthdays.

Stephen Vizinczey (b.1933) Hungarian novelist and critic. “Commentary on a Poem,” Horizon (October 1976)


86. Alexander at the head of the world never tasted the fine pleasure that boys of his own age have enjoyed at the head of a school.

Horace Walpole (1717-97) British writer. Letter (May 6, 1736)


87. The appetite for power, even for universal power, is only insane when there is no possibility of indulging it; a man who sees the possibility opening before him and does not try to grasp it, even at the risk of destroying himself and his country, is either a saint or a mediocrity.

Simone Weil (1909-43) French philosopher and activist. 1939. “Cold War Policy in 1939,” Selected Essays (Richard Rees, ed.; 1962)


88. The good old rule

Sufficeth them, the simple plan,

That they should take, who have the power,

And they should keep who can.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) British poet. “Rob Roy’s Grave” (1803), st. 9


89. When a system of national currencies run by a central bank is transformed into a global electronic marketplace driven by currency traders, power changes hands.

Walter Wriston (b.1919) U.S. banker. 1993. Said in a speech on January 25, 1993. Quoted in The Arizona Republic (1999)