Abuse of power
commission of an unlawful act in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties
Abuse of power or abuse of authority, in the form of "malfeasance in office" or "official misconduct", is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Institutional abuse is the maltreatment of a person from a system of power.
- Increasingly, our large corporations have been abusing the awesome power that they have amassed. [...] This abuse of power shows itself in many ways. Particularly disturbing have been the efforts of the corporations to conscript the political process for their own benefit through their large financial contributions, both legal and illegal. Although corporate political influence became more pronounced under President Ronald Reagan, it has long exercised a heavy hand over the White House, the Congress, and the state governments. Former top corporate executives often hold many of the most powerful cabinet and top agency positions in the executive branch of government. Politicians listen when large corporations speak. They have enormous advantages in influencing political decision-makers.
- No abuse of power has so tarnished the corporate image or shown the need for government legislation as the numerous public revelations of wholesale political and foreign bribery that came to light during the 1970s. These revelations are one of the most sordid chapters in American corporate history.
- The destiny was fulfilled which the father of the gods, Enlil of the mountain, had decreed for Gilgamesh: "In nether-earth the darkness will show him a light: of mankind, all that are known, none will leave a monument for generations to come to compare with his. The heroes, the wise men, like the new moon have their waxing and waning. Men will say, 'Who has ever ruled with might and with power like him?' As in the dark month, the month of shadows, so without him there is no light. O Gilgamesh, this was the meaning of your dream. You were given the kingship, such was your destiny, everlasting life was not your destiny. Because of this do not be sad at heart, do not be grieved or oppressed; he has given you power to bind and to loose, to be the darkness and the light of mankind. He has given unexampled supremacy over the people, victory in battle from which no fugitive returns, in forays and assaults from which there is no going back. But do not abuse this power, deal justly with your servants in the palace, deal justly before the face of the Sun.
- Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by Nancy Sandars, 1960, Penguin Classics, Third edition, 1972
- What is the best way to debunk a conspiracy theory? Call it a conspiracy theory, a label which in and of itself implies disbelief. The only problem with that is there have been many actual conspiracies both historically and currently and many of them are not in the least theoretical in nature. Conspiracies of several kinds brought about American participation in both world wars.... Given the multiple crises currently being experienced in the United States it is perhaps inevitable that speculation about conspiracies is at its highest level ever. To the average American it is incomprehensible how the country has become so screwed up because the political and economic elite is fundamentally incompetent, so the search for a scapegoat must go on...
- Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only "better angels" in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation — especially the temptation to abuse power over others.
- Al Gore, Address at New York University (25 May 2004) Full text online.
- Abuse of power has become the norm in Moon's South Korea, and Koreans are taking notice.
- Just four months after winning the April 15 general election by a landslide, and securing 176 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his governing Democratic Party (DP) are faced with an alarming change in public sentiment. [...] This drastic decline in public support for the president and the government illustrates not only the volatile nature of South Korea's democracy, but also the growing backlash against their attempts to make abuse of power the new norm in the country. Indeed, since their stunning election victory in April, President Moon and his party have repeatedly undermined the rule of law, ignored the procedures put in place to ensure the separation of powers, and made controversial moves to further their populist agenda and help their allies escape accountability.
- Since the election, the DP government also made several moves to bring the Supreme Prosecutors' Office (SPO) fully under its control. [...] The government's attempts to shield its members and supporters from being held accountable for alleged abuses of power are not limited to bringing the SPO under control either. President Moon and the DP's silence on and apparent unwillingness to get to the bottom of the sexual harassment allegations directed at powerful heads of local government, including the highly influential Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, is yet another example of their desire to make abuse of power and impunity the new norm in South Korea. In light of all this, it is hardly surprising that Koreans are starting to turn their backs on Moon and his party who were elected on a promise to end corruption and abuse of power - ills that have beset Korean governments since the country's successful transition towards democracy in 1987. The alarming decline in the public's support for Moon and the DP is a clear warning that Moon risks becoming a lame duck in the fourth year of his five-year presidency and in the lead-up to the April 2021 by-elections and the 2022 presidential election.
- Corruption and misuse of power are widespread phenomena. They are one of the major, if not the major, threats to democratic government and the rule of law. But at the lower ends of the power hierarchies as well, in society as well as organizations, the abuse of power is a major obstacle in the way of many people's pursuit of happiness. Moreover, the diversion of official organizational power for the selfish ends of the powerholder is necessarily detrimental to the aims and goals of the organization or society.
- Annette Y. Lee-Chai and John Bargh. The Use and Abuse of Power. Psychology Press. 2015. p. 53. . ISBN 978-1-317-71036-3.
- Constant experience shows us that every man who has power is inclined to abuse it; he goes until he finds limits.
- Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Book XI, Chapter 4, 1748
- It is certain, higher powers are not to be resisted; but some persons in power may be resisted. The powers are ordained of God; but kings commanding unjust things are not ordained of God to do such things; but to apply this to tyrants, I do not understand. Magistrates in some acts may be guilty of tyranny, and yet retain the power of magistracy; but tyrants cannot be capable of magistracy, nor any one of the scripture-characters of righteous rulers. They cannot retain that which they have forfeited, and which they have overturned; and usurpers cannot retain that which they never had. They may act and enact some things materially just, but they are not formally such as can make them magistrates, no more than some unjust actions can make a magistrate a tyrant. A murderer, saving the life of one and killing another, does not make him no murderer: once a murderer ay a murderer, once a robber ay a robber, till he restore what he hath robbed: so once a tyrant ay a tyrant, till he makes amends for his tyranny, and that will be hard to do. [...] The concrete does specificate the abstract in actuating it, as a magistrate in his exercising government, makes his power to be magistry; a robber, in his robbing, makes his power to be robbery; an usurper in his usurping makes his power to be usurpation; so a tyrant in his tyrannizing, can have no power but tyranny. As the abstract of a magistrate is nothing but magistracy, so the abstract of a tyrant is nothing but tyranny. It is frivolous then to distinguish between a tyrannical power in the concrete, and tyranny in the abstract; the power and the abuse of the power: for he hath no power as a tyrant, but what is abused. [...] It is altogether impertinent to use such a distinction, with application to tyrants or usurpers, as many do in their pleading for the owning of our oppressors; for they have no power, but what is the abuse of power.