Acton Institute Powerblog Archives

Post Tagged 'British people'

Why great men are almost always bad men

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is the most famous quote by the English Catholic historian Sir John Dalberg-Acton. But what exactly did he mean by it? That particular quote comes from a letter to Bishop Creighton in which Lord Acton explains that historians should condemn murder, theft, and violence whether committed by an individual, the state, or the Church. Continue Reading...

Clergy, Innovation, and Economics

This is a bit second-hand (a source drawing from another source), but I still think the following tidbit on the modern history of clergy and scientific and technological development and discovery in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries from Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile is notable: Knowledge formation, even when theoretical, takes time, some boredom, and the freedom that comes from having another occupation, therefore allowing one to escape the journalistic-style pressure of modern publish-and-perish [sic, probably intentionally] academia to produce cosmetic knowledge, much like the counterfeit watches one buys in Chinatown in New York City, the type that you know is counterfeit although it looks like the real thing. Continue Reading...

Video: An Evening With G.K. Chesterton

The 2014 Acton Lecture Series took a dramatic turn last week as we welcomed G.K. Chesterton – or at least a quite remarkable facsimile of Chesterton in the form of Chuck Chalberg, who travels the country performing in character as Chesterton, among other notable historic figures.  Continue Reading...

Radio Free Acton: The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke

This week on Radio Free Acton, Michael Matheson Miller takes the interviewer’s chair for a conversation with David Bromwich, Sterling Professor of English at Yale University, to discuss the thought of Edmund Burke in the wake of the release of Bromwich’s first volume of what will be a two-volume intellectual biography of Burke. Continue Reading...

Christianity, Socialism, and Wealth Creation

Christian churches in the West have been focused on redistribution of income rather than the creation of wealth, says Brian Griffiths in this week’s Acton Commentary. Through much of the post-war period in the West, the formation of economic policy was dominated by Keynesian activism on the part of governments seeking an increasing role in providing public services, reducing material poverty, and reshaping income redistribution. Continue Reading...

The Camel’s Hump: Rudyard Kipling on Idleness and Hard Work

The other night, I sat down with my kids to read one of my favorite Rudyard Kipling poems, “The Camel’s Hump,” a remarkable 19th-century takedown of 21st-century couch-potato culture. With typical color and wit, Kipling takes aim at idleness, decrying “the hump we get from having too little to do” — “the hump that is black and blue.” Kipling proceeds to elevate labor, noting that hard work refreshes the soul and reinvigorates the spirit: “The cure for this ill is not to sit still / Or frowst with a book by the fire / But to take a large hoe and a shovel also / And dig till you gently perspire.” The illustrations in my 1949 version of the poem offer additional flair to Kipling’s contrast, aptly showing what can happen, physically and spiritually, if we do or don’t get our hands dirty. Continue Reading...