Does Power Corrupt or Are the Corruptible Attracted to Power? 

Corruptible Book Cover

It’s a familiar story: A corrupt leader rises to power, is often willingly allowed to do so, and proceeds to leave a trail of destruction in his wake (it’s usually, but not always, a male). We see this time and time again throughout history and across the globe. But we never seem to learn. How can we account for this? 

The conventional answer is to blame power itself, as in the proverbial saying “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But as political scientist Brian Klaas explains in his latest book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, things are not so simple. While power can indeed corrupt, more often bad people are drawn to positions of power in the first place, and pursue these positions within systems that actually encourage bad behavior. To ensure that the right people are placed in power, we have to do more than focus only on individuals; we need to fix the underlying systems that allow them to thrive. As Klaas wrote:

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What Hunter-Gatherers Can Teach Us About Work, Life, and Shared Abundance 

We often underestimate just how much our current attitudes towards a subject are influenced by relatively recent cultural inventions, and this is particularly true regarding our relationship with work. As anthropologist James Suzman argues in his latest book, Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots, the way we think about work today has its roots in farming and the agricultural revolution that occurred only 12,000 years ago. 

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