Does power really corrupt?

Dr. Brian Klaas

Power is intoxicating, or so we're told. But do we really understand why people in power often end up becoming more tyrannical than benevolent? And why do they cling onto power once they have it?

Learn about this Garden Talk

The proverbial saying 'power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely' (attributed to the 19th Century British Politician, Lord Acton), conveys the opinion that, as a person's power increases, their moral sense diminishes. But is that true? What does the research say about how leaders seek, embrace and use power?

Dr. Brian Klaas, Associate Professor of Global Politics at University College London, and author of best-selling book 'Corruptible' joins us in The Garden to challenges our basic assumptions about power and discuss if power corrupts. He will be sharing stories from conversations with hundreds of leaders across the world, from religious leaders to dictators, and reflecting on recent political events, to answer all our questions the lure and impact of power:

  • Does power corrupt or are corrupt people drawn to power?

  • Are tyrants the products of bad systems or are they just bad people?

  • And why do we give power to awful people?

  • How we can get the leaders we deserve?

Join Brian in The Garden to discover whether power really does corrupt.

Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

Dr. Brian Klaas

Dr. Brian Klaas is an Associate Professor in Global Politics at University College London and a columnist for The Washington Post, as well as a best-selling author on global politics & how power corrupts leaders.