Chapter 3: Politics: The Will-to-Power
The criminal is also after power, but he does not know how to move legally, constitutionally, morally. He is wilder, not so tamed as the politician. He is less cultured, not so cultured as the politician who uses culture as a stepping-stone. He is not so articulate as the politician. The politician’s basic art is to be articulate, to be able to express your hopes, transforming them into his promises. He is so articulate that he goes on finding your conscious and your unconscious dreams and hopes, and translates them into promises for the future: that if you give him power, he is going to fulfill all these things. It is a bargain: you give him power, and he will give you the promised land.
Once you have given him power, who cares about you? The man who had promised you was powerless. This is a totally different man; he is powerful. Lord Acton’s saying I have been quoting again and again in my life: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And Lord Acton is saying it through his own experience; he is not just philosophizing. He has known power, he has known its corruption, and because of its corrupting influence he dropped out of it.
Once you have power, then all the corrupting forces that have been hidden in your unconscious start raising their heads. Who cares about others? Those promises were not given with an honest mind, they were given by you knowing perfectly well that they are not going to be fulfilled. It was just a policy to gain power, and you have gained power. Now you have your own unconscious desires to be fulfilled.
The politician can turn at any time into a criminal. We see it happening throughout history, and still we don’t become aware. Joseph Stalin, before he came to power, was not a criminal. He had not killed a single human being, he was not a murderer. But what happened when he came to power? The first thing he did was to destroy the whole twelve-member committee, the communist presidium, which ruled over the whole Communist Party, the topmost leaders. He started killing them one by one.
He killed Kamenev, then he killed Zinovyev, then he killed Trotsky. He went on killing them one by one, and while he was killing one, he took the support of all the others. And they all were happy that there was one less; the power was coming into fewer and fewer hands, and that was better. From twelve, there were only nine people; then there were only six people. He poisoned Lenin who was the topmost man of the revolution. The second man was Trotsky. Once he succeeded in killing Trotsky - Trotsky was killed here in America, in Mexico, because he had escaped. Seeing Zinovyev and Kamenev being killed, he escaped.
You will not believe that when he escaped in disguise - he had to escape in disguise - and in such a hurry because Stalin was just getting ready to finish him. It was a question of two or three days, not more than that. And he was a minister, the defense minister of Russia. All the military, all the forces were under him. The moment he became aware of it, that same night he escaped. And he could not bring his dog, whom he loved very much. Stalin even killed the dog - it was Trotsky’s dog. Such criminal minds! He sent a hired murderer to kill Trotsky in Mexico.