For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


100 Quotes About Power

August 1st, 2008

This collection of quotes about power is the next sequel to last week’s compilation of 101 Funny Quotes About Money. After noticing that these kinds of posts were more popular than most of my others not only in terms of comments received but also in terms of traffic from the search engines, I did some keyword research with the newly improved Google AdWords tool last night and found several interesting possibilities for future posts of this type. There are enough quote-related keyword phrases remaining for me to make this a weekly feature, probably with Friday as the designated day.

Although these lists take a fair amount of time to put together, they are usually fun to read through, and since I always run across many different sayings that I have not seen before, the experience can be an educational one as well. Some of these power quotes are actually rather inspiring, ranging from motivational “power of one” themes to timely reminders about political power and its potential for corruption and abuse.

  • The mind has exactly the same power as the hands: not merely to grasp the world, but to change it. — Colin Wilson
  • Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. — Honoré de Balzac
  • Our power is in our ability to decide. — Buckminster Fuller
  • Man’s greatness lies in his power of thought. — Blaise Pascal
  • The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. — Ayn Rand
  • The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any — Alice Walker
  • Their insatiable lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it. — Winston Churchill
  • Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me. — Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Power, as in the power structure, is why we are still using gas in cars. — Alexandra Paul
  • I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be. — Thomas Jefferson

  • There is no knowledge that is not power. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. — Albert Einstein
  • Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. — Margaret Thatcher
  • The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance. — Thomas Paine
  • I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. — Lord Acton
  • Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He who is content. Who is that? Nobody. — Benjamin Franklin
  • It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. — David Brin
  • Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. — John Adams
  • Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety of the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute. — Lord Acton
  • Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation. — John Quincy Adams
  • The American people should be made aware of the trend toward monopolization of the great public information vehicles and the concentration of more and more power over public opinion in fewer and fewer hands. — Spiro Agnew
  • The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks. — Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • Knowledge and human power are synonymous. — Francis Bacon
  • The power of authority is never more subtle and effective than when it produces a psychological “atmosphere” or “climate” favorable to the life of certain modes of belief, unfavorable, and even fatal, to the life of others. — Arthur Balfour
  • There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. — John Adams
  • No matter how noble the original intentions, the seductions of power can turn any movement from one seeking equal rights to one that would deny them to others. — Tammy Bruce
  • None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free. — Pearl S. Buck
  • It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions. — Samuel Adams
  • People crushed by law have no hope but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous. — Edmund Burke
  • I don’t give a goddamn. I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper! — George W. Bush
  • You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. — Al Capone
  • He is most powerful who has power over himself. — Seneca
  • Power is when you have every justification to kill someone, and then you don’t. — Oskar Shindler
  • Authority intoxicates, And makes mere sots of magistrates; The fumes of it invade the brain, And make men giddy, proud and vain. — Samuel Butler
  • Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. — Epictitus
  • Between stimulus and response is our greatest power - the freedom to choose. — Stephen R. Covey
  • Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just. — Blaise Pascal
  • He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. — Lao Tzu
  • The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while. — Albert Einstein
  • We have it in our power to begin the world over again. — Thomas Paine
  • The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth. — Frederick Law Olmsted
  • Power over a man’s subsistence is power over his will. — Alexander Hamilton
  • The imbecility of men is always inviting the impudence of power. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs. — Andrew Carnegie
  • The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit. — Mark Twain
  • One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power of lighting its own fire. — John W. Foster
  • People that have the power to dream, have the power to make dreams come true. — Amy Power
  • Knowledge is only powerful when it is applied. — Jacqueline Rich
  • Power is the force that maintains and expresses our natural state of wholeness. It is our ever-present “energy signature”, a force field that holds and attracts, a vibration that calls forth our particular form from formlessness. And this force that moves us toward wholeness and full self-expression is already within us, an essential aspect of our constitution. — Suzanne Eder
  • From antiquity, people have recognized the connection between naming and power. — Casey Miller
  • There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. — John Adams
  • Stripped of ethical rationalizations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit. — Freda Adler
  • When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. — Audre Lorde
  • But I have noticed this about ambitious men, or men in power - they fear even the slightest and least likely threat to it. — Mary Stuart
  • Arbitrary power has seldom been introduced in any country at once. It must be introduced by slow degrees, and as it were step by step. — Lord Chesterfield
  • To know the pains of power, we must go to those who have it; to know its pleasures, we must go to those who are seeking it. — Charles Caleb Colton
  • The law, unfortunately, has always been retained on the side of power; laws have uniformly been enacted for the protection and perpetuation of power. — Thomas Cooper
  • The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State. — Bertrand de Jouvenel
  • The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. Unrestrained political authority, though it be confided to masses, cannot be trusted without positive limitations, men in bodies being but an aggregation of the passions, weaknesses and interests of men as individuals. — James Fenimore Cooper
  • After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. — Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Liberty is not just an idea, an abstract principle. It is power, effective power to do specific things. There is no such thing as liberty in general; liberty, so to speak, at large. — John Dewey
  • He is free who knows how to keep in his own hands the power to decide at each step, the course of his life, and who lives in a society which does not block the exercise of that power. — Salvador De Madariaga
  • I repeat… that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist. — Benjamin Disraeli
  • Those in power need checks and restraints lest they come to identify the common good for their own tastes and desires, and their continuation in office as essential to the preservation of the nation. — Willam O. Douglas
  • It is the growing custom to narrow control, concentrate power, disregard and disfranchise the public; and assuming that certain powers by divine right of money-raising or by sheer assumption, have the power to do as they think best without consulting the wisdom of mankind. — W.E.B. DuBois
  • Abuse of power isn’t limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we’re not vigilant. — Clint Eastwood
  • Any power must be an enemy of mankind which enslaves the individual by power and by force, whether it arises under the Fascist or the Communist flag. All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual. — Albert Einstein
  • The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression and obedience. - Willam O. Douglas
  • In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king. — Desiderius Erasmus
  • Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. — Frederick Douglass
  • Governments have ever been known to hold a high hand over the education of the people. They know, better than anyone else, that their power is based almost entirely on the school. Hence, they monopolize it more and more. — Francisco Ferrer
  • The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. — Erich Fromm
  • I often say of George Washington that he was one of the few in the whole history of the world who was not carried away by power. — Robert Lee Frost
  • I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others. — Thomas Jefferson
  • When one is trying to do something beyond his known powers it is useless to seek the approval of friends. Friends are at their best in moments of defeat. — Henry Miller
  • Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power. — Bertrand Russell
  • He who has great power should use it lightly. — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. — Woodrow Wilson
  • Democratic law does not say, “Thou shalt not kill”. Instead, it designates certain people who have the right to kill - soldiers and State police. Democratic law does not order, “Thou shalt not steal”. It says that only certain people have the right to steal - tax and customs agents. What does “power to the people” mean when the people enjoy fewer rights than their supposed servants? — Christian Michel
  • Money power cannot be separated from democratic power without miscarriage and ensuing frustration - political and economic. Democracy implies the sovereignty of man; and, since man cannot be sovereign without the money power, there can not be democracy under the political money system. — E.C. Riegel
  • This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy. — Susan Polis Schutz
  • You have enormous untapped power you’ll probably never tap, because most people never run far enough on their first wind to ever find they have a second. — William James
  • A true knowledge of ourselves is knowledge of our power. — William Hale White
  • What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do. — Aristotle
  • There are many who are living far below their possibilities because they are continually handing over their individualities to others. Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself. — Ralph Waldo Trine
  • What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it. — Alexander Graham Bell
  • Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. — Nido Qubein
  • Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones. — Stephen R. Covey
  • There are powers inside of you which, if you could discover and use, would make of you everything you ever dreamed or imagined you could become. — Orison Swett Marden
  • In the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding on the back of the tiger ended up inside. — John F. Kennedy
  • The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. — James Madison
  • Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, these three alone lead life to sovereign power. — Alfred Tennyson
  • We cannot live by power, and a culture that seeks to live by it becomes brutal and sterile. But we can die without it. — Max Lerner
  • When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt — Honore de Balzac
  • The power to determine the quantity of money… is too important, too pervasive, to be exercised by a few people, however public-spirited, if there is any feasible alternative. There is no need for such arbitrary power… Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes - excusable or not - can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic - this is the key political argument against an independent central bank. — Milton Friedman
  • Let not thy will roar, when thy power can but whisper. — Thomas Fuller
  • Men should do their actual living and working in communities small enough to permit of genuine self-government and the assumption of personal responsibilities, federated into larger units in such a way that the temptation to abuse great power should not arise. — Mohandas Ghandi
  • Power may be at the end of a gun, but sometimes it’s also at the end of the shadow or the image of a gun. — Jean Genet
  • Far better to think historically, to remember the lessons of the past. Thus, far better to conceive of power as consisting in part of the knowledge of when not to use all the power you have. Far better to be one who knows that if you reserve the power not to use all your power, you will lead others far more successfully and well. — A. Bartlett Giamatti
  • No man shall rule over me with my consent. I will rule over no man. — William Lloyd Garrison

One Response to “100 Quotes About Power”

  1. comment number 1 by: Anonymous

    Power is controlling the tongue-The Bible

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