"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Most of us have heard this quote before. Many of us have even used it on occasion, usually to describe a particularly disliked authority figure. However, have we ever truly considered what it means? Can we in the United States really have any idea what it is like to live with absolute power corrupting absolutely? Some would say yes--but as much as any of us have disagreed with our political leaders, we have to concede that compared to the tyrants some other countries have lived under, our leaders seem pretty reasonable and fair. To learn about power and corruption, we need to examine some of the cruel and tyrannical rulers who have been in power throughout history. Looking at Adolf Hitler, former Nazi dictator of Germany, and Mao Tse-Tung, former Communist dictator of China, we discover many similarities in their opinions, actions, and the effects of their power.
Both Hitler and Mao, although ostensibly at different ends of the political spectrum, largely shared an ideology of genocide and oppression. Both men believed that large classes of people were inferior, that they were sub-human and should be eradicated swiftly. To Hitler, it was the Jews and other non-Aryans who were seen as lower life forms. To Chairman Mao, it was the bourgeois, the rentiers and the "kulaks"--people in social classes outside the proletariat--who bore the brunt of his "class warfare". He, like Hitler, believed that "the enemy" (land owners, people with any degree of wealth and anyone who dared challenge his Communist regime) should be obliterated. Hitler's intention was to "purify" his Fatherland and abolish all beliefs contradictory to his--and the people who held them. The "impure" (Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, the handicapped, etc.) were seen as a biological threat to Hitler's Aryan...