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It is a part of the destiny of man, wrote Malcolm Muggeridge, “to pursue both power and love, knowing them to be incompatible. ‘Here am I, captain of a legion of Rome,’ a recently discovered inscription runs, ‘who served in the Libyan Desert and learns and ponders this truth: There are in life but two things, love and power, and no one has both.”
In God alone are power and love in perfect harmony. It is not so for us frail and fallible human beings, so we must take care not to confuse them. Muggeridge had seen too much of the seamy and the brutal to put his trust in, or to indulge in dreamy sentiment about, princes and their engines.
Thirty years after he had reported on Stalin and the starvation he visited upon millions of people in the Ukraine (and he knew it would cost him his job, while the socialist Walter Duranty, writing for The New York Times, happily helped to spread Stalin’s lies and won a Pulitzer Prize for it), he said that his disillusionment had merged “into a general sense that power must invariably bring out the worst in those who exercise it.” …