The Corner

Speaking Truth to Power

In response to my column, I have been informed by one of my colleagues that the origins of the phrase “speak truth to power” extend further back than anti-Cold War Quakers in the 1950s. Take that internet!

He writes:

Actually, the “truth to power” cliche has its origins in Machiavelli, who wrote that “the most dangerous thing is to speak truth to power” because, well, power will kill you (since power “Can’t handle the truth!” . . .  wait. . . sorry, I’m getting all my pop culture wires crossed here.)

Anyway, its origins in Machiavelli make it all the more comically ironic that the pacifist left picked it up unknowing.


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