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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Natural Evolution of a Democracy

Here's another blog subject I've *lifted* from Miralee Ferrell with her permission. I don't normally hijack other blogs, but this entry was such a good reminder for me -- I've heard this description before, but forgot about it :-)

This quote is attributed to Alexander Tyler (1747-1813), a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is describing democracies based in part on his observations of the Athenian Republic some 2000 years earlier.

According to the eminently reliable (ahem) source Wikipedia, an original author cannot be reliably determined for this piece. Be that as it may, the thoughts expressed are sobering and worthy of contemplation. For what it's worth, here 'tis:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;

• From spiritual faith to great courage;

• From courage to liberty;

• From liberty to abundance;

• From abundance to complacency;

• From complacency to apathy;

• From apathy to dependence;

• From dependence back into bondage


Travis said...

I can't thank you enough for your civic posts. Perhaps your passion will drive us from complacency to action.

Philangelus said...

Democracy plus capitalism is really what's going to kill us as a nation. The fact is that capitalism simply isn't sustainable because it requires us to consume more than we need.

And in order to do that, we need to spend more than we have. And in order to do THAT, we need to pay ourselves richly from the public treasury. Which goes back into your list here.

Travis said...

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other one's we've tried.
Winston Churchill.

Anne L.B. said...

Our family loves this quote. I already knew this (it's the cycle evident in the book of Judges, just didn't take 200 years each time). But I never saw it summarized so nicely.

Nice to meet you. I'm a huge fan of biblical fiction and look forward to your book.

Travis said...

I know I don't really have a dog in this hunt, but Amy's book is really good. I promise the ending will surprise you...