Forward by daniel w. jacobs
This writing was sent to me some time ago without noting the author. I researched this to find who wrote it. The piece seems to be a combination of different authors at different times – but it is often convincingly attributed (in swopes.com) to Alexander Tyler, 1747-1813, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough. Around the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution in the year 1787, he had this to say about “The Fall Of The Athenian Republic” some 2000 years prior.
I am posting his writing (below, in italics) because the concepts are relevant to our country and the world today and worthy of serious consideration. – daniel w. jacobs
Rarely have democracies survived beyond 200 years. Why do democracies fail?
Two of the major reasons are:
1) democracies generally progress through an initial period from bondage to spiritual faith escalating to the point where the citizens become totally dependent on the government to where they eventually revert back to bondage, and
2) once the democracy shows signs of prosperity, citizens vote themselves generous bounties from the public treasury.
Does this not sound familiar? Is democracy only a temporary and marred refuge until social engineers miraculously discover the ultimate solution?
Democracy, or the form used in the United States and most advanced countries, representative democracy or a republic, seems to be the best method social engineers have concocted to date to afford people an opportunity to have a voice in their government. The world continues to be overrun with dictatorships, socialist governments, a few communist governments, and Islamic theocracies. We can argue the merits of democracy versus the alternatives, but at this point in history, most authorities on the subject recognize that democracy has proven to be the best solution ever tried on the planet.
The United States is not the first successful democracy in the world. Over 2,500 years ago, the people of Athens, Greece created a true democratic form of government that lasted for nearly 200 years but was eventually destroyed not by the people but by a military overthrow by a powerful neighbor. On the negative side, they kept slaves in much the same manner as in the days of our fledgling democracy. The most intriguing aspect of the Athenian democracy was that the people voted directly on every issue that affected their lives. Politicians, or so-called representatives of the people, did not exist.
The following material, evidently written by Professor Alexander Tyler, under the title, ““The Fall Of The Athenian Republic” presented some remarkable conclusions. It is presented here, standing on it’s own merit.
A democracy is always temporary in nature: it simple cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote 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.
Does this sound familiar? With almost one-third of all Americans feeding at the public trough – its only a matter of time before everyone receives some form of benefit and henceforth – the entire country will crash and burn with most likely a military dictatorship filling the void.
The professor went on to say:
“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 dependency back into bondage.”
This too has a familiar ring to it. We’ve gone from being overtaxed slaves of King George of England, to a new republic that accepted any religious faith, to a wonderful new country with a brilliant constitution, to being the richest country in the world, to today where over 50% of the voters are apathetic to politics, to where a major portion of Americans are literally demanding government benefits, to eventually losing all of our freedoms (just read some sections of the Patriot Act). Many people now believe that we are now at the “apathy to dependence” phase of the professor’s theory with over 30% of the nation’s population already having reached the “governmental dependency” phase.
The country formed on the fundamentals of freedom being held as the most valued, where the torch of freedom burned brightly for the planet, is no more. The concepts once held so dear have been eroded and degraded to the point of nonrecognition. Theories abound that only the “newest and latest” thinking have relevance and merit and that the principles of the founding fathers are “old and outdated.”
The famous aphorism written by Benjamin Franklin comes immediately to mind, which correctly states my sentiments:
“Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”
daniel w. jacobs
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