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The Cycle of Democracies

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Alexander Tytler was a professor of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland around the turn of the 19th century. If you look at any of his portraits he bears a remarkable resemblance to the philosopher, political mad scientist Christopher Hart.


Tytler postulated that democracies and republics were doomed to failure from the start because democracies were a "chimera" or "utopian theory," meaning that a democracy or republic relied on the virtue of its citizens to function properly. His theory was that without a perfect citizenry,  a "republic not of men but of angels," a democracy or republic was doomed to devolve into a worse form of government, either as a monarchy or oligarchy.


He believed that voters in democracies would be swayed by quote "the basest corruption and bribery" and that once in power, those leaders would never act in the best interests of the people, and the devolution toward a monarchy would quickly follow.


Our founding fathers knew this also, when they charted the course for the United States Constitution. John Adams famously said, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Ben Franklin, when asked if we had a republic or a monarchy, said, "A republic, if you can keep it."


Tytler believed the lifespan for any democracy or republic was 200 years, and he laid out a theory in his writings about the life cycle of democracies, deemed the "Tytler Cycle."


Tytler wrote," From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance,  from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependance, from dependance back into bondage."


From the ancient Greeks to modern day America, great cultures and nations start out subjugated, then undertake a courageous revolution to win liberty. Once liberty is achieved, freedom produces wealth, and it was Tytler's contention that the turning point was that wealth created weakness. He said, "It is a law of nature to which no experience has ever furnished an exception, that the rising grandeur and opulence of a nation must be balanced by the decline of its heroic virtues."


Tytler's theory that the cycle would last 200 years from beginning to end. So, if we accept Tytler's theory as true, and he has cited 2000 years of history and human nature as evidence, where are we, the United States, in that cycle? Our nation is $35 trillion and counting in debt, we have been involved in either a declared war, police action, or funding wars for all but 17 years of our existence, our political leaders are irredeemably corrupt, our culture has devolved to the point where people derive their identity based on race, gender, victimhood, not as Americans, that nuclear family and our faith is under attack, and our enemies are the most emboldened in the last 80 years as a result? 


I believe we are well down that road and that our salvation lies in cultural and spiritual retrenchment. We must turn our attention to defending the nuclear family, our unique American culture, and our Judeo-Christian faith, because they are the underpinnings of our morals and virtue, which Tytler contends is the key to keeping our freedom and stopping the 200-year cycle.


Or to put it another way, in the words of author GK Chesterton, who wrote the Father Brown mysteries, "An honest man falls in love with an honest woman; he wishes, therefore, to marry her, to be the father of her children, to secure her and himself. All systems of government should be tested by whether he can do this. If any system, feudal, servile, or barbaric, does, in fact, give him so large a cabbage field that he can do it, there is the essence of liberty and justice. If any system Republican, mercantile, or Eugenist, does, in fact, give him so small a salary that he can't do it, there is the essence of eternal tyranny and shame."   


The laws of human nature never change, as Billy Graham said, "King David knew that if sinful pride continued to increase, his nation would collapse spiritually. He knew that economic depression, moral disintegration, or military defeat follow spiritual decline."

This is our greatest task as a nation, to retake our culture, faith, and family, to restore our inner virtue. That has to be first. As history has shown over and again, our survival as a nation and the hope for freedom of people worldwide depends on it.

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