In 1787 Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been about 200 years. These nations always progressed through this sequence:
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 DEPENDENCY; from dependency back into BONDAGE.
1 agree with his widely quoted words, though I’d substitute MORAL CERTITUDE for spiritual faith, which is not necessarily a virtue. And I’d leave out selfishness, since that’s not necessarily a vice. But as far as the basic sequence, almost all observers, perhaps starting with Plato, agree. Almost every- thing is cyclical, from the markets, to the climate, to civilizations, to the fate of the universe itself. And it’s getting late in the cycle for the American Empire.