The Tytler Cycle

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Whether or not a particular English Lord, Judge, and Historian said the following around 200 years ago, it’s still worth considering the cycle linked to the name of Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler.

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 worlds 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.

I am not a Historian by trade or training, but informally I’ve always been very interested and well-researched in history. I spend a lot of time learning from it, and interpreting what has come before. From this I’ve come to understand that we’re not so different from our fellow humans at any point previous to this era. Our context has changed, our culture has evolved, and we as individuals can and do grow a great deal — but we as a species have not (and likely won’t have the chance for that same reason).

When I look at this lifetimes-long cycle, it certainly makes sense to my reading of history as well. I can’t seem to find any exceptions yet. And though the details are different, the core structures we create are not so new as we like to think.

Perhaps it’ll be different this time. Maybe we really are exceptional?

Believing this makes us sound really a lot like those who came before, though. It doesn’t make us sound at all like a people who actually are different, or really would be exceptional.

I believe we’re repeating this cycle. And it’s really easy to spot where were are on it too. I’d say we’re at about 8.5 on this 9pt scale. I believe I’ll live to see us pass the Point of No Return.

What do you think? The comments are here for you, my friends.

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