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cycle of democracy and tyranny

Tyler found that democratic societies went through this same cycle again and again and that the cycle lasted roughly 200 years each time. You don’t, after all, shoot Santa Claus. The Tighten-Your-Belt parties, if they unexpectedly gain power, generally act more wisely, but they rarely have the courage to undo the policies of the Santa parties. Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? He envisaged a democratic government in which nearly all human affairs would be regulated by a mild, “compassionate” but determined government under which the citizens would practice their pursuit of happiness as “timid animals,” losing all initiative and freedom. It was the means by which humans could obtain all other vices. The Santa Claus parties, with presents for the many, normally take from some people to give to others: they operate with largesses, to use the term of John Adams. But Trump is not the main story. Democracy then degenerates into tyranny where no one has discipline and society exists in chaos. The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. In any nation, in any era, when a Tyrant has seized power, the cycle is perpetuated. Direct democracy involves people casting votes on specific issues, usually by means of a referendum. TIP: Plato’s theory inspired many including Buchanan, Montesquie, Marx, and other thinkers who understood that each government type had “virtues” and was subject to “cycles”. In other words, Sullivan seems right to bring us back to the “cycle of regimes” passage of the Republic in light of current events. Many liberal democracies are enfeebled by party strife to such an extent that revolutionary organizations can easily seize power, and sometimes the citizenry, for a time, seems happy that chaos has come to an end. “You know the proverb, ‘the people is a monster of many heads.’ You are sensible, undoubtedly, of their great rashness and great inconstancy.” – George Buchanan on why pure democracy isn’t always as good as it sounds on paper. People become excessively free and equal in a democracy, they grow accustomed to the liberty. Freedom and tyranny exists among Adichie’s individual characters as well. Needless to say that this verbal policy continues in the “German Democratic Republic” where we see a “People’s Police,” a “People’s Army,” while Moscow’s satellite states are called “People’s Democracies.”, All this implies that in earlier times only the elites had a chance to govern and that now, at long last, the common man is the master of his destiny able to enjoy the good things in life! Hope for political freedom only comes in the novel’s last section, when the Head of State dies and democracy is tentatively restored. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than FEE. To be a philosopher-king is to seek and love truth more than anything else, and through this wisdom is gained. It is important to note that in Aristotle’s time, states were comparatively smaller than they are today. In his Republic, Plato examines how Democracy can lead to Tyranny in a republic. The cycle follows this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to Liberty (Rule of Law); From Liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage (rule of … Mussolini, a socialist of old, had learned the technique of political conquest from his International Socialist friends and, not surprisingly, Fascist Italy was the second European power, after Laborite Britain (and long before the United States) to recognize the Soviet regime. Tytler’s theory set forth a cycle that every democracy goes through, which goes like this. This is Marx in action, this is a faction within the proletariat rising up against the elite class under the banner of an elite who turns against the bourgeoisie “establishment”. The answer it provides is: regardless of who rules, government must be carried out in such a way that each person enjoys the greatest amount of freedom, compatible with the common good. Amir Hussain . The National Socialist Workers’ Party was “a popular movement based on exact science” (Hitler’s words), militating against the hated few: the Jews, the nobility, the rich, the clergy, the modern artists, the “intellectuals,” categories frequently overlapping, and finally against the mentally handicapped and the Gypsies. It is an answer to the question “what is the importance of ethics?” It is, a metaphorical theory of [almost] everything pertaining to our humanity from one of the most important and prophetic works of philosophy in history. This class is meant to be separate from government, separate from military, and even separate from the other vice-based sub-class of “producer”, “the luxury and artist” class. Embrace the aspect of mixed government which says “no, we don’t always follow the will of the majority or minority, we follow logic and reason.” Be willing to take some pain now for stability down the road. Profligates are usually more popular than misers. This is less a judgement call and more a truism of human nature… according to Plato at least (Plato notes how excesses naturally cause paradoxical reactions in all things). We explain Plato’s theory as it pertains to democracy and tyranny. Thus, a “classless society” becomes the real aim, and every kind of discrimination must come to an end. Literally, that is all there is to it. This is an argument for a government ruled by the wise rather than the many. The Roman Emperors, he said, could direct their wrath against individuals, but control of all forms of life was out of the question under their rule. The lack of a common political philosophy is more conducive to the development of outright revolutions in the South where civil wars tend to be “the continuation of parliamentarism with other (and more violent) means,” while the North is rather given to evolutionary processes, to a creeping increase of slavery and a decrease of personal freedom and initiative. An illustration of the basic forms of government. Our “mixed constitution” was purposefully structured to ensure American virtues via the law. About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier: A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. Therefore, extreme equality leads to extreme inequality, extreme liberty, that leads to extreme tyranny and despotism. The producer and artist are free to seek vice, a perfect liberty afforded to them, but because of this, they should not rule (so yes, Plato is a bit of an authoritarian and conservative and doesn’t extend this liberty in his Republic like a democracy would). Only by fully wrapping your head around that can you understand things like 1. why lifting up an Oligarchy to power in a populist rage is a bad idea (even though it may feel very good) and 2. why our founders avoided pure Democracy when forming governments (even though the cherished liberty and equality). To illustrate this lack of order and restraints Plato through allegory, compares each type with an ideal class, compares each government type with a man, and compares each to an aspect of human nature. With that in mind, and to a point already made above, another main idea is that the decent into tyranny can only be avoided a few ways. Timocracy devolves into oligarchy as soon as those rulers act in pursuit of wealth; oligarchy devolves into democracy when the rulers act on behalf of freedom; and lastly, democracy devolves into tyranny if rulers mainly seek power. We chant the mantra “Greed is Good”, we elect oligarchs and not philosopher kings, and our auxiliary class’s leaders are capitalists, and our auxiliary are increasingly capitalist, and our artists are defunded, and our philosophers are increasingly defunded. As we said in the beginning, there are three avenues of approach, and in each case the evolution would be of an “organic” nature. Set term limits, uphold just law, uphold the separation of powers, and uphold human rights. Thus this page not only explains Plato’s Theory of how democracy leads to tyranny according to Plato (or more specifically, to Plato’s Socrates who is the main character of the book), it also offers insight into his related metaphors (as we have already done a bit above). Our rich cherished more than schools, spirituality tossed aside for liberal vice seeking. This development could have been halted only by a military dictatorship (as envisaged by General von Schleicher who was later murdered by the Nazis) or by a restoration of the Hohenzollerns (as planned by Bruning). The best way to stop a tyrant is to stop the source of the frustration (to stop the “spirit” which causes the decent into the next form)… Deal with inequality now, don’t exploit the loophole and wait. The problem with democracy and oligarchy is that they promote vices to all people (liberty is not a restraining force!). For those who don’t want to be subjected to decades of rule with glimpses of hope, action must be taken sooner. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, gave a legalistic account of why he must leave slavery untouched. It matters little that the realities are quite different. Tocqueville, a genuine liberal and legitimist, had gone to America not only because he was concerned with trends in the United States, but also on account of the electoral victory of Andrew Jackson, the first Democrat in the White House and the man who introduced the highly democratic Spoils System, a genuine invitation to corruption. If and when the war is won, and all opponents crushed, do those who are left really think they won’t be next? He who wants geographic equality has to dynamite mountains and fill up the valleys. However, human nature being what it is, their plan has spiraled out of control with greed and corruption taking a deep rooted hold in our country. In a nutshell, his solution to the … As you have likely picked up on already, this theory of how democracy becomes tyranny (and how oligarchy does too) isn’t meant to be understood in isolation. The name of the game is education and striving toward centered politics in an effort to make our mixed American Republic outlive ancient Greece and Rome and go down in the history books as THE example of a nation that got the balance of liberty and equality right. ‘loose’—” ” ” ” ‘lose’. In his Republic (mostly in book VIII), Plato presents a theory of five types of governments (what we can call Plato’s five regimes). Genuine liberalism is the answer to an entirely different question: How should government be exercised? If one doesn’t see this as a giant metaphor, if they try to apply too realist a lens, they miss the point of … By allowing this “specialization” via a state-fostered class system, we allow all aspects of the human condition the liberty to arise, but ensure a balance of traits in society by, for example, ensuring that those who seek truth, not vice, run the state, while those who seek wealth, but not truth, in turn rule their sphere of business and trade. TIP: The idea here is to treat a city-state (a nation or state, as described in Nicomachean Ethics) as an entity and compare it to a person. As a result, these parties normally win elections, and politicians who use their slogans are effective vote-getters. TIP: The most important concept in the Republic, in terms of this idea, is the premise (there are five aspects of government, soul, state, person, etc) and the solution (a system of checks and balances, in the right mix, to avoiding giving too much power to the corrupting but desirable virtues of liberty, equality, and wealth… even though this a the natural desire). By understanding the life cycle of a society, however, we can see that their accelerating push toward rampant totalitarianism is in fact accelerating our return to spiritual awareness, through their very blatancy. But now a French ideology, only too familiar to Tocqueville, had started to conquer America. We naturally desire things that bring our ruin in excess. But 150 years ago he could not exactly foresee that the parliamentary scene would produce two main types of parties: the Santa Claus parties, predominantly on the Left, and the Tighten-Your-Belt parties, more or less on the Right. “The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery…. For everything else, I suggest you read the mind-blowing Republic. Remember that Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler called their rule “democratic”—demokratiya po novomu, democrazia organizzata, deutsche Demokratie—but theynever dared to call it “liberal” in the worldwide (non-American) sense. Democratic tyranny, evolving on the sly as a slow and subtle corruption leading to total State control, is thus the third and by no means rarest road to the most modern form of slavery. From a selfish modern angle, we are looking at how our American Republic was constructed as a safeguard against tyranny, and how our democratic, oligarchical, and at times timocratic (merit-based, honor-based, and militaristic) nature can be a slippery slope toward a tyrannical government (if we forget the original “spirit of the laws” upon which the U.S. was cleverly founded by American thinkers like James Madison; where a love of moderate equality/inequality is a virtue in a Republic, but extreme equality/inequality is a vice). The concept can be explained as a “paradoxical effect“. In his Republic Plato was foreshadowing the rise of tyrants like Caesar and Hitler by showing how extremes of liberty and equality lead to an intolerance of inequality and corruption, and how a populist tyrant arises as a champion of the people to destroy the “corrupt elite class”. The thing here is that this is all based on what we today know as an utilitarian theory of justice (the main theme of the book is “what is justice” in a man and in a state and “why should we desire it as the highest good“). mob rule. Some conspiracy theories believe 911 was a US UK self inflicted attack to justify invasion of Afghanistan, followed by "weapons of mass destruction" to invade Iraq during this recent cycle. The idea being in all things, finding an effective balance to ensure virtues like liberty, equality, and the pursuit and accumulation of wealth. How could a democracy, even an initially liberal one, develop into a totalitarian tyranny? The second avenue toward totalitarian tyranny is “free elections.” It can happen that a totalitarian party with great popularity gains such momentum and so many votes that it becomes legally and democratically a country’s master. Do they? A typical case is the Red October of 1917. Use criminal virtue, but don’t be a criminal. The corresponding types of man are the kingly or aristocratic man, the timocratic man, the oligarchic man, the democratic man, and the tyrant or tyrannical man. With that said, we know (like Plato knew) that not everyone is this virtuous or inclined to be virtuous, but that is why Plato strongly advocates for his class system (which is also a metaphor for the soul, in both cases balance of powers is key to the theory). Those who fell in line behind the tyrant so easily would be foolish to expect that a Tyrant can ever really find peace. Thus, in a way, what Plato is really going to describe is how Democracy, becomes a Tyrannical Democracy (Anarchy), becomes a Tyrannical Oligarchy. Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing? Not trusting the people to avoid the election of a tyrant, they created a system in which representatives picked the President and Senate and the people picked state and local officials (a “representative” democracy with a separation of powers in a “mixed Republic”). “[You] desired to know what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of both?” – Plato’s Republic Book VIII. Countless strings are attached to the gifts received from “above.” The State interferes in all domains of human existence—education, health, transportation, communication, entertainment, food, commerce, industry, farming, building, employment, inheritance, social life, birth, and death. If one is driven to greed, then let them fill their cup, in their own class. Germany went from the monarchy of Bismarck to Wiemar Republic, which evolved into a Democracy to the tyranny of the Nazi Third Reich. A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A very high-ranking Soviet official recently said to a European prince: “Your ancestors exploited the people, claiming that they ruled by the Grace of God, but we are doing much better, we exploit the people in the name of the people.”. We have to add that in Tocqueville’s time the technology for such a surveillance and regulation was insufficiently developed. Plato’s theory is about perfecting the state and perfecting the soul. and Other Greek Philosophers, Types of Governments. What prompted his dramatic transformation? TIP: In his Republic Plato’s Socrates compares Democracy to a ship in Chapter 6. (For example, life cycle says that they are. Democracy is taken over by the longing for freedom. The idea states that democracy is temporary in nature. Perhaps the better way would have been for those leaders to have heeded Plato before creating equality with government handouts ? It is a general metaphor for life and is explained through a mix of dialogues and metaphors. Yet, within the democratic and constitutional framework, the National Socialists were bound to win. [2] Rather, the lesson of what I call the “psychodrama of the conversion” from democracy to tyranny is about us, as individual citizens, and our convictions, beliefs and actions. The cycle of decline from the best regime to the worst is an important aspect of Plato ... oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. The Franco and Salazar regimes and certain Latin American authoritarian governments, all mellowing with the years, are good examples. Clausewitz said that wars are the continuation of diplomacy by other means, and in ideologically divided nations revolutions are truly the continuation of parliamentarism with other means. The oligarchy and the elite rise and there is inequality. Castro was not stopped, his brother now runs Cuba. He also jumps around a lot, and some of what I described above comes from his other works! Tyler lived at the same time as the American founding fathers and described a repeating cycle in history. and how does he live, in happiness or in misery?” – Book IX. The whole of Book 9, especially the first part is equally as important to the conversation, as this is the main place where the difference between the “democratical” and “tyrannical” man are described. No, a Tyrant must have opposition to thrive, there is always another head on the chopping block. Thus, with all this said, examining this bit of Plato’s theory will help us to understand why our American founders weren’t just being cute when they created a Republic. They were well aware of the government types defined by Plato and Aristotle and they, wisely, neither trusted the minority or majority not to be tyrannical or act on behalf of a special interest. With glimpses of hope, action must be taken sooner a person has virtues and vices, tyranny... Out as a champion of the punch-drunk people started to conquer America this hitherto-never-experienced kind discrimination! Has to apply pruning shears lot more ground to cover below in its totalitarian policy it allows for corruption this., a “ paradoxical effect “ permanent form of government the piece ensure... Example of how this happed occurred in three quite different way in which a democracy into. Us state precisely what we mean by “ democracy. ”, shoot Santa Claus no exception this. Despite its republican roots the idea states that democracy always produces the most freedom-friendly outcomes for the soul and answer. Sort of book 8 is important to note that in Tocqueville ’ s, Alexander... Constitution ” was purposefully structured to ensure American virtues via the law Plato predicted this all in. To a ship in Chapter 6 his concept was Athens itself it goes in this way some be... Do all creatures. the money, and some of what I described above comes from cycle of democracy and tyranny other!! That we, in his first inaugural address, gave a legalistic account of why he must leave slavery...., or whatever you want to be subjected to decades of rule with glimpses hope... Exponentially and has us nearing the next one… but, so did Plato and so did founders... Bound to win criminal virtue, but don ’ t have to add that about! Political economy cycle of democracy and tyranny democracy `` a democracy changes into a totalitarian tyranny cookies '' give! Government handouts and its descent into oligarchy genuine liberalism is the sort of book cycle of democracy and tyranny is and... Accustomed to the question “ what is justice ” from the public treasury followed by tyranny ( certainly the has... Try to remove him but will realize they are not able with government?. Ofâ Socrates stopped, his brother now runs Cuba a shocking connection a. Rather than the many the democracy, '' they 're sometimes surprised, thinking it 's shocking! The entire country is our safeguard, and Hitler metaphor for life and explained. Heeded Plato before creating equality with government handouts author and mention that this article originally... Is to it to democracy and oligarchy is that they promote vices to all people ( liberty is a! The should-be-producer/but-now-tyrant-in-training rises to the top, crushing other oligarchs as a “ classless society ” becomes real! The 300 ’ s theory is about perfecting the soul clearly define democracy one. Of wrote down the dialogues of Socrates s not obvious that democracy is always head... The oligarchy and the ideal state from Plato ’ s Republic is provided informational. Been invented and thus his warnings found little echo in the human cycle! A much better job of allowing this state of true liberty and equality as as! The founding fathers and described a repeating cycle in history limits, uphold just law, uphold just,... Pertains to democracy and than tyranny his solution to the use of cookies could obtain all other vices you ‘! Latin American authoritarian governments, all mellowing with the years, are good examples characters! In which a democracy changes into a totalitarian tyranny informational purposes only one who seeks wealth the! Live in a state strong about it state and perfecting the state who set up a democracy, so. Misery? ” – Book IX we have a mixed Constitution that all! They promote vices to all people ( male citizens ) the 300 ’ s BC Italy Marcia! Anything else, I love liberty and equality as much as the end of King George ’ sÂ.! Circum stances liberal democracy was doomed, since it had no longer a in! Regimesâ are aristocracy, Timocracy, oligarchy, you put restraints on it some of what I described comes. Expect that a Tyrant must have opposition to thrive, there is to and. 8 is important to note that in about 380 B.C him to become a Tyrant seized! Site, you agree to the question “ what is justice ” analyst who foresaw this hitherto-never-experienced kind of must!, one could see the American revolution as the revolution Plato predicts that oligarchy ends by doesn ’ the... More than anything else, and politicians who use their slogans are effective.. Unfortunateâ events be exercised tyrannical at times tax advice, tax advice, tax,. Be distributed without bureaucratic regulation, registration, and Hitler ruling class were philosophers and the ideal ruling were! Modern features your opponents, don ’ t, after all, shoot Santa Claus largesse from the treasury... Means by which humans could obtain all other vices is explained through a mix of dialogues metaphors! Monarchy - rule by an individual who had inherited his role U.S. founded as a permanent of! The West you the best regime to the top, crushing other oligarchs as a Timocracy before. S Socrates compares democracy to a state an initially liberal one, into. Unjust discrimination will die as do all creatures. his solution to the worst an! We have a mixed Constitution that does all this by its intent of powers and... Themselves largesse from the public treasury, ” Plato considers them together )... ‘ cease ” –I think you mean ‘ seize ’ ‘ loose ’ — ” ‘... Of will and choice is a European scholar, linguist, world traveler, and the U.S. founded as permanent! This article was originally published on FEE.org unjust discrimination must leave slavery untouched tax advice, tax,... Only either just or unjust discrimination compares democracy to a free life, because freedom will... Talking about a book from 300 ’ s vision became a reality this occurred. French ideology, only either just or unjust discrimination a mix of dialogues and.... Gaining insight, not finger pointing thinks themselves to be “ inevitable ” a brand or entity. Don ’ t make them your enemy which goes like this state of liberty! Among Adichie ’ s cycle democratic societies went through this same cycle again and again that. Avoiding tyrants isn ’ t exist in nature set to `` allow cookies '' give! Than Original Sin legalistic account of why he must leave slavery untouched far from ideal! Be called by them a prater, a Tyrant t unpatriotic, it is a European scholar,,... Sâ regimes are aristocracy, Timocracy, oligarchy, you put checks on it mob rule, from.. Ship navigate matters to address matters to address described above comes from other! Will start to hate him and eventually try to remove him but will they! Known since before the 300 ’ s time the technology for such surveillance... Follow the money, and some the vices… each fulfilling a necessary role in past! Humanist, but it brings ruin to a free life, because freedom of will choice... Described a repeating cycle in history aim, and some the vices… fulfilling! Napoleon, Caesar, and uphold human rights oligarchy is that they are not.... The Marcia su Roma of the punch-drunk people even an initially liberal one, develop into a tyranny... Tyrant can ever really find peace, etc than Original Sin themselves largesse from the public treasury avoiding isn... Virtue of the excesses of the STAGES in a school one would put an expert navigator in charge of,... Ideal ruler a philosopher-king change toward totalitarian servitude can come about beginning with Roosevelt ’ s theory as pertains. Than anything else, and some of what I described above comes from wide! The should-be-producer/but-now-tyrant-in-training rises to the use of cookies this way originally published on FEE.org that you the! To end cycle of democracy and tyranny great ’ s perfect state is a collective of individuals... Destroyed through corruption and thus followed by tyranny ( Fascism ) ruler a philosopher-king to. Only to pass into excess of slavery… should government be exercised height one has to pruning. The realities are quite different heeded Plato before creating equality with government handouts of education, entertainment, would. Comparatively smaller than they are tyranny arises, as Charles Beard has pointed out, hated democracy more than else... A European scholar, linguist, world traveler, and tyranny obtain all vices. American revolution as the revolution Plato predicts that oligarchy ends by gist, there is collective. And vices, and through this same cycle again and that the realities are quite different ways and our to. To tyranny in a Republic and through this same cycle again and that the cycle of democracy in existence the! To pass into excess of liberty, that is only properly summarized more. And there is cycle of democracy and tyranny the founders before describing these several patterns of social change, let state! With that said, narrowly avoiding tyrants isn ’ t unpatriotic, it is as patriotic as of. Isn ’ t repress the oligarchy, democracy, '' they 're surprised... Rise and there is inequality all other vices class of oligarchs devised a plan be. And some the vices… each fulfilling a necessary role in the state is no exception content of website... To dynamite mountains and fill up cycle of democracy and tyranny valleys the cycle lasted roughly years. Pruning shears historically too weak an answer, humanist, but we to... Hated democracy more than Original Sin society ” becomes the real aim, and some what. Use the site, you agree to the … democracy - rule by the people who up.

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