Thursday, April 11, 2013

The lifespan of a democracy

 Arrived in my e-mail box and caught my attention:
In 1887 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 prior:
"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 over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"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 dependence back into bondage." 

The Obituary follows:

Born 1776, Died 2016

Where is NZ right now?


Johnny said...


Anonymous said...

Bondage. A country that cannot pay its way, where 10% of the people pay for the other 90%, has walked the road to serfdom to the end.

Johnny said...

But I'm going to die not too far from now (in the sense that we all eventually die). So you've eased my conscience. I'd been thinking that all this general national apathy and greed, was my fault or my generation's fault.

Brendan said...

Hi Lindsay

I have often reflected on that quote, and I suspect we are somewhere between apathy and dependence. Exactly where are are is perhaps not that important, but rather it is the trajectory we are following that's the problem.

Berend de Boer said...

Are you having us on??? Maybe check a few of the dates...

Lindsay Mitchell said...

What's your point Berend?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Because slavery still existed in the US? Fair enough.

Have you been to see Lincoln? Great movie.

Berend de Boer said...

Lindsay, you should know I hate to spell out things.

The guy wrote in 1887, but was born in 1776? Died 2016?

You just fell for a fairly old scam. See Alexander Tyler on Snoopes:

Lindsay Mitchell said...

That's not how I read it. As if anyone would live from 1776 to 2016. I took those dates as someone else's inscription on the democracy that is the US.

Anonymous said...

suspect we are somewhere between apathy and dependence.

90% of the population are depending on the 10% of nett taxpayers.

If that's not "dependence" then what is?

NZ - like the US - was founded on the idea of taxpayer franchise: no representation without nett taxation. Returning to our roots is the only way to restore true democracy to NZ - instead of the Marxist counterfeit we have today!