The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic


This memorable quotation is from Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler (1742-1813).  A Scottish jurist and historian, he was widely known in his time and was professor of Universal History at Edinburgh University in the late 18th century.


The quotation is from the 1801 collection of his lectures:


“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money 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 a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by dictatorship.  The average age of the world’s civilizations has been 200 years.  These nations have 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 selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;

from complacency to apathy;

from apathy to dependency;

from dependency back into bondage.”


Web Posted:  July 7, 2001
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