I ran across this quote yesterday by a guy named Alexander Tytler. I looked it up online to find the context and discovered that its validity is questioned. Here’s the quote, and after I’ll explain the doubts:
“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 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.
This passage actually comprises two quotations. The first paragraph being one and the second paragraph and list, commonly known as the “Tytler cycle”, or more anonymously as the “Fatal Sequence”, being the other. Both can be traced back to the 1950’s, and they began to appear together in the 1970’s. No original author can reliably be determined for either quotation.