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The Tytler Cycle Revisited
by John Eberhard
03/14/09

In 2003 I became very interested in a theory developed by Scottish historian Alexander Tytler, and wrote an article on it at the time, which ironically enough is now getting a lot of attention due to being linked to from Wikipedia.

Tytler’s theory set forth a cycle that every democracy goes through, which goes like this. Tytler said the cycle starts out with a society in bondage. Then it goes in this sequence:

Bondage
Spiritual Faith
Courage
Liberty
Abundance
Selfishness
Complacency
Apathy
Dependence
Then starting over with Bondage

Tytler organized these items in a circle:



I was fascinated with this because to me it seemed to explain what we are going through as a country right now, where people are more interested in how they can somehow soak the system to get their free ride, than building anything. Clearly we are on the left side of this cycle, somewhere in the selfishness, complacency, apathy or dependence side.

Recently I found an article entitled “An American Tragedy” dated 12/16/08 by James Quinn, a financial writer and senior director of strategic planning for a major university. Most of the article is about disgraced investment guru Bernie Madoff, but a good chunk of it concerns the Tytler cycle and exactly where Quinn thinks we are in the cycle. Here's what Quinn has to say:

“The following quote attributed to Scottish history professor Alexander Tyler in 1787, seems to portray an accurate reflection of what has occurred during our 200+ years of existence as a democracy.

"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

“These words were written two years before George Washington became our first President. There is so much truth in these words it makes me shudder, especially since we are clearly in stage 7. An honest appraisal of our country’s downward spiral is necessary to begin the process of redemption. We have continually voted ourselves increased benefits, dependent upon the printing presses of the Federal Reserve to sustain our country’s ponzi scheme. We have pawned our future and the bill will eventually come due.

“The GreatAmericanRepublic

“My assessment of the chronological sequence our democracy has progressed through, follows.

“From bondage to spiritual faith               (1760 to 1769)

  • King George III becomes King of England
  • Currency Act, Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Quartering Act, Townshend Act passed by Parliament
  • Sons of Liberty formed by John Adams, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, among others.

“From spiritual faith to great courage     (1770 to 1783)

  • Boston massacre
  • Samuel Adams organizes the Committees of Correspondence
  • Parliament passes the Tea Act
  • Boston Tea Party
  • The First Continental Congress
  • Battle of Bunker Hill
  • Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense
  • Revolutionary War rages for six years
  • British surrender at Yorktown
  • Treaty of Paris ends Revolutionary War

“From courage to liberty                            (1784 to 1865)

  • Constitutional Convention
  • Constitution ratified by 13 states
  • George Washington elected President
  • Bill of Rights passed
  • Fugitive Slave Act passed
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Robert Fulton invents steamboat
  • War of 1812
  • Monroe Doctrine
  • President Andrew Jackson battles bankers which leads to the Panic of 1837
  • U.S. Mexican War
  • California gold rush
  • Compromise of 1850
  • Dred Scott Decision
  • Abraham Lincoln elected President
  • Confederate states secede from the Union
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Civil War rages for four years
  • Union is restored
  • 13th Amendment abolishes slavery

“From liberty to abundance                                   (1866 to 1969)

  • Civil Rights Act of 1866
  • First Trans-Continental Railroad
  • Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone
  • Industrial Revolution
  • General Electric founded
  • Spanish American War
  • U.S. Steel founded
  • Airplane invented
  • Automobile invented
  • Federal Reserve created
  • World War I
  • Great Depression
  • New Deal programs implemented by FDR
  • Golden Gate Bridge completed
  • World War II
  • Holocaust
  • Atomic bomb used to end war with Japan
  • Marshall Plan rebuilds Europe & Japan
  • US emerges from the war as the only great economic power
  • Cold War
  • Korean War
  • Interstate highway system built
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • John F. Kennedy assassinated
  • Vietnam War
  • Great Society programs implemented
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Martin Luther King assassinated
  • Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

“From abundance to complacency                      (1970 to 1989)

  • Roe vs Wade
  • President Nixon resigns in disgrace
  • Oil embargo
  • Ronald Reagan elected President
  • Military buildup and tax cuts
  • Fall of the Soviet Union

“From complacency to apathy                  (1990 to 2000)

  • Gulf War
  • Bill Clinton elected President
  • Stock market boom
  • Gridlock between Congress & President leads to budget surpluses
  • President Clinton acquitted in impeachment trial

“From apathy to dependence                    (2001 to 2007)

  • George W. Bush elected President
  • Nasdaq stock bubble bursts
  • 9/11 attack
  • Alan Greenspan lowers rates to 1%
  • Invasion of Afghanistan
  • Department of Homeland security created
  • Invasion of Iraq
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Home prices double
  • Financial derivatives grow to over $100 trillion

“From dependence back into bondage   (2008 to ????)

  • Housing prices collapse
  • Financial firms collapse
  • Government and Federal Reserve intervene to prop up the worldwide financial system
  • Government bailouts of financial firms and auto manufacturers
  • Federal Reserve & U.S. Treasury commit over $8 trillion of taxpayer funds
  • Barrack Obama elected President
  • Immediate borrowing & stimulus packages exceeding $1 trillion are discussed
  • Federal Reserve lowers rates to below 1%”

===============================

I tend to believe the above is pretty accurate, because we can see right now that the US government under Obama-Reid-Pelosi is making an unprecedented power grab, by increasing spending dramatically, and increasing their socialistic hold over American life. The current Democratic Party leadership is the most radically leftist/socialist we have ever had. One of their recent actions was to basically repeal the welfare reform which was enacted in the 1990s, and which was so successful too. Obama’s new budget document blatantly outlines his goals to punish high producers because they have broken the rules, which is as Marxist a plan as I have ever seen.

The question I have had for some time is whether this will continue through the entire cycle of Bondage, Spiritual Faith, Courage, Liberty, Abundance, Selfishness, Complacency, Apathy, Dependence, then starting over with Bondage; or whether concerned and knowledgeable individuals can somehow halt the decline and keep us from going into a new period of bondage?

Clearly we see the American public being apathetic and willing to allow the US government to take over more and more of our lives, and thus becoming more and more dependent.

And yet, at the same time, I see outrage and a building frustration by a large segment of the population, with protest events (the recent spate of Tea Party events), petitions, and a plethora of columns in the conservative press, decrying the power grab. Will it be enough? Can we prevent a new period of bondage?

See Part 1 Article

See Part 3 Article

See Part 4 Article

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