Wednesday, February 26, 2003


I've been brooding over the reality TV excesses lately, trying to figure out how we, as a culture, got where we are, and where we might be headed. I found this quote on Bizarre Science, which didn't make me feel better, except that it started me brooding over where we can go start a new country...

This memorable quotation is from Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813). 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 largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this 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 again to bondage."

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