Democracy Cannot Be Sustained
Two historians and writers, Alexander Fraser Tytler and Alexis de Tocqueville, contributed significant insight into the problems that are known to plague democracies. Their work has over the years been paraphrased into a short denunciation explaining why Democracy is so often reviled by those who favor the individual liberty the founders of America sought to establish.
One paraphrase of the work of these two writers, sometimes attributed as a quote to Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, follows:
"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."
It often continues with a detail breakdown of the above summary as follows:
"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 selfishness;
- From selfishness to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependence;
- From dependence back into bondage."
There is no documentation that either paragraph is a direct quote of Tytler's. The first paragraph above is consistent with Alexander Tytler's known writings. It also draws from known writings by Alexis de Tocqueville. However, according to Wikipedia, it actually first appears in its quoted form as a 1951 editorial by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman.
The second paragraph is sometimes included as a detailed explanation of the summary. It comes from a 1943 speech by H. W. Prentis, one time president of the National Association of Manufacturers, titled "Industrial Management in a Republic". It follows the same logic of both Tytler and de Tocqueville's criticisms of Democracy. Again though, it is neither Tytler's nor de Tocqueville's words but a paraphrase of their work by Prentis.
Democracy has always been an evil system that ends in dictatorship. Both the work of Tytler and the work of de Tocqueville accept that premise. Those who adore the tyranny of democracy can't dispute that so they argue that some have mis-attributed the summations to the wrong author. That critics appear more focused on contesting who first wrote a specific version of the thoughts than the accuracy of the thoughts is a classic misdirection.
Democracy is incompatible with individual freedom. It always evolves into a fiscal disaster that destroys the nation and the freedom of its citizens. Our current fiscal crisis is proof the thoughts are true - whoever wrote them. We are progressing, apparently irrevocably, to the usual outcome.