…it was not seen again for over fifteen hundred years. We’ve reviewed the historical record to study why ancient democracies failed. We’ve compared the historical record to our current situation and we are alarmed by the parallels. And we say it’s time to take historical patterns seriously.
Millennia ago, the Greeks reduced the variations of political society to a few archetypes:
Virtually all countries in the world can trace their history back to a time when they were ruled by kings and queens.
When a monarchy is perverted or usurped and becomes unbearable to its subjects, the tyrant is eventually overthrown.
One-man-rule is usually replaced by the rule of an aristocracy, who initially enjoy the support and gratitude of the people.
Over time, the aristocracy uses its power to acquire inordinate amounts of money, while lower class incomes stagnate.
If there is sufficient economic growth and/or a crisis that unites the middle class, a democracy is often formed.
As wealth is once again concentrated among the elite, demagogues instigate angry mobs to attack their political opponents.
Democracy in America is showing its age, stumbling toward the next step of political evolution: the contest of demagogues. It is long past time to reclaim from antiquity the word that anticipates democracy’s fate, as it narrates the course of Western Civilization itself: Anacyclosis.
We are a group of scholars, attorneys, and journalists who appreciate how historically rare and, therefore, precious democracy is. We believe that the solutions to some of the biggest crises we face today can and must be built on a knowledge of history.