Friday, January 16, 2009

Some Evening Thoughts on Government

This video deserves a little attention, if only to provide a useful lesson about the difference between democracy and a republic:

However, the producer of this 10.5-minute lecture is wrong about the cycles of history, especially if you read Greek theories about the cycles of history or C. Northcote Parkinson's Evolution of Political Thought. When republics--which really can be seen as political aristocracies because a smaller cadre of citizens acts as a brake on mob rule--begin to break down, they don't become oligarchies, but democracies. People come to resent the inequalities of a republic and start voting for representatives who will, with 50-percent-plus-one votes, to vote more and more people citizenship and more and more people largesse from the public treasury so as to enforce equality. This brings about true democracy, where "the people" simultaneously demand less and less power of individual senators or representatives but more and more power of a demagogic executive to distribute the goods of society in accordance with "justice," however defined. Mob rule ensues, creating a demand for a dictator, who will settle down the mob and its fickle passions. The dictator then has to face the problem of a legitimate successor, whereupon the people might choose to make him king/emperor (Caesar, Napoleon), and the dictator's offspring thereby become future monarchs. The monarchy fades to aristocracy or oligarchy, when more and more royal relatives demand a share in royal power, and the cycle returns. History matters. One hopes we continue to teach it.

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