Hitchhiker’s bLOG (Halloween Edition) – 2020.10.31

Do you want to see something really scary?

Let me introduce to my Polybius. He lived over two-thousand years ago (208-125 BC). Polybius was a Hellenistic writer who penned a work known as The Histories; a book about the rise and decline of Roman Republic between the years 264-146 BC.

In The Histories, Polybius described the life cycle of the Roman Republic, calling it Anacyclosis. The cycle starts with a monarchy necessitated by a state of anarchy. Monarchy slips into tyranny which necessitates an aristocracy which devolves into oligarchy which is answered by democracy which ultimately becomes mob-rule (anarchy).

Polybius stated that monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy are inherently weak and unstable states of government that generally have the interests of the majority at heart; he called them “benign.”

Each of these, because of their instability, can and will digress to states known as “malignant”: tyranny, oligrachy, and mob-rule (anarchy) respectively. All three malignant states focus primarily on the interests of the few rather than the many.

Polybius believed that this life cycle is likely to apply to any republic.

Does any of this sound familiar?!?!

The Histories was a very influential book for Niccolo Machiavelli, Immanual Kant, and John Adams. In fact, Adams was so taken by Polybius that he sent a copy to James Madison as Madison was preparing for the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787.

The U.S. Constitution, in its original form, blended the benign states of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy to create the Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives. The House was elected by the general public, thus democracy in action. The Senate was elected by their state legislatures (not the general public until 1913), thus the aristocracy in action. Finally, the President was elected by the Electoral College made up of the aristocracy (again, not the general public). He/She would be the executive branch, and thus the semblance of the monarchy in action.

Rhetorical Question:

If the tyranny of the British monarchy is what drove the revolution and the development of the United States Constitution (known as a democratic-republic), which state do you think our culture is in currently?

A) Are we moving from aristocracy to oligarchy?

B) Are we moving from oligarchy toward democracy?

C) Are we in democracy moving toward anarchy?

D) All of the above?

See, I told you it would be scary!!!

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18

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