Originally Published on Halloween (2020.10.31). The clash of anarchy, tyranny, and oligarchy exists in this present darkness. A triple shot of malignancy. Keep reading if you dare!
Do you want to see something really scary?
Let me introduce you to my friend 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 the Roman Republic between the years 264-146 BC.
In The Histories, Polybius described the life cycle of the Roman Republic, calling it Anacyclosis. The process starts with a monarchy necessitated by a state of anarchy. Monarchy slips into tyranny which necessitates an aristocracy that devolves into an oligarchy, then 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 majority’s interests at heart; he called them “benign.”
Because of their instability, each can and will digress to states known as “malignant”: tyranny, oligarchy, 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, Immanuel Kant, and John Adams. 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 general public elected the House, thus democracy in action. The Senate was originally elected by their state legislatures (not the general public until 1913), hence the aristocracy in action. Finally, the President was originally elected by the Electoral College made up of the aristocracy (again, not the general public). He or she would be the executive branch, and thus the semblance of the monarchy in action.
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 mob rule (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