Anacyclosis: Cycle of aristocracy, democracy, then demagogues

Anacyclosis: Cycle of aristocracy, democracy, then demagogues. By the Institute for Anacyclosis. Also here.

The wealth of the middle class is now being siphoned into the upper class while its people are being drained into the lower class. These trends are troubling because their consequences are not hard to foresee. If they continue, our society will be stratified between many poor and few rich. At some point our middle class will become too weak to reconcile their mutual animosities. As these animosities grow, our society will be increasingly divided by a contest between the rich and the poor. This contest will be conducted by the popular leaders, or demagogues. …

The middle class is the only thing standing between democracy and class warfare. Demagogues agitate for the redistribution of wealth wherever they exist. … Demagogues operate by purchasing the loyalty of the poor with the property of others. No voice will oppose the plunder of the rich if the middle class is diluted into oblivion. There will also be nothing left to plunder but the property of the rich.

Anacyclosis has run its full course when some form of monarchy arises from demagarchy, thus restarting the sequence of evolution. The early stages are common. The later stages are rare. The complete cycle is not everywhere seen because most places in most times do not advance as far as democracy. Oligarchy is the most persistent condition of mankind. Where democracy becomes entrenched, however, the full cycle will run its course.

Democracy is created by an independent middle class. Democracy follows the middle class. Democracy does not long survive without it.

The emergence of democracy has been historically rare because the development of an independent middle class has been historically rare. Once they have established their own security, citizens of the middle class will establish democracy. They will do this by conditioning an indispensable contribution to the community upon the right to participate in its government.

Where democratic customs and procedures become entrenched, or universally celebrated, the right to participate will be extended even to the lower classes. But later, after the dilution, dissolution, or dependency of the middle class, the rights to participate will survive. After this happens, there will be a great political struggle. There must be a struggle, because there will be many who are dependent or poor, few who are rich, and all having an equal, or at least, nominal claim to participate in government. Ambitious leaders will see and exploit this state of affairs.

Demagogues, or popular leaders, will compete for the affection and loyalty of the people. Some will obtain it through their promises to intercede against the rich on behalf of the people and to look after their livelihood. Other demagogues will obtain power not by exploiting the dependency of the people, but by exploiting their animosities. …

Human nature is spring-loaded for this process. Given enough wealth, people, and time, Anacyclosis will run its full course over and over again.

With the current rapid decline of the middle class, this sadly grim picture is all too obvious. Read it all.

Democracy arises as a form of power sharing. Competent people are granted a share of political power, in return for applying their full productivity towards advancing society.

If you are going to deny me a say in what’s going on, take my stuff and order me about, then I’m not going to help you and your society much — a lesson recently relearned in the Soviet Union. We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.

But with all the productive people happily producing as much they can, and a society that is organized to assist production, living standards soar — a lesson learned from the capitalist West in the last two centuries. The greatest increase in human welfare ever, throwing off the Malthusian yoke by harnessing the productive energies of huge western middle and lower-middle classes.

Therefore, the way to keep a democracy functioning is presumably not to share political power with people who do not produce enough.

But where does one draw the line? How productive does one have to be in order that society is better off sharing political power with you, by giving you the vote?

Worse, by giving the vote to non-productive people, we are giving political power to those who would favor giving the non-productive more and more stuff. Now in western democracies, we are at the point where about half the population gets more in direct personal welfare from government than they pay in taxes.

It is well documented that society moved left once women got the vote, and women vote left more.

The ancient Greek city states had long experience with democracies, over hundreds of years. They learned that a democracy lasts until the population learned to vote themselves the contents of the treasury, then chaos ensued until a strong man took over. Then gradually power became shared more widely, and so on all over again. The cycle.

Now in the West, the new left is committed to a strategy of greatly increasing the proportion of low-productivity and non-productive people in society, organizing them into an electoral majority via identity politics, and redistributing stuff made by the more productive people — aka socialism. Hence they are utterly insistent about open borders. What else can a poor parasite do?

A reader comments:

That is a very good article and, unfortunately, I think it’s all true. My view is that ordinary people like us need to get out of the way, i.e. move our $$ out of the western financial systems where it can be plundered (by the ALP, in the case of Australia). It’s like being a Jew and needing to get out of Germany in the mid 1930s, before it got too late.