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A democracy is always temporary in nature. It doesn't work permanently.

Roberto Henry Ebelt


A democracy is always temporary in nature. It doesn't work permanently.

Last week we talked a lot about dictatorships and democracy. A few days later, I ran into the following statement:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.

A democracy will continue to exist up until the time voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by dictatorship.
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;
• From spiritual faith to great courage;
• From courage to liberty;
• From liberty to abundance;
• From abundance to complacency;
• From complacency to apathy;
• From apathy to dependence;
• From dependence back to bondage".

The above-unverified quotation has been attributed to Tytler*, most notably as part of a longer piece which began circulating on the Internet shortly after the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election:

* Alexander Tytler (1747-1813) was a Scottish-born English lawyer and historian. Reportedly, Tytler was critical of democracies, pointing to the history of democracies such as Athens and its flaws (flaw = defect, imperfection), cycles, and ultimate failures. Although the authenticity of his above quote is often disputed, the words have eerie (eerie = strange frightening, mysterious) relevance today:

There is no reliable record of Alexander Tytler's having made the statement. In fact, this passage actually comprises two quotations, which didn't begin to appear together until the 1970s. The first portion (italicized above) first appeared on December 9, 1951, as part of what appears to be an op-ed* piece in The Daily Oklahoman under the byline** Elmer T. Peterson.

*Op-ed page in a newspaper where authors write personal opinions (usually about current events, often appearing on the page opposite the editorials)

** Byline = 1. secondary heading of a news story or magazine article, 2. a line in a newspaper naming the writer of an article.

The original version was as follows:

Two centuries ago, a somewhat obscure Scotsman named Tytler made this profound observation: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers that it can vote itself largess* out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

= generous giving of gifts; grant, endowment, contribution, donation, gift (also largesse).

The list beginning "From bondage to spiritual faith" is commonly known as the "Tytler Cycle" or the "Fatal Sequence". Its first known appearance took place in a 1943 speech, "Industrial Management in a Republic" by H. W. Prentis, president of the Armstrong Cork Company and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and appears to be original to Prentis.

Do these statements make sense? At first sight, they do, but it is, emotionally, very difficult to accept them. As this is a space to encourage thinking and questioning, as Cláudio Mello did very well last Tuesday, in his article about atheism, today's text is here for your appreciation. I hate to think that human kind may be so stupid*, but maybe we really are. And if so, let us allow the realization of our stupidity be a warning for all of us of the necessity that we have to make of ourselves better persons as days go by.

*Stupid = adj. lacking the ability to learn quickly, slow-witted, dull; dazed, in a stupor; foolish, pointless).

As the English speaking peoples say, "we cannot take anything for granted", especially when it comes to politics and religions.

To finish our "class" today, I would like to say that I am pleasantly surprised with the performance of President Roussef during the first two months of her presidential term. I have the feeling that she has changed her way of thinking a lot more than we can imagine since the decade of 1960s. She has even received a compliment from President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, this week. The compliment was the following: "SO FAR, SHE HAS NOT DONE ANY FOOLISHNESS".
I must confess that I am flabbergasted (boquiaberto).

Have a nice weekend and drive carefully.

Tags: Roberto Henry Ebelt, ensino, inglês

Roberto Henry Ebelt é professor, escritor, escreveu uma coluna semanal para o Jornal do Comércio de Porto Alegre entre 2001 e 2013, e é diretor do curso HENRY'S BUSINESS ENGLISH desde 1971.

Seu mais recente livro, O QUE VOCÊ DEVE SABER ANTES DE ESTUDAR INGLÊS, pode ser encontrado nas livrarias Disal, Cultura e SBS ou à rua Hoffmann, 728 em Porto Alegre.

E-mail: roberto@henrys.com.br
Fone (51) 3222-3144
Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henrysbusinessnglish/?pnref=lhc

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