Greg Marshall: Pay attention to the past
Mike Dobbins is the editor of The Wildwood Independent (TWI), a weekly publication distributed and read mostly in the Penn Valley area.
In the Sept. 20 edition, Mr. Dobbins wrote an editorial titled “We’ve Been Here Before, Didn’t Learn a Thing.” The basis of the editorial was an e-mail from a personal friend of Mr. Dobbins centered on the history and stages of the world’s democracies from inception to demise. His friend’s political opinions from the e-mail were not included in the editorial; instead concentrating on history and its relevance.
The message in Mr. Dobbin’s editorial, I believe, is germane to the political environment in which we currently reside and deserves wider distribution.
Key to the discussion was a quote from an 1887 book by Alexander Tyler, a Scottish professor at the University of Edinburgh stating: “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 that voters discover that 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 over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”
Further the quote states: “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: 1) From bondage to spiritual faith; 2) From spiritual faith to great courage; 3) From courage to liberty; 4) From liberty to abundance; 5) From abundance to complacency; 6) From complacency to apathy; 7) From apathy to dependence and, finally, 8) From dependence back to bondage.
Mr. Dobbin’s editorial further quotes Professor Joseph Olson of the University School of Law in St Paul, Minnesota, who points out “the United States is currently 243 years old and is now somewhere between “complacency and apathy” with some 40% of the nation’s population already having reached the ‘governmental dependency’ phase”.
Mr. Dobbins shied away from passing on his friend’s political comments but I will add my opinion in hopes of stimulating some rational thoughts on where this country is headed.
The vast majority of the current slate of democratic presidential candidates is clearly “all in” on the idea of “promising the most benefits from the public treasury.” Their offers of “free stuff” is mind boggling and brings to mind a statement by Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister, in 1976 when she said;, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.
You can debate where the United States currently resides in the life phases of a democracy but you’d be hard-pressed to deny that we have started down the back side of the hill. Buying into the “free stuff” message currently being touted by the left can only steepen the slippery slope to irrelevance on which the U.S. currently finds itself.
So, I would hope folks will heed the message of many historians as far back as the 1700s who have said: “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”
We may not be able to stop the decline but, hopefully, we can at least slow it down.
Greg Marshall lives in Penn Valley.
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