Francesco Sansovino On Anacyclosis
In Paul Grendler’s account of Frencesco, he states the following:[i]
“Sansovino viewed the growth and decline of states in terms of Polybius’ anacyclosis. The initially good government of one man, monarchy, became a tyranny. Then the state was renewed by the efforts of a few good men who made it an aristocracy. This in turn decayed into oligarchy and was replaced by democracy which became mob rule which, in turn was supplanted by one-man rule as the cycle continued. Sansovino noted that worthy men attempted unsuccessfully to establish principates or republics to endure a thousand years. The reasons for failure were twofold. By their nature all human institutions carried within themselves the seeds of corruption which were human excesses and disorders. Second, one could not provide for everything. The accidents which befell states were so many and so diverse that it was impossible to provide against, or to correct, all of them.”
Two important pieces we can take from this account are the failings of human institutions and that one cannot provide for everything. Take note, rule by one’rs.
His account also notes that importance of worthy men in the formation of any government framework. Worthy men must be at the helm, to the benefit of all men.
Grendler goes on to say:
“Sansovino formulated a simple pragmatic resolution which assumed that men would continue to live the vita civile and which justified the study of history. Neither very pessimistic nor excessively optimistic, Sansovino’s views reflected Italian political reality. He did not share the hope of Polybius and Machiavelli that a mixed constitution would check the cycle, but he believed that men normally could control their own affairs and learn from the experience of others”
Sansovino found worth in the Polybius model of anacyclosis because it generally aligned with his in-depth study of history. He correctly noted that a mixed constitution alone would not correct the cycle, something that Polybius and Machiavelli lacked. While beneficial, this mixed constitution will not solve all of the problems.
He did, however, believe there were ways out of the cycle through the study of history and the education of men. These factors (Along with the other factors above in the first paragraph) will play a large part in our anacyclosis solutions in Enclavism.
[i] Paul Grendler. Francesco Sansovino and Italian Popular History 1560-1600. Studies in the Renaissance Vol. 16 (1969), pp. 139-180.
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