The Cycle of Regime Change
You could say we’ve discussed anacyclosis once or twice on this website before:
- The Cycle of Collapse Circular Diagram | Anacyclosis Circle
- Polybius On Anacyclosis: Understanding Histories Book VI
- What is Anacyclosis and Kyklos? A Journey From Ancient Greece to Modern Day US
And we’ve made our own reforms and changes to the theory of anacyclosis.
The initial theory states:
The cycle of regime change
We begin with a monarchy, which is a positive form of rule by one. This could be a benevolent leadership with a king/despot that truly cares about his/her constituents and seeks out their best interests.
This descends into tyranny, which is a negative form of rule by one. Perhaps the child of the monarch is a tyrant. He only seeks power and control. The people despise this rule.
Eventually this regime is overthrown and an aristocracy forms, which is a positive form of the rule by few. An example would be a band of rebels that get together to overthrow the tyrant and then usher in an era of peace and prosperity.
However, as the hands of power change over time, this degrades into an oligarchy, which is a negative form of the rule by few. This occurs when the “few” seek power, wealth, and privilege above the average citizens.
Over time the people tire of this oligarchical control and revolt for democracy, a positive form of the rule by all. The oligarchs lose control and the people themselves determine the laws and assume the control.
Yet again, this degenerates. After democracy we witness Ochlocracy, which is a negative form of the rule by all. This is better known as “mob rule”. This is when the mob seizes control and ignore the previous laws, culture, and democratic institutions that ushered in their original freedom.
As mob rule continues to disintegrate, a strong man enters to seize control. Thus ushering in monarchy and bringing us to the beginning of this list.
This theory has held the test of time for many centuries. However, it isn’t perfect. It needs modern adjustments.
Consider the modern US as an example:
- We were ruled by a tyrant (negative form of monarchy).
- We overthrow the tyrant under an aristocracy (positive form / rule by revolutionaries).
- We instituted a republic (positive form / rule by democracy).
- We descended into an oligarchy with power centralizing in socialized institutions (negative form / rule by aristocracy)
- We are entering the mob rule stage (negative form / rule by democracy)
As you can tell, we went from the democratic regimes back to the aristocratic regimes, only to return again rather rapidly to mob rule.
Obviously, no country would follow a path in a strict linear fashion for eternity. Differences are bound to occur. But the general theme and direction is held intact. We start with rule by one, go to rule by few, proceed to rule by many, then go back to rule by one.
We tweak this theory to include the historical lessons learned on how the regimes degrade in the modern times:
- Start with tyranny: absolute rule by one.
- The opposite of tyranny is liberty: no absolute rule exists (from either a government or a privatized oligarch/elite).
- Add in capitalism: a free market, no interference system of economic oversight.
- The opposite of capitalism is socialism: absolutely no free market, full nationalization of all industries in the nation.
(Please note that all of these definitions are strict definitions. Obviously, capitalism and socialism are politicized terms and mean different things depending on the context. But the strict definition of socialism is the governmental/elitist ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Pure socialism is just that: the government or elites own it all. We are using capitalism to refer to a system of 100% free market with no government intervention which lends itself toward more liberty / general freedom through an open, transparent market system. Finally, tyranny is simply revolution, violence, or degeneration.)
When we add in the economic systems we can see the cycle much clearer:
We’ve already addressed how this cycle works here. In short, it explains how each individual regime deteriorates:
- Rule by one starts off rather benevolent. More freedom, more peace, more stability. Over time, the government centralizes power and control (socialism). After awhile, this degrades into violence and revolution (IE: tyranny). In the dust of the violence the revolutionary aristocrats show up.
- Then the benevolent aristocracy arises. It is more free, more equalized, and more capitalistic. Over time, this turns into an oligarchy as the “free marketers” seize control and socialize the economy in their favor (control by oligarchs instead of government is still a socialized system). This inevitably causes violence toward the financial elite and an eventual regime shift.
- Next we have democracy: the purest form of free market capitalism. Again, this declines over time into mob rule. Mob rule is simply socialism by another name. The mob controls the means of production and power structure of the nation. Then, it collapses as the tyrant rises to power and quells the mob using tyrannical methods.
- Then we repeat
Thus, anacyclosis describes the cycle of regime change over time.
Whereas the cycle of collapse describes how each independent regime degrades over time.
They are both are useful in understanding where we are and where we are heading.
For example, in our US example above we ended with:
We are entering the mob rule stage (negative form / rule by democracy)
Which is the degenerative socialistic stage of the cycle of collapse and the ochlocracy regime of anacyclosis.
Next up, the violence of tyranny.
And after democracy, the rule of one returns.
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