The Tytler Cycle of Democracy

by Jacqueline Smith

Another great cycle in history is the Tytler Cycle of Democracy.  This cycle may look very familiar to you, and it may have been called a number of different names depending on where and why it was being taught..  We have often heard it taught as the “pride” cycle.   Remember that as you study this cycle, you personally may be in a different place in the cycle than others.  Some of your friends and neighbors may be as well.  However, society as a whole, will follow this pattern.

On the right side of the cycle we are a free people, we discuss things based on principle and we are governed by virtue.  While on the left side of the cycle we are issue driven, and business tends to run us more than anything.  This is a principle described indemocracy-in-america1Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  In his book he explains:

“There is, indeed, a most dangerous passage in the history of a democratic people.  When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education and their experience of free institutions, the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint at the sight of the new possessions they are about to obtain.  In their intense and exclusive anxiety to make a fortune they lose sight of the close connection that exists between the private fortune of each and the prosperity of all.  It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold.  The discharge of political duties appears to them to be a troublesome impediment which diverts them from their occupations and business.  If they are required to elect representatives, to support the government by personal service, to meet on public business, they think they have no time, they cannot waste their precious hours in useless engagements; such idle amusements are unsuited to serious men who are engaged with the more important interest of life.  These people think they are following the principle of self-interest, but the idea they entertain of that principle is a very crude one; and the better to look after what they call their own business, they neglect their chief business, which is to remain their own masters.”  (emphasis added)

Difficult to put into words any better than that.    This book was written by a Frenchman in 1840.  Quite prophetic.  But lets look at this from today’s perspective.  What Tocqueville is saying is that as we have access to so much “stuff” and “entertainment” we will give away our freedoms, because we will not be paying attention to the people we elect or the laws that are passed.  We will just be too busy.  The very thing we want most will simply slip from our grasp, our freedom, and we will no longer be a country of self-rule.

As a free society, this cycle generally takes approximately 200 years to go from beginning to end.  The main reason we have stayed free is because of our republic.  But the more we move toward a democracy the faster we will lose our freedom.  We have lasted longer than two hundred years, but we are seeing the rapid loss of our freedoms.  The good news is, as a free society, we will not allow ourselves to stay in bondage very long and will spend most of our time on the right side of the cycle.

This image is difficult to read but it shows the cycle from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance.  During this part of the cycle public virtue runs things, and we are focused on Values, Principles and Forms.  Then we move from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and from dependence back to bondage.  During this side of the cycle we are focused on issues.  Businesses run people, (and government).

Can you guess where we are?  Do you know what to do to pass through the bondage side of the cycle quickly?  Leave your comments and give us your thoughts.

Keep studying!  Freedom can win!

9 thoughts on “The Tytler Cycle of Democracy

    • The first thing to do is get educated. One of the biggest lies being sent around the internet today is that there is some kind of difference between Democratic Socialism and Socialism. There isn’t.

      Study the classics, and enter the great debate and conversation. Begin speaking in terms of what we want, instead of fighting against what we don’t want. That is a huge problem in our society. We focus our ideas on “fighting” the government, instead of creating a people capable of governing themselves. Here is a great place to start your education.


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  2. Good reminder! Suggestion: The diagram would make more impact if it were rotated such that the arrows pointed downward toward the decline into bondage, and upward for the ascension to freedom.


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