When you hear this piece, please don't write me to tell me that America is a Republic, not a democracy. Or if you are British, don't write me to tell me that the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy. In the sense that they are forms of government that are of the people, by the people for the people, they profess themselves democratic. I say all that to reference an email that has been distributed to many, including me, about the fragile nature of democratic government. It quotes Alexander Tyler, a history professor at Edinburgh University, Scotland, about the time of the adoption of the United States Constitution. Tyler was commenting on the demise of the democratic republic of Athens some 2000 years earlier. Here's what he wrote;
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 they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote 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 a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those 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;8. From dependence back into bondage.
Such were the views of a Scottish professor of history. They are insightful and stand as a grave warning to the nations of the West. I suppose that where I would modify Tyler's view is that while I recognize the inherent weakness he describes, I see something deeper. Israel had a form of government that was vastly superior to any democracy, a genuine theocracy with the presence and power of God very clearly in evidence. From Israel's history we can see that when men hold the truth of God as something precious and live in submission to it, there is genuine liberty and plenty. When complacency and apathy set in, men lightly esteem divine truth and begin to live for self under the tyranny of fleshly lust. The result is always the same: wickedness leads to weakness, dependence and bondage. In the end it leads to destruction, for God has decreed, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17).