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 The Kyklos

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Temperance
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PostSubject: The Kyklos   Sun 11 Jun 2017, 14:33

I've only taken the following from Wickedpedia, so I hope it does not contain anything dreadfully inaccurate.

Are we in the Western World now at the end of the Kyklos cycle, about to be plunged into anarchy?

What would Aristotle, Plato or Polybius have to say, I wonder, about politics in the USA, the UK and Europe in our own horribly interesting times? Here's Wiki:




The Kyklos (Ancient Greek: κύκλος, IPA: [kýklos], "cycle") is a term used by some classical Greek authors to describe what they saw as the political cycle of governments in a society. It was roughly based on the history of Greek city-states in the same period. The concept of "The Kyklos" is first elaborated in Plato's Republic, chapters VIII and IX. Polybius calls it the anakyklosis or "anacyclosis".

According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governments ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a monarchy. The monarch's descendants, who because of their family's power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into mob rule, beginning the cycle anew.

Plato and Aristotle have somewhat different beliefs. Plato only sees five forms of government. Aristotle believes the cycle begins with monarchy and ends in anarchy, but that it does not start anew. He also refers to democracy as the degenerate form of rule by the many and calls the virtuous form politeia, which is often translated as constitutional democracy. Cicero describes anacyclosis in his philosophical work De re publica.

Machiavelli, writing during the Renaissance, appears to have adopted Polybius' version of the cycle. Machiavelli's adoption of anacyclosis can be seen in Book I, Chapter II of his Discourses on Livy.

All the philosophers believed that this cycling was harmful. The transitions would often be accompanied by violence and turmoil, and a good part of the cycle would be spent with the degenerate forms of government. Aristotle gave a number of options as to how the cycle could be halted or slowed:

1. - even the most minor changes to basic laws and constitutions must be opposed because over time the small changes will add up to a complete transformation;
2. - in aristocracies and democracies the tenure of rulers must be kept very short to prevent them from becoming despots;
3. - external threats, real or imagined, preserve internal peace;
4. - the three government basic systems can be blended into one, taking the best elements of each;
5. - if any one individual gains too much power, be it political, monetary, or military he should be banished from the polis;
6. - judges and magistrates must never accept money to make decisions;
7. - the middle class must be large;
8. - most important to Aristotle in preserving a constitution is education: if all the citizens are aware of law, history, and the constitution they will endeavour to maintain a good government.

Polybius, by contrast, focuses on the idea of mixed government. The idea that the ideal government is one that blends elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Aristotle mentions this notion but pays little attention to it. To Polybius it is the most important and he saw the Roman Republic as the embodiment of this mixed constitution and that this explained its stability.





So if Polybius was right, where has the UK gone wrong - if it has, that is? Any comments, or are we all sick to death of politics and politicians? I've always believed the words of my favourite political analyst, Benjamin, the grumpy old donkey in Orwell's Animal Farm. Benjamin surely had it right when he commented that, despite all the promises made by the animals' leaders, 'Windmill or no windmill...life would go on as it had always gone on - that is, badly.'

But then I'm old and grumpy now, just like Benjamin.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The Kyklos   Sun 11 Jun 2017, 21:31

Old and grumpy Temperance...you said it yourself! Wink

You...you...doom thinker (just looked in my Dutch-English dictionary...they make of "doemdenker": "doom-monger". Doom thinker is just the same sound translation of "doemdenker"))

No, no dummy it is just business as usual...

Kind regards from your friend Paul, who feels with you seeing you in such a distress...
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Kyklos   Sat 17 Jun 2017, 10:00

Actually, Paul, my question was an absolutely serious one. Unless you live in the UK it is hard to understand the despair many of us - whatever our politics - are feeling at the moment. Mob rule is a terrifying thing, not least because, as those old Greeks understood so well, out of the chaos a tyrant - or tyrants - will emerge. Look at the USA.

Disraeli, "the father of the Tory party", famously wrote in his book Sybil or The Two Nations (published in 1845, the same year as Friedrich Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844) that Britain had turned into "two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor". It is a very dangerous situation we find ourselves in. We are a hopelessly divided nation now, and the divide is not one simply between rich and poor.

I wonder what Disraeli - or Aristotle - or Marx for that matter - would make of the present state of our nation and how would they deal with it? We are no longer brave lions led by donkeys, as in the past, just, it would seem, mangy old beasts led by jackels (of all political persuasions). Our only hope is a return to a coalition, not of chaos, but of sanity and decency. But I'm not holding my breath.

I have even lost my sense of the humour at the moment and my usual delight in follies and nonsense. There is nothing at all to laugh at during these frightening times, and I very much regret my comments elsewhere about our British ability to rejoice in our own absurdity and to "muddle through" in spite of everything. Yeats' poem The Second Coming has never seemed more tragically relevant. Please note that this is not a religious poem - far from it:


THE SECOND COMING

   Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

   Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

   The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Well, that's my cheery little contribution for this week - and yes, I am in distress - and it's rapidly going beyond mere "grumpiness".


Last edited by Temperance on Sat 17 Jun 2017, 11:18; edited 4 times in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Kyklos   Sat 17 Jun 2017, 10:10


I wandered off my own topic with this post. It was not appropriate.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The Kyklos   Thu 22 Jun 2017, 22:04

@Temperance wrote:
Actually, Paul, my question was an absolutely serious one. Unless you live in the UK it is hard to understand the despair many of us - whatever our politics - are feeling at the moment. Mob rule is a terrifying thing, not least because, as those old Greeks understood so well, out of the chaos a tyrant - or tyrants - will emerge. Look at the USA.

Disraeli, "the father of the Tory party", famously wrote in his book Sybil or The Two Nations (published in 1845, the same year as Friedrich Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844) that Britain had turned into "two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor". It is a very dangerous situation we find ourselves in. We are a hopelessly divided nation now, and the divide is not one simply between rich and poor.

I wonder what Disraeli - or Aristotle - or Marx for that matter - would make of the present state of our nation and how would they deal with it? We are no longer brave lions led by donkeys, as in the past, just, it would seem, mangy old beasts led by jackels (of all political persuasions). Our only hope is a return to a coalition, not of chaos, but of sanity and decency. But I'm not holding my breath.

I have even lost my sense of the humour at the moment and my usual delight in follies and nonsense. There is nothing at all to laugh at during these frightening times, and I very much regret my comments elsewhere about our British ability to rejoice in our own absurdity and to "muddle through" in spite of everything. Yeats' poem The Second Coming has never seemed more tragically relevant. Please note that this is not a religious poem - far from it:


THE SECOND COMING

   Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

   Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

   The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Well, that's my cheery little contribution for this week - and yes, I am in distress - and it's rapidly going beyond mere "grumpiness".

Dear Temperance,

I wanted to formulate an elaborated reply to you, but now it is already 11 PM  on the European peninsula and tomorrow early up for a visit to the clinic for a follow up check up...

See you tomorrow...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Kyklos   Sat 24 Jun 2017, 09:47

Don't worry, Paul - I don't think anyone is the least bit interested in this topic! We have all had our fill of politics.

I'm going to listen to Hilary Mantel on iPlayer now - she's done the Reith lectures this year. Should be good. This brief interview with her is also excellent. Her comments about Starkey are spot on - and her admission that she has felt inferior to both historians and other novelists amazes me. Hope for us all then!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055nh9y

When in despair I always revert to the 16th century. Never fails. Lord knows why - pure escapism, I suppose.


PS Don't feel obliged to reply to this, Paul - you just take good care of yourself!
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