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Subject: Thomas Sowell - Is Democracy Viable?
CJH    4/23/2011 4:22:21 PM
Those who see hope in the Middle East uprisings seem to assume that they will lead in the direction of freedom or democracy. "As the Constitution of the United States was being written, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what he and the other writers were creating. He replied, "A republic, madam-- if you can keep it." Generations later, Abraham Lincoln also posed it as a question whether "government of the people, by the people and for the people" is one that "can long endure." Just as there are nations who have not yet developed the preconditions for freedom and democracy, so there are some people within a nation who have not. The advance toward universal suffrage took place slowly and in stages." Polybius preliminary to his discourse on the Roman Constitution "Thus the only hope still surviving unimpaired is in themselves, and to this they resort, making the state a democracy instead of an oligarchy and assuming the responsibility for the conduct of affairs. Then as long as some of those survive who experienced the evils of oligarchical dominion, they are well pleased with the present form of government, and set a high value on equality and freedom of speech. But when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchildren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them, and begin to aim at pre-eminence; and it is chiefly those of ample fortune who fall into this error. So when they begin to lust for power and cannot attain it through themselves or their own good qualities, they ruin their estates, tempting and corrupting the people in every possible way. And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence."
 
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