Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alexander Tytler NEVER Said This!

The following quote has long intrigued me as being particularly prescient and insightful given that the author to whom it is generally attributed, Alexander Fraser Tytler, was speaking centuries ago and what he said seems so obviously spot-on in our time and place and therein rests the rub.

“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
that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes 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”

Alexander Tytler never said this or spoke this but whomever did falsely attributed it to him to cover their own ideological agenda. How I came upon this truth was when I looked the quote up with the intent of using it in a Quote of the Day piece tonight which has now been replaced by this piece. Gary North in his wonderful piece "The Mythical Alexander Tyler & His Theory of Democracy" outlines the facts of his own research into the real story behind this myth providing sources for his claims. Snopes.com did a good piece on this entitled "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" from the angle of the circular email aspect of this online hoax.



  1. Yeah, the damning phrase is, "... loose fiscal policy ..." which just doesn't sound like 18th-century verbiage. I hate it when people lie, left right or center. But we may never find the original liar due to such sloppy scholarship by the many who passed this along without checking their sources. Thus ones credibility is damaged, along with the credibility of the idea, however meritorious it might have been.

    1. Yep, there is little possibility the source of this will ever be discovered but it really doesn't matter in the end analysis: the lie has been exposed!