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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pauses in Democracy

In the ancient limited democracies, there were times when democratic procedures were suspended by agreement. There were at least two periods of what were dictatorships: the first being the Roman institution of Dictator, such as when Cincinnatus left his farm and assumed the dictatorship twice; when the crises passed, he relinquished the post and returned to private life, spurning any desire to become tyrant.

Similarly, when the ancient Greek poleis reached a state of total dysfunctionality for whatever reason, sometimes a wise man was given the power of transforming the state, such as Solon in Athens and Lycurgus in Sparta.

These instances indicate periods of weakness in democracies, and we should ponder them in their entirety.

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