From Abundance to Selfishness

By Celia Coates

In 1998 an Ann Landers column mentioned a cycle of rise and fall in history. It really caught my attention and I mentioned it to Elmer Green who thought it was entertaining. That’s a word he often used in response to something that he thought was useful, intriguing, and not foolish. I took notes about that conversation and was happy to come across them again this month while de-cluttering my office.

In 1998 William W. Quinn, a retired Army Lieutenant General, wrote that he’d saved an article that said the world’s great civilizations last about 200 years as they cycle through a recognizable sequence,

From bondage to spiritual faith
From spiritual faith to great courage
From great courage to liberty
From liberty to abundance
From abundance to selfishness
From selfishness to complacency
From complacency to apathy
From apathy to dependence
From dependence to bondage 

And then the cycle begins again.
Given our current events, this is alarming.

Ann Landers asked her readers what they thought about Quinn’s article. One reader wrote in to say the quote came from Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scotsman who lived from 1748 to 1813. That reader quoted Tytler as writing,
“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.” 

Although it was attributed to Tytler, it was not written by him. I wanted a quick background check on both Tytler and this quote so I turned to Wikipedia. (Their editors are fine sources for history and facts but not for much that is central to WINN’s interest in states of consciousness and mystic realities.) What has come to be called the “Tytler Cycle” first appeared, according to Wikipedia, in a speech in 1943 by Henning W. Prentiss who was the president of the Armstrong Cork Company.

The second quote– the one about democracies failing because of loose fiscal policy – appears in Wikipedia in a slightly different form and was first seen in December 1951 as an opinion piece by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman.  Wikipedia says that the two paragraphs began circulating together in the 1970s and showed up again after the controversial Presidential election of 2000 when it went around on the Internet.

Tytler was a judge, historian, and professor at the University of Edinburgh and he was a critic of democracy who believed that classes and factions are the rule and that citizens of a representative democracy do not have any more freedom than those living in a monarchy. Wikipedia quoted his opinion,
“But those governors once selected, where is the boasted freedom of the people? They must submit to their rule and control, with the same abandonment of their natural liberty, the freedom of their will, and the command of their actions, as if they were under the rule of a monarch.”

Tytler made an ordinary observation about our need for personal power that is as  important today as it was in the 18th Century,
“While man is being instigated by the love of power – a passion visible in an infant, and common to us even with the inferior animals – he will seek personal superiority in preference to every matter of a general concern.”

Dr. Elmer Green, a founder of clinical biofeedback, spent a lifetime studying human powers, and he often spoke and wrote about what’s necessary in order for us to traverse dark times. Elmer had an interest in the battle between dark and light forces, between fear and love. He lived a life designed to give us tools to become clear, self-reliant, and free from the fear that can control us. He saw a time ahead when it would be important to have self-mastery and to have arrived at an enlightened state of consciousness from which we can see the many dimensions of reality.

Elmer saw a time of peace and harmony that lies ahead – after the turmoil and he distributed this excerpt from his personal journal of August 7, 2007,
”Had a series of vision dreams in which the world ‘came together’ in peaceful Unity. … In the final scenario, viewing Earth from space, the planet was a colored ball of 12 pastel ‘cultural domains.’ No piece of Earth was excluded, and the 12 areas, of varying sizes and shapes, fit together as smoothly as ‘temperature regions’ … on the Weather Chanel. Within any major region, however, there were subsets of associated hues, but all was stable – beautiful – without continental or ‘national boundaries.’ ”

That was good to read. It hadn’t begun like that the – early scenarios in his vision dreams sound more like the cycle attributed to Tytler:

“These showed nothing but conflict, conflict, conflict – between commercial groups and between religious groups – until Humanity, exhausted and at a stalemate, felt there must be a better way.”

Together, around the world, we are looking for that better way.

*     *     *     *     *

Wikipedia lists as its source: Alexander Fraser Tytler, UNIVERSAL HISTORY – From the Creation of the World to the Beginning of the 18th Century, Book 1, Chapter VI,“Political Reflections Arising From the History of Greece, Published by the Fetridge Company, Boston (1850), (1834).

Print This Post

Leave a Comment