Friday, August 22, 2008

What Is the Tytler Cycle? Where Is the United States In This Cycle?

What is the   What is the Tytler Cycle ?

Alexander Tytler, a Scottish historian who lived at the same time as the American Founding Fathers, who described a repeating cycle in history. He had found that societies went through this same cycle again and again, and that the cycle lasted roughly 200 years each time. Tytler said the cycle starts out with a society in bondage. Then it goes in this sequence:

Spiritual Faith
Then starting over with Bondage

Tytler organized these items in a circle:

So to give a little more on the sequence above, a society starts out in bondage, meaning no or very limited freedoms. Now faced with a very difficult situation (bondage), they turn to religion and religious faith. Through this they achieve the courage they need to fight for and win their freedom. Next, through the benefits of freedom, they achieve an abundance in material things.

Now we start into the other side of the circle/cycle. We get selfishness and laziness setting in. Then we get apathy and finally dependence. Then we arrive back up at the top with bondage again.
Most of Tytler's work has been completely lost. I found this cycle to be very interesting in relation to where we are in the United States today. Everyone has said we are somewhere on the left side of the circle. I think we are somewhere between Apathy and Dependence. Any opinions on this? Comments?

Posted by Corey of Project Liberty


  1. To me, I think that we are about to finish the selfishness cycle and move into complacency. I see that a lot of people I know are just starting to realize and understand that the economy we are in may not go away and turn things back into abundance. It seems that many are just starting to realize that their home values won't go up anytime soon after being stuck in a mindset that our homes have to appreciate because that was what they were accustomed to for over a decade. When people turn their attitudes from a state of denial to acceptance that they can't spend the ways they have recently I believe they will become more complacent in their spending and expectations.

  2. We are dependent on foreign oil and cheap goods from China and other countries. Many of the American have lost jobs to China, India and other countries. Policically we are shy to face Russia and China. So in a way we are on the left side of Tyler cycle.

  3. It is my belief that in the US we as a population are at a range in the cycle.

    Many fiscal conservatives are fighting to maintain individual liberties and smaller government so that people are self reliant (Liberty - Abundance).

    Much of the population is either worried about how to make their earnings number (General Electric) or doesn't believe that freedom is something that needs to be fough for and preserved (Selfish - Complacent - Apathy).

    Still others have fallen into government social programs that reward them for their lack of productivity. (Dependence)

    So my guess is that we are somewhere between 4 o'clock and 11 o'clock.

  4. I think we are about to exit this circle completely.
    An assumption in this circle is that there is another generation to continue the cycle.
    Western civilization is not reproducing it' self.
    At that point the cycle ends.

    The America of the past isn't reproducing it 'self either. The population growth is mainly from foreign born immigrants.
    The Muslim culture seems to have no problem living in bondage forever.
    When have they ever rose up and threw off the chains of oppression from a Muslim ruler? The very reason they are Muslim in the first place is because they were conquered by a Muslim invader sometime in the past.
    When the Christian population becomes the minority this cycle will stop and bondage will rule forever more.

  5. Brian is correct that individuals may be anywhere in the cycle. But as a society, we are in dependency, and have just (52/48)elected bondage.

    This is parallel to the cycle of belief described by Northrup Frye, applied to literature. Each phase is defined by the power of the protagonist relative to the world. Thus we start with the pagan mythic, with a (nearly) all-powerful protagonist.

    We pass through to heroic, realistic and comic/satiric phases. Each of Frye's phases is a step further away from the transcendent.

    But we find, in the satiric phase, that the very weakness of the hero ends up devaluing the current world, and pointing to a higher world. Metaphor rips away this reality and leads us to a higher one.

    In Frye's case, he applied the cycle to the Canterbury Tales, which go from the mythic Theseus around to the talking animals Chanticleer and Pertolete. In our world, think of the baby Jesus born as the humblest in his own creation.

    Right now our literature is cynical. When our writers revert, respond to the higher morality, it will be a precursor of restoration of faith.

  6. From the division in politics and upstart of Re-newed Socialism it is obviously "Apathy to Dependence"

    No Doubt - not even a guess

  7. Shouldn't there be a decadence phase somewhere in here? I guess the US is somewhere between complacency and apathy.

  8. I believe we are well beyond complacency and are nearly past apathy on our way to dependency.

  9. I would have to wholly agree with Mr. Arvanitis's tranposition to Frye and the examples given therin.

    It is the winter season where ideas of comedy, cynicism, and related themes lie.

    The future will bring rebirth.

    I suppose the hard thing is getting through this time.

  10. I say we r in the Dependency stage. what r we dependent on? Petroleum. almost everything we use requires some form of oil to function. whether it's transportation or electricity we use more oil than we realize. so much, in fact, that we have been forced to import more from the Middle East. b/c of this, our economy is in ruins. i just hope that we can somehow break the cycle if possible.



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