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Restoring Our Spiritual Faith

July 1, 2009

A guest post from Stewart Browne, who blogs at Scarecrow For President.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From 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 back into bondage.

— attributed (sometimes) to Scottish intellectual Sir Alex Fraser Tyler (1742-1813).

Tyler’s “historical sequence” has been getting a lot of notice in America lately, with good reason. Even the most hardened skeptic cannot deny the prophetic accuracy of the cycle as applied to America. If the bondage…liberty stages are those that led to the American Revolution, both the 200-year timeline and the sequence say we’re due to be at the end right about now.

After liberty comes abundance. Thankfully for Americans, the liberty/abundance combo would seem to be the longest stage, with abundance either beginning in the latter 19th century or post WW2, depending on how you wish to define it. Abundance certainly gave way to selfishness at some point during the Boomers’ reign, and one might argue that complacency really kicked in post-Vietnam when the draft disappeared from American life. The 90s were all about apathy (even the dominant clothing style then was meant to convey the sentiment that you just didn’t care). And without question all of America entered into the most severe sort of dependence during the Bush years, when government, businesses, and individuals accumulated a level of debt that is beyond obscene by any historical standard.

So when does bondage begin anew?

Many (or most) libertarians will tell you that America is already in the bondage stage. Some might argue that it began with the Civil War; others would say that bondage began in 1913, when both the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve came into being. The Great Depression, The Great Society, The War on Terror, The First $700 Billion Bailout — all make for good starting points when making a case that America has crossed over into bondage.

No matter where you start, it is hard to deny that we’re here now. When more than half our national income is lost to the government, and more than all of our future income is already spoken for against our will, it’s safe to say that we are no longer a free society.

As awful as that sounds, it can also be comforting to think we’ve reached the last stage of the cycle, because that would imply we’re ready to make a go of starting over with spiritual faith, great courage, and once again, liberty.

If we desire to start over and repeat the 200-year cycle then naturally we should look to the beginning for guidance. How did our predecessors, those who last faced our current predicament, harness spiritual faith and great courage to move from bondage to liberty?

Happy Secession Week Everyone.

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