Does a republic become obsolete?

Jan 2019
130
USA
#11
Empire isn't a form of govt, its a grander nation with large imperial holdings outside of the central lands. The Principate, the form of govt that replaced the Senate ruling Republic, was a hereditary monarchy with very limited restrictions imposed by the remaining Senate.

Are you suggesting a monarchy or dictatorship, that is barely constrained from absolute power, is the proper replacement for a republic that is "highly susceptible to corruption," contradiction, and manipulation?

This thread is you suggesting the concept of a republic, specifically the United States of America, is outdated and should be replaced. You provided the problem, now provide the solution. What replaces it that is less "highly susceptible to corruption," contradiction, and manipulation?
My only intention is to be educated in the opinions of others. Could it be possible for us to formulate a reset button as they did with Augustus? Eventually, transitioning back to a republic?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,169
US
#12
Does a republic reach a point where regression is inevitable due to human nature?

If you look at Rome, during the times of Julius Caesar and leading up to. The senate was split into factions, all battling for political advantage over the other. The priority seized to be the betterment of country, but the benefit of an individual’s own personal priorities and retention of power. It took Augustus taking the reins to stabilize this condition. I’m not suggesting that ruling a country as a dictatorship or an empire to be more beneficial to its people. There are certainly more cases where that form of government was unsuccessful. It does appear that a republic is highly susceptible to corruption, especially as the political engine begins to mature.
A republic requires an very informed population. That means people have be given fair and objective information about the issues at hand. That also means people have to be motivated to vote. Those elected representatives have to have an altruistic nature, putting nation above their own personal benefit.
 
Likes: Tuthmosis III
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#13
My only intention is to be educated in the opinions of others. Could it be possible for us to formulate a reset button as they did with Augustus? Eventually, transitioning back to a republic?
The reset was not done intentionally, as part of a philosophical discord on the merits of one form of govt over another. It was the result of decades of vicious civil war between warring factions within the Senate vying for more power. A quarter of a century later a victor emerged to consolidate power, Augustus. Left with no true enemies, those who opposed him literally killed as sacrifices/mass executions in the Capitol, the remaining Senate and People of Rome were grateful for even a hint of peace and stability and celebrated their new tyrant, giving him untold power, bestowing him with the absolute powers and position that we now call Emperor.

And what was the result? A single all powerful leader, with no real checks on his power (definition of tyrant), who himself and especially his heirs, were "highly susceptible to corruption," contradiction, and manipulation. And best of all, impossible to remove from office without threat of another bloody civil war and more general instability and chaos.

Sound like something you want?
 
Jan 2019
130
USA
#14
The reset was not done intentionally, as part of a philosophical discord on the merits of one form of govt over another. It was the result of decades of vicious civil war between warring factions within the Senate vying for more power. A quarter of a century later a victor emerged to consolidate power, Augustus. Left with no true enemies, those who opposed him literally killed as sacrifices/mass executions in the Capitol, the remaining Senate and People of Rome were grateful for even a hint of peace and stability and celebrated their new tyrant, giving him untold power, bestowing him with the absolute powers and position that we now call Emperor.

And what was the result? A single all powerful leader, with no real checks on his power (definition of tyrant), who himself and especially his heirs, were "highly susceptible to corruption," contradiction, and manipulation. And best of all, impossible to remove from office without threat of another bloody civil war and more general instability and chaos.

Sound like something you want?
Whether it was done intentionally or not, doesn't disregard the positive effect of Augustus rein or the negative effect of his heirs. The question seems to have evolved to, if not this then what? I didn't intend for that to be the purpose of the thread. I don't have those answers. I was curious as to how far off course I was in my belief and if a republic is destined for gridlock.
 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#15
Whether it was done intentionally or not, doesn't disregard the positive effect of Augustus rein or the negative effect of his heirs. The question seems to have evolved to, if not this then what? I didn't intend for that to be the purpose of the thread. I don't have those answers. I was curious as to how far off course I was in my belief and if a republic is destined for gridlock.
Every form of govt is destined for gridlock and eventual failure, nothing lasts forever and everything humans create is fallible. We're never going to find a solution to humanity acting like humans.

The Republic served its purpose for many hundreds of years by removing the threat of a tyrannical central figure leading Rome, one man passing it down his male line of descendants. It evolved from that to an oligarchy ruled by its aristocracy (represented by the Senate), with hundreds of years of political conflict with the lower classes demanding more power (Conflict of the Orders), until eventually in the Late Republic there was a true showdown between rich and powerful Senatorial representatives whose political careers hinged on pushing for more power for the lower classes (Populares) and those Senators who represented the older power structures of the aristocracy having majority of the power (Optimates).

This, coupled with changing economics, nasty outside threats leading to national emergencies (Cimbri War, Mithridatic Wars), issues over mass enfranchisement of outsiders done through intimidation (Social War), rising war-lord'ism caused by generals who used political alliances to gift their veterans only with tracts of land to win patronage (Marius), the appearance of social inequalities that could be overcome through revolution, created all the conditions for a nasty civil war, which nearly destroyed the state.

It was only through the ashes of the civil war, when a large part of Italy had been depopulated of able bodied males, did things finally calm down when Augustus seized power.

So to get from A (corrupt Republic) to C (corrupt Monarch) they had to go through about 30 years worth of B (Civil war).

Is that something worth pursuing?
 
Mar 2018
748
UK
#17
Augustus didn't reset anything - the republic absolutely never returned. It is true that a benign dictatorship is the most beneficial form of government; for those who agree with the dictators definition of benign at least. However it has no mechanism to install a benign dictator or remove a corrupt/sadistic/poor dictator without civil war. That's why just about everyone who has studied constitutions and prioritises the "common good" (however they define it exactly) prefer some kind of democracy.


Republics are destined for gridlock eventually in the sense that if something has a probability > 0 to happen, then if you wait long enough it will eventually happen. But that timescale might be long enough that we don't care. And most republics/democracies have a way of removing gridlock: it's called calling a new election. It is a particular to the US to have fixed terms that cannot be replaced. A constitutional amendment that automatically calls elections for Congress and/or the Presidency after 30 days of government shutdown might be an interesting question, and certainly preferable to turning the US into a monarchy.
 
Mar 2018
748
UK
#18
In today's world, one of the least corrupt countries is Singapore, a republic, whereas some of the most corrupt are autocracies.
To be fair, Singapore is both a republic and an autocracy, so it's a strange case. Generally it is absolutely true that democracies are far far less corrupt that dictatorships in just about every case by every metric imaginable.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#19
Whether it was done intentionally or not, doesn't disregard the positive effect of Augustus rein or the negative effect of his heirs. The question seems to have evolved to, if not this then what? I didn't intend for that to be the purpose of the thread. I don't have those answers. I was curious as to how far off course I was in my belief and if a republic is destined for gridlock.
Any elective democracy system of government has the potential for gridlock. If 2 relatively equal sides are completely opposed to each other on all the fundamentals , then you will get gridlock. One side will push for actions that the other side has enough power to block, and the reverse, blocking the agenda it does not agree with of the other side. Not sure how to avoid that, since it is a greater manifestarion in society itself. If it gets bad enough, it can lead to civil war, where the winner can then push its agenda through, or it ends up with both sides killing each other off.

To end the gridlock, you need both sides willing to make compromises, or one side to cave. In a democracy you don't always get your way, and you have to accept when your candidats loses. Some African countries you see the other side not accepting the results of elections, throwing the government inro chaos
 
Likes: Rodger
Oct 2011
3,738
the middle ground
#20
[Welcome to Historum, Bobbaloo!]

Posted in agreement with the general observation that every form of government becomes "obsolete" (ineffectual and/or contrary in practice to the professed intent of the system, etc.) given enough time.
The strength of a 'popular-sovereignty' type of government, as Rodger points out above, is in direct proportion to the commitment of its citizens to maintain it, i.e. to do their share of being sovereign by exercising civic responsibilities. And it should probably be noted that no one planned for the decline of the small farmer/landowner and erosion of the citizen-soldier 'class' in the late Roman Republic, but political leaders taking advantage of the trend led to armies loyal to general rather than state, great-estate 'agri-business' and cycles of conquest, cheap imported grain, and slave labor. On the grand scale of history, it's almost always some kind of complex feedback mechanism.

Bart Dale's post came in as I type. I agree - in a way 'gridlock' is actually the next best thing for a democracy when people are unwilling to do the hard work of negotiation and compromise.
 
Likes: Rodger

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