http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... us/6*.html
Polybius' ideas on the revolution cycle of societies via gradual diffusion of power from monarchs to democracy is interesting and applicable to our present day. This is perhaps where he summarizes his theory:
We should therefore assert that there are six kinds of governments, the three above mentioned [kingship, aristocracy, and democracy] which are in everyone's mouth and the three which are naturally allied to them, I mean monarchy, oligarchy, and mob-rule. Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingship derived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series. The truth of what I have just said will be quite clear to anyone who pays due attention to such beginnings, origins, and changes as are in each case natural. For he alone who has seen how each form naturally arises and develops, will be able to see when, how, and where the growth, perfection, change, and end of each are likely to occur again.
Perhaps as a Buddhist I am bias to the idea of cycles, but nevertheless this is an interesting theory and I think quite realistic. The diffusion of power over time results in democracy (or in Asian history until modernity quite often something between oligarchy and democracy before ever reaching actual democracy), which is inherently unstable and prone to produce competition among later generations who feel no value towards ideas of equality and so on.
Perhaps modern India is an example of this where it went from monarchy to aristocracy (British Raj) to democracy (Republic of India), and now later generations fiercely compete with one another for status and wealth resulting in strain on society that could easily lead to violent mob rule. A lot of the original ideas of a democratic, free and fair society have been lost.
What do you think?