SA’s problem is not new, it is called anacyclosis — the cycles of government as postulated by Aristotle. Paul Meany, discussing Polybius, the originator of the ideas around the separation of powers in around 200BC, puts it this way: “The central problem in anacyclosis, as Polybius characterises it, is the lack of continuity between successive generations. The justice of the monarch decays to the pride of the tyrant. The virtue of the aristocrat decays to the indulgence of the oligarch. The equality of the democrat decays to the greed of the mob. Unsurprisingly, this decline culminates in anarchy. Reverting once more to step one, the grim sequence began again. Was there any solution to this miserable and eternal cycle?”

Polybius raises the question of how Rome could prevent itself entering the same trap as Aristotle’s Athens, falling into mediocrity, confusion and destitution after the death and ousting of the great men who founded it. He identifies two primary forces in human ...

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