A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.
The quote above, attributed to Alexander Tytler (1747-1813), a barrister and professor of history at the Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland, aptly summarized the hazards of unrestrained democracy.
The Tytler quote is often coupled with a quote by Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., President of the Armstrong Cork Company, from a 1946 speech about the historical cycle of civilizations:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to courage;
from courage to freedom;
from freedom to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to fear;
from fear to dependency;
and from dependency back to bondage once more.
In an earlier speech, from 1943, "Industrial Management in a Republic," Prentis elaborated on the causes of cycle, and the critical stage between apathy and dependency, warning against the temptation of having the government centrally plan and control the economy:
Paradoxically enough, the release of initiative and enterprise made possible by popular self-government ultimately generates disintegrating forces from within. Again and again after freedom has brought opportunity and some degree of plenty, the competent become selfish, luxury-loving and complacent, the incompetent and the unfortunate grow envious and covetous, and all three groups turn aside from the hard road of freedom to worship the Golden Calf of economic security....
At the stage between apathy and dependency, men always turn in fear to economic and political panaceas. New conditions, it is claimed, require new remedies. Under such circumstances, the competent citizen is certainly not a fool if he insists upon using the compass of history when forced to sail uncharted seas. Usually so-called new remedies are not new at all. Compulsory planned economy, for example, was tried by the Chinese some three milleniums ago, and by the Romans in the early centuries of the Christian era. It was applied in Germany, Italy and Russia long before the present war broke out. Yet it is being seriously advocated today as a solution of our economic problems in the United States. Its proponents confidently assert that government can successfully plan and control all major business activity in the nation, and still not interfere with our political freedom and our hard-won civil and religious liberties. The lessons of history all point in exactly the reverse direction.