Polybius, ANTIFA, and the Cycle of Discord

by Scott Lingamfelter

When I awoke this morning, like many of you, I found myself genuinely concerned about what is going on in America. The violence, looting, the wanton destruction of life and property are both shocking and unacceptable. Most people are angry with the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a rogue policeman. Protesters are being heard. Unfortunately, the anarchists of ANTIFA, a so-called anti-fascist coalition, have infiltrated and are fanning the flames of destruction and hatred in America.

Some refer to groups like ANTIFA as occupying the “far-left” on the political spectrum opposite extremists on the “far-right,” including those who proffer racial hatred. This is a false distinction that masks—pardon the pun—the current face of political America and society at large. The political spectrum is not simply one of ideologies with liberals on one end and conservatives on the other. The political spectrum actually extends from the extremes of tyranny (or absolute rule) on one end to anarchy (or lawlessness) on the opposing end. This is not new thinking.

The founders of America were very aware of lessons from Greek historian Polybius who in the second century B.C. defined the “orders” of society that were first identified by Plato in the fourth century B.C. These included rule by one (monarchy), rule by a few (aristocracy), and rule by many (democracy). All of these “orders” bore risks as they were represented in government.

From Polybius’ vantage point, primitive man—given the dangers of the world—would submit to being ruled by a strong leader. As men began to conceive of justice, they in turn subjected themselves to the rule of a just leader, yielding to his son at his passing. But when that sort of monarchy deteriorated, men sought the “rule of the best” or an aristocracy to bring order. However, when the children of aristocrats failed to follow the good example of their fathers, aristocracy slid downward into oligarchy, the rule of the rich over a growing poor. What resulted was a call for democracy that, when not properly configured, evolved into mob rule, and then anarchy prevailed.

In time, people frustrated with the downward spiral into chaos and violence, then called for a dictator to set things straight, completing a destructive cycle Polybius termed “anacyclosis”. This evolving degeneration that begins with the rule of one and ends with a dictator, Polybius asserted, would repeat itself ad nauseum if not interrupted. Polybius’ solution was to assign equal amounts of power to the three “orders” of society—the monarchy, the aristocracy, and democracy—to circumvent the “cycle of discord”, which would be the inevitable result unless interrupted by balancing power among them. This lesson is precisely what the drafters of our Constitution accomplished in the construct they advanced. To stop “anacyclosis” required a republic that was balanced and constitutional.

In reality, the political spectrum is primarily about control, not just ideology.  Occupying the most extreme end we would find the Communists and Nazis where rule is found in a single dictator. Next to this oligarchies then appear, where power is concentrated in the hands of an elite few who control the freedom of everyone else. Nearing the center we would find legitimate monarchies, some with a genuine constitution. In the middle would be republics, like that found in the US where the rule of man is subordinated to the rule of law. Closer to the other end is direct democracy, where majority rule may well ignore the idea of legal rights for the will of a vocal preponderance of people. Mob rule is the frequent result. And finally anarchy, where there are no rules, and everyone fends for themselves leading to societal breakdown and a call for a dictator to set things straight. The anacyclosis cycle repeats itself.

The anarchy advanced by ANTIFA is particularly troubling because it shrouds itself in a cloak of “social justice,” when in fact it represents societal destruction through any means, even lawlessness. It’s goal is to sow anarchy and create the conditions for a call to dictatorship that ANTIFA will happily fill to rule over all of us absolutely. Americans must see this threat. Do not mistake the current challenge as a conflict between liberal and conservative ideologies. It is one of power and control. Polybius was correct. The founders understood his lesson. Most of us today are oblivious to its meaning and importance as we argue ideology among ourselves when—in fact—our tormentors like ANTIFA have another idea in mind.

Amid the legitimate grief and anger over George Floyd’s murder, we must not be distracted by the true purpose of ANTIFA. It is not about racial justice, as we all should be. It is about control over all of us. We must stop them now resolutely and firmly.

This column was originally distributed in newsletter format by Scott Lingamfelter, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 16 years. He is the author of a new book, Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War.

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7 responses to “Polybius, ANTIFA, and the Cycle of Discord”

  1. VDOTyranny Avatar

    Sure, but the hypocritical politics of the stereotypical democrat-republican make much better click-bait.

  2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Pretty farsighted for a one-eyed guy. Oh wait, that was some other Poly guy.

  3. Ben Slone Avatar
    Ben Slone

    Hear! Hear!

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The claim that Antifa elements were behind the demonstrations is a favorite cry by folks like Trump and Lingamfelter. According to law enforcement officials, there is little evidence to support that claim. https://time.com/5849592/antifa-far-right-violent-trump-protesters/

    1. VDOTyranny Avatar

      but the media tells me that law enforcement are a bunch of liars. who am I supposed to protest now?

      1. idiocracy Avatar

        You are to protest whomever and whatever the media tells you to. You will do as you are told. It is for your own good. Trust and obey, without question.

    2. idiocracy Avatar

      Yes, that’s right. Law enforcement infiltrated the antifa.com membership database, and they know exactly who is a member.

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