What is Anacyclosis and Kyklos? A Journey From Ancient Greece to Modern Day US (2024)

What is Anacyclosis and Kyklos?

It’s a term that most people have probably never heard of. But history shows that it looms over us all. So what is anacyclosis and kyklos? And how does it relate to the modern day United States or other Western nations?

Let’s first discuss the history. Anacyclosis and Kyklos both describe the same thing: the cycle of governmental collapse. How the different government forms constantly recycle themselves throughout history.

Kyklos was first described in Plato’s Republic. Aristotle also worked heavily on the theory behind Kyklos.

Then, along came Polybius who theorized and refined the cycle but called it “Anacyclosis”.

They both speak on the same topic but differ on the structures and titles. We’ll start with Kyklos.


Plato first introduced the concept of Kyklos through the “five regimes” model.

Within Plato’s Five Regimes, the government cycles through various forms of government as it progressively degenerates. It is as follows:

  1. Aristocracy
  2. Timocracy
  3. Oligarchy
  4. Democracy
  5. Tyranny

Aristocracy is said to be the government of Plato’s preference. However, over time the aristocracy degenerates into a timocracy due to miscalculations on the part of the aristocrats. So, the rulers children inevitably fail to maintain this beneficial form of governance.

From there the elected begin to show a much greater appreciation of money. Over time, this appreciation turns into corruption. The elite and the wealthy want to ensure their continual control and power. Thus restricting the government and ensuring an oligarchy forms.

In this imaginary society, the oligarchs eventually lose control due to popular revolt or through lessening the grips by the oligarchs. This ushers in the new wave of democracy.

Finally, democracy degenerates because society becomes weak, order is not being maintained, and degeneracy plagues the country. The people desire a return to order and elect a tyrant to allow it to be restored.

Over time, the people reject the tyranny the authoritarian brings and desire a return to faithful ruling. Thus, the tyrant falls and aristocrats take over.

Then it repeats. Again and again.

This is Kyklos.

Aristotle also believed and worked on the theory of Kyklos. His was similar in nature to Plato’s but he believed it started with monarchy and ended in anarchy. This is close to Plato where monarchy is not too far off from what the aristocracy is. They are both dictator-ish regimes. Additionally, the revolution at the end of tyranny is naturally an anarchy-type state for a while. The minor differences are small and insignificant in the grand scheme of the overall idea.

So we know Kyklos now. What about anacyclosis?


Ancient historian Polybius theorized the most advanced form of the “cycle of collapse”, titled “Anacyclosis” in his book “Histories(Book VI).

Polybius took Plato and Aristotle’s work and used history to build the version that still rings true to today. These Greek political thinkers analyzed hundreds of city states to come up with what we would call modern-day statistical trends. That is why their theories are still so impactful to this day. There’s even an institute about it.

Anacyclosis is no different.

Anacyclosis goes:

  1. Monarchy
  2. Tyranny
  3. Aristocracy
  4. Oligarchy
  5. Democracy
  6. Ochlocracy

It begins with monarchy, similar to Aristotle’s theory mentioned above. However, Polybius correctly noted that kinds and queens nearly always turned to tyrants through their genetic lineage. Eventually, the rule of king was the rule of an iron fist.

Over time, aristocrats would seize control. So “a few” would rule instead of one. This made sense and was positive for the people and the aristocrats. Most individuals welcomed this change over the rule of a tyrant.

However, the aristocracy fails due to the exact reasons Plato mentioned (Polybius skips the middle step as it is relatively short-lived, usually) and the country descends into the hands of the oligarchs. The “few” become “the rich few”. While the middle class and the poor take a financial hit.

People get tired of the oligarchs and demand representation, eventually throwing the previous aristocrats out. Ushering in the age of democracy.

However, democracy is weak and susceptible to coercion. Ochlocracy takes hold (mob rule) and the elites/rich take control of the democracy. Further using it to attack political opponents and robbing the country of the original democratic nature.

Eventually, the mob rule elects one person to bring order. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Straight to monarchy.

History Repeats Itself. Think About Your Own Nation

History repeats itself. Look at the history of your own nation. You will find the exact same sequence mentioned above.

Sometimes, we call things by different names than what Polybius did. “Monarchy” is a benevolent or “voted-in” dictatorship. Ochlocracy is degenerative socialism. Communism is tyranny (or mob-rule, depending). Representative and parliamentary systems are just fancy words for democracy. So on and so forth.

A few examples:

Communism” under the Khmer Rogue in Cambodia was simply a tyrannical regime under Pol Pot. Zimbabwe was a democratic nation turned “benevolent” dictatorship until Mugabe screwed up the economy-then straight to tyranny. The United States was a democracy (under the “representative” title) and is now descending into an ochlocracy.

For a speed run of government types, look no further than Venezuela. They went from a democratic nation to an ochlocracy to a monarchy/tyranny (under “socialism” circa Hugo Chavez) and are now knocking on the door of Aristocracy. All in under 50 years. Whew.

Many things come and go with this cycle. Fascism (monarchy-tyranny) tends to have a high level of nationalist sentiment, so a lessening of degenerate behavior. Democracy tends to have a tremendous amount of individual liberty until it descends because of the problems of too much liberty. Fascism builds strong men to fight the tyrants; socialism builds weak men dependent on the governments tit. These traits all fall in a similar line dating back from Rome, to Sparta, to France, to China, to Istanbul, and every other nation on this planet.

Once you are aware of this cycle and how history repeats, it changes your entire political perspective. The small-scale things we typically fight about no longer matter. All that matters are the political issues that directly impact the cycle or the key components of the shifts (economy, power, government size, constitutional changes, culture, etc).

What does it matter if your political party wins when your entire system is built on top of sand provided courtesy of anacyclosis? If democracy cannot hold, you must fight the cycle instead of the politics. When you truly understand this aspect, your entire political beliefs will shift.

How Do We Stop The Cycle?

It’s obviously not an easy answer. The ancient philosophers had many ideas, such as:

  • Resistance to even minor changes in the law. (Given enough time, even minor changes would cause a complete transformation).
  • Mixed government forms
  • Short-term rulers
  • Large middle class
  • Education
  • Strong men

And many others. I agree with some of them while I disagree with others. They placed some heavy emphasis on concepts that are no longer of importance or even a consideration in the modern era. Things such as kingship rules (who even wants a king in the 21st century?).

That is why we need an updated version of anacyclosis and methods to resist it. So, I’m writing a book on it which will be out in mid-2020. Stay tuned to more Enclavism articles and join our newsletter: you’ll get a free copy of the book when it comes out!

Did you analyze your country’s history? What are your thoughts on Anacyclosis and methods to stop it? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out the previous article in this series titled “The Cycle of Collapse“:

Related Articles:

What Is A Rule By Many Framework? What Is A Rule By One Framework?

What is Anacyclosis and Kyklos? A Journey From Ancient Greece to Modern Day US (2024)


What are the similarities and differences between the ancient Greek government and the modern United States government? ›

Similarities between US and Athens are that US and Athens have a democracy. They both allow men to vote. One difference is that US has a representative democracy and Athens has a direct democracy. In Athens only men that owned property are allowed to vote.

What idea that is important today came from ancient Athens? ›

The first known democracy in the world was in Athens. Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century B.C.E. The Greek idea of democracy was different from present-day democracy because, in Athens, all adult citizens were required to take an active part in the government.

How did ancient Greece's political structures change over time? ›

Most of these city-states originally had a system of government called a monarchy, where a single person ruled the city-state. Over time, many city-states changed to a new government style in which several people controlled the state, called an oligarchy.

How did this social structure change over time in ancient Greece? ›

Ancient Greece had a detailed social structure that changed and grew over time. Between 1000 B.C.E. and 800 B.C.E, the society was divided into just two classes: the wealthy aristocrats who owned the resources and the people that did not. These were called the Dark Ages and were a time of chaos and invasion.

What is the difference between Modern Greek and Ancient Greek? ›

Ancient Greek had long and short vowels; many diphthongs; double and single consonants; voiced, voiceless, and aspirated stops; and a pitch accent. In Modern Greek, all vowels and consonants are short. Many vowels and diphthongs once pronounced distinctly are pronounced as /i/ (iotacism).

How does the Ancient Greek government affect US today? ›

One of the most significant contributions of ancient Greece to the United States government is the idea of democracy. In ancient Athens, citizens had the right to participate in decision-making and had a say in how their city-state was run.

How did ancient Greece contribute to the modern world? ›

The Greeks pretty much invented modern mathematics, sculpture, philosophy, science and even medicine. And they used some of their new knowledge to make inventions like the water wheel, the alarm clock, the catapult and even, the vending machine!

What is one idea from ancient Greece that still exists in today's world? ›

We have the ancient Greeks to thank for things like present-day democracy, libraries, the modern alphabet, and even zoology.

What idea that is important today came from ancient Athens Quizlet? ›

-The government of Athens was a direct democracy where every citizen was allowed to vote on every issue. Most democracies today are representative democracies.

What are the most powerful city-states in history? ›

Democracies were governments that allowed citizens to vote on and participate in making state decisions. Some of the most important city-states were Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Delphi. Of these, Athens and Sparta were the two most powerful city-states.

Who was Plato's most famous student? ›

Plato's best known student was Aristotle of Stagira (l. 384-322 BCE) who would then tutor Alexander the Great (l. 356-323 BCE) and establish his own school.

Was there slavery in ancient Greece? ›

Slavery was a widely accepted practice in ancient Greece, as it was in contemporaneous societies. The principal use of slaves was in agriculture, but they were also used in stone quarries or mines, and as domestic servants.

Which had slaves, Athens or Sparta? ›

In Athens and Attica, there were at least 150,000 Athenians, around 50,000 aliens, and more than 100,000 slaves. Approximately 8,000 Spartiates (adult male citizens) ruled over a population of 100,000 enslaved and semi-enslaved people.

Why did Mycenaean collapse so suddenly? ›

The reasons for the end of the Mycenaean culture have been hotly debated among scholars. At present, there is no satisfactory explanation for the collapse of the Mycenaean palace systems. The two most common theories are population movement and internal conflict.

What was the highest class in Ancient Greece? ›

Although the male citizen had by far the best position in Greek society, there were different classes within this group. Top of the social tree were the 'best people', the aristoi. Possessing more money than everyone else, this class could provide themselves with armour, weapons, and a horse when on military campaign.

In which way does the modern US government differ from that of ancient Greece? ›

The obvious difference is that the ancient states had direct democracy (the citizens not only had the right to elect and be elected to offices but also legislated and judged) whereas the modern regimes are republics, that is, the citizens participate in governance through representatives.

What is one similarity and difference between Ancient Greek and Roman governments? ›

Both have had tremendous influences on governments in our modern world. Rome was a republic where the leaders were chosen through voting, while Greece practiced a more direct democracy in which the citizens participated in the crucial decision-making within the government.

What are the similarities between ancient Rome and the United States government? ›

The Roman Empire's governmental structure is very similar to the United Stated government because they both include three branches. The Judiciary, the Executive, and the Legislative branches are included in both civilizations; however the Roman's devised this system more than 2,000 years before the United States.

What are the similarities between the Ancient Greek world view and our current world view? ›

The Greek view of the world both resembles and differs from the contemporary view. They both had some parts of the world but the contemporary view has everything. Another similar thing that they have in common is that they both had the same idea that the earth was round.

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