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When you began your listing of historiographical tendencies with the Idea of Progress, I was half-expecting the other major perspective to be represented by the ancient Greek anacyclosis or variations upon it, and was pleasantly surprised to see this was not the case. (Not that I have any strong aversion to that particular theory, but in just about anything, to keep coming back to the ancient Greeks is to be a teensy wee bit behind with the times. Speaking of progress...)

I'm not sure that, for political systems, preconditions for appearance are the same as conditions for maintenance. The disappearance of the condition that has started off the system does not imply its imminent end. There is a certain amount of inertia in political practice. What previously relied on the sheer power of incentives and inevitability in the face of an ideologically unfavourable opposition, now does have the advantages of tradition and ideology on its side. Its opponents would have to fight an uphill battle against these forces, just like democracy itself had to fight an uphill battle as it began to emerge as a political force. Yes, sure, the authoritarian "more power to the powerful" is already in a better position for getting its way. But it's difficult to see the world erasing its democratic programming from its cultural makeup just because powerful people realised that they're in a better position now to claim an even larger share of power. And it's unlikely to see authoritarian beliefs spreading quickly among the upper classes (because other rich and powerful people are the only ways to police rich and powerful people). They don't hold the beliefs they hold and enact the policies they do out of fear of mass revolt, to placate the seditious mobs. A reasonable time frame for such a change is, I think, upwards of four or five generations from now, and not even starting now.






it's difficult to see the world erasing its democratic programming from its cultural makeup

Indeed, as Marx said, “theory becomes material force when it takes hold on the masses."” On the other hand, it might be possible to preserve the old political institutions (thus keeping the semblance of democracy) while fundamentally changing their functions. When the Roman Republic collapsed, the new leaders were carful to make it seem that it was business as usual. They still had the elections, senate, tribunes etc.
A reasonable time frame for such a change is, I think, upwards of four or five generations from now, and not even starting now.

You may very well be right. And yet, who in the early 1980s could predict the collapse of the entire socialist camp several years later? Dramatic political change does not always require a secret conspiracy or a violent revolution.
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melian
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