The sociological doctrine of Anacyclosis states that the three basic forms of "benign" government (monarchy, aristocracy, and politeia) are inherently weak and unstable, tending to degenerate rapidly into the three basic forms of "malignant" government (dictatorship, oligarchy, and ochlocracy). Note that "ochlocracy" refers to mob rule, not the concept of democracy created in the late 18th century.

According to the doctrine, "benign" governments have the interests of all at heart, whereas "malignant" governments have the interests of a select few at heart. However, all six are considered unworkable because the first three rapidly transform into the latter three due to political corruption.

This theory was developed in stages by the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and was later explained by the ancient Greek historian Polybius.


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