In this article I take a critical look into the challenges faced by the contemporary social, political, and economic scene in Europe and the United States after nearly eighty years of political stability. I question the sources of the anger, frustration, and distrust toward national and supranational institutions that are visible both on the streets and in the light of numerous public opinion polls. I argue that political and legal stability—the driving force and most desirable product of Western democracies—is becoming a problem. Through the tendency to permanent, often hereditary, marginalization of large groups of the population, a stable political system calls into question the ideals of equality, freedom, and political agency. I present examples of ancient political solutions to problems that arise from prolonged stability: Mesopotamia, Greece under Solon, and the Old Testament. These cases serve as examples of financial, social, and legal adjustments carried out in ancient societies to resolve tensions generated by the toxic effects of long-term stability. I question the possibility of a modern equivalent to this kind of "reset," which would de-escalate the existing conflicts.



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