Reading about the fall of Detroit, the ranting of the GOP's Tea Party House, ubiquitous fraud and corruption, and the emergence of the corporate person, it's easy to imagine that we're going where no nation has gone before -- testing the limits of both democracy and capitalism.
But has any nation been here before? How long did Athenian democracy last? Not all that long actually ....
Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. ..
... The greatest and longest lasting democratic leader was Pericles; after his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolution towards the end of the Peloponnesian War ... It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts are of this fourth-century modification rather than the Periclean system. It was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC ...
The Peloponnesian war lasted from 431 BC to 404 BC. So Athenian democracy might have lasted as little as 100 years. If you count periods of restoration you might get to 160 years. American "Democracy"  is about 235 years old.
Going where no nation has gone before ...
- Invaders from Mars - Charlie's Diary (Charles Stross on the corporate entity) vs. Hive-minds and Kleptocrats - Krugman (Krugman disses Stross). I think I've got the right balance, but then I would, woudn't I?
- Gordon's Notes: Understanding the elections - what's really changed
- Gordon's Notes: Speculation: The corporate ecosystem and American stasis
- Gordon's Notes: Why do companies exist?
- Gordon's Notes: Troubled capitalism: The corporate entity
 Assuming one starts with white male landowner voters.