I, for One, Look Forward to the Sixth Republic
Walking is a stumble interrupted by a destination. Forms of government are much the same: none of them actually work but they fail slowly enough to count as stable if only because some external force usually intervenes before they succumb to their internal contradictions. Absent climate change or invading army, monarchies are subverted by aristocrats who become oligarchs and are overmastered by democrats whose fearless leader becomes a tyrant and tries to establish a dynasty. Paper, rock, scissors, at least until the world runs down.
You could look to history and ask which kinds of states do last, but that shift is complicated by the ease with which people imagine continuities. When I took Western Civilization, the defrocked Jesuit who taught the course was fond of asserting that the great historical question was not why the Roman Empire fell but why it didn’t, at least for an interminable period of time. But what persisted from 756 BC to 1453 AD was more a name and a dream than a single form of polity. There’s an philosophical paradox called the Argo about the question of how Jason’s ship could be the same if every plank and rope were replaced over the years, but at least the Argo didn’t mutate from rowboat to aircraft carrier before winding up on the Bosporus as the Raft of the Medusa. The successive versions of the empire did just that. To a remarkable extent the operation was a unitary imperium sine fine only because its citizens, who did keep reading their Virgil, continued to insist it was, just as we go on reading the Declaration and the Constitution as if these were the bones of an animal which, though it has admittedly put on a few pounds, remains the same beast because it supposedly still has the same skeleton. Well, you can keep the same Constitution for an indefinite period of time provided you mean the document under the glass. The real constitution of the country has undergone several revolutions without a name change much as the Chinese regime is vastly different now than it was thirty years ago, though it is still officially Marxist albeit under the Milton Friedman interpretation of the sacred dogmas. So is the current system of either country stable? Related question: is it necessarily a terrible thing if neither nation has arrived at a permanent solution to the problem of governing a large country? Does China have a problem because their current arrangement won’t last, at least a problem worse than the one we face because we haven’t changed ours frequently enough?