With the progressive perishing of its ideal the race loses more and more the qualities that lent it its cohesion, its unity, and its strength.
The personality and intelligence of the individual may increase, but at the same time this collective egoism of the race is replaced by an excessive development of the egoism of the individual, accompanied by a weakening of character and a lessening of the capacity for action.
What constituted a people, a unity, a whole, becomes in the end an agglomeration of individualities lacking cohesion, and artificially held together for a time by its traditions and institutions.
It is at this stage that men, divided by their interests and aspirations, and incapable any longer of self-government, require directing in their pettiest acts, and that the State exerts an absorbing influence.
With the definite loss of its old ideal the genius of the race entirely dissapears; it is a mere swarm of isolated individuals and returns to its original state - that of a crowd.
To pass in pursuit of an ideal from the barbarious to the civilised state, and then, when this ideal has lost its virtue, to decline and die, such is the cycle of the life of a people.
Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd, 1895