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Equality by lot is the new blog of the Kleroterians. If you wish to become a contributor, please email Yoram Gat:address. You will need a wordpress account. Setting up a wordpress account is free and simple – go to wordpress.com.

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14 Responses

  1. Anyone – contributor or not – can leave a comment.


  2. It forces respect to see that your first post was written in 2009. I am just starting a blog on sortition and stochocracy. And try to gather people around it in France. Any advices?

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  3. >stochocracy

    Nice to hear that word. I guess a stochocracy is a political system based on stochation (representative sampling by random selection) alone, but if stochation is used as a part of mixed system of governance (including election and selection) then we would still refer to it as a democracy. But I think it’s necessary to differentiate between sortition and stochation as the former is more to do with the random selection of citizens for public office as a prophylactic against factionalism and corruption. Sortition is focused on the individuals, whereas stochation is concerned with the representativity of the sample; the former relies on unpredictability (the blind break) whereas the latter would be best described as a form stochastic determinism. The two things are very different.

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  4. Salut Romain,

    Bienvenue à Equality-by-Lot!

    It is great to see the growing interest in the use of sortition to democratize government. It seems to me that while this trend is global, it is much farther along in France (and Belgium) than it is in the English speaking world, with France generating important sortition-related philosophical work (Bernard Manin, Jacque Ranciere and others), high-profile sortition-related activism (Etienne Chouard and the Gentils Virus), sortition-related proposals by prominent politicians, and lively discussion of those proposals and topics in the press.

    I am not sure I have any useful advice to dispense regarding a sortition-related blog, but I’d be very happy to collaborate on promoting democratization through sortition. One obvious idea is to cross translate sortition-related posts. Any other ideas?



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  5. Dear Yoram,

    The English-speaking world has also many great strengths regarding sortition. And I am in contact with Brett Hennig and the sortition foundation. While I know Etienne Chouard and the Gentils Virus (but I did not know they were involved in sortition). I do not know Bernard Manin I am gonna google him.

    I’ll be happy to translate some of your post in French. For sure I’ll talk at some point about the kleroterians. I am animating a meetup in Paris about stochocracy were you’ll be most welcome.



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  6. Dear Keith,

    I’ve never heard the word stochation. I like the word stochocracy and prefer it to democracy, I guess explaining myself would take too much time. But I can be more specific on its link between sortition and stochocracy

    Sortition is a tool of stochocracy like the election for democracy. Notably in a stochocratic system the executive power would be designated by sortition. It is quite a radical idea as sortition is currently used for the judiciary (jury) and as I understand you promote its use in the legislative power. The word “stochocratie” was invented by Roger de sizif (pseudony) in 1998.



  7. Romain,

    Stochation is a term launched by your compatriot Andre Sauzeau on this forum. Like myself, Andre believes in a mixed system of governance and views stochation as complementary to election, so we would not approve of stochocracy (were it even possible). Bernard Manin (also French) is another firm advocate of the mixed constitution.

    Sortition more often applies to allocative justice and is a way of insulating the political system from corruption and factionalism. The leading theorists in this field — Peter Stone and Oliver Dowlen — have no interest in stochastic representation, in fact they argue that it contravenes the lottery principle as the outcome of the lottery is entirely predictable (at the aggregate level). For example nobody would accept that a portrait in miniature of the whole citizen body should not be approximately 50/50 male/female. So I think we should let Stone and Dowlen keen the term sortition and claim stochation for our own.

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  8. Thanks Keith for the comment I’ll look at Andre Sauzeau, and I happily plan to read the numerous post (and comment them).

    About the website I created : http://www.stochocratie.org (French/English). And the meetup https://www.meetup.com/fr-FR/preview/Les-stochocrates (sorry just in French). Stochasticity or randomness may seem bad at first glance, but I do research in neuroscience and machine learning. And recently, Alpha Go a machine using randomness as its core beat the world champion of go. This makes me belief that randomness may be a very good system to decide.


  9. Sounds like you are possibly using stochation in a different sense to Andre and myself. In our perspective random selection is the only way to ensure a microcosm that accurately reflects the characteristics of the target population. Casting a fair dice (die?) once will give you a random result, but the more you cast it the more the average will converge towards 3.5, so this is the opposite of randomness.


  10. Two things, are I think characteristic of what I am trying to do: 1) Bottom up approach and 2) Target executive.

    1) Start from the discussion. I felt in love with stochocracy this way. How to designate a moderator? How to designate using a coin? I propose on my website a method that changed a lot after practising it around (between 10 and 20 times). It changed a lot and might change again. My second objective is to use sortition/stochation at the NGO level. And my long term goel is for the next French municipal election.

    2) As I say my final target is the smallest unit of executive power, the municipal council. And I believe that the moderator is the smallest unit of executive power.

    You’re welcome to continue the discussion on my blog.


  11. Yes that’s a very different use of the word “stochation” to the one we are accustomed to on this blog!


  12. About the words stochation and stochocracy.
    *** I proposed the word « stochation » (rather than Keith Sutherland’s proposal « stochastion ») as blend of the ancient Greek « stochos », which meant, in logical vocabulary, « conjecture », as opposite to perfect knowledge, and gave « stochastic » in probability science ; and of « election », which had the general meaning of choice, including « election by lot », before taking in 19th century the restrictive meaning of « election by vote » ; or, as Keith suggests, « tion » could be for « representation ».
    *** Stochation is a kind of sortition the aim of which is extracting from a public a minipublic statistically representative of the whole public. Stochation is therefore a subset of sortition.
    *** Stochation is the basic device for a modern « democracy-through-minipublics ». It implies large juries (unitary ones or strings of small juries) to control the randomness. But in a democracy other kinds of sortition may be used for small juries, with the idea of avoiding these juries to be under the control of oligarchic or sectarian groups, and without aiming for good statistical representativity. And, likewise, to accustom ordinary citizens to practice civic functions of power.
    *** Stochocracy could be used for « democracy-through-minipublics ». But I don’t like it very much.
    First, it is less clear than « democracy-through-minipublics ».
    Second, it separates the model from the general democratic idea.
    Third, it insists on chance, whereas the models aims to control it.
    *** Furthermore, it could be used, logically, to refer to an autocracy where the autocrat is chosen by lottery, as in some S-F novels : “The scepter of chance” (Gérald Klein) or “Solar Lottery” (Philip Dick).
    *** There is a comedy by French playwright Jean-Claude Grumberg « Si ça va, Bravo » including a sketch about sortition – two friends talk, one of them has just become President of the Republic, chosen by lot. The sketch is funny, and testifies that sortition got out of the Limbo. But likewise it gives a wrong idea of democracy-through-stochation.
    *** That said, words are not the main problem, and I will not scream if some supporters of « democracy-through-minipublics » like to use stochocracy. And right, this new word could arouse curiosity.


  13. About « mixed governance ».
    *** Keith Sutherland wrote that he and me « believe in a mixed system of governance », with « stochation as complementary to election ». Actually, « mixed governance » is an equivocal word.
    *** It may refer to a system of complex sovereignty, in which the actual political choices cannot be considered as the will of any individual or collective body. It is the case of polyarchy, with many official political powers, and non-official ones (I remember an article of Time magazine where among the check and balances in front of President Trump was the CIA and its leaks !) ; the various powers are more or less sensitive to the different social forces, and the actual social choices are the result of the parallelogram of social forces.
    *** It may refer to a variety of political powers under a true sovereign, individual or collective. Personally I favor true democracy, dêmokratia, ortho-democracy, as you want, the system where the dêmos is sovereign through general vote or through minipublics, where the dêmos has the last word about any major issue. But I think that in the large, complex and dynamic societies of modern times the policies to be implemented need administrative agencies, and these agencies need managers, who must be elected by the dêmos, usually through a specific minipublic ; « elected », or « nominated », if one wants to distinguish the process from the polyarchic electoral-representative processes. There may be many uses of sortition in a modern dêmokratia, but I don’t think it should be the one mode of assigning power.


  14. Andre,

    Sorry about the spelling mistake.

    >Third, [stochocracy] insists on chance, whereas the models aims to control it.

    Yes indeed, and this is also the problem with viewing stochation as a subset of sortition. “Blind Break” sortitionists — especially Peter Stone and Oliver Dowlen — focus on chance, whereas stochation is concerned with probability; the former focuses on the individual, and the latter on aggregate representation. These really are polar opposites so it doesn’t help to use a single term (sortition) to refer to both of them.


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