Exclusions

Historically, voting rights have gone through a process of expansion from being exclusive to a minority to being quite inclusive. Interestingly, proposals for sortition-based government often come with various exclusion mechanisms. Such mechanisms can be classified by the stage at which they operate:

1. Pre-selection. These exclusions operate much like exclusions from suffrage did, and still do to some extent. Some general bureaucratic criteria are defined and all those who are determined to fall within those criteria are excluded from the sortition pool. Examples are the following groups: children, felons, non-citizens, those who do not take some sort of a loyalty oath, and citizens who are not registered (to vote, or to the sortition pool).

2. At selection. Qualification tests are administered at selection time, and only those who pass them are allowed to become delegates. Examples are: literacy tests and civics tests.

3. Post-selection. These are mechanisms for removal of serving delegates. Examples are popular recall or removal by a scrutinizing body.


Justification

Excluding members from the allotted body, regardless of the mechanism, distorts the statistical representativity of the allotted body and therefore can be expected to degrade the political equality which this statistical representativity allows. It must also be recognized that many exclusion mechanisms would be open for manipulation by powerful players (representative or not) to exclude ideas they find objectionable. Such ideas, even if they are minority opinions, should be represented according to their prevalence in the population. For this reason, exclusions should be avoided unless strong reasons can be found to employ them.

The justification for exclusion therefore cannot be that the group or person excluded are deemed by a majority as promoting policies that are undesirable. The democratic way to deal with such a situation is to have support for such policies represented in the decision making body, but have them rejected by the majority in that body.

The only justification that seems valid is in a way just the opposite. Rather than arguing that a certain person is acting deliberately against the interests of the majority, it may be argued that a person is incapable of representing their own interests. A person who cannot represent their own interests is not benefiting from power, and is potentially harmed by their own power. This, it seems, is the rationale for excluding children from suffrage. Except for children, I am unaware of any significant group for which such an argument can be credibly made.

My conclusion is that proposals for exclusions should be met with demands for a strong justification. Arguments that such mechanisms would “hold delegates to account”, or would “ensure that delegates are competent” are very far from being convincing enough.

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129 Responses

  1. Broadly agree, with the proviso that allotted legislators should at least be able to understand what is being discussed. This would suggest that cognitive competence is an independent variable to interests. How to operationalise such an exclusion is the difficult question — my proposal being an IQ test with a very low threshold. Perhaps, though, in an assembly of 3-600 it would not be necessary as very few would fall below that threshold and would thus be unlikely to significantly affect the outcome. But if we want a legislative assembly to generate good laws (rather than just to implement the equality of legislative right of all citizens) then I don’t think we should rule out a test for a minimum level of competence a priori.

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  2. As I wrote, I find such arguments to be very far from meeting the burden of justification.

    (The size of the body, by the way, makes no difference. What matters is the proportion of the population that you are expecting to exclude.)

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  3. Children: The problem is where do you draw the line? I drew it at 25 in my proposal, but I think this was a mistake. It shouldn’t be higher than the age at which you can be called to fight for your country, for instance. How much harm would a handful of 15 to 20 year olds do in an assembly of 500? They might turn out to be more concientious than their elders. But I suppose a line must be drawn. At least it’s the same for everyone.

    Convicted prisoners: If someone is serving a sentence which would prevent them from performing the functions of an allotted representative, it makes no sense including them. Nor should they get a pardon because they have been chosen by lot. On the other hand, I can see no justification for excluding those who have served their time.

    Low IQ: I can’t see any point in excluding them. The other delegates are not going to be persuaded by them.

    The “insane”: If they are locked up, they can’t perform their functions as delegates. If not, they should have the same rights as others until they commit a crime which causes them to be locked up.

    Old age: I drew a line at 65, no doubt too low. Should old people be excluded at all?

    Resident foreigners: I don’t see a simple answer.

    >”with the proviso that allotted legislators should at least be able to understand what is being discussed”

    I think this is unreasonably optimistic. It’s obvious that (supposedly intelligent) elected legislators very often fail this test; why should we expect that allotted ones will do better? (partial answer: since they won’t spend all their time trying to get re-elected, they’ll have time to bone up on difficult topics).
    There will always be subjects on which a fair bit of specialised knowledge is necessary. The best you can hope for is that legislators will call for expert opinions, and listen to them with a very critical ear, and then go on to get it wrong. If legislative decisions aren’t made on ideological/party lines, it should be possible to go back and fix errors.

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  4. Yoram, I’m puzzled as to why you do not acknowledge that equality of interests and epistemic competence are independent variables. Deliberative democrats are primarily interested in the latter — for example John Burnheim’s proposal only uses sortition as a convenient mechanism for selecting between those who deem themselves epistemically competent in a particular domain. Most of us on this forum would not accept demarchic committees as democratically valid as there is no way of ensuring that interests are represented proportionately to the whole population (which appears to be your only concern). Nevertheless epistemic competence has to be an independent variable, even if (in practice) the impact of the tiny number of incompetents (ie those who could not understand the arguments) would be negligible.

    One area that you don’t explicitly consider is the proposal to exclude those who (in a legislative assembly with fiscal powers) would benefit from the public largesse without making any contribution — rent seekers in Jon Roland’s terminology. I would go so far as to exclude anyone who was a net beneficiary on the principal that this would be akin to being invited to set one’s own wages, but I’m aware that puts me a long way beyond the social-democratic pale.

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  5. Campbell,

    Again, general policy should be to minimize exclusion on the general democratic principle that (almost) any adult person is in the best position to represent their own interests. Yes, some line for adulthood should be drawn. Whether that line is at 16 or 18 is less important in my mind. I would not exclude prisoners, and would make special arrangements to try to allow them to carry out their roles.

    As for resident foreigners – I would try to eliminate this category of people altogether. Any person who lives in a country for a length of time (say, more than a couple of years) should have the same political rights as all other residents.

    I agree that any attempt to condition participation on “understanding” is either misguided or manipulative. There is no objective way to measure understanding and any mechanism to do so would be nothing more than an invitation for corruption.

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  6. Keith,

    I have long given up any hope of being able to alleviate what appears to be your perpetual state of puzzlement.

    Actually, representation of interests and competence are not independent. Since there is no objective way to determine interests, assuming universal competence (i.e., that every person is the best judge of their own interests) is really the only way have a basis for representation of interests.

    As for “rent seeking”: as I have already noted in my reply to Jon, we are all “rent seekers”. “Rent seeking” is what politics is about. Whether the state promotes one’s interests by sending one checks in the mail or by sending policemen to catch those that take away “their property” is a superficial and immaterial distinction.

    Jon may be “a right-wing conservative” and a Texan to boot, but he clearly pays much more attention to what other people write than you do.

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  7. Except for the unique situation of children (to which I will return), I can’t see any justification for any exclusions. As long as the bulk of society has minimal competence, then so too will an allotted body. It is okay for a body to include members who are unable to participate in the traditional manner. Their life experience can still be useful to the group. As soon as you accept the principle of exclusion, the issue of where to draw the line becomes a constant political football. first a person argues that those who can’t reason and understand issues should be excluded. Then one person says those who blindly follow spiritual leaders show an inability to reason and are unfit. Another says those with no faith in a particular god have no morals and are unfit. Etc.

    This same principle can be applied to children…There are certainly some 12-year olds who are far more “competent” than some 25-year olds. It seems to me the only threshold should be whether the individual is able and willing to live away from and make decisions independent of a parent.

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  8. Yoram: “assuming universal competence (i.e., that every person is the best judge of their own interests)”

    In practice I’d agree with most of Terry’s points, but I’m completely flummoxed by Yoram’s continuing insistence that everything (including epistemic competence) can be reduced to interests. This is a very strong assumption and easily refuted (for example minors, the mentally ill, those with a feral upbringing and sufferers from various addictions). But if Yoram is right, then I suppose my failure to understand his claim (argument would be too strong a word) must make me entirely incompetent, but I’m not sure why it would be in my best interests to wish to appear to be quite so stupid. The other explanation for his dogmatic claim has been proscribed by the Stone Interdict, so I can’t go into that, although Yoram’s use of scare quotes around “their property” indicates that this is the most plausible explanation.

    It really would be good for all commentators to nail their political colours to the mast — I’ve done this by confessing that my political views “lie a long way beyond the social-democratic pale”. Jon has also fessed up and it has earned him the sobriquet “right-wing (Texan) conservative”, yet when I attempt a similar exegesis of Yoram’s writing I am told that the use of the M word is not permitted on this forum — the assumption being that it is a term of abuse (unlike, for example, “right-wing conservative”). Given that “Right-wing conservative proposal to use sortition” was Yoram’s title for the thread in question, this would suggest a lack of even-handedness.

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  9. Nicely capping the free flow of nonsense in your comment, Keith, with an inability to keep track who writes what. (Yes, Keith, see if you can use your tremendous intellect to find out who wrote the post you are referring to.)

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  10. Sorry about that, looks like the anti-conservative prejudice on this site is even more widespread than I thought. The reason that I focus on Peter Stone and yourself is that Peter founded the blog and then recruited you to administer it. I acknowledge that, if Barbara Goodwin’s book is typical, most committed sortinistas lean a long way to the left, but I would like to hope that we might reach out beyond the enclave. So if we’re going to proscribe the use of the “M” word, we should be equally wary of dismissing an opposing view as “right-wing”.

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  11. > The reason that I focus on Peter Stone and yourself is that Peter founded the blog and then recruited you to administer it.

    Not that it matters one bit for any purpose other than as another point of evidence to the fact that you are extremely careless with the facts, but any resemblance between your description of the genesis of this blog and reality is purely coincidental.

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  12. Yoram, I have to disagree with that last sentence. Although it is true that stratified sampling would lead to statistical representation of only the modified pool, the whole idea of applying stratified sampling here is precisely to ensure technical competency. I say this as a counter to Keith, as well, since I do think stratified sampling can and should be used for singular administrative positions as well.

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  13. Furthermore:

    All political and related administrative offices, and also the ability to influence or participate in political decision-making, shall be free of any formal or de facto disqualifications due to non-ownership of non-possessive property or, more generally, of wealth. The Chartists called similarly for “no property qualification for members of Parliament – thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.” While the struggle against formal property qualifications was most progressive, even freely elected legislatures are almost devoid of the working poor, especially those who are women. Moreover, this is in stark contrast to disparities in typical campaign financing and in access to lobby groups.

    Unlike the Chartist demand, by no means does this demand in the grammatically double negative (“disqualifications” and “non-ownership”) preclude the very illiberal disenfranchisement of the bourgeoisie – and other owners of the aforementioned types of property – as one of the possible measures of worker-class rule. In fact, not only did the original Soviet constitution deprive voting rights from the bourgeoisie and others even on more functional criteria such as hiring labour for personal profit, but agitators from the lower classes in the French Revolution demanded the limitation of the right of suffrage to those classes only.

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  14. Jacob> I say this as a counter to Keith, as well, since I do think stratified sampling can and should be used for singular administrative positions as well.

    Strangely enough I’m inclined to agree, if the stratum is those with the relevant experience and skills. Note that this is the negative use of sortition (an arational procedure for choosing between equally-qualified candidates) rather than the positive use (statistical representativity) which is clearly of no relevance for singular administrative positions. But this certainly confirms the commonsense view that interests and competence are independent variables.

    As for Jacob’s “very illiberal proposal to disenfranchise the bourgeoisie” I’m grateful to him for his honesty regarding his own political leanings and would encourage everyone to follow his example and nail their own colours to the mast.

    Yoram, as for the provenance of this blog and its founding personnel, I’m only repeating what Peter told me in Paris (or at least how I remember it). By all means correct any misinformation that I have conveyed.

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  15. Keith, you said in a past thread that you were opposed to random selection being the basis of filling out singular administrative positions because of an office-vs-power difference or what not.

    The use of stratified sampling would go hand in hand with an IT-based revival of a process woefully dismissed because of patronage-based “politicking”: personnel lists or nomenclatures.

    Re. the politics at the end, I already explained the precedent set by the revolutionary French sans culottes before their own suppression during the Reign of Terror. Universal suffrage is illusory.

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  16. Jacob,

    I was certainly thinking of you as well when I wrote that sortition proposals often come with exclusion clauses, so I am not surprised that you are opposed to universal inclusiveness.

    If there is widespread perception in the population that certain decisions require expertise, then this perception would be widespread among the allotted body in charge of those decisions. The allotted delegates would then solicit and follow the advice of those whom they consider most qualified. Filtering the allotment pool for expertise on the other hand requires forming some sort of an a-priori definition of “expert” – a task that may simply be impossible. There is really nothing to gain here and everything to lose.

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  17. Keith,

    > By all means correct any misinformation that I have conveyed.

    Sorry, I am unwilling to undertake such a Sisyphean task.

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  18. Jacob, my concern is that executive positions should be filled by those most competent to perform the task in question. This would mean that a shortlist (stratum in your terms) would be drawn up by the methods that are normally employed in executive selection and then a sortition would be performed to select a candidate from within this stratum. I acknowledge that referring to this as stratified sampling is a bit of a stretch, as the purpose of the sortition is an arational way of choosing between equally-qualified candidates, rather than using sortition as a representative mechanism. I’m not sure what sort of stratum you had in mind, other than one that excluded some combination of kulaks, employers, the rich, men and the hated bourgeoisie — the latter category most likely monopolising the stratum if “competence” was the selection criterion (scare quotes included for Yoram’s benefit). Once again, thanks for being so up-front about the political ideology that underlies your proposals.

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  19. Yoram:

    “I was certainly thinking of you as well when I wrote that sortition proposals often come with exclusion clauses, so I am not surprised that you are opposed to universal inclusiveness.”

    Thanks.

    “If there is widespread perception in the population that certain decisions require expertise, then this perception would be widespread among the allotted body in charge of those decisions. The allotted delegates would then solicit and follow the advice of those whom they consider most qualified. Filtering the allotment pool for expertise on the other hand requires forming some sort of an a-priori definition of “expert” – a task that may simply be impossible. There is really nothing to gain here and everything to lose.”

    I might not have said this before here (though I have elsewhere), but random selection is indeed compatible with both demokratia and aristoi.

    Maybe there should be a compromise here. There might be a general body, but there should be statistically representative expert bodies with greater clout. By “greater clout,” then, I mean that only the expert bodies can make “recommendations,” and that the “recommendations” are approved unless the general body explicitly votes against the “recommendations” within a given time.

    [That was a mouthful of detailed words, but that’s necessary.]

    This would be like Ecuador’s executive ability to force legislatures to explicitly vote down, within 30 days, bills submitted by the executive that have also been declared “urgent” – otherwise said bills automatically become law.

    As for the expert bodies with greater clout, I’ll give examples.

    Defense: military instructors, military historians, veterans (this first example is my anti-liberal counter to the accommodation of the appointment pro-war chickenhawks with no military experience, such that “civilian control over the military” becomes a logistical joke)

    Health: health scientists, physicians, nurses
    Sports: athletes
    Education: teachers, professors

    Agriculture: agronomists
    Construction: engineers, construction workers
    Economic planning: linear programmers and related mathematicians, those with experience in supply chain management
    Finance: accountants

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  20. Keith:

    “Jacob, my concern is that executive positions should be filled by those most competent to perform the task in question. This would mean that a shortlist (stratum in your terms) would be drawn up by the methods that are normally employed in executive selection and then a sortition would be performed to select a candidate from within this stratum.”

    Thanks for bringing up the term “short list.” I’m countering back and forth right now against someone else on the Internet on the nomenklatura as a process (stripped of the nepotism and patronage problems, of course), and I’ll need all the Western corporate terms I can get to hammer home my points on personnel nomenclatures.

    “I acknowledge that referring to this as stratified sampling is a bit of a stretch, as the purpose of the sortition is an arational way of choosing between equally-qualified candidates, rather than using sortition as a representative mechanism.”

    Perhaps. I don’t think there’s much if any of the representation argument if we’re talking about a whole bunch of singular executive positions, as opposed to committees.

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  21. “I’m not sure what sort of stratum you had in mind, other than one that excluded some combination of kulaks, employers, the rich, men and the hated bourgeoisie — the latter category most likely monopolising the stratum if “competence” was the selection criterion (scare quotes included for Yoram’s benefit). Once again, thanks for being so up-front about the political ideology that underlies your proposals.”

    That was a side topic to the issue of competency. Please keep in mind that I posted this political beef against universal suffrage as a separate post.

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  22. >Maybe there should be a compromise here. There might be a general body, but there should be statistically representative expert bodies with greater clout. By “greater clout,” then, I mean that only the expert bodies can make “recommendations,” and that the “recommendations” are approved unless the general body explicitly votes against the “recommendations” within a given time.

    Yes that’s a sensible compromise, along the lines of Rousseau and Harrington, my only quibble being that an expert body cannot, by definition, be statistically representative. I imagine what you mean is that they are randomly selected from a pool of aristoi (accountants, engineers or whatever). In this case sortition is merely to ensure that the final selection is impartial. Perhaps this is a quibble over words because it would be representative of the group of experts, but I think it’s better not to confuse the two distinct functions of sortition and to save the word “representative” for the popular assembly.

    I imagine that John Burnheim would also find this an acceptable compromise, I certainly think it’s sensible for recommendations to be made by people who know what they are talking about, with the right of censure being in the hands of the popular assembly. I fully agree that competence is an independent variable that can be assessed by objective methods (or at least intersubjective peer review, professional affiliation etc) and that it should be duly recognised as such.

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  23. Indeed, the expert bodies would be statistically representative only of the relevant, respective expert populations within the general population. You might also have a point regarding “saving the word ‘representative'” for the general body.

    Anyway, what this would mean is that if there’s anyone in the general population who wants to make a policy recommendation on a particular subject area, that person would go *not* to the general body, but to the relevant expert bodies.

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  24. Jacob,

    Such a scheme would give great political power to those who get to decide who is an expert. If I understand correctly, you are suggesting a process of co-optation (i.e., experts get to recruit new experts), similar to the existing arrangement. This is an anti-democratic procedure and, as always, is likely to lead to results that serve those in power rather than serving the general public.

    It is also obvious you were careful to avoid certain categories of experts that you distrust (e.g., business people, lawyers, military generals, economists, foreign relations “experts”). Your distrust of those “experts” is quite justified, but your trust of accountants, military instructors and mathematicians is not.

    Again, there is no problem with consulting with experts whenever their skills are deemed relevant, which may be often. Decision making power, however, must always be in the hands of a representative body if the system is to serve the public’s interests.

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  25. I’m not sure I’m following your line of thinking. Maybe you were referring to those experts belonging to professional associations? I’ve made a rant or two about modern-day guilds that form the basis of many professional associations, on the basis of artificial supply control and their ability to determine their own membership.

    In my arrangement above, none of the expert bodies should be the monopoly of a single professional association. I’m sure, for example, the finance bodies would have other related experts besides accountants.

    The “experts” I left out were left out on a class basis (i.e., businesspeople). Today’s mainline economists are more economically inept than business managers (I mentioned “those with experience in supply chain management” as an example), who manage on any other basis than neoclassical garbage. Also, unless expert bodies on law were to empower paralegals big time, I’m afraid they’d be the monopoly of… lawyers, and Mike Macnair wrote extensively elsewhere about the numerous problems with the justice system.

    The problem with your setup is that the general body could just consult the experts merely on a whim, and could make decisions without input from the experts. My “greater clout” compromise would force the general body to consider expert input.

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  26. Professional associations or not, monopoly status or not, I don’t see how this makes a material difference. Again, the existing arrangement grants no explicit special powers to, say, an economists’ association. Yet, economists form a power group that colludes with other power groups and promotes its own interests at the expense of the public.

    I think there is every reason to expect that other privileged groups, however humble in their current status, would quickly come to exploit their privileged position as well and promote their group interests at the expense of the public.

    As for the representative body consulting the experts on a whim – that whim is the public’s considered and informed opinion, and it therefore should, in a democratic system, determine public policy whether in accordance to or against “expert” opinion.

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  27. >As for the representative body consulting the experts on a whim – that whim is the public’s considered and informed opinion.

    Is this a definitional or evidential claim? I suppose you are entitled to define a whim as considered and informed opinion if you so choose, but it’s not much different from Shakespeare’s Petruchio claiming that the moon is the sun. If it’s an evidential claim, there’s no inherent reason to believe that an allotted body would choose to inform itself in a balanced way, would know where the relevant “expertise” was to be found, and that its consideration of the evidence would be impartial. But, of couse, that doesn’t matter because, hey, it’s democracy — or so you claim.

    Seriously Yoram, you’ve got yourself a big hole here; time to stop digging.

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  28. Yoram:

    “Yet, economists form a power group that colludes with other power groups and promotes its own interests at the expense of the public.”

    Regarding my political bias, in my proposal I forgot a few key expert occupations that should be considered.

    Labour expert body: *labour* economists, *labour* statisticians, *labour historians*, *labour* lawyers (preferrably labour paralegals instead of higher-up law practitioners), trade unionists (of course, the more policy substantive or radical, the better)

    How could you argue that whims without this combined expert opinion are “considered” and “informed”?

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  29. > Labour expert body: *labour* economists, *labour* statisticians, *labour historians*, *labour* lawyers (preferrably labour paralegals instead of higher-up law practitioners), trade unionists (of course, the more policy substantive or radical, the better)

    Again – who gets to decide who is a labour-economist/statistician/etc.? How would the natural process of power accumulation and its application for self serving purposes be prevented?

    > How could you argue that whims without this combined expert opinion are “considered” and “informed”?

    The decisions of the allotted body reflect, by design, the considered and informed opinion of the people. It is simply elitist dogma to refer to such decisions as whimsical and to assume – in the face of past experience – that the decisions of various “expert” bodies would serve the public’s interests better.

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  30. >The decisions of the allotted body reflect, by design, the considered and informed opinion of the people.

    Not so. Theoretical predictions and two decades of successful social science experiments have demonstrated that the judgment of an allotted body — given an externally-decided agenda, balanced information and advocacy — reflects the considered and informed opinion of the people. However there is no good reason (either theoretical or evidential) to assume that the speech acts of individual assembly members will be anything more than random whims. Being an eternal optimist, I’m still hoping that you will remove your head from the sand and address this fundamental point, rather than simply repeating an unsubstantiated opinion.

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  31. Yoram:

    “Again – who gets to decide who is a labour-economist/statistician/etc.?”

    That’s easy enough. The general body establishes degree requirements and probably job experience requirements, too.

    “How would the natural process of power accumulation and its application for self serving purposes be prevented?”

    The living standards of those in expert bodies should definitely be set by the general body or by a scrutinizing body, and set at the same levels as those of professional and other skilled workers, preferrably using the median. Your remarks on post-selection would apply, too, regarding methods of recallability: “popular” recall, removal by the scrutinizing body, removal by a *non-governmental* organ of the party the experts belong to, etc.

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  32. I doubt I can completely bridge the gap, but I see a procedure that blends all of your notions about conferring with experts. What if an allotted body was charged SOLELY with designing a good process for future allotted bodies to use. This group would certainly recommend some process for gathering the insights of “experts.” They could also define the rules for selecting among the multitude of self-declared, or certified experts (perhaps a lottery). They would decide whether a body of experts should write proposals, or merely comment of proposals from some other source, etc.

    Yoram’s key point is that SOEMBODY needs to decide who is an expert, and whether they should be consulted, and since this decision is fundamentally political (subject to self-promoting power concentration) this decision is better made by a genuinely representative body, than by self-appointed constitution writers. Yoram argues that an allotted body would probably WANT to help the allotted bodies make optimal decisions for society…The only difference between Yoram’s and my position, is I see a value in separating these allotted bodies temporally so that the same group of individuals is not both dividing the cookie and deciding who gets which piece.

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  33. What’s the essential difference between two groups of 300 (divided over time) and one group of 600?

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  34. The difference is fundamental. Compare

    “Shall I grant myself and colleagues I have gotten to know who are gathered in this assembly authority to kill people I don’t like who are not in this room?
    vs.
    “Shall I give a future random group I don’t know, authority to kill whomever they happen to dislike?”

    We are more careful when we are designing safeguards to prevent OTHER people from doing harm, or becoming corrupt, than when choosing safeguards to prevent OURSELVES from doing harm or becoming corrupt..

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  35. Jacob,

    > The general body establishes degree requirements and probably job experience requirements, too.

    So the “experts” get to make the decisions (or at least the exclusive ability to write proposals), but the representative body gets to decide who is an “expert”?

    I just can’t see how this is in any way better than having the representative body make the decisions, after having consulted with whomever they consider competent in the area. Do you think it makes more sense to decide once-and-for-all who to delegate authority to than to decide on a case-by-case basis what to do? What happens if the representative body thinks that the experts are not serving the public on a particular issue?

    (Also, degrees and job experience are credentials given by the establishment to those who serve the establishment. I would certainly not want to grant privileged status to those who have proven their loyalty to established power.)

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  36. Terry,

    Having multiple bodies with differentiated powers may have some advantages (and some disadvantages). But all bodies should be permanent bodies that can reconsider their decisions and adapt them according to circumstances. So while there can be institutional separation, there should not be temporal separation.

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  37. Sorry to be obtuse Terry, I just don’t understand your point. Legislators deal with general principles, it’s the judiciary that make the decision as to how laws are applied in individual cases.

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  38. >”Do you think it makes more sense to decide once-and-for-all who to delegate authority to than to decide on a case-by-case basis what to do?”
    Surely you’ve got to use both methods. You don’t want legislators deciding whether a candidate for a degree has satisfied the course requirements, or whether someone is competent to drive a motor car. You delegate these decisions on a more or less permanent basis.
    On the other hand you wouldn’t want to give permanent authority to, say, a Society of Railway Engineers to lay railway lines wherever and whenever they wanted, regardless of need or desirability.
    We seem to be a long way from the original topic of exclusion.
    I’d like to add that since we all make mistakes, we are all incompetent at some time or other. I have the impression that the most disastrous errors are committed by the most intelligent people. How then can you justify exclusion for incompetence?
    As for Keith’s IQ tests these are notoriously unreliable, hence unfair, when cultural differences come into play.

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  39. >As for Keith’s IQ tests these are notoriously unreliable, hence unfair, when cultural differences come into play.

    Fair point, all I wanted to do was ensure that allotted citizens could at least understand what was going o,n so the threshold would be very low. But if so then only a tiny number of people would be affected and the system is probably robust enough to cover the introduction of a bit of white noise. So I’m happy to drop that in the case of the legislature, but still insist that a) competence is the primary factor when selecting candidates for executive office and b) advocates should be drawn from those with a deep knowledge of the issues involved. Those who propose and oppose should be experts, those who decide should be ordinary citizens, exactly as in a court of law. This strikes me as a commonsense position.

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  40. Keith,
    I’ll try again…We don’t want the group making ultimate decisions to be tempted by corruption to also be able to tailor the rules of the game to increase their own power. We want a group that has an incentive to carefully restrain such corruption to write the rules… This means the group that designs the rules should be distinct from the group that has to follow them in making laws. I think both of these groups should be selected by lot.

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  41. Ah I see, you’ve moved the goalposts. The original thread questioned the need for expertise on a day-by-day basis rather than just designing the rules. What you are suggesting is a one-off group of people, who would set the rules, by assuming the figure of The Legislator. Rousseau pointed out the difficulties with this role (even for semi-divine figures like Moses or Lycurgus). Not sure what any of this has to do with the ongoing conflict between popular judgment and expertise.

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  42. sorry that was me (keith) on an alien computer

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  43. Yoram:

    “So the “experts” get to make the decisions (or at least the exclusive ability to write proposals), but the representative body gets to decide who is an “expert? I just can’t see how this is in any way better than having the representative body make the decisions, after having consulted with whomever they consider competent in the area.”

    My proposal maximizes both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the deliberation.

    “Do you think it makes more sense to decide once-and-for-all who to delegate authority to than to decide on a case-by-case basis what to do? What happens if the representative body thinks that the experts are not serving the public on a particular issue?”

    Obviously the Yay-or-Nay power of the general body would tilt in favour of the Nays, wouldn’t it? Assuming that there’s no abuse of political office here, the general body can still vote down any “strong proposals” made by the relevant expert bodies.

    “(Also, degrees and job experience are credentials given by the establishment to those who serve the establishment. I would certainly not want to grant privileged status to those who have proven their loyalty to established power.)”

    You should explain this some more. I get it regarding professional associations and self-“establishment,” but I don’t get it regarding establishment links to degrees and job experience.

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  44. > My proposal maximizes both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the deliberation.

    I don’t see why. It seems it simply restricts the powers of the representative body and grants power to unrepresentative bodies.

    > Assuming that there’s no abuse of political office here, the general body can still vote down any “strong proposals” made by the relevant expert bodies.

    Yes, it can veto proposals by the experts, but unless it can adopt its own proposals, the experts bodies will be the ones which will actually set policy. The representative body would be constrained to choosing between keeping the status quo, bad as it may be, or adopting the expert proposals.

    > I don’t get it regarding establishment links to degrees and job experience.

    I would think it is self-evident. Surely it is the established powers that decide who to give degrees to and who to hire.

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  45. >I don’t see why. It seems it simply restricts the powers of the representative body and grants power to unrepresentative bodies.

    Not so. The latter would be representative of those with expertise in the relevant domain.

    >Surely it is the established powers that decide who to give degrees to and who to hire.

    And what is wrong with that per se?

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  46. >”Not so. The latter would be representative of those with expertise in the relevant domain.”

    And thus not representative of the people as a whole.
    You can’t get away from the fact that a group composed entirely of one profession or metier will have interests that often run counter to those of the rest of us.

    >”The representative body would be constrained to choosing between keeping the status quo, bad as it may be, or adopting the expert proposals.”

    And would be prohibited from adopting a compromise or a modified version of the expert proposals?

    (Jacob, 12/08)
    >”By “greater clout,” then, I mean that only the expert bodies can make “recommendations,” and that the “recommendations” are approved unless the general body explicitly votes against the “recommendations” within a given time.”

    When I first read this I assumed that the word “only” had slipped either from “I mean only that . .” or from “the expert bodies can only make . . .” More fool me.

    Do you really mean that members of the allotted assembly would be constitutionally barred from making or modifying proposals?

    1 This could make it impossible to rectify a bad decision (made perhaps because the assembly was too busy with more urgent matters to consider a relatively minor issue within the time limit).

    2 It will almost certainly mean that laws will favour the interests of those in the “expert bodies”. There will be a strong tendency for allotted members to say “who are we to argue with the experts?”

    3 Your “expert body” is already unrepresentative. Suppose that within that expert body there is a small ginger group, a determined minority which makes use of circumstances (summer holidays, absence of the more respectable members at an academic conference, bribes, blackmail, a highly mediatised threat . . whatever) to push a radical proposal through the expert body. A little bit of propaganda in the popular media, and the assembly adopts it; or, without the noise in the media, lets it pass by default.
    You now have laws made by a handful of people who are not answerable in any way. They can’t be voted out, they don’t reach the end of their terms and get replaced. They are a technocratic aristocracy.

    I can’t see any place for experts (however selected) with powers greater than those of Josephine Citizen. To me, experts are like fire and tools with sharp edges. We need them, but we should be very wary of them, and always keep them in their place. “Good servants and bad masters”. (I don’t even trust political scientists.)

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  47. >You can’t get away from the fact that a group composed entirely of one profession or metier will have interests that often run counter to those of the rest of us.

    Totally agree, that’s why the final judgment must be in the hands of a group that is representative of the entire citizenry. Note: it’s Jacob, not me who is advocating special rights to expert groups for policy proposal. My preference is for policy proposal to be for government ministers and either elected politicians or some direct-democratic initiative. The role for expertise is in the expert witness/advocacy field, but I would endorse Jacob’s efforts to convince Yoram not to use scare quotes for the word expert (and will continue to argue that policy proposal is not part of the descriptively-democratic mandate).

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  48. Thanks, Campbell – I agree.

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  49. Looks like agreement is breaking out all over!

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  50. Experts are almost universally over-rated (look at the current financial crisis). As Yoram points out they also often have different interests than the population generally. Education experts think society should put more resources into education, Transportation experts think more should go to transportation, etc., etc. But even more importantly, experts tend to be relatively homogeneous groups, lacking the diversity (let alone representativeness) to even propose optimal policies. Entire areas of desirable policy will NEVER be considered, nor advanced by experts (with or without “scare quotes.”)

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  51. Just in case it is not clear: my point in putting “expert” in quotes is not to indicate that some experts are real experts and some are fake “experts”. The point is that expertise is a subjective trait. One person’s expert is another person’s dogmatic ideologue. Therefore whenever the term “expert” is used, we must consider who it is that assigns the label to a certain person or institution.

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  52. Subjective is too strong a word; plural would be more accurate. For example both Friends of the Earth and BNFL would both have claimed expertise in the area of nuclear energy (whereas most citizens don’t know the difference between fission and fusion). Both organisations had their own perspective and agenda and citizens might well choose to believe one or the other. The normal way of ensuring balanced information is to select experts with opposing views and let them argue their respective cases. When non-expert citizens select experts to advise them they usually just reinforce their own prejudices.

    Ensuring balanced information and advocacy is a tricky issue, but the adversarial approach would be better than leaving it to the whim of a small vocal subset of random individuals who happen to have had their names pulled out of a hat. In a criminal trial the prosecution and defence call their own expert witnesses, are you suggesting this should be a task for the jury?

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  53. >”The role for expertise is in the expert witness/advocacy field”
    >”Ensuring balanced information and advocacy is a tricky issue, but the adversarial approach would be better . . . In a criminal trial the prosecution and defence call their own expert witnesses, are you suggesting this should be a task for the jury?”

    Keith, a lot of your posts confuse me. This is an example. By using the terms of a court of law, you appear to suggest that all legislative decisions are of the “yes/no” “guilty/not guilty” dichotomous sort. Please deny this, I don’t want to spend a lot of time arguing against you on this point.

    “balanced information and advocacy” Can information be “balanced” (whatever that may mean) when it’s so often incomplete?
    “balanced advocacy” Is this not a contradiction in terms? Can there, indeed should there be such a thing? Or do you just mean “let everyone have his/her say?”

    (Note: All quotes in this post are of the soothing, non-scary, non-threatening sort.)

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  54. Campbell,
    Keith advocates very much a jury-like approve/veto role for an allotted body, of bills brought forward by another body, perhaps an elected one.

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  55. Yoram:

    “I don’t see why. It seems it simply restricts the powers of the representative body and grants power to unrepresentative bodies.”

    If we go back to the democratic reform trilemma re. equality, deliberation, and participation, the deliberation is made more effective and efficient. The larger representative body can only deliberate on so many items, anyway.

    “Yes, it can veto proposals by the experts, but unless it can adopt its own proposals, the experts bodies will be the ones which will actually set policy. The representative body would be constrained to choosing between keeping the status quo, bad as it may be, or adopting the expert proposals.”

    As it should really be, assuming no abuse of political office. Unless there are exorbitant pay and perks for those in the expert bodies – which I vehemently oppose – this is the only real incentive for those who actually do their public policy homework.

    “I would think it is self-evident. Surely it is the established powers that decide who to give degrees to and who to hire.”

    Giving degrees is a formality. The curriculum discussions tend not to be the monopoly of professional associations or what not. I still don’t see the link.

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  56. Campbell:

    “And thus not representative of the people as a whole.”

    Stratified sampling isn’t a bad thing.

    “You can’t get away from the fact that a group composed entirely of one profession or metier will have interests that often run counter to those of the rest of us.”

    I just said above that no expert body would be dominated by one profession.

    “And would be prohibited from adopting a compromise or a modified version of the expert proposals?”

    Not necessarily. If the expert body decides to re-think things over and submit a modified policy proposal, then that’s their prerogative. The general body can and should do line-item vetoes. The point is that the public policy proposal ball should be in the experts’ court, not in the general body’s court.

    “Do you really mean that members of the allotted assembly would be constitutionally barred from making or modifying proposals?”

    The assembly itself should not be responsible for this. Individual members can attend expert body meetings and float things around while the expert body brainstorms the relevant public policy proposals.

    The assembly itself, as I said just now, can and should do line-item vetoes. To hell with omnibus bills, but again it is the expert body that should be tasked with modifying the line items vetoed.

    “This could make it impossible to rectify a bad decision (made perhaps because the assembly was too busy with more urgent matters to consider a relatively minor issue within the time limit).”

    That only strengthens the case for a monopoly on public policy proposals by expert bodies.

    “There will be a strong tendency for allotted members to say ‘who are we to argue with the experts?'”

    When it comes to the line items that count, that isn’t a bad thing.

    “Your “expert body” is already unrepresentative. Suppose that within that expert body there is a small ginger group, a determined minority which makes use of circumstances (summer holidays, absence of the more respectable members at an academic conference, bribes, blackmail, a highly mediatised threat . . whatever) to push a radical proposal through the expert body. A little bit of propaganda in the popular media, and the assembly adopts it; or, without the noise in the media, lets it pass by default.”

    Um, the expert body members themselves are randomly selected. If there’s sufficient turnover, then one would be hard-pressed to form the small ginger group. Besides, one’s radical proposal is another’s substantive proposal (as opposed to a hollow one).

    Consider again an example of mine from above, the labour expert body consisting of: *labour* economists, *labour* statisticians, *labour historians*, *labour* lawyers (preferrably labour paralegals instead of higher-up law practitioners), trade unionists (of course, the more policy substantive or radical, the better).

    “You now have laws made by a handful of people who are not answerable in any way. They can’t be voted out, they don’t reach the end of their terms and get replaced. They are a technocratic aristocracy.”

    Sure they can be voted out, if they abuse political office. The general body should be able to yank them out. Popular recall should be able to yank them out. The political parties they belong to should be able to yank them out.

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  57. Keith:

    “My preference is for policy proposal to be for government ministers and either elected politicians or some direct-democratic initiative.”

    Why not up this? The expert bodies I write of could perhaps actually be randomly selected collegia topping up government ministries themselves!

    Yoram:

    “Just in case it is not clear: my point in putting “expert” in quotes is not to indicate that some experts are real experts and some are fake “experts”. The point is that expertise is a subjective trait. One person’s expert is another person’s dogmatic ideologue. Therefore whenever the term “expert” is used, we must consider who it is that assigns the label to a certain person or institution.”

    Well, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that most of today’s media “pundits” would be disqualified from serving in any of the expert bodies unless they had formalized education in the relevant non-journalistic fields.

    The “dogmatic ideologues” amongst the *labour* economists, *labour* statisticians, *labour historians*, *labour* lawyers (preferrably labour paralegals instead of higher-up law practitioners), etc. should be welcomed!

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  58. Campbell

    Thanks to Terry for explaining my position. Yes I do hold that the final decision that converts a legislative bill into an Act of Parliament (or the congressional equivalent) is an up/down one: that’s why there are only two lobbies — yea ad nay. Of course this glosses over the work of standing committees and other forms of detailed line-for-line scrutiny, but in the end it all boils down to votes and this is a simple binary operation. By all means argue that this is not the case, though I think the MPs being herded through the lobbies would disagree.

    The relevant distinctions are between 1) proposing legislation 2) arguing for and against (advocacy) and 3) the final decision. I’ve dealt with (3) so let’s look at the first two:

    1. Proposing Legislation
    This has traditionally been the province of government ministers (see, for example, Rousseau’s and Mill’s constitutional proposals), and this was the model for my first book, The Party’s Over. However this was heavily criticised as being undemocratic, so in the follow-on, A People’s Parliament, I suggested that the political party that wins the most votes in an election should be entitled to convert its manifesto pledges into legislative bills. Since then, I’ve been persuaded by debates on this forum that direct-democratic initiative might be a better way of agenda setting. The prime conceptual point, though, is that this could never be the province of an allotted body as it does not fall within the remit of the statistical representation mandate (I could explain why, but I’ve done so many times before on this forum).

    2. Arguing For and Against
    Advocacy is the area in which expertise in the subject area of the bill under consideration is essential. If the decision (3) is to be made by a randomly-selected group of lay people then they need to be informed in a balanced manner by advocates for and against (exactly as with a trial jury). The pro advocates would be selected by the relevant government department or the political party (or lobby group) proposing the bill. Opposition advocacy is less straightforward, my tentative proposal being an independent House of Advocates (to replace the House of Lords/Senate) which would be created by a sortition from the myriad professional and expert interest associations in the country, so it would continue to be drawn from the Great and the Good — i.e. “experts” (this would include, for example both the TUC and the CBI). Note that I’m not seeking to make any kind of distinction between “information” and “advocacy” as I don’t think this is, in practice, possible. When an advocate presents information it will always be in defence of interests, hence the quest for balance between advocates. This is a quixotic undertaking, but that’s no reason for not trying, as there really is no god’s-eye view. Of course all this presupposes that interests are heterogeneous and cannot be divided into the crude cod-Marxist categories “elite” and “the masses”.

    As for your claim that balanced advocacy is an oxymoron, the balance in question is a dialectical one created by opposing advocacy groups. Nobody is suggesting that any single advocacy group is capable of impartiality or balance. If the allotted chamber selected its own experts there is no reason to assume that the resulting information would be balanced or impartial.

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  59. Jacob:

    I really like your suggestion of randomly-selected expert collegia to top up government ministries. Paul Judge makes a similar proposal in his book, The End of the Party. I would take it even further and suggest that such a council become the main driving force for policy generation, rather than just the top-up of a political body. The stratum for the sortition would need to be wide enough to avoid groupthink, but narrow enough to ensure genuine expertise. Note that this is a matter for the executive, not the legislature (although members of the collegia would likely become government advocates — “expert witnesses” — while a bill is being considered by parliament). Anyway a terrific suggestion, and a good example of the valid use of stratified sampling. Designing the inclusion criteria would be difficult, but not beyond the wit of humankind. If there’s any interest I’ll extract the relevant section of Paul’s book and post it here.

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  60. There is clearly a role for experts in drafting legislation. One type of expertise is simply the legal drafting skills, which resides in the professional staff of the legislature (whether elected or allotted). The other type of expertise is presumably based on factual, analytical and policy knowledge. Yoram suggests the allotted body members would use common sense to reach out to experts for advice. Keith is concerned that they would tend not to seek countervailing or balanced advice. We also have the challenge of deciding what issues warrant drafting legislation at all (since there are an infinite number of possible issues and bills that might be “good.”)

    I have submitted a paper to the Journal of Public Deliberation proposing a method of sortition to handle all of these unique tasks using separate, optimally constituted allotted bodies. I’ll let you all know when it gets published, but in a nutshell, Why not have an allotted Agenda Council that can consult with all kinds of experts to decide what topics warrant drafting legislation. Then a call goes out allowing ANYONE who wishes to volunteer to serve on an interest panel to draft a bill. There could be dozens of such competing panels. These panels would probably include many “experts” but not exclusively. Presumably those with the most direct interest would dominate, resulting in biased bills, favoring those who participated in the Interest Panels. So we then need a a more representative Review Council (chosen by lot among the willing) that specializes in one particular policy area (to gain a measure of expertise) to select the best bill, or meld pieces of different bills into a final proposal. I then suggest a fully representative Policy Jury (chosen by lot for a short duration “trial”), similar to Keith’s concept, to hear balanced pro and con presentations for the final bill — voting it up or down. There are no exclusions at any stage, but experts will tend to dominate the drafting stage, and a fully representative body will make all ultimate decisions.

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  61. Terry,

    Sounds like an elite-dominated process to me, if only because of it is complicated enough to allow people with experience in the process to exert undue influence.

    But be that as it may, my main objection is that a design such as this is too detailed to be made a-priori. Democratic government cannot be constrained by a fixed design, since fixing a design would mean that the public’s will is subordinated to some non-representative power. The details of the decision-making process should be set, on an ongoing basis rather than once and for all, by a representative body.

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  62. Terry, I’m genuinely puzzled as to why you want sortition to be the only show in town. I appreciate that electoral politics in the USA is pretty ugly, but it’s not quite so bad in other countries. I’d like to think that us theorists have demonstrated that sortition is good at some things, less good at others, yet you still want to resort to Byzantine complexity to make it do everything. And even if the political theorists are wrong, I think there is zero probability that anyone outside the sortition community would seriously consider a sortition-only proposal. So unless you want, like Barbara Goodwin, to author utopian fantasies I would have thought that pragmatic considerations should make you lean towards a mixed solution.

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  63. >”Keith advocates very much a jury-like approve/veto role for an allotted body, of bills brought forward by another body, perhaps an elected one.”

    >”in the end it all boils down to votes and this is a simple binary operation.”
    (“Binary” was the word I was looking for. Thank you.)
    In the end, yes, a proposal will be adopted or rejected. But what of the important functions of
    debate:
    Asking questions of the proposers about the intention and possible effects of the proposal.
    Asking questions of other experts who might have valid opinions or knowledge.
    Suggesting modifications.
    Making known regional, ethnic, cultural concerns. (Saving whales is a good idea, but what of the Inuit who rely on them for food? )
    Expressing views in line with one’s own personal interest. (After all, the allotted body is representative, so its members have a duty to speak as their own interest directs.)
    All of this yabber-yabber should be done in public in the allotted assembly, not in some cosy and obscure gentlemen’s club of like-minded individuals. The idea of three readings customary in the “fused” British system has its merits, too.

    >”this could never be the province of an allotted body as it does not fall within the remit of the statistical representation mandate (I could explain why, but I’ve done so many times before on this forum)”
    I doubt if I’ll agree, but could you post a link to the most clearly-expressed explanation?

    >”they need to be informed in a balanced manner by advocates for and against (exactly as with a trial jury). ”
    In a trial, a judge can decide that some evidence is not acceptable, and jurors are supposed to be isolated from the noise in the media, or at least disregard it. Do you intend to put blinkers on the members of the allotted body for the length of their terms?

    >”As for your claim that balanced advocacy is an oxymoron, the balance in question is a dialectical one created by opposing advocacy groups.”
    Aiiee! You trod on a corn there. I use the word oxymoron in a much more pedantic fashion.

    >”an independent House of Advocates (to replace the House of Lords/Senate) which would be created by a sortition from the myriad professional and expert interest associations in the country, so it would continue to be drawn from the Great and the Good”

    So those who, like me, are neither Great nor Good, will have no advocate. Call me a cod-Marxist if you will but what you are proposing is an elite.

    It seems you are making a mountain out of a molehill with this whole business of advocacy. I have almost never in my life made a proposal which did not meet with some opposition. You have supplied some of that, thank you. Similarly, your own proposals here have met with a certain amount of opposition. Why then do you think an allotted assembly of several hundred will be incapable of producing a few cantankerous individuals who will criticise, question, demand proofs or evidence, seek to amend anything that is put before them? And once a few of them start picking holes in proposals, they’ll all be at it. Moreover (if we can have an assembly without blinkers) the media, lobbies, and the public generally could write to members to put their views. Why do you need propose an advocacy body, unless you mean to filter the information reaching the allotted members?

    Jacob
    >”Stratified sampling isn’t a bad thing.”

    If we are talking about who can propose legislation, I beg to differ. It seems to me that you have replaced the old aristocracies of birth, land-ownership or wealth with a new one based on diplomas.
    I fail to see the necessity for “stratified sampling”. I completely agree with Yoram when he says:
    >”If there is widespread perception in the population that certain decisions require expertise, then this perception would be widespread among the allotted body in charge of those decisions. The allotted delegates would then solicit and follow the advice of those whom they consider most qualified. . . There is really nothing to gain here and everything to lose.”
    I could add that if there’s no widespread perception that a particular decision requires expertise, then the experts will undoubtedly let the world know that they perceive there is that need.
    Your elite body will act to preserve its prerogatives, not necessarily from any sinister motives, but simply because the members will see the value of their own knowledge, and not that of other people.
    Stratified sampling applied, for instance, in the US in the 1960’s would have produced bodies overwhelmingly dominated by relatively wealthy white anglo-saxon male protestants, most of whom would have seen no reason to change the social conditions which produced that domination. Admittedly, an allotted assembly might have done much to alleviate this, but you seem to want to handicap the allotted body as much as possible.

    >”no expert body would be dominated by one profession.”
    1 How can you guarantee that under all circumstances? And if I replace “profession” with “confession”, what then?
    2 If it is not dominated by one profession, when a question arises which concerns principally one profession, what is the advantage?
    If in today’s agenda there is the question of whether a new drug should be listed as a dangerous drug, how is your expert body carefully chosen to comprise engineers, architects, economics professors, entomologists, airline pilots, speech therapists, geologists, metallurgists, agronomists, etc etc etc better qualified to propose or modify this legislation than an allotted body which is free to consult pharmacologists and medical specialists as appropriate?

    >”The assembly itself, as I said just now, can and should do line-item vetoes. To hell with omnibus bills, but again it is the expert body that should be tasked with modifying the line items vetoed.”
    Excuse my ignorance, but:
    line-item?
    omnibus bill?

    >”the expert body members themselves are randomly selected. If there’s sufficient turnover, then one would be hard-pressed to form the small ginger group.”

    This strikes me as naive. The ginger group could form from any religious affiliation within the expert group. Any measure dealing with subjects like abortion, science education, sexual mores could set them off.

    @ both Jacob and Keith.
    One of the things in most urgent need of reform pretty much everywhere in the world is the prison system and punishment of crime generally. Convicted criminals should have a voice in this; after all, they are the only ones who have felt the effects of the current systems. Would your expert bodies have ex-convicts? Are some of the Great and the Good drawn from the “dregs of society?” Or will you be satisfied with those criminals who have not yet been caught?

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  64. That’s a lot of questions Campbell, I’ll try to be succinct. My proposal is loosely modelled around the Deliberative Poll and Fishkin argues a strong case for allotted members to formulate questions in small groups and then put them to the experts in the plenary session. This could be extended to suggesting modifications but I’m concerned by your wish to encourage allotted members to pursue their own interests. The trouble is that some will be better advocates of their interests than others, more persuasive, charismatic, of higher perceived status etc. this will introduce substantial inequalities so that in the end the allotted body will cease to accurately reflect the considered view of the whole citizenry. This is the reason that I argue the statistical mandate should not extend beyond the judgment role; here’s the most relevant post:

    https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/what-sortition-can-and-cannot-do/

    The role of the allotted group is not just to decide guilt or innocence on the basis of the evidence ruled admissible by the judge, it is to reflect the considered judgment of the whole citizenry, so members would be encouraged to remain in touch with the debate in the media and general public, the principal challenge here being to break up media monopolies (that means the BBC as well as NI).

    I agree that the House of Advocates would be an elite body; however they have no voting power, and can only persuade. I’m of the opinion that advocates should know what they are talking about, but that judgment should be in the hands of a representative lay body. Jacob has made an excellent proposal as to how sortition could be used to create a House of Advocates that would be representative of expert opinion. I agree with you that such a House would not, and should not, have a monopoly of influence in the allotted chamber and that cantankerous individuals along with the media, lobbies and the general public will all seek to influence the final decision. This is fine with me, although I’m wary of privileging the influence of the cantankerous over the silent majority.

    I agree that prison reform is an important case, and it’s interesting that reformed criminals tend to be more tough minded on penal policy than media liberals. If reformed criminals chose to form a lobby group, then I’m sure they would gain entry to the House, but less likely if they were still active members of the Cosa Nostra. So goodness, not greatness, would be the relevant criterion in this case.

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  65. Hi Keith:

    “I really like your suggestion of randomly-selected expert collegia to top up government ministries. Paul Judge makes a similar proposal in his book, The End of the Party. I would take it even further and suggest that such a council become the main driving force for policy generation, rather than just the top-up of a political body. The stratum for the sortition would need to be wide enough to avoid groupthink, but narrow enough to ensure genuine expertise. Note that this is a matter for the executive, not the legislature (although members of the collegia would likely become government advocates — “expert witnesses” — while a bill is being considered by parliament). Anyway a terrific suggestion, and a good example of the valid use of stratified sampling. Designing the inclusion criteria would be difficult, but not beyond the wit of humankind. If there’s any interest I’ll extract the relevant section of Paul’s book and post it here.”

    Thanks for backing me up somewhat on stratified sampling, but you of all people should know that this suggestion of mine is merely a combination of historical precedents. For a time, the early collegia in Soviet ministries played a key role in policy formation, until later Soviet law boosted the powers of the individual ministers themselves (appointing the individual members of the collegia).

    I look forward to the citation, since the book isn’t available for Preview on Google Books.

    As for executive vs. “top up of a political body,” I’m not sure on the semantics. Since the collegia would be filtered by the ruling party anyway, why not simply make these collegia double up as corresponding committees in the ruling party (assuming it has, of course, sufficient mass)?

    Postscript:

    “I suggested that the political party that wins the most votes in an election should be entitled to convert its manifesto pledges into legislative bills.”

    FYI, I’ve been debating with Yoram by e-mail about party structures similar to what has been discussed here, in terms of qualifications for proposing manifesto/program/platform pledges/planks/demands.

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  66. Hey guys, would it be possible for me to submit a guest blog on “aristoi” with regards to my postscript soon? Yoram persuaded me to do this on this blog, despite its “soft-left” political leanings.

    Actually, I already have the text ready, just not the account administrative privileges to guest-blog or whatever.

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  67. Keith,
    Thanks for the quick reply. I had read your article before, I think when you took me to task for proposing to (initially) choose an agenda committee (or cabinet) by lot.
    I see three justifications for sortitiion.
    1 The representative, which we all agree on.
    2 The rotation one, when rotation can be achieved.
    3 The “fairness” one. Who will fight Hector? The man whose pebble is first out of the helmet when it is shaken.
    So when you speak of the “statistical representation mandate”, I do not accept that statistical representation is the only possible justification for sortition.
    When you say in that article:
    >”Anything other than aggregate behaviour by a descriptively-representative chamber is in breach of its democratic mandate.”
    and you imply that only binary decisions constitute aggregate behaviour, I think you and Pitkin are missing something. An article on the “Wisdom of the Crowd” in I think Scientific American a few years ago, quotes experimental evidence that an unskilled crowd is usually better than expert individuals at things like estimating the weight of a steer, or the number of marbles in a glass urn. So it’s reasonable to suppose that a budget might be established in the following way: The head serang of the Treasury presents to the assembly a note saying “Last year’s expenditure was X tokens, the breakdown is shown in Column 1. Last years income was Y tokens. This year’s income, with no changes to tax policy, is expected to be Z tokens. Please insert in column 2 the amount you wish to be spent on each item there. If you wish to add items, please use the space at the bottom.” The average for each item would then be calculated, (so far we are surely still in the realm of aggregate behaviour) and could be debated further, or voted upon.

    You say again:
    >”But as soon as the representative rises to her feet to speak, she can only give a particular view and immediately ceases to represent her constituents descriptively as only those constituents sharing that particular view would be represented.”
    If the assembly can be considered perfectly representative, and all the members get up on their hind legs to have their say, then the population as a whole will have said its piece.

    You quote Pitkin:
    >>”Is he really literally to deliberate as if he were several hundred thousand people? To bargain that way? To speak that way? And if not that way, then how?”
    The only reasonable answer is for the member to deliberate and vote in favour of his or her own particular interest, as s/he perceives it at the time, and let statistics take care of it.

    >”reformed criminals tend to be more tough minded on penal policy than media liberals.”
    I didn’t stipulate that they should be “reformed”. And it’s not always easy to tell!

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  68. Jacob,

    > Hey guys, would it be possible for me to submit a guest blog on “aristoi” with regards to my postscript soon? Yoram persuaded me to do this on this blog, despite its “soft-left” political leanings.

    I sent you an invitation to become a contributor to the blog. This should allow you to submit articles.

    As for the leanings of this blog: If by “hard-left” you mean Marxist, then it is true that you seem to be the only one here who self-identifies this way. I am not sure however that “soft-left” is an accurate description. There are indeed some here that could be fairly described as non-Marxist left, but there have been comments on this blog that I would identify as “hard-right”, and there are frequent comments which I consider as “soft-right”.

    The real commitment of this blog, as far as I am concerned, is to political equality (and in my opinion, BTW, much of what is offered here does not even meet this criterion).

    Like

  69. Regarding the terms soft-left, hard-left, hard-right etc, the reason that I use the term cod-Marxist to describe the prevailing view on this blog is on account of the tendency to carve up the citizen body into two homogeneous groups, the elite and the masses. The assumption is that these two groups have their own distinct interests and that preference elections favour the interests of the former — parliament being nothing but a committee to manage the common affairs of the bourgeoisie. According to this view sortition is the latest attempt to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. Hansen (2005) has argued that this is based on a deliberate misunderstanding of Athenian democracy, derived from Plato and Aristotle and promulgated by Marxist historians. Although Yoram (for example) claims to be only interested in political equality, most of his postings focus on (economic) interests, hence my frequent breach of the Stone Interdict, whereby it’s OK to smear people as right-wing but not to use the M word.

    My insistence that the descriptive representation mandate only applies in aggregate is because I reject the cod-Marxist view that the masses all have common, if not identical, interests. An active role for individual members of an allotted assembly presupposes common interests so that it matters little which proletarian rises to her feet to speak. I reject this archaic sociology and argue that modern multicultural societies are so diverse, and interests so widely distributed, that the statistical mandate only applies at the aggregate level, not at the level of the speech acts of individuals. The unwillingness to accept this argument on this forum makes me think that the cod-Marxist epithet is applicable to most of the actively-posting membership.

    Campbell and Jacob, I need to ponder your responses a little before replying — gotta go to work now as I don’t get to exploit the proletarians in my employ on Sundays, so have to get my own delicate little hands dirty.

    Like

  70. <"so have to get my own delicate little hands dirty."
    Serves you right, you elitist aristo!
    I've got to fix a roof, which puts me into the upper classes, I suppose.

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  71. Campbell, I agree with you that there are many functions of the lot, you list three; Yves Sintomer has expanded that to five. Modern proposals for sortition (the political use of the lot) tend to focus on either the non-discursive benefit (3 in your scheme) or the descriptive representation benefit as it’s pretty clear that rotation cannot have much of a role in large modern states. The article that you refer to would have been on Surowiecki’s book, which he opens by referring to Galton’s experiment with estimating the weight of a dressed carcass at an agricultural fair. As you righly point out this deals with the epistemic argument for diverse judgment (rather than the normative argument for equality) and sortition can achieve this, but it is still at the aggregate level. The thought experiment that you suggest is at the aggregate level; whether or not it works in terms of practical politics I’m not in a position to judge — if it would work then it would certainly be a valid use of sortition.

    Regarding Pitkin’s argument, the problem is that some people are more vocal and opinionated than others, some more persuasive and some of a perceived higher status. This would mean that the silent majority would continue in that status as the proceedings would be dominated by loudmouths (rather than their [silent] representatives). It would be hard to claim that this was a form of democratic equality via statistical representation.

    And yes I do make the commonsense claim that unreformed criminals should not be given privileged advocacy rights. I think you might recruit the likes of Foucault to support your view but that most people would take the commonsense law-abiding-citizen approach (especially in a sortive democracy). Most citizens would also distance themselves from Yoram’s use of scare quotes in respect to private property, even though burglars and shoplifters might well agree with him (and Proudhon).

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  72. I’m guilty of double exploitation, I steal the surplus ot the alienated labour of my wage-slaves and then use the free market to beat down the price of the thatcher who’s currently fixing my roof. So, come the revolution, I’m in deep shit.

    (Actually I only got one quote for fixing my roof as I like the guy. I bet the roof of your ancestral pile is higher than my humble farm-worker’s cottage.)

    Like

  73. OK, any admin help here for guest-blogging would be appreciated. I registered, but only for WordPress and not for a blog site of my own. My interface doesn’t allow me to submit anything to this site.

    Like

  74. Keith,
    I should have imagined that my being a petit-rentier sets me above all suspicion of being a Marxist, cod- or otherwise. However, if you make an elite, (which you admitted) then the elite must have an interest different from the non-elite: they have an advantage, which is their greater power, so it will be in their interest to maintain that advantage, and this can only be to the detriment of the others.
    Note that this argument makes no use of the words “class”, “capital”, “bourgeoisie”, or “masses”, so it can’t possibly be Marxist, can it?

    >”the problem is that some people are more vocal and opinionated than others, some more persuasive and some of a perceived higher status. This would mean that the silent majority would continue in that status as the proceedings would be dominated by loudmouths (rather than their [silent] representatives). It would be hard to claim that this was a form of democratic equality via statistical representation.”

    It would be harder still to claim that the elite in Jacob’s and your expert bodies somehow represent the shy, self-effacing, timid persons that they have confidently but perhaps unconsciously trampled on in their glorious progress to distinguished positions at the head of their professions.
    This is actually a strong argument against expert bodies.

    The differences you mention are part of the human condition which no political system can alter, though education might help. All you can hope for is to give an equal opportunity to everyone to put their views forward (through statisical representatives in this world of huge populations).

    >”I bet the roof of your ancestral pile is higher than my humble farm-worker’s cottage.”
    I’m not going to be drawn into an inverted keeping up with the Jones’ contest, but the (low) roof of my humble ex-farm-worker’s cottage covers the pile of someone else’s ancestors.

    Like

  75. Campbell,

    > Note that this argument makes no use of the words “class”, “capital”, “bourgeoisie”, or “masses”, so it can’t possibly be Marxist, can it?

    No, no. You said “elite” so that makes you crypto-Marxist as far as Keith is concerned.

    > It would be harder still to claim that the elite in Jacob’s and your expert bodies somehow represent the shy, self-effacing, timid persons that they have confidently but perhaps unconsciously trampled on in their glorious progress to distinguished positions at the head of their professions.

    A good point that I made to Keith many times before, to no effect. See for example here and here.

    Like

  76. Campbell

    The main problem is the use of the word elite in the singular (and the corresponding homogeneous entity, “the masses”); it’s been suggested many times on the forum that this represents two distinct interest groups. This is the antiquated sociological perspective that I refer to as cod-Marxist (or, sometimes, Machiavellian), but it is of little relevance to modern, multicultural states in which power and interests are more difficult to carve up in this simple binary fashion. Although the language of this forum does not suggest simple economic determinism, nevertheless the use of scare quotes around concepts like “their property” indicate that little has changed since Proudhon and his intellectual descendants.

    Let me repeat again that the suggestion for elite-driven policy generation is from Jacob [the only self-professed Marxist on the forum], not myself. My proposal has always been that policy proposals should come from a) government departments and b) elective or direct democratic popular initiatives. In the context of (a) I merely agreed with Jacob that ministers should have advisory councils recruited by sortition from the relevant stratum — i.e. the civil society groups which focus on the departmental business. This would certainly mean policy proposals originating from people who know what they are talking about, but the final judgment would still be in the hands of the randomly-selected lay body. Context (b) is self-explanatory and would normally be seen as democratic, but if policy generation were to be (c) in the hands of the randomly-selected citizen body then this would neither be descriptively representative (due to the breach of the aggregate statistical mandate) nor well-informed (as it would depend purely on the whims of the few charismatic loudmouths who dominated the assembly). This would not give an equal opportunity to all to put their views forward, due to the lack of a mechanism to ensure parity of speech acts.

    I’m puzzled as to why any intelligent person would continue to pursue this argument, and the most plausible explanation that I can come up with is that they are driven by some kind of archaic ideology that overrides both analytic reasoning and modern sociological analysis. In Terry’s case, though, I think the reason is that he’s been seriously wounded by his own time in the stinking entrails of US elective politics, but I think this is leading him to throw out the baby with the bathwater. What’s your reason — the long tail of the Highland clearances?

    Like

  77. Keith,
    >”The main problem is the use of the word elite in the singular (and the corresponding homogeneous entity, “the masses”); it’s been suggested many times on the forum that this represents two distinct interest groups. This is the antiquated sociological perspective that I refer to as cod-Marxist (or, sometimes, Machiavellian), but it is of little relevance to modern, multicultural states . . .”

    If you take a set with heterogeneous members, and select out of that set those members having a particular quality (diplomas or long toenails or whatever) you are left with two sets which are qualitatively different. This is neither Machiavellianism nor Marxism, it’s mathematics. Those that you have chosen are the “elite” by definition: that’s what the word means (from Fr élire, ultimately from Gk elego, both meaning “choose”) As for the difference of interest, even in the silly example I gave, one might imagine one group would be more likely than the other to oppose a tax on toenail length. Any other criterion you use to select them will likewise produce a difference of interest, regardless of the complexity of modern states.

    I have to leave off here. I’ll be back later.

    Like

  78. Campbell

    Agreed and, as you demonstrate, there are many different elites (those with diplomas, long toenails . . .) each which will have different interests. The problem is the assumption that all members of “the masses” (who would predominate in an unstratified sortition) have the same interests (and equally powerful speech acts) so that it makes no difference which identical proletarian rises to her feet to speak and which remain silent. Yoram stated some time ago that it’s obvious that a sortive legislature would vote in favour of a universal tax-funded healthcare system and that the only obstacle was the rich and powerful lobby of the evil insurance industry. Well maybe, but many citizens (excluding, of course, Danny Boyle) from the glorious land of the NHS look enviously at the compulsory health-insurance scheme of continental Europe, with it’s clean hospitals and non-existent waiting lists. Interests and attitudes are very diverse throughout the whole of society and it’s vital that the system whereby legislative proposals are made reflects that diversity proportionately. This would not be the case if the sortive assembly had active functions, for the reasons that I have given ad nauseam.

    Going back to the problem of elites, one thing we ALL agree on is that deciding legislative outcomes should be in the hands of a non-stratified sample. Regarding the introduction of legislation, the health minister may well be persuaded by elite chiropodists to provide tax breaks for long toenails, but the decision as to whether to turn that into law should be in the hands of the lay body.

    Hope you don’t fall off the roof while you’re fixing it — but if it’s only a humble crofter’s cottage it can’t be a long drop.

    Like

  79. Keith,

    One clarification… when you say “non-stratified” above, you mean not selected so as to favor a particular group (dare I say elites?). I WOULD support what is called “scientific stratified sampling” to correct for potential under-representation of various demographic groups (whether that be poor single mothers, or small business owners who can’t take the time away from essential life tasks.)

    Terry

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  80. As Terry points out the term “stratified sampling” is being somewhat misused here (I think this misuse was introduced by Jacob). “Stratified sampling” as used in the statistical literature does not imply a bias in favor of any group. It is, rather, a way to reduce statistical variation without changing the expected representation of any group.

    The expression that may be appropriate for is “sampling from a subpopulation” of (more vaguely) “weighted sampling”.

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  81. Keith, you write:

    > Yoram stated some time ago that it’s obvious that a sortive legislature would vote in favour of a universal tax-funded healthcare system and that the only obstacle was the rich and powerful lobby of the evil insurance industry.

    You again make assertions without an attempt to substantiate them. I am pretty sure I never made such a statement. I don’t think I ever make any definite predictions about what an allotted chamber would or would not do. I think that while one can speculate about this matter, definite predictions are impossible.

    As always, please substantiate or retract.

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  82. Agree with Terry and Yoram regarding the correct use of the term “stratified sampling” — “sampling from a subpopulation” would be a better term for Jacob’s proposal. I think it’s also fair to say that the purpose of the sortition is entirely different in each case: in the former it is to correct underrepresentation of any factors deemed to be salient, in the latter it is to ensure that the selection process is not polluted by reasons. The former is a positive use of sortition (descriptive representation), the latter negative. It would be possible for the sampling of a subpopulation to also be stratified if, for example, it was felt that the representation of a particular civil society group was crucial. This would then be a mixture of the negative and positive functions in a single sortition.

    Yoram, I’ve done a search on Equality by Lot and cannot find the offending post. Perhaps it was in our earlier email exchange, perhaps it was on another forum (Open Democracy) or perhaps I have “misremembered”. In the absence of substantiation I retract, although I note your objection is over whether or not such a predicted outcome would be definite or merely probable.

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  83. Keith,
    Highland clearances: didn’t that take place in Sutherland?

    More on scare quotes:
    These little “rabbit’s ears” are harmless, but beware of the fierce !!SCARE QUOTES!!.

    “My hair’s a mess and my dwess is wuined, I look like a scare quote”

    Scare quotes have their uses, however. For instance if your wife wants to get the house painted in fuchsia with pale turquoise doors and windows, your best defence might be to get a couple of scare quotes from the painters.

    I’m still busy working on my overhead. Back later.

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  84. Thanks for the tip. Actually she did decide to paint the house in fuchsia (OK, more like terracota pink), and a woman in the village (who’s cottage really is fuchsia pink) reported us to the conservation officer, so we had to get retrospective planning permission. And it had to be done in tinted limewash (which requires seven coats) and the quotes were pretty scary. The correct way to tint limewash fuchsia is to add pig’s blood, but my wife is a strict vegetarian.

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  85. Keith,
    >”if policy generation were to be (c) in the hands of the randomly-selected citizen body then this would neither be descriptively representative (due to the breach of the aggregate statistical mandate) nor well-informed (as it would depend purely on the whims of the few charismatic loudmouths who dominated the assembly). This would not give an equal opportunity to all to put their views forward, due to the lack of a mechanism to ensure parity of speech acts.”

    I don’t see that your mechanism prevents policy generation by “charismatic loudmouths”. True, you have muzzled those within the assembly, but the expert bodies will be subject to pressure from popular opinion driven by the media, just as judges and magistrates are.
    In Pakistan at the moment there is a huge fuss about a mentally handicapped child of a Christian family who is accused of blasphemy for holding a bag containing burnt pages of the Coran. Would your experts be without fear or favour in the face of this sort of hysteria?

    >”My proposal has always been that policy proposals should come from a) government departments and b) elective or direct democratic popular initiatives.”

    If “direct democratic popular initiative” is a pompous way of saying that anyone in the general public can put up a proposal, then hooray, but why should the allotted representatives be the only exceptions?

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  86. Yoram, I’m sure I’m not misusing the term at all. I used process of elimination when using it:

    It’s not quota sampling, since it’s not a probability sampling method.

    Cluster sampling is closer, but I don’t think this is the one. Wiki: “the cluster is treated as the sampling unit so analysis is done on a population of clusters (at least in the first stage) […] only the selected clusters are studied.” It’s best applicable to geography or time periods, so there’s only one filter as opposed to the expertise filters I suggested.

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  87. Cambell, I agree the filtering of the popular will is a difficult problem in any kind of democracy, that’s why my original preference was for policy initiation by government ministers. Given that direct democratic initiatives are not deliberative and will be subject to media pressure, then breaking up media monopolies is an essential part of the programme. Regarding the generation of proposals by allotted representatives my only point is that they cannot claim a statistical mandate (for the reasons that I’ve already given), so they need to pass some kind of public votation threshold prior to deliberative scrutiny. To do otherwise would be to privilege the arbitrary whims of a tiny number of people above those of everyone else — this is neither democratic nor is it likely to have epistemic benefits.

    Regarding the Pakistan example there is no reason to believe that a randomly-selected assembly would behave differently from the general population. Individual members would not be anonymous and would fear for their own lives if they were to propose (say) a modification of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. At least politicians can go back to the Green Zone, whereas allotted members would have to return to their own villages (where they would likely be stoned to death). Note that if all the assembly did was to vote in secret, then there is no way of knowing how any individual member voted, so they could not be intimidated in this way — not so if the assembly had a mandate that included the speech acts of individual members. An allotted assembly with a highly-constrained aggregate mandate would be the only form that would have any chance of success in a country like Pakistan. So long as a minority of votes were cast in favour of keeping the draconian blasphemy laws then individual members could claim (with their fingers crossed behind their backs) that they voted in line with the majority prejudice. Mill’s principled argument for public voting is great in a free and tolerant society, but totally inapplicable to countries like Pakistan.

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  88. Keith,
    >”my original preference was for policy initiation by government ministers . . .Regarding the generation of proposals by allotted representatives my only point is that they cannot claim a statistical mandate”
    Can the government ministers claim a statistical mandate? Surely not.
    I have no objection to government ministers initiating proposals; in fact they might well initiate the great majority of proposals, and by producing a lot of minor, fairly hum-drum stuff, help to fine-tune legislation.

    >”they need to pass some kind of public votation threshold prior to deliberative scrutiny. To do otherwise would be to privilege the arbitrary whims of a tiny number of people”
    I’m not going to ask for clarification of “public votation threshold” – I distrust it utterly, as also your “the filtering of the popular will”.
    At the end of the day, all proposals will start in one person’s head, and that person is the tiniest minority possible. So what? The assembly is there to throw out whatever they consider unsuitable. For practical reasons I think there should be an inner committee or cabinet to sort the wheat from the chaff, and help set priorities, but its decisions should not be binding on the assembly in any way.

    >”Regarding the Pakistan example there is no reason to believe that a randomly-selected assembly would behave differently from the general population.”
    True. My point was that muzzling the assembly doesn’t solve the problem.

    >”Mill’s principled argument for public voting is great in a free and tolerant society, but totally inapplicable to countries like Pakistan.”
    I don’t see that Pakistan is much different in this from the US after the 11th September 2001, or at the time of McCarthy, or other countries at other times.
    I think you’re right in saying that the vote should be secret, even if I’ve suggested otherwise elsewhere.

    Jacob,
    >”Yoram, I’m sure I’m not misusing the term at all. I used process of elimination when using it:”

    Regarding “stratified sampling”. I haven’t commented before as my statistical knowledge is very limited, however, if I understand rightly, it is a rather crude method used in cheap surveys to make a relatively small sample more representative when it would be too expensive to poll an entire population. As such, I don’t see the need for it in selecting the members of the allotted assembly. These days we have records of births and deaths in most countries, and a very simple computer script using a random number generator can choose the members from the entire population.
    Even if your nomenklatura idea were adopted (Tyche forbid!), you would then have a list of all eligible people to choose from. Why would you need to modify the results of random selection on this group, and on what basis would you choose the strata? There is an infinite number of possible strata, after all, and you can’t use all of them.
    Or am I missing something here?

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  89. Campbell,

    The mandate of government ministers is not statistical, it is that they have been appointed to do a job. Elected politicians can claim a mandate for their manifesto proposals, but the whim of a single allotted individual has no mandate at all. It would be perfectly possible to imagine a charismatic allotted individual who came up with an eccentric proposal and managed to persuade his fellow assembly members to pass it into law, but such a process could not be referred to as democratic. The other problem for members of an allotted chamber with policy-initiation powers is that they would be subject to bribes and inducements from lobbyists without the constraint of party membership or the need to seek re-election. This would be opening the floodgates of corruption.

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  90. Keith,

    > In the absence of substantiation I retract, although I note your objection is over whether or not such a predicted outcome would be definite or merely probable.

    Again, a baseless claim. Either substantiate or retract.

    And while you are at it, how about substantiating or retracting your claims about “clean hospitals and non-existent waiting lists” in “continental Europe” as opposed to Britain?

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  91. Sorry, I meant possible, this is what you said:

    “I think that while one can speculate about this matter, definite predictions are impossible.”

    i.e. indefinite predictions are possible.

    I’m not an expert on healthcare but there is a mass of UK journalism drawing an adverse comparison between the state of UK and continental hospitals, regarding both cleanliness and waiting lists. If healthcare was the topic of this list then I would root it out, but it isn’t.

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  92. >”It would be perfectly possible to imagine a charismatic allotted individual who came up with an eccentric proposal and managed to persuade his fellow assembly members to pass it into law, but such a process could not be referred to as democratic. ”
    Of course it could. It would be perfectly democratic.

    >”The other problem for members of an allotted chamber with policy-initiation powers is that they would be subject to bribes and inducements from lobbyists without the constraint of party membership or the need to seek re-election. This would be opening the floodgates of corruption.”

    Members without “policy-initiation powers” as you put it, could also be bribed.
    However, in either case, allotted members who cannot seek re-election would be less subject than elected ones to pressure by either bribes or electoral blackmail, and consequently risk more by accepting a bribe. The reason is that it would usually be necessary to offer a bribe to a fair number of members in order to get a measure passed, and every extra member who is approached adds to the risk of exposure of the plot.
    The “floodgates of corruption” are already wide-open and off their hinges. Sortition is the best hope for slamming them shut.
    Election might just be suitable for choosing the Honorary Secretary of your local whist or croquet club, but in the less genteel world of government, it has nothing to recommend it. It has been tried and failed far more often than communism. Only religion and economics present a similarly lamentable spectacle. Even fortune tellers and astrologists are right some of the time.

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  93. > If healthcare was the topic of this list then I would root it out, but it isn’t.

    In other words, you are unable to substantiate your claim and unwilling to retract it.

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  94. […] this article (though I may not be as mild with my comments), but this is a different spin on the Exclusions post by Yoram Gat. Over there, I suggested that policy proposals be the exclusive domain of expert […]

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  95. Campbell,
    =======
    The single charismatic individual scenario would only be democratic vis-a-vis the internal functioning of the assembly, not the general population, as it is in breach of the aggregate statistical mandate.

    The secret ballot was introduced to foil attempts to corrupt the electoral process — there’s no point bribing someone if you cannot tell how she voted. So an allotted assembly with a limited judgment role (by secret ballot) would be hard to corrupt. Not so if public speech acts were involved as it would be easy to bribe someone to propose or argue in favour of a motion (if she didn’t do as instructed then she wouldn’t get paid).

    What you call “electoral blackmail” is normally referred to as ex-post accountability; the need to seek re-election and avoid the censure of your own party are normally viewed as anti-corruption mechanisms by anyone without a dogmatic antipathy to the electoral process. All writers on sortition (see, for example, Peter Stone’s book) accept that it only keeps the process pure ex-ante; once someone has been appointed to political office by sortition other means are required to ensure integrity — hence the reliance of the Athenians on extensive scrutiny.

    PS given your antipathy to election, religion, communism and economics there’s a danger that your passion for sortition might be seen as clutching at the only remaining straw (although you could always try fortune-telling and astrology).

    Yoram,
    =====
    Although I could, I don’t have the time to substantiate my comments, as healthcare is not the topic of this forum and I’ve got far too many other things to do (earning my living to pay for my private healthcare policy, thereby ensuring that I don’t contract MRSA in one of our filthy NHS hospitals).

    Party Policies,
    ==========
    Could you let us have a link to your proposal?

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  96. Keith,

    >”it would be easy to bribe someone to propose or argue in favour of a motion (if she didn’t do as instructed then she wouldn’t get paid).”

    What on earth would be the point? You could perfectly legally pay for advertisements on the telly or in the papers, probably get more bang for your buck, and not run the risk of exposure.

    >”What you call “electoral blackmail” is normally referred to as ex-post accountability;”

    Not by people who avoid jargon.

    >” the need to seek re-election ”

    Leads to politicians needing donations for campaign expenses. In the real world donations do not come without strings attached. The suggestion that a donation might not be given if the politician doesn’t toe the donor’s line is electoral blackmail, not an anti-corruption measure. Of course there are other ways of blackmailing elected politicians, scaremongering campaigns for instance.

    >”and avoid the censure of your own party”

    Politicians get censured by their own party when they are perceived to endanger the party’s chances of election, not for matters of principle.

    >”a dogmatic antipathy to the electoral process”

    Dogmatic in the original Greek sense of an opinion based on observation. Yes, it is my view that the electoral system has failed us badly. Not dogmatic (I hope) in the sense of refusing to listen to argument or of following doctrines laid down by others.

    >”given your antipathy to election, religion, communism and economics”

    Does this mean I am acquitted of the charge of cod-Marxism?

    >”your passion for sortition might be seen as clutching at the only remaining straw”

    Ah, the drowning man metaphor. Well, hoping that elections will save us if we just vote for the right politician is like clutching at a rock. I think sortition is much more than a straw, but I suppose we won’t really know until we see a few modern countries using it.

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  97. If allotted assemblies were the source of policy proposals, then it would be much cheaper and more effective for lobbyists to bribe individual members to introduce proposals than to throw huge sums at advertising campaigns in the hope that some member might be influenced by them. I agree that sortition is much more than a straw, it’s a ballotting procedure that has enormous potential, that’s why I’m so opposed to the case for sortition being ruined by those who seek to argue it is some kind of magic bullet. Even if you believe sortition is the only show in town, it would be expedient to pretent otherwise (if you want any hope of influencing the debate beyond this forum).

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  98. Campbell,

    You don’t see any use for a stratified sample to create a more accurately representative allotted body. The notion is that certain types of people will likely be under-represented in a randomly selected body because they are either uninterested, or simply don’t have time. There are several solutions…
    1. Make service fully mandatory like a military draft (though this raises concerns about personal liberty).
    2. Provide such a huge payment or other inducement that hardly anyone would decline.
    3. Use stratified sampling to fill up those demographic groups that are significantly under-represented following the random draw and agreement to serve.
    4. Limit your view of democracy to rule by those who are interested and willing to rule.

    Terry

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  99. > Although I could, I don’t have the time to substantiate my comments, as healthcare is not the topic of this forum and I’ve got far too many other things to do

    Promises that you could substantiate a claim are a very poor substitute to actually doing so. The rest is excuses.

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  100. Yoram, I work 7 days a week and spend ages posting on sortition related topics, but I’m not prepared to waste my time on topics that are not the concern of this list.

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  101. >”If allotted assemblies were the source of policy proposals, then it would be much cheaper and more effective for lobbyists to bribe individual members to introduce proposals than to throw huge sums at advertising campaigns in the hope that some member might be influenced by them.”

    As usual, I disagree. It would be a rare case indeed where bribing just one or two members would suffice. Presuming that bribery remains illegal and is widely considered bad behaviour, there is a risk of discovery with every member who is approached. Try it enough times and you’re virtually certain to get caught. Prosecution and loss of credibility should follow.
    An email or letter campaign to each member of the assembly would cost almost nothing, would presumably remain legal, and might be very effective if its statements were not too outrageous. An advertising campaign aimed at the public at large would no doubt convince some proportion of the public, and hence might be expected to convert some of the future members of the assembly.
    The power of advertising, and the lack of scruples and disregard for truth on the part of advertising agencies and their clients, is a serious problem for all of us under any system.

    >”that’s why I’m so opposed to the case for sortition being ruined by those who seek to argue it is some kind of magic bullet.”

    Magic bullet is your term, not mine. There are many things sortition can’t fix, starting with human stupidity. However, I believe there are many things it can fix, and that it does not need an elective component in government to make it work. That said, even saddled with your ideas sortition would be an improvement on the sort of tragi-comedy that we see at the moment in the US, for instance.

    * * * * * * *
    Terry,
    As I understand it (heavy reliance on Wikipedia) stratified sampling is useful if, (using their example), you want to find the opinion of all Ontario residents by standing on a street corner in Ottawa and interviewing people. Depending on the time of day and the street corner, you might get mostly mothers picking up their children after school, or mostly office workers on their way to work, or an interesting mix of prostitutes and their clients, night-clubbers, drunks, and policemen wanting to know what the hell you are doing there, Bud. None of these groups would be representative of Ontario as a whole. You fix that aproximately by making sure you have the right proportion of women, of each racial group, of young people, old people, and so on. You do this because you don’t have access to the whole population of Ontario: it would cost too much to interview every single person including those living in Fort Severn on the shores of Hudson Bay.
    However, if you have access to birth and death records for the past 120 years, you have the names and ages of the whole population. No stratified sampling is necessary for a computer to randomly draw their names out of its data base and produce an accurate representation of the whole population.
    As you point out, some people may not wish to serve. I am opposed to forcing them. I suggest a pretty generous pay and pension scheme, and let’s not fuss about those who don’t want to take part. In other words, I take your options 2 and 4. I don’t see how option 3 can “fill up the demographic groups” without resorting to option 1, force.
    There will be those who don’t want to serve because they are making more money where they are, there may be those who don’t want to serve because of religious beliefs (Trappist monks, for instance), or for reasons of health (their own or a family member’s).
    I don’t see that a nation could or should offer members better pay than Messrs Buffet, Soros, Gates and Jobs have achieved. If your Trappist monk has to be led in handcuffs to the assembly, and says not a word and doesn’t vote for five years because of his vows, well, I think we should do without him and leave him at peace in his monk’s cell. Somewhat reluctantly, I think it necessary for practical reasons to leave out those who are incarcerated (prison or hospital for criminally insane) if their time remaining is a significant proportion of the term they would serve in the assembly. For those whose health prevents them, I can only say alas.
    The representation will never be perfect, but it would be far better than what we get at the moment (over 40% lawyers in the US Congress, I believe).

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  102. Campbell,

    Having wasted a lot of money on advertising over the years I would have to disagree with you — bribing an individual member to make a proposal would be much cheaper than the scattergun approach.

    I think you are missing the point of Terry’s comprehensive range of possible ways of ensuring that the allotted assembly is an accurate portrait in miniature of the whole electorate. It’s not just an issue of whether or not individuals choose to serve or not, as each allotted member is intended to represent those “constituents” that she “describes”. There are good reasons for believing that a voluntary system will over-represent certain social groups and that others will continue to be marginalised, hence the need to choose one or several of the remedies that Terry has suggested. By analogy, those who choose not to serve are like MPs who are elected, draw the salary and then don’t bother to show up at Westminster. In the elective case this should lead to a by-election, so in the sortive case the allotted representative would need to be replaced by someone else drawn from the same stratum. It’s not really good enough to say that it’s better than at present (40% lawyers), as electoral representation does not presuppose an accurate portrait in miniature; but if the very rationale of the system is descriptive representation then steps need to be taken to ensure that it is accurate.

    My own preference is for a combination of 1 and 2 (compulsion and reward). Compulsion, though, is too strong a word, it should just be made clear that allotted service is a key obligation of citizenship and that great honour is attached to performing one’s civic duty. The British, in particular, are very good at creating the necessary flummery and decorum to flatter people into playing their allotted role (what Bagehot referred to as the “dignified” part of our constitutional arrangements). It would be like being selected to be one of the bearers of the Olympic torch.

    As for option 3 (stratified sampling), the problem is there is no way of knowing a priori what factors to stratify for. It’s likely that cognitive factors and personality types are just as relevant as age, gender, socio-economic class etc. As for option 4 (voluntarism), combining this with the case for descriptive representation brings us back into cod-Marxist territory: sortive democracy will overwhelmingly privilege the masses so it doesn’t matter which identical proletarian is selected. Hence my preference for a combination of 1 and 2.

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  103. > bribing an individual member to make a proposal

    As always, Keith, you do are dealing with red herrings: Bribery is a general problem and has nothing to do with representativity. If you are so good at bribing, you could bribe a member of the “expert” body (or any other proposal-making body).

    The problem with having power vested with non-representative bodies is that you get undemocratic policy without having to bribe anyone.

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  104. > I’m not prepared to waste my time on topics that are not the concern of this list.

    If those claims are not the concern of this list, why do you waste our time by posting them here?

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  105. I merely used it as an example of my (unsubstantiated) claim that you had said that an allotted assembly would be likely to pursue certain types of policy, the example being the provision of universal healthcare out of general taxation. I was unable to find evidence to support my claim, so I withdrew it. The issue at hand was (as always) whether it is possible to categorise elite and mass interests in the way that you have intimated from time to time on this forum (I choose my words carefully). This has nothing to do with healthcare per se, hence my unwillingness to devote time to researching an issue that is not the topic of this forum. I’ve retracted my claim so there is no need to keep worrying away at it.

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  106. >”bribing an individual member to make a proposal would be much cheaper than the scattergun approach.”

    If we’re only talking of making a proposal, it would hardly be necessary to use a bribe. If your proposal is half-way reasonable, out of 500 or so members you’d find one or more who would agree sufficiently with you to have no ethical problem about putting it forward. All for the cost of an email, with no risk of legal consequences. If your proposal is so outlandish that you have to bribe someone to even propose it, what hope will it have at the vote, if you don’t bribe the majority of members?

    And if you do attempt to bribe the majority (say 251) you are taking a hell of a risk: it would only take one out of those 251 to denounce you.
    If the probability of being denounced by any one member is only 10% (0.1), then the probability of not being denounced by one member is 0.9. The probability of not being denounced by one of 251 members is 0.9^251 = 3.2*10^-12, 3.2 in a million millions, ie 0.0000000000032.

    But suppose that all 251 accept your bribe with alacrity. With the secret ballot (that you proposed), what guarantee do you have that they won’t still vote against your scheme? To be sure of your majority, you’d better try to bribe all 500. Your chance of not being denounced now goes to 0.000000000000000000000013

    These are not good odds, Keith, you’d be better sticking to Willie Wonka, whatever that may be. In fact the odds are probably a great deal worse, because most members would have enough wit to know that your large scale bribery campaign would be bound to fail, and that if they accepted they would be in hot water too. The probability of not being denounced by the first member you approach is likely to be a hundred times lower than the 0.9 in this example, so you can insert another 502 zeroes after the decimal point in the first calculation, 1000 in the second. (There is another way of calculating this, but again your chances of not being denounced are effectively zero).

    Advertising is starting to look like a bargain.

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  107. >”in the sortive case the allotted representative would need to be replaced by someone else drawn from the same stratum”

    I suppose by stratum you and Terry mean the rather dreary divisions into male/female, white/coloured, white collar/blue collar/unemployed/retired and so forth. I should point out that there is an infinite number of distinctions one might apply.

    If my reason for refusing is that I am making a ten million per month, how do you go about persuading someone else of the same stratum of affluence to participate?
    If I have “locked in syndrome” and cannot communicate at all, how do you get another person with the same affliction to participate?
    If I’m a Trappist monk, and refuse to break my vow of silence and retreat from the world, how do you get another Trappist monk to take my place?
    What about prisoners in solitary confinement? People with such severe pain that they are drugged into oblivion? People who are looking after a totally-dependent loved one? You can’t replace them with someone “from the same stratum” in a meaningful way, because the most (politically) significant feature about these people, and what ought to define their stratum, is their very inability to participate and its cause.
    Or again: if in the future Sortitionist Republic of Finland I am a virtuoso guitar-playing, Buddhist, Australian aborigine who has lost both legs and lives in too much pain to participate, do you content yourself with replacing me with another black man? Another Australian aborigine? Another guitar virtuoso? Another Buddhist? Another double amputee who has less pain? Or just another male? Your strata are just too crude to have any meaning.

    The numbers involved are likely to be small. Representation will never be perfect, in any case, until the number of representatives equals the number of the entire population. So I say just take the next name out of the hat.

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  108. Campbell,

    The only reason for the secret ballot is that it makes bribery unlikely, for the very reasons that you’ve just outlined. Not so for speech acts, where individual members (most of who would, by definition, be of average income) would be vulnerable to influence from lobbyists. It would only require the bribing of one member who had a persuasive manner and/or perceived high social status, which would amount to pocket change for a major lobbyist. This would be a serious setback to the attempt to clean up politics from domination by the rich and powerful, hence the need to allow anybody (not just holders of the golden ticket) to make a proposal and seek public support. The UK e-petition threshold is 100,000 and that would be about the right level to make it onto the public vocation ballot. Why do you want to limit the right to make proposals to ticket-holders?

    I would agree with you again that Terry’s option 3 (stratified sampling) is the wrong approach, again for all the reasons that you provide. Unfortunately option 4 (volunteering) will not generate a sample that is a portrait in miniature of the whole electorate so it would fail the democratic test from a descriptive point of view. That’s why my preference is for a mixture of 1 and 2, as previously argued.

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  109. Keith,
    >”individual members (most of who would, by definition, be of average income)”
    Before getting the “golden ticket” to the assembly. Not after, if my ideas were adopted.

    >”would be vulnerable to influence from lobbyists.”
    Far less vulnerable than in today’s elected bodies.

    >”Why do you want to limit the right to make proposals to ticket-holders?”
    I most certainly do not. I do not want them to be excluded from making proposals, or from what you quaintly call speech acts.

    >”hence the need to allow anybody (not just holders of the golden ticket) to make a proposal and seek public support.”
    YES!! And to speak in support of their ideas.

    >”It would only require the bribing of one member who had a persuasive manner and/or perceived high social status”
    You don’t need to bribe anyone if you only want a proposal put forward. And if you want someone with a persuasive manner to talk up a proposal and bamboozle the assembly, why limit yourself to members? There are talk-show “hosts” and shock-jocks with mouths that run a mile a minute who are only too glad to flog their dubious skills.
    On the other hand, if you wnat to bribe someone to vote in a particular way, I think I’ve shown that this would be very dangerous.
    I think I have more faith in the common man than you. In an assembly of 500 you will have some members who think for themselves, and who are capable of asking embarassing questions, and generally pointing out the flaws in the persuasive one’s arguments to their more gullible colleagues. This can be done outside the public spotlight if the climate of terror which you seem to fear prevails.
    Sortition won’t change human nature, eliminate stupidity and ignorance, or prevent mistakes being made. It can reduce corruption, and it can reduce the means of bringing pressure to bear on members. It can also make it possible for bad laws to be changed without the loss of face, and the loss of an election and hence livelihoods that admitting an error might provoke today.

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  110. Campbell,

    Remember that the term of service for an allotted assembly would need to be short (in order to ensure that members don’t “go native”), so everyone would soon revert to their prior modest incomes. If you want to allow EVERYBODY to make policy proposals then this needs to be a direct-democratic process (as in e-petitions) as opposed to privileging golden-ticket holders. The solution to the problem of the domination of the debate by shock-jocks, Fox News (and the BBC) is to ensure diverse media ownership and this is a matter for government regulation, not sortinistas. I have great faith in the aggregate judgment of the common (wo)man, but 20-years’ practical experience of the DP has indicated the essential role of moderators in ensuring the equality of the speech acts of all members. Unfortunately in a legislative assembly moderation is not possible, on account of the Quis Custodiet problem. The use of the “quaint” term speech acts (Austin, Searle and Skinner, not me) is because they are ways of DOING things with words and are the most powerful acts in a world where the pen is mightier than the sword. This being the case it’s not possible to ensure parity via happenstance — that’s why, for example, TV and radio organisations who are attempting to be impartial seek equal partisans for and against whatever issue is being debated.

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  111. >”Remember that the term of service for an allotted assembly would need to be short”
    Certainly.

    >”so everyone would soon revert to their prior modest incomes.”
    Not necessarily. I’d be for giving them a very generous pension on retirement from the assembly regardless of age, with perhaps a prohibition on remunerated work for, say, two years. The expense would be worth it.

    >”If you want to allow EVERYBODY to make policy proposals then this needs to be a direct-democratic process (as in e-petitions) as opposed to privileging golden-ticket holders”
    I repeat that I have never suggested that members should be the only ones to be able to propose legislation. There are probably many possible mechanisms for this, but the easiest might be to get a member to do it for you.

    >”The solution to the problem of the domination of the debate by shock-jocks, Fox News (and the BBC) is to ensure diverse media ownership and this is a matter for government regulation, not sortinistas.”
    At any rate, it’s not something I would try to fix by casting rules in concrete in the constitution.

    >”the essential role of moderators in ensuring the equality of the speech acts of all members. Unfortunately in a legislative assembly moderation is not possible, on account of the Quis Custodiet problem.”
    Not possible? In the Westminster system the Speaker is the moderator. In clubs it is usually the President. You can argue about how fair this is, but it is done. In an allotted assembly fairness could be achieved or at least approximated by rotation.

    >”the pen is mightier than the sword.”
    This aphorism is getting a bit hoary now that few read and TV and the slogan dominate.
    Your concern for equality is laudable, but your thinking seems to me to be stuck in the two-party system of politics, with it’s resemblance to a football match. If particular measures don’t come all bundled together as a party platform, and assembly members aren’t elected because of their party affiliation:
    1 Members can debate and vote on each measure on its merits, and not be bound by party loyalty or quid pro quo arrangements to get other measures through.
    2 If a law voted today is perceived to be bad, it can be repealed, perhaps as early as tomorrow. The government won’t “fall”, the Prime Minister won’t face a leadership challenge, the stock market won’t panic at the idea of a change of government, business will go on as usual, and the worst that can happen is a bit of embarrassment for those members who spoke in favour of the bad law.

    The assembly is not a pitch with two opposing teams which must be treated equally, and the proposals (though there is the for and against binary opposition that you insist on) are not entities which must have their rights respected. If ten members want to speak in favour of a bill, and only one against, what do you do? Compel nine other members to speak against it? Allow only one to speak for it? Give equal time for and against? Allow anyone to speak who wishes? This ought to be decided by the assembly itself, in my view.

    >”TV and radio organisations who are attempting to be impartial seek equal partisans for and against whatever issue is being debated”
    The cynical would say that they are only trying to maintain their ratings by creating a verbal stoush, for which you need at least two sides.

    Talking of moderation and your and my lack of it, we’ve moved a long way from Yoram’s topic of exclusion. If the moderator weren’t so moderate, he’d have kicked us off this thread by now.

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  112. Campbell

    You really need to read up on the DP methodology. These guys have spent 20 years experimenting with creating a deliberative assembly that is a portrait in miniature of the population. Nothing that I’m suggesting diverges from their empirical work and my theoretical arguments derive 100% from the seminal text in the field (Pitkin, The Concept of Representation). I really don’t want to be offensive but what you seem to be doing is sitting in an armchair and waving your arms around. This is a serious field of research and those of us who want to debate it really need to do their homework.

    Dealing with your specific points, the role of the parliamentary speaker is not to ensure that the speech acts of Winston Churchill and Mr Pooter are on a par, but such would be the sysyphean task of a moderator in an assembly working on a statistical mandate. In the former case, voters CHOSE Mr Pooter, so they’ve only themselves to blame if Churchill is more persuasive; in the latter case if the member who best “describes” you is a bit of a duffer, than that’s just your tough luck. (This point is so obviously true that I’m puzzled why I need to keep restating it.) It’s nothing to do with adhering to a model of competing factions, just the democratic illegitimacy of allowing speech acts in a body with an aggregate mandate.

    The regulation of the media to break up monopolies and ensure diversity is an obvious role for government (with or without constitutional guarantees).

    I think you are unduly cynical about the dialectical approach that the broadcast media take to balanced advocacy. Clearly balance is essential — see my comment on the possibility of an assembly that sought its own advocates introducing capital punishment for paedophiles: https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/party-policies/#comment-3837

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  113. Campbell,

    Keith’s latest maneuver of implying that his position is supported by some deep theoretical and empirical evidence is, of course, ridiculous.

    Pitkin’s book is formalistic and largely irrelevant to any issue we discuss (not my view alone, BTW). Also, as always, Keith’s retelling of other people’s work and positions is not reliable (see, for example, the exchange in the four comments starting here).

    Fishkin’s work is indeed along the lines that Keith proposes, and it does indeed demonstrate that such a setup creates no more than a charade of democracy in which the allotted have a role of extras in the show.

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  114. Campbell,
    Deciding the rules for fair assignment of speaking time in an assembly you suggest “This ought to be decided by the assembly itself, in my view.”

    This might work. so long as the rules are established up front, before “sides” begin to form. I prefer that an allotted body with the sole task of developing fair rules for all allotted bodies define the rules. These rules could be constantly refined, but not by the body that is in the midst of a policy debate, or else the current majority faction may establish rules that further hinder the minority.

    Keith,
    When allotted legislators vary in eloquence, you find that unacceptable, but when elected representatives have different persuasive power you find that acceptable because the voters have “only themselves to blame.” In either case democratic policy outcomes can be distorted by effective speakers. Is the difference whether we have human voters to blame or mere chance?

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  115. Terry

    I agree that the rules should be set by a different body. Everyone here is in accord with that when it pertains to “self-serving politicians” but allotted representatives would appear to be exempt. I think we should all acknowledge your own professional experience of factionalism as an (inevitable) emergent property of group behaviour.

    The difference between elected and allotted representatives from a speech-act perspective is, as you say, that the former are chosen. It would be perfectly possible for a voter to select a candidate just because he had the “gift of the gab” (even if another candidate was superior in other respects), as in a democracy you can’t get anything done if you can’t recruit a majority. In a sortive context there are no choices involved — if the illocutionary force of the speech acts of “your” rep. is low then that’s just tough. This is why speech acts cannot be part of a statistical mandate. I entirely agree that policy outcomes are distorted by effective speakers — that’s why Rousseau and Harrington tried to proscribe them. Unfortunately this would mean decision-making by uninformed prejudice, so (carefully-moderated) speech acts are essential. For this reason balanced advocacy and information must be secured by external forces (your rule-making body), and the decision process (secret voting) should be separate from the advocacy/information stage.

    Apologies to Campbell if my last comment on armchair handwaving was a little rude. The trouble is that most of the regular posters on this forum are activists, rather than students of sortition, and it’s quite hard to get activists to change their mind. Those of us working on this topic in a scholarly context are obliged to change our mind in line with developments (both empiricial and logical). We certainly can’t get away with dismissing the work of the leading scholars in the field as “formalistic” or a “charade of democracy” although we are always encouraged to challenge their work (witness my recent encounter with Manin at the last Paris sortition symposium).

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  116. > Those of us working on this topic in a scholarly context

    Keith, you have outdone yourself. You have taken self-importance and cluelessness to stellar heights.

    (Apologies if this comment is a little rude.)

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  117. I apologize as I continue the trend we have here of straying from the exclusion topic…but I feel I am at the nub of something…

    Keith, in terms of the acceptability of unequal persuasive ability you say “The difference between elected and allotted representatives from a speech-act perspective is, as you say, that the former are chosen.”

    Obviously both election and allotment are means for selecting or choosing… but you mean “intentional.” If “my” elected representative is someone I voted against and hate, and indeed that a large majority of the constituents may disagree with about the particular policy issue under consideration, I would prefer to have some representative in the chamber “like me” even if not eloquent, rather than this eloquent elected “representative” of mine who is working in exact opposition to what I would prefer.

    You seem to be relying on the electoral “authorization” concept of legitimate representation in the case of representatives being authorized to speak.

    If such elected representatives are deemed worthy of speech acts because the RULES of election adopted grant this legitimacy, why not allow a majority of voters to instead authorize all the members of their randomly selected legislature to talk as well? If you agree that “speech-acts” are a necessary part of education/deliberation/persuasion/amendment and perfection of legislation, then any legislative structure selected by a population must incorporate that. But why limit it to elected representatives (or ill-informed media driven votation).

    I would suggest you are uncritically accepting Pitkin’s unfounded “CONVICTION that such machinery [a fair election process] is necessary to ensure systematic responsiveness.” (page 234 – emphasis added).

    Her bias that “We would be reluctant, further, to consider any system a representative government unless it held regular elections, which were ‘genuine’ or ‘free,'” precludes appreciating the democratic potential of sortition.(page 235)

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  118. Terry, I need to ponder your thoughtful points a little before responding.

    Yoram, the distinction between scholarly and activist contexts is a descriptive one. Why is it self-important to refer to oneself as a student? There’s nothing wrong with activists, but they have difficulty changing their minds in line with changing facts, so arguing with them is a bit like banging your head against a brick wall.

    BTW it’s quite misleading to refer to Pitkin’s work as “formalistic” as she doesn’t use syllogisms and other devices of formal logic. Pitkin refers to herself as an ordinary-language philosopher in the Austinian tradition. Her book investigates how we use words like “representative” and “descriptive”, because if you don’t really understand what the words mean then you can’t prescribe what they should do. The principal distinction in her book is between representation as “standing for” and “acting for” and her conclusion is that descriptively-representative assemblies can only do the former. Peter Stone makes a similar point in his introduction to the Imprint Academic edition of Callenbach and Philips. Activists may find these distinctions inconvenient and annoying (preferring instead to cite Aristotle and Montesquieu out of context), but students of sortition have no alternative but to engage with them. My initial interest in sortition was as a political activist (my first book was an intemperate rant), but I concluded that the only way to get a proper handle on the subject was to go back to university and engage with the scholarly community. This is both time-consuming and demanding but, if we want to make any real progress in the field, there’s no real alternative.

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  119. Terry,

    Thanks, as always, for a challenging post. What you are referring to is the problem of the minority viewpoint, which applies to electoral and sortive systems in exactly the same manner. Although you might feel better if there is someone with views like you in the assembly (rather than the hated guy you didn’t vote for), what use would it provide if that person did not also share your eloquent presentational skills (although it wouldn’t matter at all if all she did was vote). In the end it all comes down to votes and if you lose, then you lose. We need to look elsewhere for constitutional protection for minorities (bills of rights etc). My concern is twofold: firstly that the majority view (in the wider population) should predominate: there is no reason to believe that the majority viewpoint will prevail if proposal and advocacy is left down to chance. My second concern is that information and advocacy should be balanced, in order to minimise the likelihood of the allotted assembly legislating to execute all paedophiles. I don’t think that leaving it to another allotted assembly to draw up the rules is a sufficient guarantee of balance. There are established ways of achieving constitutional safeguard, so would suggest that a judicial committee would be better than leaving this sort of structural decision-making to chance.

    I’m not at all concerned about procedural rules (positivism is not something that I suffer from). My concern is with logic — what sortition can and cannot do within a democratic context. Even if an electorate were to authorize allotted members to perform speech acts on their behalf this would not make the slightest difference — mandates need to be either acts of majority will (as in electoral manifesto commitments) or statistics, and the latter is an aggregate function. This is inherent in the meaning of the word “statistical”, as Pitkin points out, so the authorization you are suggesting would be straight out of Alice in Wonderland:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

    I agree with you that Pitkin’s conviction that election is an essential part of democracy is tautological (indeed I accused Manin of making a similar circular argument at the Paris symposium). I’m agnostic as to whether policy generation should be via election or direct democracy. Both mechanisms ensure responsiveness but the former has the benefit of ex-post accountability as well. On the other hand election involves bundling up aggregated preferences, is elitist and more open to manipulation by the rich and powerful than direct democracy. So I’m agnostic on this but insist, with Pitkin, that sortition could never fulfil the “acting for” aspect of representation (see my previous response to Yoram). This is not on account of any circular argument favouring election, it is purely on account of the meaning of the word “statistical”.

    Incidentally a population authorizing a randomly-selected assembly to perform speech acts on its behalf is pure Hobbism. I’m with his nemesis, Rousseau — sovereignty cannot be alienated and this precludes transferring one’s will to others. However if it’s not possible for all citizens to attend the assembly then sampling is in order but, as Rousseau insisted, the role of the assembly can only be to vote up and down the proposals that come before it. As soon as an individual assembly member rises to her feet to speak then the sovereignty of everyone else is alienated. Harrington would have such an individual taken out and hanged, but perhaps that’s taking it a bit far.

    Thanks again, for giving me the chance of making my views clear on this important point.

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  120. Keith,
    >”what you seem to be doing is sitting in an armchair and waving your arms around.”

    Of course I am, and with respect so are we all. Until someone hands us the keys of a country or two to try out our crackpot ideas, we’ll all be like so many theorists in particle physics waiting for a collider. We need to see a legislature using a sortition system, or preferably several, up and running for a few decades at least before we can say anything definite about what works and what doesn’t.

    >”in the latter case if the member who best “describes” you is a bit of a duffer, than that’s just your tough luck.”

    You speak as if there were some sort of mapping between each member and a section of the public. In an assembly chosen from the whole population this is absurd. Take my Finno-Australian aboriginal guitar virtuoso above. Suppose he’s not in the assembly. Who represents him? Obviously not another handicapped Australian aboriginal guitar virtuoso. Who then? Well, each of his interests or attributes will in principle be represented by someone. His musical interests perhaps by a concert pianist and the inevitable rock guitarists, his disability by people with similar handicaps, his maleness by half the assembly. He probably won’t have another Australian aborigine to represent him, but there will be other obvious foreigners who face similar problems of incomprehension or discrimination. And so on.
    In a sense every member of the general population will be represented, more or less well, by every member of the assembly. How could a hard-line Marxist be represented by someone like you or me? Well, we’re all other things besides being Marxist or anti-Marxist. Perhaps you share a common fondness for tennis or obscure jargon and doctrinal orthodoxy (“my theoretical arguments derive 100% from the seminal text in the field”). No, no, just kidding.

    >”(This point is so obviously true that I’m puzzled why I need to keep restating it.)”
    Could it be that (a) It’s not true, and (b) you’re not very convincing?

    >”This is a serious field of research and those of us who want to debate it really need to do their homework.”
    Suggesting that I should do some more reading is no doubt good advice, but are you saying that I have no right to open my mouth until I’ve read, marked, learned and inwardly digested your pet texts? If so, you’ll be disappointed.
    However, I’m not going to reply to you in this thread again, as I feel we have both said far too much and strayed much too far off topic. Probably everyone here is sick of my rants, not just you, and besides, I have other things which I must do. In a few days I mean to come back on the thread I started.

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  121. >”This might work. so long as the rules are established up front, before “sides” begin to form. I prefer that an allotted body with the sole task of developing fair rules for all allotted bodies define the rules. These rules could be constantly refined, but not by the body that is in the midst of a policy debate, or else the current majority faction may establish rules that further hinder the minority.”
    I think your concern is very reasonable, and the idea of a separate body interesting, but I’m not sure what the best solution is. Should it be impossible to move an adjournment, or that speaking time be restricted, so that the assembly could move on to the next item? Procedure definitely needs thinking about.

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  122. Campbell,

    > >”(This point is so obviously true that I’m puzzled why I need to keep restating it.)”
    > Could it be that (a) It’s not true, and (b) you’re not very convincing?

    No, no – it must be that you (and I as well, of course) are activists rather than scholars and therefore have closed minds. Anyone with an open mind would immediately see the truth of whatever Keith is claiming. (Even if Keith cannot keep track of who writes what, attributes to others fictitious positions, and cannot be bothered to substantiate factual claims he makes. And manages to accomplish all of these intellectual achievements in the space of a single comments thread.)

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  123. Campbell

    There is an alternative to armchair handwaving:

    1. In the theoretical area we should all read the acknowledged key works (not my “pet” texts) and then formulate our response. The usual sources cited are Pitkin and Manin, and my current project is to refute Manin’s central thesis for the “triumph of election” on account of the natural right theory of consent. My argument is that he is wrong both historically and logically and that sortition is a better candidate for indicating consent than election. He responded to the criticism very well in Paris and reported that we’ve given him a lot to think about. But you have to read the books and address the issues directly, ideally under the supervision of “experts” in the field who are not sortition partisans.

    2. In the practical area the DP experiments are the most relevant work that has been done to date. Yoram is right to describe them as cautious, and little more than glorified opinion polls. No doubt this is true, nevertheless the Stanford Center has extensive experience of what does and doesn’t work and the pitfalls that need to be avoided when designing sortition-based institutions. They have also demonstrated, repeatedly, that randomly-selected citizens are just as capable as elite politicians of understanding and then deciding the outcome of a wide range of political issues. Despite their cautious approach, this is important work and doesn’t deserve the dissing that it gets on this forum. I suspect that much of the hostility is because Fishkin is seen as part of the establishment and this doesn’t look good to those who would prefer to take to the barricades and overthrow the entire electoral system.

    Once the theoretical and experimental groundwork has been done there is a much better chance of creating a sortition-based legislature than “waiting for someone to hand us the keys of the country”. Play it right and we will be pushing at an open door; play it wrong (by insisting that sortition is a magic cure-all) and We’re All Doomed.

    Of course I understand that descriptive representation only applies at the aggregate level and that there is no one-to-one mapping of representative and constituent. Indeed I’ve argued repeatedly that there is no such creature as a single “descriptive representative”. But speech acts pertain to individuals; in Pitkin’s words: ‘Is [the representative] really literally to deliberate as if he were several hundred thousand people?’ (Pitkin, 1967, p.145). Of course not, that’s why all that statistically-representative bodies can do is ask questions and then vote.

    I plead guilty to all Yoram’s charges regarding careless postings. The trouble is I’m trying to run two businesses and at the same time do a PhD, so this makes my posts a little more hasty than I would prefer. As for the presence or absence of an open mind, this is normally judged by one’s willingness to change one’s view along with the facts. I’m with Keynes on this, but that sort of flexibility doesn’t come easily to activists who are pursuing a political goal, rather than disinterested scholarship. My own position is somewhere in between the two, I actively favour sortition as a valuable aid to democratic decision making but take a pragmatic view as to how it might best be implemented.

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  124. > The trouble is I’m trying to run two businesses and at the same time do a PhD, so this makes my posts a little more hasty than I would prefer.

    In that case, it might make sense to reduce the posting volume and concentrate on quality.

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  125. OK, but if you spot a serious conceptual misunderstanding, I think it’s best to point it out. The nature of blog comments is that people shoot from the hip, so it’s inevitable that people will make small errors, and it’s unusual to expect high standards from commentators. Much better to keep the conversation going.

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  126. > if you spot a serious conceptual misunderstanding, I think it’s best to point it out.

    I think I’ve been doing that for over two years now.

    > it’s unusual to expect high standards from commentators. Much better to keep the conversation going.

    Comparing your record to that of others on this forum, it appears to me that your standards are unusually low. Keeping the conversation going requires a minimal level of coherence.

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  127. Yoram, I think you are confusing incoherence with the fact that you and I have incompatible views. Having said that I think we both need to “get a life” / “get out a more” (choose your preferred cliche) rather than waste any more time trading trivial insults.

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  128. > confusing incoherence with the fact that you and I have incompatible views

    No – there are lots of people with whom I disagree but whom I do not consider incoherent, at least not to the degree you are. I am referring, in particular, to those “small errors” that you so carelessly and frequently commit.

    > waste any more time trading trivial insults.

    My “insults” are points that are quite important in my mind regarding the matter of how discussions should be conducted. Your insults are quite revealing regarding the way you think of others as being inferior to yourself. So, it seems, both are quite relevant to the discussion at hand.

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  129. I’m not sure what insults you are referring to: the terms “cod-Marxist” and “armchair handwaving” were intended to be descriptive. The former refers to an old-fashioned sociology that perceives everything in terms of interests and apportions those interests neatly into the elite and the masses; the latter to someone communicating very strong opinions on sortition without having bothered to study the relevant literature. If you find these terms insulting what would you prefer me to use instead? As for the distinction between activists and students/scholars this strikes me as pretty run of the mill (it was certainly not intended to be insulting).

    I acknowledge small errors in my own writing, but have assumed that forums like this were designed to further the debate on the big picture rather than to nitpick over less-than-perfectly chosen words (I think the last error you spotted was when I said “probably” rather than “possibly”).

    But why are we pursuing this — do you want to drive everyone away from this forum so that it ends up with just you and me being rude to each other? I suggest we take a deep breath and reserve any further debate for substantive issues.

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