Why is sortition a good idea? A participant survey

I am curious–seems it would be helpful for anyone interested in sortition–what the different grounds people have for advocating it are. The idea here is not about particular forms of selection by lot, but why might it be a good idea in general.

Please comment with your personal reason(s) in one or two sentences max. It would be best to avoid comment on other people’s comments.

Advertisements

26 Responses

  1. > Please comment with your personal reason(s) in one or two sentences max. It would be best to avoid comment on other people’s comments.

    We’ll comment however we like thank you very much.

    Like

  2. My interest in the political potential of sortition is to establish a decision-making body that is a representative microcosm of the whole political community. This is for both intrinsic and consequential reasons — in the former case because descriptive representation is an essential (but not the only) component of democratic equality and in the latter case because, from an epistemic perspective, the “wisdom of crowds” can provide an important check against groupthink, so long as conditions are imposed to guarantee independent judgment.

    Happy to abide by Ahmed’s edict and not comment on other people’s reasons — presumably as he wants to compile a list of a variety of perspectives. It would also help if “Anonymous” were to nail his colours to the mast.

    Like

  3. My reasons are: It would promote better deliberation (still working out this means), be more equitable, and lessen corruption.

    Yes, Keith nicely summarized why I asked to keep it short and to stick to one’s own remarks. Thank for priming the pump.

    Like

  4. Since the requested length constraints preclude explanations of WHY, I will just list the potential benefits of sortition:
    1: allow communities to self-govern, rather than be “ruled.”
    2. protect against corruption of power hoarders (whether hereditary, wealth, political elites, etc.)
    3. can produce better policies that serve the common good, rather than merely the interests of the winners.
    4. allow society to be more consensual, and less adversarial.

    Like

  5. I hope that sortition will allow government decisions to be really made based upon the will of the citizen, with the bonus of being citizen potentially better informed that what happens for example in referenda and other forms of direct democracy. I believe the current systems do a very bad job at this, and thus are quite undemocratic. Democracy might not be a perfect system but, as I see it, wherever currently the systems depart from democracy it is only for the worst.

    Like

  6. Sortition involves the people affected by decisions inmaking those decisons.

    Like

  7. Personally important & where I should have been explicit, maybe a party of equity, inclusion/encouragement of minority voices.

    Like

  8. I have been disaffected from the government my whole life. There is no one ‘like me’ making decisions about government’s direction. And there never will be.
    ‘Like me’ is a person who simply would not go through the rigamarole of competitive campaigning.
    I would like, thus, to see a legislature that was not composed of only the tiny segment of the population that is psychologically skewed towards — and further skewed by — the constraints of competitive electioneering.
    [And I would generously grant that most politicians have the best intentions.]

    Like

  9. “Selection by lottery was the standard means as it was regarded as the more democratic: elections would favour those who were rich, noble, eloquent and well-known, while allotment spread the work of administration throughout the whole citizen body, engaging them in the crucial democratic experience of, to use Aristotle’s words, “ruling and being ruled in turn” (Politics 1317b28–30). The allotment of an individual was based on citizenship rather than merit or any form of personal popularity which could be bought. Allotment therefore was seen as a means to prevent the corrupt purchase of votes and it gave citizens a unique form of political equality as all had an equal chance of obtaining government office.”
    [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy#Officeholders ]

    Like

  10. Sortition should produce a decision making body whose interests and world view represent those of the public and which has the opportunity and motivation to set public policy in accordance with those interests and world view.

    I must say that I am sympathetic to the comment of anonymous at the top. I think it is ironic that Ahmed both proclaims the importance of deliberation but at the same time wants not to have it. I don’t see how having a conversation makes it difficult to “compile a list of a variety of perspectives” – see here for example. Generally, restricting communications should be something that is avoided unless very good reasons exist to do so.

    Like

  11. Y,
    The motivate for the restriction is nothing deep, only that it is better “book keeping.” If we comment just with our own reasons it keeps this entry neat and the information easier to find later for us and for others.

    I accept responsibility for not giving an explanation, and I see how it could seem impolite if not despotic.

    Like

  12. Agree, the only rider being that we should focus on the current, rather than historical, case for sortition.

    Like

  13. > the only rider being that we should focus on the current, rather than historical, case for sortition.

    That means you, alfadies, I presume. Keith has decided that your comment is out-of-place and should not be part of the discussion here.

    Yes, Keith, restricting discussion is a major part of your proposals so it is only natural that you see it as a useful tool in this setting as well. All part of your authoritarian mindset.

    Like

  14. Ahmed’s original invitation was to “comment with [our] personal reason(s)” as to why selection by lot is a good idea. To my mind this precludes just lifting a quote on the origin of sortition from Wikipedia, but no doubt Ahmed will have his own views on this. I think, though, that his main concern is that this should not degenerate into the sort of name-calling (“authoritarian”, “marxoid” or whatever) that characterises this blog. Looks like he’s going to be disappointed. That’s a real shame as his prime concern is to introduce sortition to a wider audience, and we should all support him in that.

    Like

  15. Ah: two more restrictions – not allowed to quote wikipedia and not allowed to say “authoritarian”. We’re making good progress.

    I think it would be simplest – and most consistent with you proposals – if we do things this way: (1) you issue a couple of allowable comments (2) you issue arguments in favor and against each of the allowable comments (3) we each select which one of the allowable comments we support, based on the arguments you provide and register those selections via anonymous emails (4) we report the number of votes each of the allowable comments received.

    Like

  16. The dominant political system carries out irrational decisions resulting from interactions between lobbies.
    But considering the « conventional » alternative, the totalitarian model with its power going quickly mad, the peoples resign themselves. Through sortition, alloted bodies of ordinary citizens can deliberate efficiently, and can carry out reasonable decisions ; if it will not be always the case, it will be possible, and hopefully usual. Democracy through sortition is the one reasonable alternative to the dominant system.

    Like

  17. Yoram,

    Your attempt to link this to my general proposal for the political potential of sortition overlooks the fact that in my proposal *everybody* has the opportunity to suggest a new law, not just the tiny number of individuals chosen by lot.

    Like

  18. It is a common sense approach to good governance and unless the people who believe in it agree on a simple approach and transfer it to the general public, it will stay mired in a philosophical discussion going no where.

    Like

  19. I agree that publicizing the idea is our primary goal at this point and that coordinated action is important, but I don’t think this has anything to do with us becoming a chorus chanting some slogans in unison. This is not an electoral campaign.

    Like

  20. Anonymous, this thread is not about the particular approach, rather the different motives and reasons for implementing sortition. Your point is an important one nonetheless, as is Yoram’s about discussion.

    Should we start a new thread called, for example,
    “What minimal reforms would you like to see implemented given the reasons you advocate for sortition?”

    Like

  21. New thread submitted for moderation, along the lines you suggest.

    Like

  22. Because it gives people-at-large a way to engage in politics and to considering the issues in depth before deciding.

    Like

  23. @keithsutherland

    > *everybody* has the opportunity to suggest a new law, not just the tiny number of individuals chosen by lot.

    Everybody does have the opportunity to suggest a new law. Those chosen by lot decide.

    Or am I missing something?

    Like

  24. > It is a common sense approach to good governance and unless the people who believe in it agree on a simple approach and transfer it to the general public, it will stay mired in a philosophical discussion going no where.

    Here here.

    You’ll find this blog mainly a social academic / political philosophy forum, with less emphasis on practical implementation.

    A simple approach to transfer to the general public: start a political party with a manifesto to govern exclusively by sortition (or direct democracy).

    Like

  25. Anonymous: >Everybody does have the opportunity to suggest a new law. Those chosen by lot decide. Or am I missing something?

    That’s my proposal, and it was true of Classical Athens, but the majority of active members of this blog would limit the right to suggest a new law to the tiny group of citizens selected by lot. To the best of my knowledge this is a form of oligarchic legislature entirely without historical precedent — hence my coining of the term “klerotocracy”.

    Martin Wilding Davies did start a political party with a manifesto to govern exclusively by sortition, but it had a very short life.

    Like

  26. If I’m in a self-critical mood,

    1. A allotted body would probably favor a more equal distribution of wealth and free time, which is something I support.

    2. If the legislature represents the population ideologically, I could have a direct effect on government just by spreading ideas, which I think I could be decent at.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: