Sortition in The Marxist Center

Jacob Richter emailed about a new Marxist website he is involved in called The Marxist Center. The website has an article by J. Levi titled “To Win the Battle of Democracy” which discusses sortition as a possible component of “Communist Democracy”:

An interesting model is demarchy. This refers to representatives being randomly selected, much like the jury system in the US. But it would have the same problems as the US jury system, a lot of Americans have a feeling of apathy towards the jury system, they would rather not get selected than they would. Because the people have no influence in the selecting of the representatives they would feel alienated from the decision-making process, because they can exercise no influence over the process. This could be solved by recallability but this could also lead to the problem of being unable to govern because of constant recalls. Though with recall you would have to to make decisions that get popular support. To organize this on an international level we must have collective responsibility. This means that from every region someone gets chosen and this group of representatives are responsible as a whole. Representatives could just have the ability to execute decisions, not make them. However I think they should have the ability to make decisions but should be recallable. How then do we choose representatives? I think the best way is to choose them from people who sign up to do this, so we don’t get the problem that people not interested in governing would be forced to do that. I think short terms are necessary, but not with recallability. Instead after this short period the representatives are judged and if they did their job poorly they will be excluded from the group that can be picked for a certain period, say five or ten years.

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3 Responses

  1. Yoram, sorry for my very belated comment, but here goes:

    I’m not alone amongst a couple of comrades in thinking that the demarchy portion might have been a bit premature. At this point, our focus is on some variant of averaged skilled workers’ wages for public officials (my standard being median standards of living for professional and other skilled workers) and key avenues for recallability, without which classical and orthodox Marxists argued that class rule by workers would be impossible, plus other political measures. Even a comrade or two advocates “elections” in introductory discourse but then shifts the debate in favour of demarchy in upper-level discussions.

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  2. Well, Jacob, you know that I think the classic Marxist “workman’s wages + recallability” formula is misguided.

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  3. Yoram, you know that I already argued for a different perspective on “average workman’s wages.” Which average is most meaningful? Which private-sector occupations are most relevant? Why settle for just wages when more comprehensive standard-of-living measures can be enacted?

    We already discussed the different methods of recall. Popular recall is only one option.

    I’m sure there will be future articles discussing the difference on elections vs. random selection in greater detail, once political program as a whole is introduced enough.

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