How could Sortition fix any of this?

An excellent piece in today’s (London) Independent on Sunday on the impotence of not just citizens, but politicians and even Prime Ministers in the face of global economic power

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/power-to-the-people-dont-make-me-laugh-8919136.html

So what is the point of replacing powerless politicians with citizen’s juries?

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36 Responses

  1. >The real issue, I decided, as the Gibraltar lawyers clapped and Ms J sped off to the airport, is not left versus right, or statism versus bonfires of red tape, or sovereignty versus Europe: it is accountability.

    True, and the problem with sortition is that it would reduce rather than increase accountability. Given the transnational nature of most of the power holders, it’s not clear how any form of democracy operating at the national level would have much effect. Even Yoram’s views that a sortition-based polity would automatically govern in the interests of the masses cannot be true if most wealth and power resides with transnational institutions.

    The brute fact also remains that, notwithstanding Russell Brand’s pious bleating, the biggest contributor to the (UK) national coffers is the financial sector. This is the reason that New Labour was “intensely relaxed” about plutocracy, as it was the golden goose that delivered the lion’s share of tax income to fund its redistribution programmes. Fleece the goose too much and it will just fly off somewhere else.

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  2. As long as the people of most major countries get to vote for key government officials, and if their votes are accurately counted, it is possible in principle for them to regain control of the decisions that may adversely impact our lives, but they have to learn to understand what has to be done and organize themselves to do it. They can’t count on present members of the political class to lead them to do that.

    Part of the problem is that we now have political and economic systems that no one understands and no one knows how to manage, so any comprehensive program of reform must include breakup of public and private enterprises into manageable pieces that can make rational decisions based on the behaviors of their immediate neighbors without having to understand the global picture. In other words, the way birds in a flock or fish in a school can swarm without central direction. This means extension of the concept of “market” beyond economics, and introducing “circuit breakers” to dispel pathological behaviors like market bubbles. It is not necessary to completely understand everything to keep the players small and prevent too many of them from going off in the same direction at the same time, a direction that might take them off a cliff.

    For organization to occur and be effective, there must first be a framework, and that means a well-designed written constitution of government. Brits may be proud of their “unwritten” constitution, but how many of them know what is in it, or what standards it raises to which the wise and honest can repair? (Actually, it is not completely unwritten, but scattered among hundreds of documents over 1200 years, most of which are nowhere online or in print.) Do away with the silly faux monarchy and learn the habits of self-governance starting at the ward level. People can’t govern globally if they can’t govern locally. See constitution.org

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  3. Conall,

    For power, as modern novelists long ago discovered to their cost, is no longer a straightforward business, a simple matter of decision and response, the bringing together of resources and influence to achieve an immediate end.

    You may recall the fate of one Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who seems to have been working under the same delusion as the author of the article. Mr. Khodorkovsky discovered that it was no more than a simple matter of decision and action by a determined government in order to strip him of all of his supposed riches and power and place him in a prison cell for an indefinite period. I see no reason that a sortition-based government could not act just as effectively in order to achieve its ends.

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  4. The above was what I posted at the newspaper, but for this forum it needs a follow-up. Voting is not just about popular elections, but also about deliberative panels selected from among the people making decisions in a structured manner, as part of a system of such panels that work together.

    This would likely involve having panels examine large enterprises and deciding “Bigcorp is too big to fail and too bid to manage, so we order it be broken up into 100 Littlecorps.” And “Bigcorp must not both manage the investment funds of others, and invest any but its own money in debt instruments, so it is to be broken up into separate enterprises for each function.” And “Bigbank may not loan any part of its depositors’ money except with the specific consent of each depositor to each loan, who shall bear any losses,” And “Debt instruments may not be used as legal tender for the payment of debts.”

    The trick is to impanel juries able to make those kinds of decisions.

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  5. I should add, however, that any such a regime would need to cover most major countries, to prevent transnationals from escaping to nonparticipating countries, which would put the participating countries at a competitive disadvantage and compel them to forbid trade with the nonparticipants, perhaps leading to a division of countries and potential conflict.

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  6. Jon,

    >any such a regime would need to cover most major countries, to prevent transnationals from escaping to nonparticipating countries

    And therein lies the problem. Conall’s argument is that, given the transnational reality of economic power, it makes no difference what democratic mechanism (election or sortition) is in use, both are equally impotent. Of course, one could impose draconian punishments on any citizen caught buying from Google, Apple, Microsoft etc but similar policies didn’t work very well in the former communist states.

    Yoram,

    Thanks for making so clear that your vision for an all-powerful allotted government would be just as arbitrary and autocratic as Putin’s Russia. Might I recommend Walter Eder’s essay in the Democracy 2500 volume where he argues that the main achievement of the 4th century reforms was the triumph of the rule of law, a principle that you appear to view as just another tiresome drag on popular sovereignty. Indeed Eder argues that the very notion of popular sovereignty is a nineteenth-century invention (he has no time for Ober’s very different viewpoint), born out of a reaction against autocracy.* Indeed the only difference between an autocratic ruler and popular sovereignty is numerical.

    * a competing chronology would attribute it to the time of Bodin’s six livres and would view 5th-century Athens as a (mercifully brief) example of demos tyrannos

    http://agiw.fak1.tu-berlin.de/Hospitium/Eder.htm

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  7. A sortinista need not be a Utopianist nor a believer in any particular political economy. That said, I like the “circuit breaker” idea and the keeping it small approach. “Too big too fail” is also inefficient, slow, and not resilient.

    One good idea, in my view, of keeping things economic on a workable, resilient scale is alternative ane local currencies. This avoids keeping “all the eggs in one basket” and should in the long run bring more local autonomy and meaningful choice. In other words, the Euro was precisely the wrong direction for stability & resiliency. The ecological analogy for multiple currencies are redundant biological systems, and the scale of organisms.

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  8. How could Sortition fix any of this?

    It depends on what “any of this” means. If it means how does sortition fix accountability, didn’t the Athenians have processes in place to hold officials accountable during and even after the time they were in office? If so, that would imply that sortition itself, at least as practiced by the Athenians, doesn’t address the question of accountability at all.

    If “any of this” means the problem of an entrenched oligarchy, isn’t it the stated position of this blog that sortition is an antidote to oligarchy? I have to wonder why so many people who apparently think a ruling class is necessary post to this blog. It’s as if they think sortition is okay as long as it doesn’t give the people most affected by political decisions the right to make those decisions themselves.

    Keith, your exquisitely disingenuous remarks about the financial sector are somewhat of a cypher. I can’t tell if they’re yet another fragment in your tedious baiting of Yoram or just general trolling.

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  9. Eric,

    It’s true that sortition doesn’t address the question of accountability. Unfortunately the Athenian euthynai process was only concerned with criminal acts, as opposed to ex post electoral accountability, which is concerned with politicians living up to their promises. As for the necessity of a ruling class, my concern is the inevitability of the aristocratic principle; the only thing that changes over the years being the differentiation criterion — in our own age the aristoi are celebrities, rather than people who have demonstrated their merit through more practical achievements. Given this inevitability I would prefer to appoint or elect our rulers rather than submitting to the “representative claim” of the likes of Russell Brand.

    I’m sorry you find my remarks on the financial sector disingenuous, as they were meant in total sincerity. Gordon Brown’s redistributive splurge would not have been possible without relying on the (illusion of) prosperity generated by the financial sector. As a manufacturer, I don’t applaud, but merely seek to acknowledge this.

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  10. Hi Conall, I just left this comment on the Independent website:
    If we had some proper democracy, we might change the entitlement of banks to create money. Banks create money (by lending many claims on the same asset – ‘fractional reserve banking’) and the money thus created buys up the assets and labour of others. No wonder all the power in the world lands up with a few who do nothing for anyone, except control them.

    As for why so few talk about reform: powerful people do not want reform, and most of the rest of us shy away from understanding. It’s an effort, and the subject is obscure and unfamiliar.

    Lastly, it’s important to know that banks are exempt from laws which prevent the rest of us from creating and transferring rights in a piece of property greater than our own. If this exemption were removed, the world would rapidly become a very different place. My book ‘In The Name Of The People’ goes into all this.

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  11. Eric,

    > that would imply that sortition itself, at least as practiced by the Athenians, doesn’t address the question of accountability at all.

    I don’t quite agree, but it seems that this may be worth discussing at some length, especially since “accountability” (for some meaning of the term) has become one of the main justifications for electoralism both in academia (e.g., here) and in mass media.

    > I have to wonder why so many people who apparently think a ruling class is necessary post to this blog.

    This may be more of a matter of volume of posts than number of posters.

    But in any case, it seems that the idea of using sortition as some sort of an add-on to the existing system, leaving the system’s oligarchical nature essentially intact is quite common among academics who are active in this area – e.g., Fishkin, Leib and Zakaras.

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  12. Ivo,

    I’ve read the fractional reserve chapter of your book several times and I still don’t understand it, so I wonder if you’re being a bit optimistic about the view that an allotted jury might take. As you rightly say it takes a lot of effort to understand obscure and unfamiliar issues. It’s also the case that there were many guilty parties in the “banking” crisis, borrowers as well as lenders. The folk who took out mortgages in the full knowledge they couldn’t repay them and who maxed out their credit cards to pay for a new car or yet another holiday are the same folk who would be manning the allotted juries. The complaint in Athens was that citizens would not sacrifice their free theatre tickets for the future security of the polis, and we all know parents who put their own consumption before the interests of their children and grandchildren. So I think we need beware of wishful thinking that a simple change of the appointment mechanism (sortition rather than election) would make a whole lot of difference, especially as this would lead to a reduction in the accountability of lawmakers.

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  13. To Keith (and others) who might be wondering why FRB (fractional reserve banking) has popped up here: This might properly be described as our most significant democratic deficit — that neither the politicians nor those who elect them control our money system.

    Ivo has described in his excellent book ‘In the name of the people’ the story of how the banking system has wrenched the power of money-issue away from the sovereign government. That’s how we got to the situation in 2008 when governments threw 100s of billions to rescue the bankers, often without even a vote in Parliament. “Give me control of the money-issue, and I can control the country” said one banker.

    If you want to know how the present money-issue system works, have a look at http://www.positivemoney.org/ (disclaimer: I have been involved with Positive Money (PM) for some time)(but it is an excellent, and well-validated website).

    Their solution is to have an independent monetary committee decide how much new money the central bank should issue, with government deciding where to spend it into circulation.

    So would a Sortitional regime be any better than our electoral oligarchy at getting control of our money back, and would they use that power for the general good?

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  14. Conall,

    >So would a Sortitional regime be any better than our electoral oligarchy at getting control of our money back, and would they use that power for the general good?

    That’s an interesting question. I edited and published Ivo’s book and I still don’t really understand the issue, so I’m not confident that a randomly-selected group of citizens would do much better. The problem is, I think, that FRB would appear to give us money for nothing (in the QE sense). Ivo argues convincingly that this is a Faustian pact but selling one’s soul can be quite tempting, especially if the cupboard is bare, the children need feeding and you don’t really understand how these things work. Having convincing and well-informed advocates explaining it might help, but it would certainly be a long way beyond the cognitive resources of an average group of citizens to generate this knowledge endogenously (or even know where to look for advice).

    And I don’t see that there’s any inherent reason to suggest that securing the (long-term) general good would be the primary motivation of a randomly-selected microcosm. We need to beware of the danger of wishful thinking, hence my argument that sortition could only improve the situation, it’s certainly not a magic bullet.

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  15. “given the transnational reality of economic power, it makes no difference what mechanism (election or sortition) is in use, both are equally impotent”.
    *** Right, it is possible that some big financial entities of the present globalized economies are so strong that it will be difficult for any political power to prevail over them, including a modern dêmokratia (taking into account that it would be a different situation if the first modern dêmokratia occurs in Russia or in Slovenia). Actually, I would say, more generally, that we must avoid looking for a “magical” political power, able to overcome any constraints of the present realities – as the strength of some global financial entities, the might of some foreign States, or, as well, the geographical realities (including the geological ones: the best government in Jordan will need some time before getting the GNP by head of Qatar).
    *** But we must not switch from the idea of a “magical” political power to the idea of an intrinsically impotent political power, which will remove any interest from the “political problem”. The choice between a polyarchic system, an authoritarian one and a totalitarian one is not meaningless, and the model of modern dêmokratia through sortition adds one item to the choice.
    *** The political power has the monopoly of physical strength. That means something, as Yoram points with the example of Khodorkovsky. Even in a polyarchy, we saw the US government applying quite efficiently pressure on the Swiss banks, classical example of big financial power.
    *** To Yoram quoting the Khodorkovsky case, Keith Sutherland answers in a way which seems imply that only an authoritarian, or half-authoritarian, or totalitarian regime could have the necessary strength to be able to prevail over big financial powers (which, actually, is a classical argument of the supporters of these regimes). But dêmokratia, i-e in modern times democracy-through-sortition, will have its own inherent high level of strength. Why?
    • Because the financial powers will lose at least a big part of their influence on political life (immediately as for the electoral campaigns; later as for the media and other fields which will be re-organized by the new power);
    • Because all the bodies having “the last word” will share the same political sensitivity, and the financial lobbies will not be able to play one actor against another;
    • Because dêmokratia will most probably rationalize the legal system, eliminating a big number of technicalities kept by the lawyer elite for archaic or corporatist motives, and easily used by big financial powers which can employ armies of lawyers.
    *** The apologists of our legal system want to make us believe that, if it is not efficient, it is because it conforms to very high principles, as the presumption of innocence. Good principle this one, and actually I would like it much more strictly respected. But if you look in France to judicial affairs where “big money” illegalists escape punishment, their success is not usually got invoking this principle, but much more questionable norms. Specially efficient is the norm of nullification: “there is nullity whenever the ignorance of a substantial formality prescribed either by (…) the criminal procedure has caused prejudice to the party invoking it”. In a very complex financial procedure, the armies of lawyers working for “big money” illegalists will be unlucky if they are not able to find motives for nullification. A more reasonable rule will nullify only the data the proof of which becomes dubious – it is the reasoning in quality management norms (sorry for the professional bias). Another dubious norm is the short delay of prescription for many financial crimes. I doubt a sovereign dêmos will keep such norms. More generally, the rationalization of the legal system will heighten its strength.
    *** A modern dêmokratia will have a level of strength maybe higher than autocracies (where it is difficult to control bureaucratic networks) and comparable to the strength of totalitarian systems – but without the inherent tendency to madness of these systems.

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  16. >”How could sortition fix this?”

    I’m a little surprised that no-one seems to have commented on the result of the Swiss referendum on limiting the highest salary in a company to twelve times the lowest salary.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_referendums,_2013

    Since those who would have lost by the adoption of the proposal must be a very tiny proportion of the electorate, and the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected (65%), it appears that most of the Swiss are prepared to vote against their own interest. (Turnout was 53%).

    This seems to be a case of public opinion being totally moulded by media “experts” whose prestige and claim to expertise arise from holding a very highly paid position in large companies. (They would know best what their own salaries should be, wouldn’t they?).
    I heard one gentleman on French TV saying (approximately) that the idea would destroy the economy, Western civilisation, freedom, and all that we hold dear. Not bad for a modest proposition with no mention of collectivisation, compulsory acquisition or re-education camps.

    I would like to think that an allotted assembly would give a result more in line with ordinary people’s interests. (I assume, of course, that there is not some advantage to ordinary citizens in this result which I cannot see.)

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  17. Oops. Not anonymous, but I, Campbell Wallace, who posted that.

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  18. Or it could be that the economics-knowledgeable Swiss recognized it was a bad idea, and a sorted body would have reached the same conclusion.

    Sometimes redistribution is not a good thing for anyone.

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  19. Andre, Campbell, Jon

    The truth is we simply don’t know and can only speculate. We all tend to extrapolate from our own beliefs and values and assume that an assembly of “people like me” will automatically reflect these. I’ve just completed jury service and was disappointed to see the extent to which perspectives derived from limited life experience are impervious to reasoned discourse. I’m preparing a post on this experience but need to have it checked first for possible contempt of court (jurors are limited in what they can say publicly, even after the verdict is delivered).

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  20. @keithsutherland
    (jurors are limited in what they can say publicly, even after the verdict is delivered)

    Such a court order is unconstitutional. That suggests much of the rest of what happened was.

    If you want to run your report by me send it to jon.roland@constitution.org

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  21. Thanks Jon, I’ll do that as soon as I get home.

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  22. jon,

    Keith’s jury service was in the UK, so there are no “constitutional” limits on laws restricting free speech there.

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  23. Campbell,

    It is interesting to remember in this context that the Athenians, while taxing the rich, did not act to reduce concentration of wealth as a matter of principle. It is quite possible that this would be the case in modern times as well even if the issue is considered by an allotted chamber.

    Certainly under the current system, when the population is constantly brainwashed about the Horrors of Communism etc., it is no surprise that a majority (but still no more than 2 out of 3 voters) is reluctant to act decisively – or even symbolically – against concentration of wealth.

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  24. The constitutional issues involved in jury service apply to any polity, not just the U.S. with its written constitution of government or its First Amendment. Anyway, the UK’s customary constitution is flexible in a way it would not be if fully written, which is part of the reason it needs a written constitution and why the independence party in Scotland plans a written constitution.

    One of the persistent misunderstandings of constitutional design is that somehow rights like speech and press are not protected unless there is some constitutional provision for that. Such rights arise from nature and society and are superior to constitutions of government or to statutes or legal practices under them. Jefferson was right: they are unalienable. They may be recognized but not “granted”.

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  25. I’m not entirely sure of how the law stands, but I think it’s more a case of protecting the anonymity of individual jurors. We were told not to reveal the identity or arguments of any juror, but I assume that if you want to identify yourself with a particular position that’s less of a problem.

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  26. The Swiss have a civic culture dominated by small business, which has made them wise enough to recognize the difference between concentrations of personal wealth that are abusive and those that are merely trying to more efficiently manage wealth to the general benefit of everyone. “Levelling”, to use a term from 17th century England, might appeal to those envious of conspicuous consumption, but is unlikely to result in as general increase in productivity that can provide more to go around. Depriving the wealthy is more likely to just deprive a lot of people of their jobs. It would be more rational to deprive the unproductive of their subsidies.

    Now to the extent that concentrations of wealth produce or are produced by rent-seeking, that is a proper application of levelling. People should acquire wealth through the market, not through politics.

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  27. Protecting the anonymity of individual jurors is reasonable. That is why it is common in the U.S. to just assign them numbers and refer to them by number instead of by name. But it might be well to avoid associating such a number with an argument and use pseudonyms of your own.

    I’d be interested in how a modern UK jury behaves and what kind of instructions they get from the judge.

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  28. He went over the “pertinent” facts in great detail, but was surprisingly vague on the law. We had to go back to him twice for clarification, including requesting written confirmation of the relevant statute. Our (split) verdict was based on differing interpretations of words like “and” (sic), “honesty” and “reasonable”, and that’s not really the job of juries to decide!

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  29. The original standard of due process in jury trials was that in mixed cases of law and fact, as all criminal cases are, parties have a right to make all legal arguments, except on admission of evidence, to the jury, not just to the judge out of hearing by the jury, and to have all legal decisions of the judge on motions deferred until arguments are made to the jury, up to the point the judge issues his final instructions. If the judge neglects to explain the law it is up to the lawyers to do so.

    If this standard is not met, then one of the elements of proof has not been met, that the due process rights of the defendant have not been violated at any point in the proceeding. If you are on a jury and don’t get the legal arguments made to you, that alone is grounds to acquit, regardless of the other argument or evidence.

    See trial-jury dot org

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  30. It does suggest that either the court was negligent in instructing the jury on the legal standard of mens rea (criminal intent), or did not allow the lawyers to do so in their arguments, and that the schools are also derelict in providing a basic legal education. Everyone should be taught the five elements of criminal proof: (1) mens rea, (2) actus reus, (3) harm, (4) causation, and (5) concurrence of the other four.

    Expertise is a problem when the issues are technical. There has developed a tendency for litigants in U.S. intellectual property cases to try to get the cases tried in Marshall, Texas, a mid-sized town where so many people have served on juries on somewhat technical IP issues that there has developed a local culture of sophistication about them. It can be entertaining to listen in on conversations in public places there, weighing the subtleties of prior art and patent infringement. But it has taken time and many trials to develop this local culture. This points to the need for more people to have more jury experience over long periods of time. How many members of your panel had prior jury experience?

    You seem to provide an argument for persuasive deliberation, if not for secret balloting. The defendant was lucky to get you on his panel. Perhaps the need is to make it more likely that panels will have at least one knowledgeable and persuasive member like you. Of course persuasion could go the other way. Among lawyers the expression for such a persuader is the “shepherd in the fold”. (Sometime corruptly placed there by prosecutors to steer toward a conviction.)

    I am somewhat concerned, however, that it took only 10 out of 12 to convict. The original standard was unanimity. Might want to press for a return to that standard, but perhaps also for a rule that failure to convict is acquittal, not a hung jury.

    The system seems to have worked well in that case. You are to be commended for your conduct.

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  31. >”Depriving the wealthy is more likely to just deprive a lot of people of their jobs. It would be more rational to deprive the unproductive of their subsidies.”

    And what’s more, taxation is theft, right? I doubt if you or anyone else will persuade me to swallow all that Ayn Rand stuff again. Been there, done that.

    But never mind what I think, while the sums involved are probably small compared with the Swiss economy, on the face of it, everyone who does not see his salary go down would be better off by a tiny amount. Either goods and services produced in Switzerland would be cheaper, benefiting both consumers and making the country more competitive, or the money saved might go into raising other salaries, or, if it goes somehow into government coffers, by increasing government services, or reducing taxes, or public debt.

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  32. An historical note: Athens did not directly tax the rich (other than an obligation to build a war ship or fund a religious festival, etc.)…the state financing came mainly from state-owned resources, such as silver mines, and harbor fees, etc. Often, they would lease out state properties (such as a mine) to the highest bidder for a set number of years.

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  33. > An historical note: Athens did not directly tax the rich (other than an obligation to build a war ship or fund a religious festival, etc.)

    This is incorrect. First, in addition to the liturgies that you mention an additional wealth tax – the eisphora – was levied. Regarding the liturgies, what you wrote is like saying that modern states do not directly tax the rich (other than an obligation to pay income taxes). Liturgies were a significant financial burden for the rich in Athens.

    I am not sure about the comparison with other sources of income. It is unlikely, however, that either the eisphora or the liturgies would have been maintained unless they were considered an important source of income.

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  34. Keith Sutherland says: “The truth is we simply don’t know and can only speculate. We all tend to extrapolate from our own beliefs and values and assume that an assembly of “people like me” will automatically reflect these”
    *** Keith is right: we cannot be sure of the political decisions of a future dêmokratia, and we are easily subject to optimistic self-delusion. We cannot forecast from opinion polls, which are without deliberation, and from referendums, which follow bad deliberations, which are confusing, which include binary questions, etc ….
    *** But Keith follows binary logics: 1-we are sure, 0- we don’t know. It is better to think in terms of probability, and of statistical tendencies. And in some cases we can have reasonable guess about the tendency. I spoke about the judicial norms useful for big money illegalists. I think that in a dêmokratia such norms will be, at least, in danger. And more generally, the tendency in dêmokratia will be to lessen the strength of social powers. For that reason the politically conscious parts of elites and lobbies will be strongly against democracy-through-sortition, with the exception of some idealist lobbies which hope (rightly or wrongly) to be able to convince the majority of citizens.
    *** We must, as well, distinguish between the first time of a dêmokratia and later times. Initially, deference and media pressure will limit, more or less, the self-assertion of the dêmos. But in a society where lottery begins an honored principle, deference will be lessened, as a tendency; and the lessening of the strength of social powers will work, as well, in the mediatic sphere, as a tendency.

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  35. Yoram Gat is right when remembering us that the Athenians, while taxing the rich, did not act to reduce concentration of wealth as a matter of principle. He is right too about the financial burden for the rich in Athens. The Second Athenian Democracy, especially, had big state-owned resources, as says Terry Bouricius, but had big expenses as well, and could no more extract money from subject Cities; therefore the rich had to pay. I will add some points.
    *** The liturgy can be considered, as Yoram says, as a kind of tax. But, by leaving some individuality to the payer, more or less according the kind, it could be psychically somewhat different. It was something between the tax and the voluntary civic contribution. We can look to the wikipedia notice about “liturgy (ancient Greece)”, which is taken from serious historians.
    *** The tax and liturgy system of Athens was not only a way of paying for the military and the cultic public necessities. The dêmokratia did not want to punish the rich, but asked them to support which was a kind of welfare system, through various institutions.
    *** The welfare system of the Second Democracy, funded through a good management of State resources and contributions from the rich, lessened among the poor the temptation of predatory imperialism and protected the City from civil war between rich and poor. It was therefore a good financial base for the dêmokratia. Demades was not stupid when saying that the theôrikon, one of the welfare institutions, was “the glue of the democracy”.
    *** The Athenian dêmokratia did not say to the rich: “you are too rich, such an inequality is scandalous”, but “you are rich, it would be scandalous to use all this money for individual consumption; morally, and legally to help you to be moral, you have to pay for the collectivity”. It is a distinct language, and ideologically quite different. But, ideology aside, the “burden on the rich” seems to have been substantial. And that was one of the factors of the anti-democratic stance. The “Oligarch” in Theophrastus “Characters” (XXXVI, 6), laments “When will they stop trying to ruin us with liturgies and the trierarchy?” – and the final culprit is Theseus, mythical founder of the democracy.

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  36. Yoram and Andre,
    Thanks for correcting me. I had never heard of the eisphora before.

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