“The whole concept of democracy rests on the same premises that are used as objections to the real practice of democracy”

Some highlights from another online discussion of sortition:

Sortition or selection by lot was used in ancient Greece and is currently used to form juries. My question is whether this should be extended to choose our local councillors and state politicians.

Absolutely! The best possible government is one that has to live with its own decisions, rather than handing decisions down for others to carry out, pay for and suffer the consequences, while the rules themselves are exempt. If all citizens may, at any time, be called upon to administer the state, it becomes a duty of all citizens, rather than the privilege of a few.

I love the idea of sortition but there are some issues, one of which is an impassable roadblock to sortition.

1) Many people do not have the capacity to understand the issues. There would need to be some filtering, lest chance bring us a leadership gang of profoundly unintelligent people. That leads us to the question of who does the filtering, and how capacity to understand policy issues can be ascertained. It’s a corruptible process.

2) How would people feel about being hauled from their comfortable lives to engage in the intensely demanding work of politics, not to mention the intrusiveness of what would be necessary security measures?

3) Here is the dealbreaker – the Anglosphere’s media is dominated by Rupert Murdoch’s partisan news outlets. While this situation remains true democracy is not possible in those affected countries, evidenced by our rapid slide towards an ever more powerful powerful oligarchy. Sortition would require approval of Rupert Murdoch and his helpers, and that would require him to surrender some of the immense power he has worked tirelessly to build up over many decades. It won’t happen.

The whole concept of democracy rests on the same premises that are used as objections to the real practice of democracy. 1. That adult citizens are capable of decisions regarding their own lives and social structures., 2. That a constitution and laws can be upheld by a reasonable polity, reasonably administered. and 3. That no special talent or training are required to conduct the legislative processes (After all, we do let shopkeepers run for office and farmers vote for them.) We already assume that we can manage both to select and to instruct a jury that has the power of life and death over one individual. We already trust our fellow citizens with our health, our children, our safety, every minute of the day.

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40 Responses

  1. The blame-it-on-Murdoch trope is getting a bit tedious.The UK has a highly competitive print media and people buy Murdoch newspapers because they like them and tend to agree with their political views, so a competitive press its the modern version of Isegoria. No doubt this perspective will enrage the followers of GramscI, who will bleat on about hegemony and ruling class domination, but all that is so 1970’s.

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  2. *** Keith Sutherland wrote (December 28, 2014): “The UK has a highly competitive print media and people buy Murdoch newspapers because they like them and tend to agree with their political views, so a competitive press its the modern version of Isegoria.”
    *** I don’t know the UK media situation (the Channel is so wide….). But at least I disagree with the following general idea “In western polyarchies, due to press freedom and competition, there is basic political agreement between media and common citizens who read or view them”. The majority of French citizens voted against the “European Constitution”, favoured massively by all media. In this case the money elite and the culture elite, or at least the leading kernels of both elites, were united for YES – and the media followed, notwithstanding the popular feeling.
    *** Right, in a competitive market media must please their audience. But they can please by various ways. And when they decide to please politically their audience, they can choose their subjects. A media channel linked to the money elite will please politically to the ordinary worker by stressing various subjects, except the subjects where there is apparent contradiction of the interests of ordinary workers and the money elite. Political flattery, political demagoguery, but selective ones.
    *** I don’t agree likewise with any strong connection between the “press freedom” in polyarchies and democratic isêgoria. In the Second Athenian Democracy, any citizen could indict a politician, a decree or a law and speak against them in front of a jury, without a supportive network. When Keith links isêgoria and Internet, it is more tenable – but the Internet debate is rationally inferior to an institutional debate; and even inferior to the face-to-face deliberation on the Greek Agora, as it is easier to select people with the same political sensitivity. In a modern dêmokratia, isêgoria must be institutionalized along ways to be explored, but which cannot be reduced to “free internet”.

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  3. Andre

    As you say, La Manche is very wide. The UK press, both tabloid and broadsheet, is widely divided on the EU issue but, on balance, matches the scepticism of the public. I’d be interested to hear of particular cases where the UK press, on aggregate, depart from informed median preferences (I use the word “informed” deliberately, as journalists do tend to at least understand the topics that they are writing about). Bear in mind that, in the UK, most of the attacks on the political class have their origins in the press (as do most exposures of scandals, cover-ups and other forms of establishment malfeasance). One of the reasons that the government was so keen to shut down the News of the World and to implement the strictures of the Leveson report is to put an end to this inconvenient source of isegoria. I don’t know anything about the French media, but recent events in Paris certainly indicate the crucial role of an unfettered press in the maintenance of democratic freedoms.

    My championing of the internet (elsewhere) is slightly different in that the emphasis is on gaining 100,000 signatures for online petitions, rather than seeking to influence mass opinion. Whilst none of these measures match up to the isegoria of a tiny direct democracy, we do need to take the problem of scale very seriously. As I indicated in my response to Arthur’s article, this involves taking the principle of isegoria and imagining ways of incarnating it in mass societies, rather than just scaling up the institutions of an ancient polis. This requires some form of representation and a highly competitive media marketplace looks to me like the best place to start. In the same way that I exercise my isonomia when I vote in an election, I exercise my isegoria when I subscribe to my chosen newspaper, and both are representative acts. The main reason that I subscribe to the Sunday Times is because, on balance, I agree with the viewpoint of its columnists, so they act as a proxy for my own free speech. (If everyone just exercised their isegoria directly the result would be an unintelligible cacophony that would be dominated by the loudest voices.) The ST also happens to be the widest-selling Sunday broadsheet, so my own views are amplified to the extent that they are shared by others (ditto for readers of the Mail and the Sun). Governments are, quite rightly, terrified of offending readers of the Mail and the Sun. Isonomia can be improved by sortition (as witnessed by the 4th century reforms), but the Athenians never used sortition as way of instantiating isegoria (this would have been a breach of an important democratic freedom).

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  4. PS: on the need for market competition to ensure modern isegoria, it’s interesting to contrast the UK print and broadcast media on the eurosceptic issue. Although the money and culture elite (presumably including newspaper proprietors) are almost unanimously in favour of the EU; The Telegraph, Sun, Mail and Express are eurosceptic, the Times moderately pro-, leaving only the Guardian and the Independent (the chosen journals of the cultural elite) as EU flag-wavers. By contrast the broadcast media, who still feel the need to be “impartial” have been solidly pro-EU and anti patriots (Little Englanders). The rise of UKIP has forced them all (especially the BBC) to acknowledge that it is institutionally (ie unconsciously) pro-European, as its values are those of the Oxbridge humanities and PPE graduate. The above analysis also applies immigration, feminism, multiculturalism, gay rights and other PC issues where the preferences of the cultural elite depart from those of ordinary working people.

    A vibrant and competitive media market is the best way to ensure isegoria in large modern democracies, however distasteful that may be to Murdoch-haters, who bear a close resemblance to the aristocrats who castigated the post-Periclean demagogues. Most of the complaints against Creon were on account of his provenance and personal characteristics, not his policies. What the elite really hate about Murdoch is that he is a Dirty Digger and that large numbers of the great unwashed (or sans-dents as Hollande puts it) share his tastes and political opinions. Just savour this review of one of our books on immigration (that was championed by the Murdoch press), in the New Labour journal Progress:

    “The best thing about this book is that it saves you the cost of an evening in the pub. Just reading Moxon conjured up the filthy red carpet, the sticky counter, the smoky air and the swivel-eyed patron on the next stool, sharing his opinions. Mmm. . .”

    That could be straight out of Aristophanes, although he would have phrased it better.

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  5. *** Keith Sutherland writes (January 15, 2015) “Bear in mind that, in the UK, most of the attacks on the political class have their origins in the press (as do most exposures of scandals)”.
    *** This is not opposing with a strong oligarchic leaning of the system. We can remember the Roman way and the Carthaginian way – both republics with strong oligarchic leanings. The Roman oligarchy, at least in classical Republican times, was “cohesive”. The Carthaginian one was not cohesive: the scandals, mistakes or failures of a politician of one faction were strongly denounced by the opposite factions, with worse consequences than in contemporary Britain. This personal insecurity of politicians was in the Carthaginian system the price to be paid for the stability of the system, with Carthaginian common citizens apparently lacking the “reverence” of the Roman ones. Denouncing the personal weaknesses, incompetences or vices of individual politicians can be useful to avoid considering the weaknesses of the system itself.
    *** I don’t read British newspapers. But at a press conference of the French president last year some British journalists looked much more interested by whom the President was sleeping with than by his very important socio- economic initiatives.

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  6. *** Keith Sutherland writes (January 15, 2015) “ In the same way that I exercise my isonomia when I vote in an election, I exercise my isegoria when I subscribe to my chosen newspaper, and both are representative acts. The main reason that I subscribe to the Sunday Times is because, on balance, I agree with the viewpoint of its columnists, so they act as a proxy for my own free speech. (…) The ST also happens to be the widest-selling Sunday broadsheet, so my own views are amplified to the extent that they are shared by others (ditto for readers of the Mail and the Sun).”
    *** What Keith describes here is he entering a faction, i.e. a group of people with some common political purposes and acting collectively. In our contemporary polyarchies, indeed, entering a faction as the one constituted by suscribers or regular readers of a political newspaper is a kind of political action for a citizen, which I understand. But these kinds of polyarchic factions have drawbacks.
    *** First, it is easy for a kernel to grow such a faction by concentrating on some subjects and forgetting others, and therefore manipulating people in the rank and file of the faction. Let’s imagine a newspaper with strong stances about ethnic, sexual, law and order subjects, and flattering the sensitivity of its readers about these items, but a not so clear stance about the socio-economic system. That would mean, actually, considering implicitly that the established socio-economic system is, at least basically and in current conditions, the best possible system – a position which is rationally tenable, but which should be explicited and reasoned.
    *** Second, we must remember that isêgoria is the possibility to issue precise proposals of policy, and “media factions” may avoid that. Reading a French newspaper linked to the culture elite, I can see they present any proposal about immigration control in very negative ways – with arguments specific to the proposal, but the result is always negative. Is there a precise immigration policy advocated by the newspaper? No. The “free entrance policy” is advocated by a kernel, who considers that any man is entitled to migrate in any country of his choice, that, actually, it must be considered as a “basic Right of Man”. But this position is not the official stance of the newspaper. Actually, there is no precise proposal of the newspaper about immigration policy, which could be considered as contributing to isêgoria and to a rational debate. There is only flattering of xenophilic feelings of the readers (who will feel ethically superior to the xenophobic low classes), and intimidation of the government. It is one of the typical processes of the polyarchic systems – not a modern form of democratic isêgoria.

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  7. Andre, I accept that competitive media are a less-than-optimal form of isegoria but, given modern states comprising many millions of citizens, what (apart from elections and other forms of representative claims) is the alternative? My argument is merely that consideration of scale necessitates that both elements of Athenian democracy (isonomia and isegoria) should be instantiated by representative processes. Sortition works for the former, but not the latter, where some element of choice is required. The way the factional/polyarchical method generally works is that the commercial media respond to public preferences (in order to increase circulation) and then political parties (makers of representative claims) jump on the bandwagon by taking popular/populist issues and converting them into policy proposals. It’s certainly not perfect, but have you a better suggestion?

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  8. I don’t have a concrete plan, but I think it should be possible to use the Internet to facilitate real isegoria (right to propose), even in a society of many millions. Proposals might be submitted by anybody, that are randomly presented to others who rate or give a thumbs up or down (like so many online sites). Some algorithm could advance those with lots of likes so that more people see them (beyond randomly), until a few proposals float to the top. Various sorts of crowdsourcing are being developed that allow ANYONE to propose, while accommodating the fact that not everybody needs to read every proposal…Random selection can be useful here in a completely different way than sortition.
    Everyone has the equal right to propose, but only those ideas that can muster support (as in the Assembly) move forward.

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  9. Terry,

    Agree with all the above (it fits nicely with my adoption of the UK petition system, with its 100,000 threshold). My only rider is that the final selection should be left to a public votation (certainly not Campbell’s oligarchical proposal for a selection committee of 10 of the “most competent” allotted members). Votation is a direct analogue of the 4th century practice whereby ho boulemenos proposals were put to the whole assembly before deciding to appoint a nomothetic panel. The problem with leaving it all to internet “likes” is that this favours both online junkies (middle-class layabouts like you and me, with nothing better to do) and media and pressure groups who could mobilise support for their pet projects. A public votation in which everybody gets to choose which proposals to send to nomothetai would be the democratic way (at least from a 4th century Athenian perspective, our only working example of legislative judgment by allotted panels).

    >Everyone has the equal right to propose, but only those ideas that can muster support (as in the Assembly) move forward.

    Absolutely — isegoria and isonomia are both necessary for a democracy. But I don’t see the relevance of sortition to the former (the crowdsourcing algorithms you mention are anything but random). Regarding the role of the media to isegoria, it’s a mistake to think that people form their ideas in isolation, the media has a huge part to play in helping to inform public opinion. The internet age provides a wonderful opportunity to increase competition and diversity and this is a far better way to establish collective isegoria than Campbell’s Orwellian appeal to “public service” broadcasters (I’m sure both Pravda and the BBC would view themselves as falling into this category). Dahl’s claim that adults should be allowed to decide what is in their own interests applies equally to the selection of newspapers and broadcasters.

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  10. *** The ways of isêgoria in a modern dêmokratia are to be explored. But I think anyway we will have to acknowledge the legitimacy of statespersons/orators as in Athens. OK for proposals through Internet petitions – but, as in Athens, with the name of a stateperson/orator who takes at least the moral and political responsability of the proposal. In a modern dêmokratia, this person could be likewise elected as manager in charge of enforcing the proposal, or, at least, elected as overseer monitoring the enforcing.
    *** In the Second Athenian Democracy the orators were an informal body. I think a modern dêmokratia could include a formal body of orators who could isue proposals to citizen juries even without internet petitions. How to constitute this body is to be considered. Among the ways : any orator whose internet petition had be accepted could become a « permanent orator » at least for a given time. Here, as for other subjects (i.e. face-to-face deliberation), which was informal in Athens must be institutionalized in a huge and complex modern society.
    *** I agree that competitive media will be an useful thing in a modern dêmokratia, being one factor of what the Athenians called « parrhêsia », free speech, which helps to create a free space of thinking necessary for the dêmos sovereignty (as for any true sovereignty). But regulations are possible, which are not destructive of free thought. See the French law of « droit de réponse », obliging the media to honor a legal right of anybody to respond to what he consider as untrue or unfair ; this can be strenghtened and extended. Or let’s consider « epistemological » regulations : indicate the date and the authenticity of any photograph ; specify for a poll all data, including the error margin ; never mentioning a mean value without the distribution curve etc ….

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  11. I disagree that proposals coming from highly respected and identified orators is a good thing. A challenge for democracy is to overcome the tendency of people to leave the hard thinking to others and accept without deep analysis the thinking of an accepted “leader” or orator. It is never possible to get a majority of citizens to think for themselves on a vast range of issues (nor is it even desirable since people have other things to do). But a small random subset can be given the time, incentive and support to learn and think for themselves on a particular set of issues for a limited time. We DON’T want a jury to simply accept and defer to the thinking of some respected orator. The “wisdom of crowds” is lost, and group think or polarization can be the result. Ideally a jury should have no idea WHO has initiated a proposal so they have an incentive to dig into it, rather than be predisposed to support it (if they like the orator) or reject it (if they dislike nim/her).

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  12. Glad to agree with the thrust of all Andre’s arguments but, like Terry, I’m a little uneasy about the second point. However it has very good historical provenance and would, in practice, operate in a Bayesian manner — the confidence of the allotted assembly in the proposals of the orator in question would ebb and flow on the basis of the epistemic outcomes of past proposals. Orators who were seen to be “resting on their laurels” would not be successful. I wonder, also, if there is any way that the Athenian practice of punishing orators who mislead the people could be reincarnated. Hansen laments the fact that this aspect of Athenian democracy was overlooked when Aquinas repackaged it for the modern world.

    I guess the other objection is that the modern equivalent of the orator is . . . the political party, and this is the prime object of vilification on this blog. The correspondence is quite a good one, because parties that mislead the people are ostracised, but only generally for five years and the demos is a little forgetful (and forgiving). So we need to beef up the punishments — in the 4th century political trials replaced ostracism, so perhaps party leaders (orators) who misled the people should be put on trial?

    We all want to believe that Terry’s counter-proposal would work but I’m not aware of any evidence to indicate that a small group of randomly-selected lay conscripts is the best way of brainstorming solutions to the multitude of problems that elected legislatures have to cope with. We would all like to believe that everyone would embrace the necessary hard thinking, but experience from social psychology suggests that it would at best be a small unrepresentative minority. The wisdom of crowds applies to aggregate judgment and nothing more (that’s why the referent is the crowd, rather than the individual persons that make up the collective).

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  13. I agree Terry: one of the advantages of sortition is that it reduces the power of fame and thus reduces non-representative power. Explicitly granting some people privileged “orator” position is counter-productive.

    Regarding “competitive” media: there is very little that is competitive about present-day media. “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

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  14. >Regarding “competitive” media: there is very little that is competitive about present-day media. “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

    That may have been true regarding the US press in 1960 (the date of your citation), and I believe it is still the case that many local quasi-monopolies exist. It’s emphatically not the case in the UK, where there is intense competition in both the tabloid and broadsheet sectors. I would go so far as to say that a commercially-competitive press is the only reliable source of isegogia and parrhêsia in modern societies. When Lord Hollick attempted to change the political direction of his newspaper away from the preferences and beliefs of his core readership he had to admit defeat and sell it to a proprietor who was happy to better reflect public opinion (for entirely commercial reasons). Of course the government are well aware of the danger of parrhêsia, hence their attempt to shackle the press via the Leveson enquiry. For details see: http://www.spiked-online.com/freespeechnow

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  15. Keith wrote in response to my argument that high-status designated orators would undercut the wisdom of crowds: ” I’m not aware of any evidence to indicate that a small group of randomly-selected lay conscripts is the best way of brainstorming solutions to the multitude of problems that elected legislatures have to cope with.”

    I agree. The hard thinking I was speaking about is the ASSESSMENT of proposals INDEPENDENT of bias for or against based on the reputation of the proposer. The brainstorming of proposals will occur primarily among individuals and groups outside the allotted assembly …and regardless of whether the assembly listens only (as Keith advocates), or is allowed to actively debate and share their own knowledge with other assembly members, it is beneficial if each member thinks for him/herself in assessing a proposal, rather than simply trusting a favorite orator.

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  16. > regardless of whether the assembly listens only or is allowed to actively debate and share their own knowledge with other assembly members, it is beneficial if each member thinks for him/herself in assessing a proposal

    Delegates that are not allowed to discuss issues will not think independently. They would be much more susceptible to manipulation than delegates that can engage in conversation with each other, as well as with advisors and any person they see fit.

    Besides the immediate practical aspect of this (poorer decisions) there is also the longer term effect, which also can be seen as a matter of principle. When the mouths of the allotted are shut, they are not in charge of decision making – they are puppets manipulated by the system. This is offensive as a matter of principle and can be expected to lead to cynicism and overall to a failure of the system to represent the ideas and interests of the population.

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  17. Terry,

    >The hard thinking I was speaking about is the ASSESSMENT of proposals INDEPENDENT of bias for or against based on the reputation of the proposer.

    It all gets down to numbers. I don’t know if you advocate any independent public gatekeeping process (minimum threshold of signatures, public votation etc), but in Campbell’s proposal all ho boulomenos has to do is to put pen to paper and put it in the mail. This is likely to lead to a huge volume of proposals and I can’t see how a small group of allotted conscripts can be expected to work out which ones merit detailed consideration. If, as Campbell recommends, the assembly is split into oligarchical groups of (say) 10, then the selection process will reflect the preferences/prejudices of the oligarchs. There is no good reason to believe that the selections would mirror the preferences of the whole population. If the whole assembly has to consider every one of (say) 100,000 proposals then it will only be able to give each one a couple of minutes each.

    Yoram,

    >Delegates that are not allowed to discuss issues will not think independently. They would be much more susceptible to manipulation

    That’s why the manipulation needs to be evenly balanced. This process will not appeal to someone who denies that this would be a genuine dialectic of competing interests (i.e. who claims that there is a single and unitary elite, the members of which all share underlying interests). It only makes sense for those of us who believe that polyarchy is a better description of contemporary societies than the traditional distinction between the elite and the masses.

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  18. *** Isêgoria was taken by Herodotus as synonym of dêmokratia, because some kinds of assembly of citizens/warriors did exist in Greece before dêmokratia, or outside dêmokratia, but where the common citizens could only ratify proposals “from the top”, or express their feelings about them. Isêgoria did not imply that every citizen issued an individual opinion, but that there was no screening of political comments and proposals, and therefore any conceivable comment and proposal could be considered before the vote.
    *** In ancient Greek cities practical problems led to unsatisfactory procedures. The Athenian juries were huge, by fear of corruption (don’t forget many jurors were very poor) and by some implicit idea of statistical representativity, and practical constraints compelled the choice to be binary: defender guilty or not guilty? If guilty, the punishment proposed by the accuser, or the one proposed by the convicted man? If a law is to be modified, the choice was between the extant law and the new proposal – always binary. In a modern dêmokratia, the computer allows for much smarter procedures, with multiple options, and it would be absurd to be restricted to binary choices. That means that debates generally will not be purely antagonistic, YES or NO, but multiple-options debates – which implies debate procedures different from the ones dominating the Second Athenian Democracy.
    *** For a modern dêmokratia, I favour a debate system with four steps: 1st step: study of data, the permanent orators being one of the sources of data; 2nd step: oratory, with both permanent orators and ad hoc orators, organized as to secure the highest possible diversity of comments and proposals; 3d step: discussion (including face-to-face discussion in small groups) – discussion which involves not only the citizen jury in charge of decisions, but likewise allotted bodies corresponding to the concerned publics; 4th step, a secret multiple-options vote.
    *** Terry Bouricius (January 31) fears a tendency of common citizens not “to think for themselves”, and to “defer to the thinking of some respected orator”. I understand this fear, but I believe the risk is small in modern societies where the social deference is not so strong; and is minimized if the citizen jury, after hearing the orators, participates in a deep discussion. And I think that, without a strong diverse oratory prior to the discussion, there is a risk that the common citizens will defer to the thinking of some co-juror with high rhetorical skills or superior culture status (legitimate fear by Keith Sutherland).
    *** Yoram Gat (January 31) does not accept the idea (“offensive”) that members of a citizen jury should have their mouths “shut”. I agree: with modern technology allowing debate between numerous jurors, forbidding them to issue personal comments and proposals would be against the idea of the people’s sovereignty. It is difficult to imagine a sovereign king who should only hear orators, without right to issue a personal proposal ! But if the citizen jury wants to consider an option not present in the various orators proposals – which should be exceptional, if the oratory system is good – this proposal would have to undergo a complementary step of oratory before final decision, the first jury choosing an orator to defend his proposal.
    *** Yoram Gat (January 31) rejects the idea of “explicitly granting some people privileged “orator” position” because he wants to “reduce the power of fame” – which is, he says, “one of the advantages of sortition”. That seems to imply that creating a list of official orators is contrary to dêmokratia. I don’t agree. Let’s consider a sovereign king. The king has evidently the right of hear any comment and proposal from anybody of his choice. But if the basic law of the kingdom lists some councilors the king cannot avoid to hear before taking the decision, it does not entail the king’s sovereignty, it makes it better, truer, by making it more enlightened.
    *** Yoram’s comment suggests that a list of official orators – which, I repeat, does not exclude in each case ad hoc orators – is somewhat contrary to equality, therefore to dêmokratia. I don’t agree. Yes, such a list will include only people with at least a minimum of orator skill, and therefore the listing acknowledges explicitly that some people are better to elaborate or articulate comments or proposals – which is clearly true. The dêmokratia is based on the absence of any evident scale of value about a specific role: the role of deciding. The democratic equality is an absolute equality about decision, about oratory it is only a formal equality, as in sport. That was clear in the mouth of Theseus (Euripides, “The Suppliant women”, v 438-441). The common citizen may be rhetorically inferior to the permanent orators; to acknowledge that is not subversive of dêmokratia.
    *** Terry Bouricius (January 31) would like anonymous orators. Well, I don’t think it can be an absolute rule, but we can imagine some part of “anonymous oratory”, especially about very emotional subjects where a “devil’s avocate” would be useful.
    *** Any procedure will have its drawbacks. I understand Terry’s fear, but personally I have two different fears. First fear; polarization by big factions, persuading common citizens that there are only two options – which often will be extreme ones (OK, on some issues, an extreme option may be the good one; but it must not be considered as a rule). Second fear: strong ideological networks, which may be opaque and giving a false impression of diversity, are able, by saturating the media and internet, to lead common citizens to think that there is practically one reasonable option, all other options being lunatic. These two risks will be minimal in a four-steps deliberation.

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  19. *** Keith Sutherland (January 30 2015) criticizes those who, without acknowledging the political complexity of contemporary polyarchic systems, interpret them only with “the traditional distinction between the elite and the masses”.
    *** In a polyarchy, the political choices – the de facto political choices, as “letting the things go” is a choice – are the result of a « parallelogram of forces », of the forces of the multiple social powers. Keith is right: that cannot be reduced to the opposition elite/masses, and polyarchy is not pure oligarchy. The elite phenomena are not alone to be considered: the material interest lobbies, the moral interests lobbies, the factions are actors of polyarchy. But it seems to me that often – not always, often – the elite phenomena are most important. I speak of specific elites as the judicial/legal one, and others less conspicuous elites; and, especially for wide-scale choices, of the couple of the wealth elite and the culture elite (the sets have some intersection, but are clearly different in most modern societies). There are complex interactions between elite phenomena and factions and lobbies, sure. Keith is right: we must not over-simplify. But, likewise, we must acknowledge that in many cases a simple interpretation in terms of elites power may explain the political choices. Overstressing the complexity may sometimes lead to obscuring the processes.
    *** I quoted the French referendum about the European Constitution, where the French wealth and culture elites joined for the YES. A majority of voters voted NO, and later the European Constitution was practically adopted (by parlamentiary way) under another name. Here we must consider a point. Among the young people working for the (culture elite) newspaper “Liberation” many opposed the YES stance of the newspaper. They were members of the culture elite, sure – but young ones. And among the youngest part of the French culture elite many have jobs part-time, or unstable, or low-paid; and their elite conscience is fighting with anti-Establishment bitterness, leaving space to autonomous thought. Right, even in this paradigmatic case, the distinction elites/masses is not enough. But it is an important part of the process.

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  20. Andre,

    This is all very interesting and gives us a lot to consider. I’m persuaded by your argument that options need not necessarily be binary. Two initial questions:

    1. Isegoria rights in classical Athens were available to ho boulomenos. In large modern states this is clearly impractical, so what sort of representative mechanisms would you propose to ensure that modern isegoria is just as democratic as isonomia-by-allotted-jury?

    2. The 4th century reformers clearly believed that it was necessary to limit isegoria to the initial policy proposal stages and to explicitly deny it to the legislative juries. Why should that be? If we agree that the large size of the jury was partially in order to ensure its representativity, is it not plausible that the reformers believed that ho boulomenos would reduce the representativity of the nomothetic “trial”? After all, it would depend on who was allotted on the day and chose to speak, whereas the trial process strictly balanced speech rights between the proposer(s) and the five persons elected by the assembly to oppose the new law. The nomothetic panel could well be viewed as a delegated subcommittee of the assembly, and yet they specifically denied speech rights to jury members, suggesting that this would have adversely affected the ability of the subcommittee to represent the whole citizen body. If this is the case then why would we want to overturn a reform that was clearly based on practical experience, by reintroducing discredited 5th century practices into the reformed institutions?

    On the elites/masses distinction I’m happy to acknowledge the disproportionate power of the former so long as its plural case is explicitly acknowledged. While elites may overlap they may also contradict each other — the “rich” are not necessarily the “powerful”.

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  21. Andre,

    > But if the basic law of the kingdom lists some councilors the king cannot avoid to hear before taking the decision, it does not entail the king’s sovereignty, it makes it better, truer, by making it more enlightened.

    Obviously, those privileged councilors will have some political power (unless their advice is always ignored, in which case their status is titular alone). This does indeed impinge on the sovereignty of the king.

    To make the analogy more realistic, imagine that the king is young and is in the process of fashioning his world view. If he is constantly exposed to the advice of those privileged councilors then it would be quite surprising if their advice didn’t have considerable weight upon his decisions. It could easily be that not only does the king share power with the councilors, but in fact it is the councilors who are running the kingdom while the king is no more than their front man.

    And of course there is the foundational issue of who will appoint the privileged councilors. What would be the mechanism that could be expected to generate councilors who will “enlighten” rather than manipulate? Co-optation? Elections?

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  22. *** Yoram Gat (February 7, 2015) asks: « what would be the mechanism that could be expected to generate councillors who will “enlighten” rather than manipulate? Co-optation? Elections? »
    *** A modern dêmokratia would have to consider two different subjects. First the debate procedures able to allow the best enlightenment – including « written » procedures, unthinkable in ancient half-literate societies. Second – it is Yoram Gat’s point here – how to select the permanent orators (the permanent ones – any citizen jury being able to add anybody he finds useful). The best seems to combine various ways. For instance we could imagine that the orator who is the head of an internet petition approved and voted by a citizen jury could be automatically made permanent orator. I would favour likewise a procedure of election by specific citizen juries, but very small ones: the random fluctuation effect, which is a drawback for a policy choice, would be a benefit here by securing a diversity of political sensitivities among the elected permanent orators. A close scrutiny by a small citizen jury would usually eliminate the corrupt, manipulating or antidemocrat candidates. (I say « candidate » – but in Athens one could be elected without being candidate – a good idea maybe). Election after close scrutiny by a jury is basically different from mass politics elections.
    *** Keith Sutherland writes (February 7, 2015): « Isegoria rights in classical Athens were available to ho boulomenos. In large modern states this is clearly impractical, so what sort of representative mechanisms would you propose to ensure that modern isegoria is just as democratic as isonomia-by-allotted-jury? »
    *** Was the principle of ho bouleumenos so easily put into practice in ancient Athens, with juries of hundreds or assemblies of thousands? Actually there was a strong de facto selection. Let’s read Xenophon Memorabilia III, 6, 1 : « Ariston’s son, Glaucon, was attempting to become an orator and striving for headship in the state, though he was less than twenty years old; and none of his friends or relations could check him, though he would get himself dragged from the platform and make himself a laughing-stock. » (transl. Marchant). The ho bouleumenos without skill was made « a laughing stock » – very hard in a shame culture – and « dragged from the platform » …. In the Second Athenian Democracy, which we are able to know with some accuracy, the orators skilled enough were a small « political class » extracted from the culture elite, which overlapped strongly with the wealth elite. The faction division inside the elite, and the very strong antagonistic spirit inside it, allowed a high diversity of political positions; and the principle of ho boulomenos helped – but we must not idealize the Athenian isêgoria. The situation in modern societies, literate, with efficient technological means, has many virtual advantages for isêgoria.
    *** Yoram Gat (February 7, 2015) considers my parallel of a dêmokratia with an ideal sovereign king having permanent councillors and writes « Obviously, those privileged councillors will have some political power (unless their advice is always ignored, in which case their status is titular alone). This does indeed impinge on the sovereignty of the king. ». I disagree strongly with this identification of influence and power. In any political system, some people will have more influence than others, for good or bad reasons. This will be true for a modern dêmokratia – even if, for instance, we can devise procedures for lessening the factor of expression skills. It will be impossible to abolish any difference of influence linked to differences between the persons – including the case of internal discussion in a citizen jury. I am upset by Yoram’s position: if we think dêmokratia needs equality or near-equality of individual abilities of influence, we will postpone dêmokratia until the end of a long and very problematic human engineering (managed how and by whom?).
    *** A sovereign king or a sovereign dêmos does not lose its power because some councillors or orators are better to articulate their ideas or because hearing them is mandatory. He loses power if, among the various possible policies, some are « forgotten », or not efficiently argued. A modern dêmokratia will have to set adequate procedures, and I think a set of permanent orators will be useful. Limiting the orators to those chosen ad hoc seems more sensitive to manipulation.
    *** These comments are about debate concerning citizen juries (mini-populus). The problem of the general political debate is partly different –for instance if we consider the risk of manipulation by saturation and repeated story-telling by informal ideological networks.

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  23. Andre,

    Happy to go along with 99% of your points. Regarding the difference between ancient and modern isegoria, I agree that the ancient right of ho boulomenos was largely theoretical. But anybody who wanted to advise the people could, in principal, do so. In large modern states, with higher levels of education and (nominal) equality, the number of potential advisers would be increased to the level that there would be an unintelligible babble of voices. My argument therefore is that modern isegoria must be representative, and that this will require a mix of election, media diversity and direct-democratic initiative.

    >I am upset by Yoram’s position: if we think dêmokratia needs equality or near-equality of individual abilities of influence, we will postpone dêmokratia until the end of a long and very problematic human engineering.

    Yes, this has always puzzled me as well. Yoram’s response is generally to demonstrate equality of influence by way of logical syllogism — he genuinely doesn’t appear to believe that the differences between persons in an allotted group will adversely affect the representativity of its deliberations. We have been arguing over this very point for years, but have made no progress at all.

    >[The sovereign] loses power if, among the various possible policies, some are « forgotten », or not efficiently argued. A modern dêmokratia will have to set adequate procedures, and I think a set of permanent orators will be useful. Limiting the orators to those chosen ad hoc seems more sensitive to manipulation.

    Agree completely. We cannot leave isegoria to purely chance mechanisms. The underlying fallacy would appear to be that as the allotted group is statistically representative of the whole demos, that its speech acts and information-acquisition process will automatically be representative. This is a failure to distinguish between two entirely different forms of equal freedom (isonomia and isegoria).

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  24. Andre,

    > if we think dêmokratia needs equality or near-equality of individual abilities of influence, we will postpone dêmokratia until the end of a long and very problematic human engineering

    I am not suggesting engineering people but rather engineering institutions. I don’t see why we have to set institutions in a way that creates or amplifies political inequality. This is certainly not democratic.

    I doubt, by the way, that different people do have inherent properties that make them dramatically different in their ability to influence others. This seems to me like an elitist myth that is convenient to those in power since it justifies power as something inherent in those who have it. In reality the ability to influence is overwhelmingly a social construction.

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  25. Yoram,

    >I doubt, by the way, that different people do have inherent properties that make them dramatically different in their ability to influence others. . . . In reality the ability to influence is overwhelmingly a social construction.

    So, as it’s institutions that matter (rather than the inherent properties of persons), establishing the rule of allotted assemblies will presumably undermine this “social construction”, and usher in the kingdom of equality. At least the Bolshevik proposal for universal equality via the sovereignty of people’s councils (soviets) presupposed widespread popular participation, but you are proposing only to enfranchise a tiny minority. Does the magic egalitarian wand of sortition apply to all citizens or only the tiny number who get to participate directly? Thank god that most of us working in this field are not required to make such a giant leap of faith in order for their proposals to have a chance of success.

    I’m glad, also, that you’ve provided an unambiguous response to Andre’s challenge, and would be interested to hear Campbell and Terry’s rejoinder to Andre’s critique of full-mandate (endogenous) sortition.

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  26. PS Yoram’s “different people do [not] have inherent properties that make them dramatically different in their ability to influence others” is certainly the strongest claim that we have yet to hear in favour of full-mandate sortition. If it’s true, and if the sample is statistically representative, then the speech acts of the different members will not distort the representativity. Unfortunately the truth of the statement cannot be tested because (presumably) it will take a very long time to undo the lifetime of indoctrination by inegalitarian social institutions in order to allow this essential equality to manifest itself. So, as well as a magic bullet, we need a deconditioning pill. My preferred approach is always to start with people as they are (irrespective of how their fall from grace may have come about), accept the huge differences in status and persuasive power that different people have, and seek to ensure balanced illocutionary influence by exogenous means (competing elites).

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  27. Yoram, Campbell. Terry,

    The more I think about it, the more I’m grateful to Yoram for expressing with such clarity the two fallacies at the heart of the argument for full-mandate sortition (kleristocracy). Yoram’s argument starts with a mis-statement of Dahl’s description of the liberal (normative) case for equality and personal responsibility. According to liberals, each adult citizen ought to be the guardian of her own interests. (In ordinary language this translates into “give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”.) Liberal ethics is ultimately grounded in the harsh Protestant faith — we are all equal in the eyes of our creator and we will be individually held to account for our free choices on the day of judgment. Yoram transfers this liberal faith from the moral to the empirical domain, as follows:

    1. Each adult citizen is the best judge of her own interests [false].

    2. The interests of a large randomly-selected sample will be an approximate match to the interests of the whole citizen body [true].

    3. The illocutionary imbalances between individuals in the sample will be eliminated by establishing egalitarian deliberative norms and procedures [false].

    Therefore:

    4. The will of the sample (as constituted by its legislative output) will automatically reflect the will of the whole political community [false].

    Even in the absence of the two false premises, Yoram’s case would fail, as argument by deductive syllogism is inapplicable to empirical domains such as psychology, sociology and political science. Note that the onus is on all defenders of kleristocracy (full-mandate sortition), to demonstrate why their case does not rely on these two false premises.

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  28. Keith,
    As I suspect Yoram won’t choose to respond to your version of his argument (he resents your putting words in his mouth)…Let me offer a commentary. Below are your four points and my re-worked version of them:

    1. Each adult citizen is the best judge of her own interests [false].

    1a. Each adult citizen is the most appropriate person to trust in the task of judging her own interests since no person has a corrupt motivation to work against her own interests [true].

    2. The interests of a large randomly-selected sample will be an approximate match to the interests of the whole citizen body [true].

    3. The illocutionary imbalances between individuals in the sample will be eliminated by establishing egalitarian deliberative norms and procedures [false].

    3a. The illocutionary imbalances between individuals in the sample will not be overwhelming by establishing egalitarian deliberative norms and procedures, and tend to roughly track, over time (rather than on each individual vote), with the reality that would occur if ALL citizens were somehow engaged [true].

    Therefore:
    4. The will of the sample (as constituted by its legislative output) will automatically reflect the will of the whole political community [false].

    4a. The will of the sample (as constituted by its legislative output) will, over time, tend to track the will of the whole political community that would occur if ALL citizens were somehow engaged [true].

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  29. Regarding 3a, 4a, I agree that over time fluctuations will average out. However, not all actions are reversible.

    I suppose the question we are really asking is whether the random fluctuations due to imbalances in illocutionary force and related matters are more detrimental on whole than the potential for systemic bias in the proposal introduction step.

    I’m inclined to believe it is possible to address the issue in a satisfactory way from both sides. We could minimize the fluctuations by allowing individual members to employ the services of professional orators who — like trial layers — argue their case on their behalf before their peers. Every member of the body will have interests which could be furthered by an act of the body. It is not difficult to imagine a large majority of members having a staff lawyer both draft a proposal and advocate for it in the full assembled body a few times over their tenure. We could also check the decisions of the full-mandate body against a fresh sample, as Terry has suggested.

    From the other side, we could select a standing pool of orators by election. It’s not too hard to get a diverse group via election, as long as we don’t insist on *strict* descriptive representation among the proposers. If we take the power to decide away from the elected officials, does it even matter anymore who “wins” the election? If there is almost no difference between winning 5% and 50% of the vote… what does it matter? Every fringe notion will get hurled at the allotted members with great oratory competence. It is difficult to see much potential for bias.

    In any case it’s a moot point. It’s a struggle to imagine a pure sortition-based government lasting for very long. Wait for the first major scandal, the first big economic meltdown and all the blame will fall on the faceless institutions themselves. The idea of having well-known public professionals “in charge” who can be whipped when things go wrong will resonate with the people. Calls for a return to “responsible” government (pardon the term) will be supported by the movers of public opinion — people who will see themselves as disenfranchised by sortition — and the reformers will ultimately win the day.

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  30. Terry,

    >1a. Each adult citizen is the most appropriate person to trust in the task of judging her own interests since no person has a corrupt motivation to work against her own interests [true].

    Sinister interests (in Bentham’s sense) are just one factor. There are also issues of competence, knowledge and motivation. Do smokers trust themselves to work in their own interests? (The same argument applies to any other form of unhealthy lifestyle.) And what if the interests of the majority were corrupted — for example thinking that it was to their advantage to eradicate all Jews, Tutsis, kaffirs etc?

    >4a. The will of the sample (as constituted by its legislative output) will, over time, tend to track the will of the whole political community that would occur if ALL citizens were somehow engaged [true].

    So wild fluctuations in the corresondence of individual bills to the general will are acceptable so long as it all balances out in the end? This sounds an awful lot like our current “democratic” arrangements whereby we are obliged to accept the whole package of the party that wins the plurality of the votes. My proposal, by contrast, would ensure that the popular will is accurately reflected on each and every occasion. Who could possibly oppose that? (other than those who see a single monolithic/hegemonic sinister interest hiding round every corner)

    Naomi,

    >We could minimize the fluctuations by allowing individual members to employ the services of professional orators.

    The problem is not just the ability to make a pretty speech; most randomly-selected conscripts will have no knowledge of, or particular views about, most of the bills under consideration. If this is the case, then the lawyers and orators employed by these conscripts are going to have inordinate (and entirely unrepresentative) powers.

    >In any case it’s a moot point. It’s a struggle to imagine a pure sortition-based government lasting for very long.

    That’s true, I’d give it a couple of weeks at most. The problem is that in the process the very notion of sortition will be entirely discredited. That’s why I’m going to such lengths to distance the pragmatic mix of technologies that you and I prefer to the pipe-dreams of the kleristocrats.

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  31. *** Naomi writes (February 16 2015) : « It’s a struggle to imagine a pure sortition-based government lasting for very long. Wait for the first major scandal, the first big economic meltdown and all the blame will fall on the faceless institutions themselves. The idea of having well-known public professionals “in charge” who can be whipped when things go wrong will resonate with the people ».
    *** In case the public opinion wishes « well-known public professionals in charge », the next jury citizen in charge of the field will leave more responsibility in this field to some statespersons, to « ministers ». I doubt strongly this jury citizen will forsake his right to choose the basic policies, to elect the corresponding minister, or to oversee him, to have the last word about the laws, or to judge. What we could have is some kind of oscillation in the amount of responsibility of the ministers. That would not mean a death of the modern dêmokratia.
    *** Note that the Second Athenian Democracy, which was becoming partly a democracy-through-sortition, where allotted juries had often the last word, at the same time did establish some new « magistracies » which look like we call « ministries », concerning mainly public financial affairs; Aristotle (Ath. Pol. 43.1) says us these « magistrates » were elected (exceptional point), and, it seems, for four years (there is debate about the understanding of Aristotle’s wording). The Athenian dêmos wished public finances which are not « faceless ».
    *** A sovereign king may choose to govern some field without « minister », communicating directly with the public servants; or, when the king chooses a policy, he may choose a minister politically accountable; both ways are compatible with the king’s sovereignty. A sovereign dêmos may choose, too. And a change of mind after some dramatic policy failing will not be the end of dêmokratia.
    *** I think a modern dêmokratia will be difficult to establish, but likewise very difficult to destroy; at least in a powerful State able to resist external pressure.

    *** Another point. Naomi speaks of persons « who will see themselves as disenfranchised by sortition ». We have no hint of such feeling in ancient Athens. A citizen who knows that to morrow he may be part of a body with real powers, or, if not himself, somebody very similar to him, will not feel « disenfranchised ». Many citizens feel de facto « disenfranchised » in our polyarchies – they don’t believe in the myth of « representative democracy ». Many accept the system only because the alternative systems which flowered in last century appear worse.

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  32. Andre,

    Naomi, you and I (unlike most of the other orators on this site) have due regard for historical precedent and are thereby attracted to 4th century political practice. Although the randomly-selected juries in the legislative courts made the final policy decisions, they were not accountable for the decision (as it was made by secret ballot). Accountability only applied to magistrates and the orators — those who decided to advise the people. What Naomi is suggesting, I think, is that personal accountability is an essential part of stable governance. If we seek to create a modern analogue of 4th century practice, then the accountability element would be a combination of elected politicians (advisors), advocates (either permanent or temporary) and appointed government officers. Such a principle would need to apply tout court, not just if a particular allotted group decided on an ad hoc basis.

    There were two reasons for the Athenian demos not to feel disenfranchised: 1) the small number of citizens meant that rotation in office — to rule and be ruled in turn — was the reality; 2) the representativity of the decision process was assured by advocates voted in by all citizens in the assembly and the restricted (up/down) mandate of the large allotted sample. As 1) is clearly inapplicable in large, modern states, that’s why it’s even more vital to ensure the representativity of the decision process by following a similar model to 4th century practice (as opposed to the full-mandate sortition alternative).

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  33. *** Terry Bouricius writes (February 16 2015) : « The illocutionary imbalances between individuals in the sample will not be overwhelming by establishing egalitarian deliberative norms and procedures, and tend to roughly track, over time (rather than on each individual vote), with the reality that would occur if ALL citizens were somehow engaged. »
    *** Ok, we may trust that adequate procedures and general equalitarian deliberative set of mind will minimize the effect of rhetorical inequality inside a citizen jury (and we can hope a modern dêmokratia will establish some school training about debate). But I think that the existence of a diverse external oratory will be useful, and probably necessary, to avoid that some valuable comments or proposals are excluded from the jury discussion, by random lack of an efficient supporter. And the main problem is that such exclusions would not be actually random, because the excluded ideas would be usually ideas not supported by an efficient ideological network. Refusing external oratory will lessen excessive influence of charismatic politicians, but likewise it will lessen the ability of citizen juries to resist the informal ideological networks – a more dangerous factor I think in modern societies.

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  34. My comment was more about managing popular anger than the need for personal accountability.

    Movement of opinion in the allotted assembly will be will be representative of the movement of opinion in society iff the deliberative process in the population at large is roughly similar to the deliberative process in the allotted assembly. Which it can’t be. Thus there is no reason to believe that the actions of an allotted assembly will be popular. Case in point: the Australian carbon tax. It was deeply unpopular and there’s a strong case to be made that it was responsibly for bringing down Gillard. Granted, she promised she would not introduce such a thing but had to to bring the greens onboard. In any case, it was very much unwanted. An informed, but otherwise representative, sample of the people would surely acknowledge the need for restrictions on CO₂ emissions. Perhaps an allotted body would do a better job of finding less unpopular ways of addressing the problem. On the other hand, an allotted assembly can disregard popular anger… they need not worry about their approval the way Gillard did. It doesn’t ultimately matter whether popular anger is the result of being forced to accept bitter pills against their will or due to scandals or any other source. It has the potential to be destabilizing regardless. We are talking about leaving the people with no recourse if they disapprove of the actions of their government and the nation’s overall course. We have to be exceedingly careful.

    By “people who will see themselves as disenfranchised by sortition” I was referring to the movers of public opinion. They will be greatly disadvantaged by a move to government by an informed deliberative sample. All of them — be they left or right, up or down, crazy or respectable — have all the incentive in the world to push public opinion back toward a mass politics system. Either the people would have to trust in the process enough that they are willing to outsource their will to the institutions on matters that have personal consequence… or we need to centralize the process of moving opinion in society… or we need an effective lightning rod for popular anger when it arises. Option two is unacceptable for obvious reasons and option one is probably unrealistic.

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  35. Andre,
    I agree… But the question Keith and Yoram (as the polar extremes) are contesting here is not whether outsiders should be allowed to speak to the assembly, (all agree that outside experts/advocates, etc. should be incorporated) but whether the members of the assembly THEMSELVES should be allowed to speak. Keith argues that anything other than voting by the statistically representative sample can distort the sample’s representativeness making them no longer democratic. Yoram, Campbell and I (to a lesser extent) argue that give and take deliberation among the assembly is acceptable since the distortions will be random and tend to even out over time.

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  36. Andre,

    Agree. The problem with illocutionary imbalance and other terms from speech act theory is that they ignore the words that aren’t said, an equally important aspect of Isegoria. The mistake of full mandate sortition theorists is to believe that a statistically representative sample will explore all useful options through brainstorming alone. I’m agnostic as to how advocates should be appointed, but it cannot be a purely random process.

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  37. Terry,

    I’m concerned with both forms of imbalance — internal illocutionary imbalance would affect isonomia (voting), whereas Andre’s concern is the need to ensure that all forms of Isegoria in the wider society are properly expressed in the microcosm. It’s hard to understand how the former can be achieved without silence in the jury, or the latter by relying on purely random factors.

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  38. Naomi,

    Thanks for the carbon tax example; my attempts to argue earlier that Blair’s failure to introduce tax on airline fuel were because he didn’t want to risk popular anger were derided on this blog, as apparently it was all to do with evil business lobbies. Agree also on the need to provide an ongoing role for elites, and that ambition should be quarantined, rather than suppressed. Agree also that we need personal lightning rod accountability.

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  39. Terry, Andre,

    > whether the members of the assembly THEMSELVES should be allowed to speak

    In my mind the question is more fundamental than that: should the allotted members be in charge of how decisions are arrived at, or should the procedures constrain the allotted to limited roles?

    My point is that not only will limiting the allotted likely to result in worse decisions, but doing so is a-priori illegitimate since it allows the non-allotted rule makers to usurp democratic power.

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  40. Yoram

    >doing so is a-priori illegitimate since it allows the non-allotted rule makers to usurp democratic power.

    That’s certainly true in the tautological a-priori sense that you have pre-defined democratic legitimacy in terms of the deliberative will of a statistically-representative microcosm of all citizens. One of the huge advantages of your proposal is that it can be expressed in a single sentence: “Establish a statistically-representative microcosm by sortition and leave everything up to them.” Leaving aside the divine right of princes with its catchphrase L’État, c’est moi it’s hard to think of any other constitutional system that can be fully expressed in a Tweet on social media. I wish I’d selected this for my PhD, as it wouldn’t have taken me very long to write it up.

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