Belgiorno-Nettis: Power to the people, unnamed and unadvertised

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, founder of the new Democracy Foundation, writes in The Sydney Morning Herald:

[M]odern democracy was born of privilege and nurtured through class conflict. Conceived in partisan contest, initially as kings and barons, then as landed gentry in elections, the disenfranchised became chartists, then socialists, and the ultra-disenfranchised became communists. Even though the claims of the working class and the suffragettes have largely been resolved, the saga continues in a fossilised relic of divisiveness. Modern democracy rejected the Athenian ideal of equality, wherein the poor, as much as the rich, were automatically accorded a place in government.

Let us for a moment imagine a Parliament – or at least a House of Review – constituted of people selected by lot, like a jury. You might say: it may well be representative, but it can’t possibly be competent!

We’ve lost sight of the true genius of democracy, of trusted public decision-making, wherein power and competency reside, from the outset, in everyday people, unnamed and unadvertised.

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