Short refutations of common objections to sortition (part 3)

Part 1 Part 2

11. Elections are a mechanism of accountability. It allows the electorate to reward or punish those with power. There is no way to hold government accountable using sortition.

Using elections as an accountability mechanism is like a bank’s board of directors appointing a new bank manager for a 4-year term and telling him that if he steals the depositors’ money then there is some chance that he will not be re-appointed to run the bank for another term (but he will get to keep the money he took). A manager who sees his job as a means for self-enrichment is clearly better off simply taking the money. No matter how many years of service he can secure if he stays honest, his salary will never amount to what he can steal in a single term.

Besides, if the replacement managers are all as greedy as the current manager, what good would replacing the manager do?

In short, seeing elections as providing an effective means of incentivizing a government to promote the interests of the average citizen is hopelessly unrealistic. It is remarkable that this view is standard in both popular discourse and professional political science literature.

12. The training and service experiences would likely cause people to change their minds about various issues and in this way become unrepresentative.

As the allotted delegates study issues it is indeed to be expected that they will adopt views on matters that they were not aware of before, and occasionally will even come to have opinions that contradict previously held ones. In this sense the allotted become unrepresentative – they are better informed and have spent more time and effort considering various matters of policy than the average citizen does.

This, however, is not a problem – it is the entire point of having decisions made by an allotted body rather than by plebiscite. While the latter will yield policy determined by uninformed, unconsidered public opinion responding to an agenda set by elite actors, the former yields policy that reflects informed, considered public opinion and the corresponding agenda.

While the allotted chamber is unrepresentative in its level of understanding of the issues, it continues to be representative of the public’s interests and core values. Those, together with the improved understanding, make it possible for the allotted body to implement policy that serves the citizens rather than serving the electoral elite and its allies.

13. What would be the delegate training course? The organization controlling the training would wield significant political power.

New allotted delegates can be expected to go through some sort of a training course before they assume the responsibility of decision-making. During this course they will become familiar with established procedures of the chamber and with the existing policies in important areas of government activity. The design of the training course does indeed have the potential to have significant impact on the delegates, and through them on policy.

It is therefore important that the training course will be run by a representative agency. It should be the allotted delegates themselves – the newly allotted together with those allotted earlier – who together design and control the training process.

14. Before promoting sortition at the national level, it should be tried out at the municipal level or in other lesser-powered bodies.

It is useful to try out sortition-based government in various settings. However, it is important to consider carefully what are the features of sortition that make it a promising democratic method and to make sure the setting in which it is tried match those features.

A body that deals with matters that are specialized or routine will not garner much public interest. In such a situation it would be hard to recruit motivated people to an allotted body and the body would work with little public scrutiny or appreciation. Under such circumstances it is not likely that representative decision-making would occur. It may be better to have a professional body that is appointed and monitored by and accountable to an allotted body with a wider ranging purview.

For example, instead of applying sortition at the municipal level, where most activity attracts very little attention, it may make sense to use allotted bodies for specific issues that garner a lot of public interest. For example, an allotted body that handles corruption in existing national-level bodies. Or a body that sets policy in major long-term areas, such as taxation, health care or environmental regulations.

It is important, however, to have bodies that are permanent rather than ad-hoc and short-lived, so that they get the chance to develop thoroughgoing solutions and take policy from proposals all the way to implementation, evaluation, and through multiple revision cycles. Ad-hoc, short-lived bodies are easy prey to manipulation by the long-term political players. Such bodies would quickly lose credibility when it is seen that they are ineffective and are no more than a theater of democracy.

15. Democracy is not the unchecked rule of the people. Democracy should involve the people but at the same time limit its caprices – this is the function of the electoral system.

One might as well argue that some high council of religious scholars should be able to check the rule of the people.

Democracy is a situation where all citizens have equal political power. No institutional arrangement can guarantee that democracy will emerge (although some arrangements – such as monarchies and electoral systems – are simply incompatible with democracy). It is true, for example, that it is conceivable that the informed and considered decision of a majority of the people will result in undemocratic policies, such as forcibly suppressing certain ideas and thereby preventing some people from advocating for their views.

However, there is no democratic way to “check” the rule of the people. Any mechanism that restricts the range of feasible policy potentially privileges the opinions and interests of some minority over the opinions and interests of those who support policies that are outside of the allowed range. In particular, the electoral mechanism directly privileges the opinions and interests of the electoral elite and its allies over those of average person. There is no reason to believe that the outcomes of electoral systems are better, in any meaningful sense, than the outcomes of more representative policies.

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111 Responses

  1. Yoram,

    11. I note that you don’t reply to the second objection, so presumably you believe it to be irrefutable. As for the first “refutation”, analogies are generally used to illustrate an argument, rather than replace it.

    13. I’m disappointed also that you insist on using the term “allotted delegate”, despite Terry pointing out to you that there is no such creature.

    15. I agree of course that democracy cannot provide a check on itself, hence the need for a mixed system of government to prevent the tyranny of the majority.

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  2. Yoram,

    Refutation #11 is weak. There are far more fundamental problems with the notion that elections can provide accountability than merely the temptation of corrupt elected officials to grab while they can. In addition to the facts that voter refusal to re-elect is inherently retrospective, and elected officials typically tackle hundreds of distinct issues (some votes good some bad), there is a basic unworkability of using elections for accountability well described by Professor Alexander Guerrero at the University of Pennsylvania. After discussing the various impediments to fair elections (money, voter registration hurdles, gerrymandering and the like) he observes:

    “Even if these problems were addressed, they would succeed only in making elections fair. But meaningful accountability requires not just open and fair elections; it also requires that we are capable of engaging in informed monitoring and evaluation of the decisions of our representatives. And we are not capable of this. Not because we are stupid, but because we are ignorant: ignorant about what our representatives are doing, ignorant about the details of complex political issues, and ignorant about whether what our representative is doing is good for us or for the world.

    “Our ignorance means that representatives can talk a good game, and maybe even try to do a few things that benefit the majority of us, but the basic information asymmetries at the heart of the representative system ensure that, for many issues — defence manufacturing and spending, policy that affects the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, agribusiness policy and regulation, energy policy, regulation of financial services and products — what we get is what the relevant business industries want. In the presence of widespread citizen ignorance and the absence of meaningful accountability, powerful interests will effectively capture representatives, ensuring that the only viable candidates — the only people who can get and stay in political power — are those who will act in ways that are congenial to the interests of the powerful.”

    [Guerrero, Alexander, Elections are flawed and can’t be redeemed – it’s time to start choosing our representatives by lottery, January 23, 2015, http://aeon.co/magazine/society/forget-elections-lets-pick-reps-by-lottery/ accessed April 25, 2015]

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  3. “It is remarkable that this view is standard in both popular discourse and professional political science literature.”

    You might want to consider the possibility that those who have devoted their whole careers to studying political systems might generally have a better intuitive grasp of the behavior of political actors than you do.

    Item 11 suggests that no accountability trumps weak accountability but does not make a case for why this should be true. It comes across as, “it’s not perfect, so let’s just give trying up trying then.” The truth is elections provide *some* measure of accountability. We can argue until we are blue in the face (and have done so in the past) over how effective the accountability mechanism is, but it most certainly is not exactly nothing. The real question is whether it is good enough and whether there’s an alternative which would do better.

    I also agree with everyone else that “delegate” is a cringe-worthy term to use. If there’s no conscious, revocable delegation of authority, there are no delegates. You’d might as well call them the people’s ambassadors or something like that.

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  4. Yoram,

    Who is the intended audience for your 15-point catechism and will there be additional parts to bring it closer to the 39 Articles of the Church of England? Once you’ve accumulated 95 theses, perhaps you should follow the example of Martin Luther and find a church door to nail them to for the edification of the public.

    Your intended audience is clearly not the regular participants of this blog as all you do is repeat the same old cliches, sloppy language (“elite”, “delegate” etc) and argument by analogy/syllogism. Your “refutations” have been repeatedly refuted, yet you turn your back on your interlocutors and refuse to address their arguments (let alone learn from them, perish the thought).

    The irony of course is that the blog is supposed to be in favour of emergent consensus via deliberative exchange (the forceless force of the better argument). Of course you may well reject consensus as a decision rule in favour of majoritarianism, but if so then perhaps you (as convenor of this blog) should organise a poll along the lines of “Would you support a kleristocratic coup against “electoralism” or do you prefer the measured introduction of sortition/stochation to improve existing political arrangements?” If the majority of the followers of EbL support your fundamentalism, then I’ll gladly shake the dust off my shoes and set up a new blog for people who live in the real world.

    P.S. The reason that I use scare quotes tor “electoralism” (and not kleristocracy) is that I don’t believe there is any such doctrine (outside the ranks of a tiny, discredited group of neoconservatives). All states — past, present and future — are governed by a complex mix of political institutions. There never has and never will be a “pure” system of government.

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  5. Terry,

    > There are far more fundamental problems with the notion that elections can provide accountability than merely the temptation of corrupt elected officials to grab while they can.

    I disagree about the fundamental importance of public ignorance.

    The simple fact is that even if the public is perfectly informed then no matter what policies are pursued by an elected official, there is no essentially no risk involved for the official other than (at best) a decreased chance of getting re-elected. This is not much of a threat as compared to the potential gains of diverting national resources toward private ends.

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  6. Naomi,

    > You might want to consider the possibility that those who have devoted their whole careers to studying political systems might generally have a better intuitive grasp of the behavior of political actors than you do.

    I am willing to consider the idea. However, I see no evidence for its validity.

    You, on the other hand, should consider the idea that people who are part of the establishment don’t get there and stay there by showing willingness to question the foundations of the existing power structure. You might want to ponder analogous situations such as, say, that of professional political scientists in the Soviet Union.

    > The truth is elections provide *some* measure of accountability.

    I actually disagree, but that is not really the point. Even if elections generate some sort of accountability it is clearly too weak to be the basis for good policy. Sortition provides a mechanism for generating good policy that is not based on “accountability” (at least not in the sense of an official mechanism meting out prizes and punishments).

    > delegate

    I am still waiting for someone to offer a better term.

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  7. It’s interesting to learn that members of political science departments are not willing to “question the foundations of the existing power structure”. I remember well my old sociology professor, Duncan Mitchell, telling me c. 1972 how he was hanging on to his chair “just in order to keep some bloody Marxist out of it”, the clear implication being that the latter was the norm. When I returned to university (political science) six years ago I did notice a change, namely the switch from conventional to cultural Marxism with its focus on alternative “disadvantaged” groups to the urban proletariat. But the whole enterprise was still dedicated to questioning the foundations of the existing power structure (especially in the domain of political theory — often derided by Yoram as epiphenomenal flim-flam [his own efforts excepted]). As for the comparison with the status of political scientists [and psychologists?] in the Soviet Union, I’m frankly lost for words.

    So how can one make sense of Yoram’s claim? I suppose it’s a deduction from the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune — if the state is paying your salary then it’s impossible to bite the hand that feeds you. To put it another way interests determine everything and thinking is automatically determined by one’s financial interests. I can’t see any other way of making sense of such a sweeping claim.

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  8. Indeed, I don’t think most political scientists believe elections do a good job of providing accountability. Now that may be because of the papers I gravitate towards, but I think a sizable chunk (probably a majority) of political scientists believe elections (as conducted in the real world) are AT BEST an extremely crude, and often ineffectual accountability tool….But at the same time they generally assume that that is the best that is possible, and have never given a moments thought to sortition (and have never even heard of it).

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  9. Terry,

    > I don’t think most political scientists believe elections do a good job of providing accountability.

    Is this reflected in any way in political science textbooks? Are there influential political science papers making this point?

    > political scientists believe elections (as conducted in the real world) are AT BEST an extremely crude, and often ineffectual accountability tool

    If the emphasis here is on “as conducted in the real world” then this means little. The message is usually that elections can and should be improved by various devices that increase public “participation” or increase understanding of various issues. This is essentially useless.

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  10. Yoram,

    >This is essentially useless.

    Denizens of Planet Earth (as opposed to utopias like Aleatoria) don’t make absolutist statements like this. For those of us who believe that people are not blind adherents to the pursuit of their rational interests (income maximisation) will acknowledge that increased public education/participation will make some difference to accountability. I also agree with Terry that political science views electoral accountability as a blunt instrument, but it’s certainly better than nothing at all (as would be the case in a monarchy, oligarchy or kleristocracy).

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  11. >I am still waiting for someone to offer a better term.

    My vote is for Member of XXXXXX. It works okay across the board. Member of Parliament. Member of Congress. Member of the Jury/Sampling/Assembly/Minipublic. There’s not much ambiguity even if one is unfamiliar with the nature of the body.

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  12. This doesn’t work, I think.

    The problem is with the XXXXXX. It has to be a term that is familiar and works internationally and both for allotted and elected chambers. As I wrote, “Congress” is an American term while “parliament” is unfamiliar in the U.S. “Jury”, “Sampling”, etc. are unfamiliar and imply sortition.

    I’d be happy with Congressperson or Congress-member if we were happy with U.S.-centric terminology or with MP if we were happy with non-U.S. terminology. Unfortunately, we are trying to have it both ways.

    BTW, I am not that happy with “delegate” either, not because it implies anything specific but because it is rather unfamiliar as well. Terry suggested “deputy” which I find about as good as “delegate”.

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  13. Yoram,

    Deputy is as misleading as delegate in that a) no-one has appointed them and b) it puts the emphasis on the individual, whereas the appropriate level is the collective. Much better simply to refer to the legislative jury. Although juridical practice does refer to members of the jury this is only in reference to the legal obligations that pertain to them as individuals — primarily not to refer to evidence that was not presented in court. As this (or any other) constraint would not apply to legislative juries there is no need to refer to them as individuals, thereby avoiding the conceptual error of assuming that they are analogous to legislators appointed by election.

    >Unfortunately, we are trying to have it both ways.

    Quite. Names really do matter as they have entailments for behaviour in the real world — Your insistence on using a word like delegate is because you claim a direct comparison between persons chosen by election/appointment and those selected by lot, even though you legitimise this via the statistical representation mandate (that does not pertain at the level of the individuals selected). If we don’t insist on the precise use of words then we will be taken in by this kind of conjuring trick.

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  14. PS References in antiquity to individual jurors are when (e.g.) Aristophanes lampoons fictional characters like Philocleon in the Wasps. Perhaps we should just adopt the Greek term — dikastes — in order to indicate the classical provenance of our proposal.

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  15. Keith,

    You are mixing two concerns…. You object to members of a legislative body selected by lot acting with powers parallel to members of an elected legislature. Therefor you object to any term that focuses on the individual member of such a legislature (including the terms delegate and deputy).

    But Yoram needs a term to describe HIS idea of exactly such individuals (full power legislators selected by lot). We need a word for THIS CONCEPT, even though you oppose the concept (and have explained at length why). The problem with “delegate” is that the literature uses this term to describe an individual carrying a specific mandate from an electorate, with limited power to change policy based on deliberation once at the assembly. So this term is a poor fit for the fully empowered individual Yoram wants to talk about. (this is the issue you initially raised)

    Keith, setting aside your view that such legislators shouldn’t be allowed to exist, if someone want to DISCUSS such hypothetical people there needs to be a word to describe these people you object to.

    I agree with Naomi … the simple “member of such an assembly.”

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  16. Terry,

    I would certainly not dispute your need for a term for an individual member of a deliberative forum established for purely epistemic purposes (brain-storming a solution to a collective problem), although I would argue that random selection might not be the best way of establishing such a group and would claim that the legitimacy of the decision output of the group would stand or fall on epistemic factors (“good” or “bad” decisions). But Yoram has specifically ruled out the epistemic case for sortition, viewing it purely in terms of the representation of interests. If he were to provide a coherent argument (i.e. not just an analogy or logical syllogism) legitimising his model then I would be perfectly amenable to the need for a relevant concept. However what he does is to conflate the argument for stochation (which refers to the aggregate decision outcome of large randomly-selected samples) and the deliberative exchanges of families and small groups of friends. Thus the entity he is seeking a concept for is a phantasm. Coining words for phantasms (“ghost”, “poltergeist”, etc) does not mean they exist — and we should be aware of the danger of reification (talk of the devil etc). To dignify this with the word “hypothetical” is an insult to the scientific process of testing and modifying hypotheses via real-world tests, hence my use of the word “catechism” to refer to the timeless and irrefutable articles of the kleristocratic faith that Yoram seeks to proselytise.

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  17. Keith,

    Yoram is not alone in this concept, so a term is useful, even if discussing why you think it is a bad idea…Randomly selected “full-charge” legislators have been proposed by other authors (e.g. Callenbach, Phillips, Zakaras).

    It seems to me that the legitimacy of this is essentially the same as the legitimacy or using an elected body.
    1) for practical reasons we need to have a subset of a mass citizenry take on the law-making task.
    2) there are several ways of establishing that subset, with different pros and cons.
    a) We could let the first 6,000 people who arrive at a meeting place make the decisions for everybody (the Athenian Assembly rule), that favors those with free time.
    b) We could elect a group (standard modern system), that favors those with power, money, and certain personal traits, or
    c) We could select them through a fair random lottery (Yoram and Callenbach’s idea), which creates a body most like the population as a whole.

    All three of these schemes are intended to create a body that is going to act for the whole. It is its OVERALL representativeness that matters, rather than the method that any individual member was authorized (by volunteering and showing up first, campaigning, or by chance selection). None of these selection methods gives the individual member any more or less right to speak and propose than any other. I don’t fundamentally disagree with your logic for not empowering individual members of an allotted body, but make the point that the identical rationale undercuts the right of an elected member just the same. Neither person is representative of the whole, so either neither the elected, nor the allotted member should be allowed to speak, or they both should.

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  18. Terry,
    >”I don’t fundamentally disagree with your logic for not empowering individual members of an allotted body, but make the point that the identical rationale undercuts the right of an elected member just the same. Neither person is representative of the whole, so either neither the elected, nor the allotted member should be allowed to speak, or they both should.”

    And I don’t doubt that it is possible for a society to consider the actions of a member of full-mandate sortition body legitimate. An appeal to fairness is powerful, as is the ubiquitous appeal to tradition. However, a focus on fairness is… problematic. After all, while the lot is fair, letting everyone vote on whatever they want to all the time is even more fair. And that’s exactly the direction we’ve been headed in for generations. But we reject direct democracy on epistemic grounds. It’s a much more subtle argument. It stands to reason we would also reject full mandate sortition if it were to fall short on epistemic grounds as well.

    The people have fairly little power individually. By taking a group of people and giving them tremendous power you make them distinct from the population at large and you can no longer expect them to be equivalent to the population at large. One of the many reasons to make the sampling mute is to ensure this shift does not happen. Furthermore, telling a group of people, “here’s absolute power, we trust you to use it however you deem appropriate without fear of punishment* for any abuses you might engage in” is a supremely bad idea, no matter how those people are selected. They would be subject to criminal punishment, sure, but they would simultaneously be tasked with making the criminal laws they would be held to. I don’t trust the powerful enough to give them a free hand and elections seem to be the only an ex post accountability model on the table. We’ve argued in the past over the motivations of elected politicians. Regardless of what drives them, the fact that they overwhelming seek reelection demonstrates that denying them reelection is very much a serious punishment. Elections are, yes, a blunt instrument, which is why there is a need for a filter between the electoral process and actual policy.

    Also, voting is an aggregative process. Votes are all the same no matter where they come from and we can expect a rational politician, acting in self interest, to optimize their vote totals. Thus we can expect fairly even representation of interests. A few hundred ballots decided the 2000 US presidential election. The pursuit of votes wherever they may be found makes sense. The odds that a subset of the population numbering a few hundred or even a few thousand would be represented in an allotted legislature of a 300 million person nation are basically nil. How do we represent local (or any small-scale) interests in a national level government without relying on an aggregative process? Even small interests merit having a perpetual proportionally sized voice, not just a disproportionate voice every few centuries.

    On top of that we have tradition working against full-mandate sortition. For centuries democracy has been about expanding the use of the ballot. First in the form of an ever growing franchise, and more recently in an ever greater reliance on referenda. As you have said, legitimacy is about adhering to the rules of the game. How do you change the rules of the game? I’m talking about changing the public’s perceptions on what constitutes legitimacy, not merely a constitution. It’s a century-long process that cannot be decided by fiat. It is decided by countless historical events we have distressingly little control over. This is one of the reasons why I’ve been so hesitant to give up on an elected executive. I can’t see most people voting to give up their vote on it. The executive is the biggest reason people have gone to the polls for generations. It has been the face of government, the link between the people and policy, for generations. How do you change that to a totally unfamiliar system? Any proposal to move in a different direction is going to meet with huge (and potentially unnecessary) resistance. And so I’ve gone out of my way to consider ways we can make the new system as familiar as possible. It’s not about what is optimal. It’s about finding the best system we can realistically implement before the century is out. And in the US even simple reforms have to overcome the public’s semi-religious devotion to the wishes of the founders. Let’s say we come up with a better way of doing things that also happens to be incompatible with the traditional legitimizing mechanism. So what? The fact that it would be better changes little. We have relied on the ballot for centuries. We will only get away from it if we have no other choice. Or if perhaps the capricious winds of fate happen to blow us in that direction.

    Regarding terminology, we do need a way of talking about individual allotted members with a full mandate. The system may not be desirable for a general-purpose legislature, but citizen’s assemblies are useful at times. And there are places where one might want a blind-break above all else. For example, if you want to eliminate patronage in the executive, a sure-fire way would be to ensure that the nominees owe their office to no one—in other words nomination through a blind-break process. I have little objection to such a thing in principle.

    Wow, that got long (and off topic). I apologize. And blame this outstanding microbrew.

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  19. Terry,

    The authors you mention (Callenbach etc) are all persuaded by the epistemic merits of cognitive diversity (alongside their concerns for equality and social justice). Take, for example, the following paragraph from A Citizen Legislature, arguing that an allotted microcosm would include:

    “about 50% women, 12% Blacks, 6% Latinos; 25% blue-collar workers; 10% unemployed persons; two doctors or dentists; one school administrator; two accountants; one real estate agent; eight teachers; one scientist; four bookkeepers; nine food service workers; one childcare worker; three carpenters; four farm laborers; three auto mechanics; one fire fighter; one computer specialist [the original passage was written in 1985] and a Buddhist.” (Callenbach & Phillips, 2008, pp. 29-31).

    Yoram, however, has ruled out the wisdom of crowds and the argument for sortition as a way of tackling rational ignorance — his sortition model is based on the representation of interests, except when he goes all Rousseauian and comes to the gloomy conclusion that representation is impossible in a society that is devoid of civic republican virtue, i.e. when citizens put their own private interests before the general will. But most of the time it’s Marx rather than Rousseau* — interests rule and ideational factors** are just epiphenomenal flimflam. Marx would have been happy with a deliberative microcosm (although his followers preferred to leave it in the hands of an intellectual vanguard), as the interests of the 99% will necessarily trump those of the rich elite, but this presupposes a 19th century political sociology that divides society into two homogeneous classes. That’s why Yoram is so persuaded by Gilens’s analysis and also likes to fixate on the salaries of elected politicians. But none of this makes sense for those of us who see society in pluralistic terms and (more importantly) are aware of the social psychology research on group interactions, that demonstrates that people are anything other than equal when it comes to deliberative exchange. This is why an allotted microcosm ceases to be an accurate representation of the population that it was drawn from as soon as it engages in speech acts. This argument is denied by those who view everything in terms of group interests as it matters little who gets to speak, as all members will naturally seek to further their own interests, and the arithmetic means that the 99% will always trump the 1%. Rousseau, of course, was entirely opposed to this sort of discursive exchange as he realised it would always be captured by partial interests, at the expense of the general will. That’s why he required the assembly to deliberate in silence. In sum, epistemic democrats like you should not conflate your own attraction to cognitive diversity with the interests-based sociology of post-Marxist Rousseauians like Yoram. In an ideal world Yoram might seek to defend his own position himself, but that would unfortunately involve supping with the devil.

    As for your 2 a/b/c, in a) every citizen could attend the assembly (if he got up early enough in the morning), in b) everyone can choose who they want to vote for (or stand themselves), whereas in c) this is left to entirely random factors. No-one on this forum is defending a) or b), merely seeking (in the case of b) to improve the mechanism of isegoria to better level the playing field. But c) is just chucking away the frying pan for the fire and would be better addressed with a combination of b) and c). I don’t see why you are so fixated on “pure” either/or solutions — governance always has been (and always will be) mixed.

    * History has shown the combination of Marx and Rousseau to be particularly toxic — just ask the unfortunate citizens of Cambodia.

    ** This is why political theorists are just lickspittles for the ruling class.

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  20. Naomi

    Agree with your thoughtful comments but I think you are being too charitable in the following:

    >After all, while the lot is fair, letting everyone vote on whatever they want to all the time is even more fair. . . . It stands to reason we would also reject full mandate sortition if it were to fall short on epistemic grounds as well.

    The notion of fairness only applies to the impartiality of the selection process, but representation via full-mandate sortition can be rejected on purely normative grounds, even if it was found to lead to benign policy outcomes. It’s unfair simply because it is unrepresentative (for the reasons that we have already rehearsed at length). The trouble with the blind-break sortitionistas is that by focusing on the appointment method they ignore ongoing representativity. Of course they wouldn’t deny this, as the likes of Stone and Dowlen have no interest in representation (the word doesn’t even feature in the index of Stone’s book; ditto with a recent monograph I read on Habermasian deliberation). We need to keep sortition and stochation entirely separate in order to avoid the sleight-of-hand argument that appointment by lot puts an end to political corruption — this is only true when it comes to the secret vote of large juries (although Rousseauians like Yoram view the lack of publicity as corrupt).

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  21. Naomi,
    You wrote:
    >”Votes are all the same no matter where they come from and we can expect a rational politician, acting in self interest, to optimize their vote totals. Thus we can expect fairly even representation of interests.”

    This is clearly not true in the U.S. nor any country I am aware of, but perhaps in an ideal system of proportional representation the falsity would be less substantial. All rational politicians target their vote-seeking efforts to plausible supportive constituencies. it regularly happens that certain minorities are completely shut out and ignored by the bulk of politicians and achieve NO representation within the legislature. Only a system of sortition (or stochation) can remedy that.

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  22. Terry,

    If a stochation-derived assembly of several hundred contained a handful of randomly-selected persons from a particular minority, none of whom happened to be particularly gifted when it came to speech acts, why would that amount to effective representation? Neither their isnonomia nor their isegoria would count for much, so the representation involved would be little more than token. By contrast a gifted politician might well persuasively argue the case for a minority even if they did not form a significant element of her constituents. The argument that politicians are only vote-seekers is a one-sided perspective. Of course if the minority was larger, then all parties would seek to pander to their views, especially in a PR-based electoral system.

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  23. Terry,
    >All rational politicians target their vote-seeking efforts to plausible supportive constituencies. it regularly happens that certain minorities are completely shut out and ignored by the bulk of politicians and achieve NO representation within the legislature.

    You’ll note I said “optimize,” which is very distinct from pursuing all voters all the time. The act of pursuing votes in one area can cost a candidate votes elsewhere, certainly. And yes, it is possible for subsets of the population to be excluded from the optimal strategies of all the viable parties. However, the chance of this falls exponentially with a decreasing threshold for entry for two reasons. First, there’s greater direct representation. Since fewer votes are needed to get in, it’s easier for a party founded by a poorly represented subset of the population to win seats. Second, each party represents a more narrow preelectoral coalition and so the odds that pursuing the votes of an under-represented population will cause a net loss drops. In any case, if the threshold is Only a system of sortition (or stochation) can remedy that.

    Based on what evidence? You guys (Terry, Yoram, Campbell, etc.) are comparing something for which we have thousands of country-years of experience against something that exists only in our heads. At this point it’s nothing but a guess. It’s too far removed from our actual experience to plausibly be called an “educated” guess. Your guess is that it would work well. My guess is that it would work badly. We most certainly cannot say that sortition can remedy the problem of minority representation with any degree of confidence without there being real-world examples to point to. The word “only” is even more troubling as it suggests that it is *impossible* for any other system (including those that have not yet been devised) to do as well as the lot. When it comes to representing population features that fall below statistical significance sortition will do poorly. Local interests will go unrepresented for centuries only to gain a ridiculous degree of over-representation on very rare occasions. Every session will be filled with, yes, moderately-represented national-level interests but also a huge number of comically over-represented minor interests that fall below the statistical significance threshold but still have representation by virtue of having won the lottery. That’s purely a matter of math.

    I’ve spent most of my life being “represented” by politicians who have devoted their careers to undermining my interests. I absolutely get where you guys are coming from. I really do. And yet I don’t doubt that these politicians do their very best to represent the voters they need to retain in order to remain in office. I’m just not one of them. The key is to ensure that everyone is needed by *some* elected official. I believe this can be accomplished by combining fantastically low (<1% nation-wide) thresholds with national-level compensation. This otherwise troubling mix should not be too problematic because the need to form a majority is gone.

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  24. Eh, my comment got a bit chewed up in the copy-paste process. That was,

    “In any case, if the threshold is Only a system of sortition (or stochation) can remedy that.”

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  25. Naomi:

    >The key is to ensure that everyone is needed by *some* elected official. I believe this can be accomplished by combining fantastically low (<1% nation-wide) thresholds with national-level compensation.

    Yes indeed, and the electoral selection process will ensure that the candidates have the personal characteristics required for effective issue advocacy. It would be perfectly possible for a single elected representative of a tiny minority to be a leading influence on the deliberative exchange, so long as the outcome of the debate is determined by a stochastic sample of all citizens. To deny this is to insist that people will always blindly follow their own interests, in which case you might as well give up on the deliberative exchange.

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  26. Dang. I guess it wasn’t a copy-paste issue. Maybe WordPress doesn’t like that particular sequence of characters.

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  27. Keith wrote:
    >” and the electoral selection process will ensure that the candidates have the personal characteristics required for effective issue advocacy.”

    First let me point out that the skills needed for winning election are not at all those needed for deliberation or policy development. In fact they are often counter-productive. The CERTAINTY which a candidate prjects to voters often means that person is psychologically unable to deliberate in a give-and take format.

    But this is academic since…There is virtually no “issue advocacy” going on in elected legislatures. Policy positions are worked out (with one eye to contributors, and for the sake of argument I’ll say one eye to some voters… perhaps the hypothetical median voter, to some optimal other constituency) between member within a party with consultations with public relations and fundraising experts. In the chamber itself, and often within committee rooms, all “speech acts” are for show, rather than persuasion of other members or deliberation. Partisan elections so distort motivations that deliberation is essentially dead within electoral democracy chambers. (by the way, I’m speaking from experience).

    I haven’t seen this next point in person, but believe it to be true. Reportedly some legislators from opposing parties in Congress DID negotiate a deal…each would propose legislation that the base supporters of the other member would be enraged or frightened by it for the primary purpose of each using the other’s proposed bill as a talking point in their fund-raising appeals.

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  28. > the skills needed for winning election are not at all those needed for deliberation or policy development

    The whole line of argument about the inability of the average person to argue their positions effectively, beyond reflecting standard elitist ideology that has no basis in fact, is completely irrelevant.

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that normal people are able to recognize an effective advocate (so they would be able to vote for such a person) but are unable to produce such advocacy themselves.

    Nothing prevents allotted members from identifying effective advocates for their positions and asking those people to present the members’ positions to the other members. If the allotted members believe that this is best way for them to sway others, then they will surely do so.

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  29. Terry,

    I’m sure that everything you say is true, but neither Naomi or myself are seeking to defend our existing electoral arrangements — we are both advocating PR (alongside direct-democratic initiative) for policy advocacy and stochation for the decision makers. For some reason you want to make an absolute distinction between “electoralists” and “sortitionists”, but Naomi and myself are proposing a judicious combination of the two.

    >The CERTAINTY which a candidate projects to voters often means that person is psychologically unable to deliberate in a give-and take format.

    But she would need to persuade a majority of the allotted assembly with cogent reasons and could not rely on the partisan support of her backers. This would particularly be the case with minority advocates (the subject of this particular exchange). Your alternative (the presence [perhaps] of a tiny number of allotted persons from the minority in question) is really little more than tokenism.

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  30. Terry,
    Your comment about contributors makes me think you are too quick to project American-style politics on to other systems. The behavior of political actors is what it needs to be to maximize their chances of success in whatever system they find themselves in. They aren’t just doing what they do… because that’s what they do. Everything is calculated. Of course there’s no “issue advocacy” in a conventional legislature. The legislative votes are cast by unpersuadable partisans. So what exactly would be gained by it?

    >First let me point out that the skills needed for winning election are not at all those needed for deliberation or policy development. In fact they are often counter-productive. The CERTAINTY which a candidate prjects to voters often means that person is psychologically unable to deliberate in a give-and take format.

    Which is why it would probably be a bad idea to give them the final say. Good thing no one is proposing such a thing. Most politicians are lawyers. Is the skill set of a lawyer really the optimal one for winning elections? What is it optimal for is winning court cases before a jury. They will hold their own just fine.

    >…each would propose legislation that the base supporters of the other member would be enraged or frightened by it for the primary purpose of each using the other’s proposed bill as a talking point in their fund-raising appeals.

    And why exactly would this be helpful to a politician in the sort of set-up Keith and I are talking about? If the final decision is to be made by the elected officials themselves it is easy to see how the maximization of their seat totals can be made out to be all-important… possibly resulting in a net gain for the officials. But, “a statistical sampling of people (like you) will agree to do something horrible if we don’t have more of our fellow party members there to argue against it!!!” doesn’t have quite the same impact.

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  31. Yoram:

    >Nothing prevents allotted members from identifying effective advocates for their positions and asking those people to present the members’ positions to the other members.

    Yes, that’s a fair point. However the advocacy rules you propose (who gets to speak and for how long) would be set by a majority decision in the assembly. Given the plethora of issues and minorities in large multicultural states, what constitutes fairness will be in the hands of the majority and this (according to republican and liberal doctrine) is why majoritarian democracy can never be a sufficient condition for social justice. Some minorities might even be too intimidated to raise their heads above the parapet — it’s a lot harder to make an active call for representation than to passively respond to a representative claim by ticking a box on a ballot paper. The deliberations might go the way Habermas hoped, but on the other hand you might end up with Lord of the Flies, as there is nothing in your proposal to protect the rights of minorities.

    None of this, of course, addresses my overriding concern regarding the perceived legitimacy of the outcome, with its necessary dependence on consistency in decision making. All contingent factors have to be eliminated in order to ensure consistent outcomes, that’s why Naomi and myself prefer public elections in which everyone gets to choose who is going to present the arguments. If half a dozen large random samples respond in the same way to the democratically-mandated advocacy on offer then it’s hard to see how those not selected by stochation could claim that the decision was unrepresentative.

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  32. *** Keith Sutherland (june 6, 3.01 pm) reminds us about the days where parts of British (and French) academe were under strong influence of marxism, and deduces rightly that in a polyarchic system some elites may have a strong ideological autonomy. We must not consider polyarchy as a simple disguise of an oligarchy. This former marxist propensity in the academe came from various factors in the intellectual history of western Europe, and of social factors including self-assertion against other (temporal) elites.
    *** A polyarchic system can work even if some elites are ideologically antagonistic to the regime. The French Third Republic could last a long time against such hostilities, for instance in the military elite. It was crushed only by external defeat in front of Nazi Germany. The marxist influence in some parts of the British academe was never a serious danger for the UK polyarchy.
    *** But I think we must acknowledge that in the contemporary developed world polyarchies there is a trend towards what i would call « harmonization » among the elites, lessening or softening the antagonisms between them, and likewise eliminating most of the deep hostility against the polyarchic model. Keith mentions what he names « cultural Marxism », what I would rather name « post-modernist leftism » ; but we must acknowledge that this new ideology, with all its « questioning the foundations of the existing power structure », is compatible with the basic polyarchic model, and actually much less agressive per se towards the money elite than the ideology of class warfare.
    *** This trend of « harmonization » will be, I am afraid, somewhat of a supplementary obstacle for any movement towards a modern demokratia.

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  33. Andre:

    >The marxist influence in some parts of the British academe was never a serious danger for the UK polyarchy.

    Yes that’s true. But what this indicates is that the movement was less effective than it might have been, not that political scientists and political theorists are apologists for the status quo (Yoram’s claim). And the comparison with the academy in the Soviet Union is just plain silly.

    >« post-modernist leftism » . . . is actually much less aggressive per se towards the money elite than the ideology of class warfare.

    Agree, but that’s because the left lost the battle over the commanding heights of the economy but won the culture wars.

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  34. posté 16 juin 2015

    *** Keith Sutherland wrote (June 10, 2015, 8:25) « History has shown the combination of Marx and Rousseau to be particularly toxic — just ask the unfortunate citizens of Cambodia. »
    *** I don’t know the intellectual biography of Pol Pot and co. But Keith Sutherland must acknowledge that the political system in the Khmer Rouge Cambodia was radically different from the political model proposed by Rousseau (unfortunately Marx had a low interest about political system per se).
    *** This Khmer Rouge political model belongs clearly to the family of “totalitarian models”, with the same structure of absolute rule by a vanguard militant sect, with original strong selection and virtual continued selection through purges.This political structure may come along with very different recruitments, worldviews, programs, ideologies etc. , but, independently of them, it has a known propensity to give mad and ghastly policies.The Hitler regime is a much known example of the worst potentialities of totalitarianism, and I think Keith does not ascribe it to Marx and Rousseau (whose intellectual legacy is difficult to find in “Mein Kampf”).
    *** Focusing on the specific ideological content and intellectual history of a totalitarianism may clearly be interesting, but we must not explain by them propensities which are clearly common to the whole class of totalitarianisms.
    *** The totalitarian model is especially interesting for supporters of the dêmokratia model ( i.e. in modern times democracy-through-minipublics) because it can be seen as its perfect opposite. The totalitarian system is founded on a selection (of the vanguard sect) which is very strong and continuous – a political selection (which implies personality selection). Dêmokratia is founded on the rejection of any political selection for the exercise of sovereignty: any citizen who is deemed able to decide freely in “ordinary social life” – about taking a job, buying a car or a house, marrying, begetting children, etc. , who is not deemed “minor” as a child or a mentally disabled (or a woman in ancient times!), is automatically deemed able to decide freely as member of the sovereign body. The use of lot in stochation is a way to establish minipublics (citizen juries), but is likewise a spectacular assertion of the rejection of selection for the sovereignty.

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  35. André,

    > The use of lot in stochation is a way to establish minipublics (citizen juries), but is likewise a spectacular assertion of the rejection of selection for the sovereignty.

    Electoralist ideology also makes a claim to allow everybody to have an equal say in decision making (through voting). It is only when challenged that advocates of electoralism peel back this cover and expose the elitism underlying their thinking.

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  36. Andre,

    Rousseau did not really have a political model (at least one he thought that might be realisable in large modern states); The Social Contract would be better described as ideal normative philosophy. Pol Pot studied Rousseau in Paris in the 1950s and cherry-picked his philosophical and anthropological vision (in particular the notion of the noble savage and the need to reject sophisticated commercial life), where he also joined the Cercle Marxiste. The reference to the toxic mix of Marx and Rousseau was to their anthropology, not their political proposals. As for the connection between Marx, Rousseau and totalitarianism that was certainly Popper’s view.

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  37. Rousseau did propose a political model of sorts in his CONSTITUTIONAL PROJECT FOR CORSICA. He wrote more about the economy than governmental details, however. He proposed what he called a “democratic” “republic” based on an agrarian society with a minimum of commerce through money (Cambodian?). He specified tax systems, and favored an economy of government-coordinated barter rather than money. He wrote : “Everyone should make a living, and no one should grow rich; that is the fundamental principle of the prosperity of the nation; and the system I propose, so far as in it lies, proceeds as directly as possible toward that goal.”

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  38. I wonder whether Popper and the other champions of the “free world” would find a moment between condemnations of the decades old crimes official enemies to say something about the ongoing incarceration and malnutrition of millions within the “free world” and about the killing of hundreds of thousands by the armed forces of the “free world”.

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  39. Terry,

    Yes, Rousseau was pessimistic that his proposals would work anywhere other than in small, primitive agrarian societies, and that was what appealed to Pol Pot.

    Yoram,

    I’m no defender of the neoconservative project to impose liberal political institutions everywhere. I suppose the best you can say is that an aspiration that everybody should freely choose their leaders is better than an aspiration for, or defence of, dictatorship (of the proletariat or any other faction). But the road to hell is generally paved with good intentions. In the past I’ve drawn a comparison between the naive faith in the ability of “the people” to spontaneously self-organise from a year-zero basis shared by neoconservatives and kleristomaniacs like yourself. The only point of difference is the chosen balloting technology (preference election or sortition). Well-functioning political solutions have a prime regard for the history, culture and existing institutional superstructure of the state in question and cannot be arrived at by logical inference from abstract principles (freedom, equality, “communitarianism” or whatever). That’s why the American revolution was a success but the French Revolution is still a work in progress (5th Republic and still counting). Burke (who sympathised with the American revolutionaries) would have considered the notion of neoconservatism to be entirely oxymoronic, and would have pointed to the provenance of its advocates on the far left; he would have been equally dismissive of kleristocratic fundamentalism or any other magic bullet. And Popper, best known for his pragmatism, was certainly no liberal crusader. A third volume of The Open Society and Its Enemies might well have been devoted to neoconservatism.

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  40. > I’m no defender

    You keep regurgitating the standard line that the electoralist system has a much better track record of outcomes than other systems. This is a lie.

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  41. Yoram:

    >You keep regurgitating the standard line that the electoralist system has a much better track record of outcomes than other systems

    No I don’t — Iraq was much better under Saddam Hussein than it is now; ditto Syria, Egypt, Libya etc., in fact the whole Arab Spring was a disaster. The problem with the sortitionist alternative is that there is no modern track record to make comparisons — all we have is logical syllogisms and deductions from abstract principles. In this respect you and your neocon opponents are guilty of the same error.

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  42. So if electoralist regimes are mass killers as well, then what is the point of dredging up Pol Pot et al.?

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  43. Yoram,

    My point was regarding the design (and imposition) of political systems on the basis of theoretical models, rather than evolution from indigenous practice. The vast majority of polities that you claim to be based on “electoralist dogma” are in fact an example of the latter — Manin agrees with Montesquieu that electoral representation “emerged from the forests of Germania” during the late middle ages (the small Saxon tribes that he was referring to were not renowned for their dogmatic political theory). Gene Callaghan does argue that the American revolution was the result of a rationalist reconstruction of Roman republican practice, but he is in a minority, most commentators claiming that it was simply the attempt to re-establish English liberty on the new continent. Eric Nelson’s new book even argues that the American revolution was fought in favour of monarchical principles as against parliamentary representation.

    >electoralist regimes are mass killers

    The Athenian demokratia was characterised by aggressive militarism.

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  44. So your point is merely that any big change involves risk? This seems too obvious to require proof. Recanting the standard official enemies examples as a way to amplify your claims is a rather pitiable ritual.

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  45. Yoram,

    >So your point is merely that any big change involves risk?

    Not so, my point is the danger of basing changes on deductive theoretical models, logical syllogisms etc. Politics deals with real people, who are the products of culturally-embedded historical practices, not the sort of idealised constructs beloved by theoreticians (like yourself), with their love of binary either/or solutions. The model that Naomi and I are advocating would involve a big change (putting the final decision function in the hands of a bunch of unaccountable, randomly-selected conscripts), even though we are seeking to go with the grain of existing parliamentary practice.

    PS I’m actually quite a fan of Rousseau — my argument to replace the EU referendum with a deliberative public enquiry with randomly-selected jury, relies largely on arguments taken from the Social Contract. But although this is radical it would be a lot less risky (and subject to less manipulation) than a plebiscite. I also think that Marx had an important role to play in the development of political sociology.

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  46. Yoram,
    >You keep regurgitating the standard line that the electoralist system has a much better track record of outcomes than other systems. This is a lie.

    What other contemporary system has a better track record? You would seriously prefer to live under a dictatorship?

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  47. I haven’t explored this carefully, but my general impression is that the average Chinese citizen is doing better than the average Indian citizen.

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  48. That’s not what I asked. Rate of economic growth in one case is not the same as overall quality of life in the system on average.

    Would you prefer if the government of the country you are living in right now were replaced with a dictatorship or any other contemporary nonelectoral system of your choosing?

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  49. Actually, it is exactly what you asked. To quote you: “What other contemporary system has a better track record?”

    As for your new question, I am not really that familiar with existing non-electoral systems so it is difficult for me to answer, but in any case it seems rather meaningless. I think comparing track records based on some reasonable criteria is much more meaningful than relying on some gut-based choice. Curiously, BTW, it seems the latter procedure is very similar to voting.

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  50. *** Naomi writes (June10, 2015, 3:03am) “telling a group of people, “here’s absolute power, we trust you to use it however you deem appropriate without fear of punishment for any abuses you might engage in” is a supremely bad idea, no matter how those people are selected ». Giving absolute power to one minipublic is actually a bad idea, and we must prefer an institutional system as in the Second Athenian Democracy, where, for instance, laws voted by a legislative jury might be reviewed by another jury, more focused on basic and constitutional issues. But, sure, the jurors were unaccountable as embodying the sovereign dêmos, and that seems anathema to Naomi, which seems to follow the idea that power without accountability leads to moral corruption, to people behaving as tyrants or pagan gods.
    *** This argument – which we could name the Aristophanic argument alluding to “Wasps” 548-630 – is an argument against any simple sovereignty system, against any system where the last word is given to a specified entity, as the dêmos in democracy, and therefore is an argument against dêmokratia, and against all procedures which appear close to “direct democracy”.
    *** Let’s consider the future British referendum about UK and the European Union. The voters will have to make which is (apparently at least) a very important choice. Will they be corrupted by this power?
    *** We can say that in this case there are so many voters than the power is diluted, and there is less risk of moral corruption. But let’s consider a criminal jury, with twelve jurors who are entitled to decide about the fate of a man, to send him to death (in some countries) or to a very long jail time (a dreadful fate). Twelve – the power is not diluted here. The Aristophanic argument seems very strong here. Must we get rid of the jury system?
    *** In polyarchies no entity has theoretically the last word. But sometimes we seem to be close to this situation. The US Supreme Court when saying the constitutional law, i.e. when creating it, has not theoretically the last word, given the possibility of constitutional amendments. But the process is so cumbersome that it is generally not a realistic way. If some people are upset by the idea of “last word” given to a group of few citizens they should be upset by the ultimate power of the US Supreme Court. We may consider that the moral corruption by ultime power, a big danger for ordinary citizens, is not a danger for these selected men, the upper legal elite of the US system, either because through this selection we can be sure they have morally superior minds, or because they are psychically so linked to the US legal elite that we can be sure they have no actual strong mind autonomy. This is arguable, but must be argued, and must not be left implicit as it is when the Aristophanic argument is kept for democratic minipublics.

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  51. > In polyarchies no entity has theoretically the last word

    This is not a property of a particular system. There are no last words ever in any system. Any decision can theoretically be reverted later. Any law can be changed.

    The question of how realistic it is that high-powered people will be made to pay for self-serving decisions is different. Experience shows that in electoral systems this chance is very low as long as laws (as they were at the time) were not broken. I think that a sortition-based system would be different. Decisions that would appear to be clearly self serving at the expense of the public would have a good chance of having repercussions. In this sense – which is the sense that matters – a sortition-based system would provide much more accountability than electoralism does.

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  52. Yoram:

    >Decisions [in a sortitition-based system] that would appear to be clearly self serving at the expense of the public would have a good chance of having repercussions.

    What exactly do you mean by “repercussions” — would these be the subject of criminal sanctions? And what would be the criteria for “clearly self-serving at the expense of the public”? In the past you have sometimes given the example of non-socialised health care, but that would certainly be a controversial definition. The debate over what is in the public interest is what generally goes under the name “politics”. Or are you referring to ostensibly corrupt practices by allotted legislators (i.e. accepting bribes and other inducements)?

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  53. André,
    >But, sure, the jurors were unaccountable as embodying the sovereign dêmos, and that seems anathema to Naomi, which seems to follow the idea that power without accountability leads to moral corruption, to people behaving as tyrants or pagan gods.

    It would be better to say that, given opportunity, some portion of the people will succumb to corruption. And over time this portion will grow. The jury only embodies the sovereign dêmos with respect to national-level issues and only to the extent the experiences of the individual members after being selected fail to change them by any significant amount. But everyone will be changed to some extent after serving in a general purpose legislative house for a few years as Yoram has advocated. This is not directly analogous to a criminal jury where no member of the jury can be allowed to have a personal stake in the outcome and where the political actors higher up have incentive to insure that the system remains both reliable and perceived as legitimate into the future. This not exactly the case with a supreme legislative jury armed with the power to set the scope its own powers.

    If we assume, as Yoram seems to, that people generally act out of self interest and not out of a sense of right and wrong or a desire to further the common good then it is reasonable to counter with the idea that the lottery winners can be expected to act in their own interest even when those interests are counter to the needs/wishes/preferences of their country/class/sect.

    I’m afraid I’m at a disadvantage, as I know little of ancient Athens and it’s philosophers. My interests are more in line with contemporary political science. However, I have no problem at all with sovereignty resting solely with the dêmos. I don’t like the idea of sovereignty being held by the lottery winners acting in their own capacity. They ought to be a stand-in for the dêmos. And great care needs to be taken to ensure they can function in this capacity.

    Yoram,
    >Experience shows that in electoral systems this chance is very low as long as laws (as they were at the time) were not broken. I think that a sortition-based system would be different. Decisions that would appear to be clearly self serving at the expense of the public would have a good chance of having repercussions.

    If and only if those who stand to profit from those excesses decide to punish themselves for engaging in excesses. Self-serving behavior would have to be criminalized. Even a bicameral option, with one house serving long terms and another serving briefly, only partially solves the problem because the long-serving body is perhaps unlikely to close any loopholes that allow them to engage in excesses. A direct comparison with Athens in this case is must be done carefully since the membership of their lower house (after a fashion) was the whole citizen body. Excesses engaged in by the whole citizen body are another matter entirely. The long-serving body is made different from the people by virtue of both having power and the capacity to abuse that power which is not something 99+% of people experience in their lives. If you wanted to opt for pure sortition, the way to go would be to have a set of advocates with proposal power drawn by lot, and a set of voters also drawn by lot and serving a much shorter term. I would still object to this for reasons that have already been discussed to excess already.

    At least, in this case, the longer-term advocates would not need to be fully representative in aggregate. A gamble you are making, Yoram, is not that the great majority of members will handle the burden of power well, it’s that the aggregate results of both those who handle it well and those who handle it poorly (however many or few there may be) will still be representative. And I think it’s safe to say this is not an assumption that can be made without actual experimental evidence.

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  54. André,

    There is a greater affinity between the second Athenian demokratia and the (ultimate) rule of the Supreme Court in modern polyarchies than you acknowledge. The Athenians viewed the fourth-century reforms as an attempt to revert from the rule of men (demagogues, assembly members and jurors) to the rule of law. Kinch Hoekstra refers to this as the tyranny of the law and it was deemed by most to be a good form of government (or at least an improvement on the tyranny of the demos). Some historians refer to the 4th century form of government (which you and I both applaud) as a Rechtsstaat rather than a democracy.

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  55. *** Keith Sutherland says: “There is a greater affinity between the second Athenian demokratia and the (ultimate) rule of the Supreme Court in modern polyarchies than you acknowledge. »
    *** Yes, there is a great affinity, I agree. But likewise a great difference: our Supreme Courts or Constitutional Councils are selected through complex procedures with pressure of various factions and lobbies and very strong elite effects – they are not alloted among citizens, as Athenian juries in charge of judicial review. A great difference, which is the difference between polyarchy and dêmokratia.

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  56. *** Yoram Gat writes (June 16, 2:05 pm) “Electoralist ideology also makes a claim to allow everybody to have an equal say in decision making (through voting). It is only when challenged that advocates of electoralism peel back this cover and expose the elitism underlying their thinking”.
    *** I agree, and I saw that phenomenon of “peeling back the cover” in many debates; but we must note that the elitist (anti-populist) arguments for the polyarchic model are usually more explicit when the subject is not the electoral process, but the “judicial review” by magistrates, usually not elected by voters. This review is not only an important point of the contemporary polyarchic model, it is likewise an assertion of the need of selection in sovereignty process, a symbolic counterpart to the universal suffrage.

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  57. *** Keith Sutherland mentions (June 15, 2:57 pm) “culture wars”, kind of « ideological wars »; which, I agree, appears to preclude the simple idea of an oligarchy with subservient «organic intellectuals».
    *** But we must consider that if what I named «the trend of harmonization » does not exclude ideological wars, it keeps them on a level where no important elite is really endangered in its basic interests, and where the political model – i.e. the polyarchic model – is not basically challenged. We may fear that any serious move towards a modern dêmokratia will face a general hostility of the main ideological factions forgetting suddenly their conflicts, in a common “anti-populist” rhetoric.

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  58. André,

    >alloted among citizens, as Athenian juries in charge of judicial review.

    On this forum we’re disposed to view this as democracy via a deliberative sample of the citizen body. But I wonder if this is anachronistic — the Greeks viewed the law as a semi-divine entity (gifted to them by the Lawmaker), rather than the product of positive human choice, so the role of the nomothetai might well be to discern the original law in a Rousseauian sense of uncovering the truth as opposed to recording a preference. We should also be aware that the original nomothetic panels (at the beginning of the century) were elected — the random selection of legislative juries was a later development. This is why most historians view the fourth century as a time of democratic decline, and Sealey and Ostwald view it as a (non-democratic) Rechtsstaat. If so then it is the law that rules and the method of appointing the lawmakers is of lesser importance. Have you read Ober’s new book on the Rise and Fall of Classical Greece?

    >We may fear that any serious move towards a modern dêmokratia will face a general hostility of the main ideological factions.

    That would certainly be the case if we bang on constantly about replacing election with sortition. That’s why we should take Naomi’s conciliatory proposals very seriously.

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  59. > What exactly do you mean by “repercussions”

    I am not offering a specific mechanism. It just makes sense that high powered people making decisions that cause wide-spread dissatisfaction would incur the risk that various actions, including prosecutions, would be taken by representative bodies to express this dissatisfaction. Those representative bodies could be ones that have been convened either before or after the unpopular acts took place.

    BTW, I would presume and hope that having acted in good faith would be accepted as valid defense in such cases.

    > And what would be the criteria for “clearly self-serving at the expense of the public”?

    Obviously, in a democratic government, the criteria would be “whatever appears as convincing evidence to a representative body acting in an informed and considered manner.”

    It is interesting how you are simply unable to wrap your mind around what democracy means.

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  60. Naomi,

    > If and only if those who stand to profit from those excesses decide to punish themselves for engaging in excesses.

    Again, members of one body, no matter how high-powered, always incur the risk of being subject to action from other representative bodies, either empowered contemporaneously or subsequently.

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  61. Andre,

    > This review is not only an important point of the contemporary polyarchic model

    I think ideologically judicial review is actually rather controversial and problematic. According to electoralist ideology it is illegitimate because it is not subject to “electoral accountability” – what is asserted as being the source of all good and legitimate power.

    The institution survives despite being problematic ideologically because (1) it is in fact compatible with the elitist nature of the electoralist system, and (2) since in reality “electoral accountability” is useless, the effects of judicial reviews are usually not any more anti-democratic than those of the rest of the system (and are actually often more democratic).

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  62. Keith wrote:
    >”We should also be aware that the original nomothetic panels (at the beginning of the century) were elected — the random selection of legislative juries was a later development.”

    Where did you read this? I can’t conceive how the Assembly could have elected hundreds of people to be nomothetai. With no nomination process they could only have scratched names on pottery shards like in an ostracism election… and then what? a block plurality count with the top 501 vote recipients winning? Elections of nomothetai was simply not a realistic possibility, so I think your source is wrong.

    Yes, they elected a “defense team” to defend the current law for the “trial” against the proposed law before the nomothetai, but that was a handful of advocates, not the nomothetai decision-makers.

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  63. Yoram,

    Thank you for confirming that “repercussions” refers to prosecutions and other such ad hoc events, as opposed to structural mechanisms that are designed to lead to self-regulating behaviour.

    >It is interesting how you are simply unable to wrap your mind around what democracy means.

    That is certainly true regarding your translation of terms like democracy and representation into NewSpeak. Rule by a small group of people conferring together always used to be called oligarchy (trs: “the rule of the few”) — the only difference being that your oligarchs are appointed by rolling a die.

    >[electoral accountability] is asserted as being the source of all good and legitimate power.

    Apart from a tiny number of neoconservative headbangers, who on earth believes this sort of nonsense?

    >the effects of judicial reviews are . . . actually often more democratic

    Please explain.

    Terry,

    I was referring to the original codification of the laws at the beginning of the second demokratia, not the process for ongoing revision, introduced later in the 4th century — I’ll dig out the references at the weekend. Note that I am equally guilty of anachronism (grave-robbing antiquity for historical precedents to legitimise my own practical project), and the nomothetai provide most of my rhetorical ammunition. I’m also aware that my appropriation of Harrington is equally anachronistic, but this pales into insignificance in comparison with attempts to reinterpret the Athenian council as a prototype of deliberative democracy.

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  64. PS, on the topic of Yoram’s NewSpeak definition of representation, I would suggest that a random sample is representative of the target population iff:

    1) The sample is large enough to ensure that those characteristics of the target population deemed to be politically salient are reflected by the sample (within an agreed margin of error)

    and

    2) The deliberative style and decision mechanism of the sample are such that any two samples would return the same political “output” (within an agreed margin of error).

    Does anyone (other than Yoram) disagree with this definition? It strikes me as an improvement on vague and speculative notions of “interests”. The political output of the minipublic might well not represent the interests of the target population at all, but so long as it was consistent with other samples, the decision would be representative.

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  65. Keith,

    The underlying difference between you and the likes of Yoram, me and Campbell seems to be that key qualifier at the end of point 2: “within an agreed margin of error.”

    You argue that duplicate allotted bodies must come EXTREMELY close to zero variation in order to be legitimate, but accept the legitimacy of an elected body even if different elected bodies might fluctuate more wildly.

    Perhaps this can be displayed graphically … (if it gets displayed as I type it below).

    In this diagram the range of possible decisions on a single axis that a society might choose on an issue is shown as line. The unknowable ACTUAL preference of the whole population if it could engage in meaningful education and deliberation on an issue is indicated by an X.
    above the line is the range of likely decisions taken by an elected legislature, and below the line is the range of decisions likely taken by an allotted (full charge) legislature

    /———————————————-/ elected

    _______________X____________________________

    /——–/ allotted

    When a decision by an allotted body is relatively far off the mark, that issue will tend to come back and trend towards the “correct spot if considered by a series of allotted bodies, but that is much less likely with a series of elected bodies, which will have a consistent bias based on the electoral imperatives.

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  66. Unfortunately, the formatting did not hold up … Everything got left justified… the allotted line is supposed to closely span the range on both sides of X.

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  67. Terry,

    I should have made it clearer that the question was synchronic — all bodies (elected and allotted) will come to differing conclusions on the same topic over time as perspectives do change (compare, for example, modern views on gay marriage, compared with the proscription of homosexual acts little more than 50 years ago). Your proposal may trend towards the “correct” spot in the long run but, as Keynes put it, in the long run we’re all dead (and the horse will have well and truly bolted).

    My proposal is entirely testable (set up half a dozen juries to determine the same issue concurrently, with the same advocates and see if they agree), whereas the appeal to the conflicting interests of the masses and the elite is vague to the extent of bordering on the metaphysical. Representativity is operationalised in both the case of elections and stochation, not so with full-mandate deliberation within small groups of people (Yoram’s proposal), hence the translation of the concept of representation into NewSpeak.

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  68. But Keith, doesn’t it seem JUST as likely that a series of simultaneous ELECTED legislatures would make different decisions as well? You can assume they use different political parties or use the SAME parties as each other, based on who chooses to run, who is a good campaigner, the luck of the media play, and the persuasive abilities, power manipulation, campaign contributions that shape each of these simultaneous legislatures… outcomes will be very different. Now in a strict PR system with strict party discipline AND identical parties running the variation would be much less, but still probably huge. My point is that the standard you set for an allotted legislature (nearly identical outcomes) is nonsensical and could never be met by simultaneous elected legislatures either. Indeed in a multiple universe theory simultaneous identical populations due to random differences would never make the identical decisions if they could all educate themselves on an issue and deliberate together in each of those universes.

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  69. The goal is to avoid the consistent bias that exists due to the electoral imperatives, so that the variation swings around the true common good rather than swinging around the center defined by powerful elites and the various psychological, money, class, and other factors that distort elected legislatures away from the popular will.

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  70. If we are excluding the general public from the final decision making process our margin of error consequently needs to be low.

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  71. Terry,

    The difference between the electoral and full-mandate sortition examples is that in the first instance the representatives are freely chosen by all citizens (albeit with the less-than-optimal constraints that we all acknowledge), whereas in the latter case it’s just random (in the pejorative sense).

    >The goal is to avoid the consistent bias that exists due to the electoral imperatives, so that the variation swings around the true common good rather than swinging around the center defined by powerful elites and the various psychological, money, class, and other factors that distort elected legislatures away from the popular will.

    Yes, that’s the heady mix of Rousseau and Marx that I pointed out as underlying Yoram’s perspective, and explains the communication difficulties you both have with pragmatic liberals like Naomi and myself.

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  72. *** The main contemporary models of sovereignty are three: the totalitarian, the authoritarian, the polyarchic. Those kleroterians who are supporters of democracy-through-minipublics are proposing a fourth model, without historical example – except a partial example at the end of Athenian democracy, in an ancient and very different society.
    *** There are few totalitarian regimes left in our world. I don’t know neither Chinese language nor China itself, and I hope I can trust my info – I would say that China is no more totalitarian, but is authoritarian; that the contemporary Chinese Communist Party is the backbone apparatus of an authoritarian system, not a vanguard militant sect with Marxist millenarian dreams; and that the main legitimacy of China’s system is of the pragmatic kind: better material everyday life, hopes of wealth, and national pride about China’s international power.
    *** It is this pragmatic legitimacy Yoram Gat considers when he says it is maybe better to live under China’s (authoritarian) system that under India’s (polyarchic) system. Some would prefer a comparison with Taiwan, much more alike in population – but, right, very different in size. Any comparison is difficult, and the political model is only one of the factors. But anyway, such a comparison may be theoretically interesting, and practically interesting for Hong Kong people for instance – but it seems outside the subject of a kleroterian’s blog.
    *** What I object is any tendency to conflate the three models; all are anti-democratic, but they are very different, and we must avoid an erroneous and counter-productive confusion. For instance elections in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are farcical – and allow for jokes (when somebody is elected in France with a huge majority, some will joke “a majority North-Korean style”); whereas the representative-electoral process is a sham, right, but a very subtle sham, which needs a serious analysis.

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  73. *** Keith Sutherland writes (June 16, 2:27 pm): “Pol Pot studied Rousseau in Paris in the 1950s and cherry-picked his philosophical and anthropological vision (in particular the notion of the noble savage and the need to reject sophisticated commercial life), where he also joined the Cercle Marxiste. The reference to the toxic mix of Marx and Rousseau was to their anthropology, not their political proposals.”
    *** Well, but as we are discussing here about political systems, not anthropological and metahistorical worldviews, it was important to stress the opposition between Rousseau and the totalitarian political model.
    *** We must likewise remember that if Rousseau lamented the loss of primitive innocence, he did never think it was possible to come back to it, and said it many times. The “Social Contract” is an endeavour to establish a political society as good as possible, given the contemporary state of mankind, far from primitive innocence.
    *** The importance of commercial life in the contemporary societies was accepted as a fact by Rousseau (even if Corsica appeared to be a possible exception – certainly not his native Geneva). But it is sure that he had not a positive feeling towards the bourgeois obsession with commerce, profit and wealth accumulation. That may have pleased Pol Pot, as it pleased, before, the French “Sans Culottes” who were to be the spearhead of the Jacobine Revolution. Note that this feeling pleased likewise a part of the French pre-revolutionary elites, the “sword nobility” – Rousseau was a very successful writer, but his best French audiences were among two (very different) classes: the higher craftsman class (which was his own class), and the sword nobility (which gave him patrons).
    *** But what is dicussed in this blog is not basically such feelings. Rather the political theory of Rousseau. We must acknowledge it was never seriously followed, because, written at the beginning of modernity, it was actually a work deeply imbedded in the Ancient Times, concerned about small and quasi-static communities. That does not mean it cannot not be interesting for societies to come, which as dynamic will be strongly different from ancient societies, but will be for other sides closer to them than to societies of the first-stage modernity. We could say, for instance, that with electronic technology, contemporary China is, at least along the information dimension, smaller than the Ancient Athens or Sparta – not to mention Britain or France a century ago.

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  74. Terry,

    I’m glad that you stated your position so clearly in your last post. If the goal of the assembly is to discern the general will/common good then it doesn’t matter much which citizens get to deliberate (in Kant’s eyes it might only need one person), so long as the debate was not distorted by psychological, money, class, and other elite influences. Your preference for a decent number of citizens selected by lot is on account of the epistemic value of cognitive diversity in problem solving (discerning the common good). It’s certainly nothing to do with representation in the normal sense of the word (which is of no interest to general will theorists). The general will, according to Patrick Riley, has its origins in the will of god to save all men [and women], so there’s no need to consider humdrum bottom-up considerations like individual preferences and interests. To liberal pluralists like Naomi and myself, of course, this is just gobbledegook, as it’s impossible to tell the difference between the general will and the aggregation of preferences. To liberals it’s the individual that counts, not theological abstractions like the general good.

    André,

    My interest in the history of political thought (despite publishing the leading Cambridge School journal in the field) is not the intentions/beliefs/context of the authors in question but the influence of their ideas on practical men (Robespierre, Lenin, Pol Pot, Gat, Bouricius etc) — i.e. how a Rousseau/Marx-derived mindset can lead to the design of concrete political systems. Needless to say I also accept my own indebtedness to Aristotle, Madison, Harrington, Hume etc and my eagerness to steal their ideas for my own purposes.

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  75. > prosecutions and other such ad hoc events

    In the same way that all criminal prosecutions are ad hoc events. Thank you for making it clear you support scrapping such ad hoc events in favor of some “structural mechanisms that are designed to lead” criminals “to self-regulating behaviour.”

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  76. Yoram,

    I was referring to the design of political systems and my model in this is James Madison’s preference for structural (self-regulating) solutions over the policeman. Headlam argued that election was the structural replacement for the Athenian political trial, and this is arguably more humane and effective than the show trial, the gulag and the bullet in the back of the head. I note also your view that politicians that are judged guilty (by a “representative body”) of contravening the public interest are now referred to as criminals.

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  77. Andre,

    > *** What I object is any tendency to conflate the three models; all are anti-democratic, but they are very different, and we must avoid an erroneous and counter-productive confusion.

    Yes – differences, but also similarities. In our society we like to emphasize the differences. It is good to keep the similarities in mind.

    > jokes

    It is easy to turn anything into a joke, including the electoral system. Mocking official enemies is not a sign of superiority.

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  78. Keith wrote:
    >”The difference between the electoral and full-mandate sortition examples is that in the first instance the representatives are freely chosen by all citizens (albeit with the less-than-optimal constraints that we all acknowledge), whereas in the latter case it’s just random (in the pejorative sense).”

    The key fallacy is the phrase “freely chosen by all citizens” This is absolutely untrue, as i believe anyone giving more than a few moments thought would have to understand. It is not just subject to trivial “less than optimal constraints” but rather fundamentally untrue.

    Firstly voters are restricted to an unpalatable menu of nominated choices. Typically the nomination process is dominated by money or a political class. Many and often MOST voters find no candidate to their liking at all among their choices. They place a ballot in the box and have one chance in a million of having that ballot make any difference at all in the outcome of the election. At best the election can be understood as a society sanctioned process of rather arbitrarily selecting a subset of citizens to make the decisions for everybody…it is NOT that EACH person has “freely chosen” a person to represent him or her. Whether society settles on hereditary rulers, elections or sortition and mini-publics, the key question is whether that subset of selected citizens will reasonably be expected to act as the people as a whole would. The overwhelming evidence is that neither hereditary aristocracy, nor elections achieve this. Based both on logic and on dozens of experiments so far, there is reason to hope that sortition may well.

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  79. Terry,

    > whether that subset of selected citizens will reasonably be expected to act as the people as a whole would

    Again, this criterion of “as the people as a whole would” is completely useless. It has no meaning – it refers to a completely fantastic, unknowable situation.

    What we should aim at is for government to act so that the people would approve. This doesn’t require a particular course of action. As long as upon informed and considered examination the procedure seems right and the people involved seem to be acting in good faith, I think people would usually approve. (Of course, this is something that can be tested empirically.)

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  80. Yoram,

    >Again, this criterion of “as the people as a whole would” is completely useless. It has no meaning – it refers to a completely fantastic, unknowable situation.

    Huh? All you need to do is perform (say) half a dozen stochations, have each group deliberate in parallel on the same topic (followed by a vote), and see if the votes align. The experimental procedure would be subject to your own preconditions of “[well]-informed and considered examination”.

    >As long as . . . the procedure seems right and the people involved seem to be acting in good faith, I think people would usually approve.

    Note that these criteria would apply to any system of government (democratic or otherwise). And two “seems” in the same sentence is as vague and undemanding as it gets. Yoram — do you really stand by this claim?

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  81. Terry,

    >the key question is whether that subset of selected citizens will reasonably be expected to act as the people as a whole would. The overwhelming evidence is that neither hereditary aristocracy, nor elections achieve this.

    Agreed. But who on this forum is advocating elections or hereditary aristocracy? Naomi and I arguing for a combination of election and stochation, with the final decision in the hands of a representative sample of all citizens. Our hypothesis is that this combination is the only way of ensuring that the subset of selected citizens will act as the people as a whole would, and this is a testable hypothesis (see my response to Yoram, above). And it doesn’t require any transcendental metaphysics (general will, common good etc) as the criteria (votes) are fully operationalised. How would you go about testing your Rousseauian alternative?

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  82. Yoram:

    >I think people would usually approve [of government by full-mandate sortition].

    I wonder why you think that? You’ve dismissed the Rousseauian and epistemic case for deliberative democracy, so all that leaves is the Marxian sociology — the masses share the same interests, so it makes no difference which citizens get to debate and decide as the interests of the 99% will always prevail (given informed and considered examination and the assumption that people are acting in good faith). Or have I missed something?

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  83. In some ways I find myself agreeing with Yoram’s point.

    The strength of the will of the people falls along a spectrum. At one end the public has strong feelings and a clear preference for a single option. At the other the field is open and the nature of the options placed on the table and the arguments made for each will drive things one way or the other.

    In the former case the details of the political system probably matter little. Whether we have the lot, elections, or direct democracy we’ll probably end up with similar outcomes.

    I believe Yoram is looking at the latter case. At this end of the spectrum we should not expect consistency across samplings in the absence of *identical* advocacy. Which in turn means that those responsible for introducing and discussing proposals should probably have a solid legitimizing principle themselves. There will be disagreement, of course, on what this entails.

    On the other hand, if the end results are consistently agreeable regardless of the details of the system then mass opposition will be mute. But there will be times when the results are very much disagreeable. There will be times when it is *necessary* to take actions which are very much disagreeable. If there is no tool the masses can use to vent their frustrations then where will that anger go? It will, as it has in the past, be funneled into reform movements. It makes sense to segregate a blameless representative sampling from the advocacy process. Any action taken by the sampling will be due to the machinations of the advocacy and those advocates can be whipped by the masses for “misleading the people” (as represented by the sampling) when the same sampling votes in a way that the masses disapprove of. If long-term institutional stability is a design goal then diffusing blame away from the foundation of the system should be a design goal as well.

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  84. Naomi,

    All that is undoubtedly true. But there is a consequent danger of scapegoating and buck-passing. Remember that Pericles often had to remind the Athenians that although he advised them, they were the ones who took the decision. There is also a need to address Rousseau’s primary reason for insisting that all citizens should participate in the assembly — if you participate yourself then it’s much harder to reject the decision outcome (even if you disagree with it). Given the impossibility of everybody participating directly, then demonstrating (by experiment) that it makes no difference whether or not I participated directly or by proxy — the outcome would be the same — would add to the perceived legitimacy of the decision. This is not in any way to minimise the value of (electoral) accountability (kicking the advisers out) but if democracy is also an educative process then people have to learn to take responsibility for their own decisions (taken directly or via proxy). That way we might get it right the next time.

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  85. Right, but how do you incentivize the people to educate themselves and take responsibility if there are no consequences for failing to do so? One can hold any ridiculous position one wishes. If drawn into the sampling then one has the opportunity to reevaluate. That reevaluation is kind of the whole point of exposing the sample to rigorous debate. There would be LESS personal, near-term consequences for remaining ignorant or taking harmful positions—or for wallowing in antiestablishment anger—than there is now even though there would absolutely be long-term consequences at the societal level.

    Perhaps it would be prudent to have *something* of consequence hinge on the outcome of a general majority vote.

    I any case I am sceptical we can do a better job of instilling a sense of civic-mindedness in our modern megastates than the ancient Athenians managed in their little city state, regardless of institutional structure.

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  86. Naomi,

    Yes I think we are agreed on this — the only serious consequences have to be for the (elected) advocates. But I don’t think we should underestimate the degree to which trial jurors do take their responsibilities seriously and we can anticipate that this will be replicated in legislative juries. As regards the consequences (of a poor decision), jurors will simply have to share the same fate as their fellow citizens and (no doubt) will deny having voted for the failed policy. The Millian solution would be public voting in the assembly, but that would have far more serious entailments for corruption.

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  87. Naomi,

    When you wrote:
    >”due to the machinations of the advocacy and those advocates can be whipped by the masses for “misleading the people”

    were you specifically referencing the Athenian practice of bringing a public suit (graphe) against a politician (rhetor) for misleading the people, with the belief that the people could never be to ultimately to blame for a bad policy, only those who had initiated the proposal or advised them.

    Rather than resorting to a mass election (with all its inherent flaws), why not allow any citizen to initiate a petition drive to punish by removal any staff person or other advisor who had mislead a mini-public…with the trial before a jury.

    In short, any time a mass election process is added to the mix all kinds of undemocratic distortions from money, manipulation, rational ignorance, etc. will privilege certain people and unfairly harm others.

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  88. Terry,

    That presupposes an epistemic, rather than a political, perspective — i.e. that there is such a thing as a wrong answer. I think the majority of cases are simply the law of unintended consequences, in which case the advocates would merely be sanctioned for lack of foresight by being kicked out by the electorate. Headland is adamant that election is the modern equivalent of the political trial, and I would be alarmed if we wanted to return to the Athenian policy of executing unsuccessful generals ‘pour encourager les autres’. All this talk of trials and “repercussions” is beginning to sound a tad soviet.

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  89. Keith,
    Firstly, I am referring to removal from a position of advising a mini-public, not executions (please stop setting up exaggerated Pol-Pot-like strawmen). Yes, many or even most “unexpected” bad outcomes might be simply due to humans’ unrealistic belief that they can anticipate the effects of policy into the future, rather than due to bad intent or incompetence…But since SOMETIMES an advisor SHOULD be removed, is it better to remove policy advocates/advisors by mass elections where a “fair trial” is literally impossible, or by allowing a petition to initiate an administrative hearing before an allotted jury who will hear all the evidence? Wouldn’t you agree that mass elections are just as likely to remove a wonderful competent policy advisor (simply because things went badly), as they are to remove someone worthy of removal? Indeed the genuinely sinister psychopath with power and money in office probably as a better skill at winning re-election and diverting blame than an honest person.

    In short elections are as bad for removing the bad as they are for selecting the good.

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  90. *** I disagree with the views of Yoram Gat about judicial review and its relationship with the polyarchic system.
    *** He says (June 18, 5:49 pm) that the institution is “rather controversial and problematic”, and that it “survives “. But it does not “survive”! Actually it is becoming a standard element of the polyarchic model. In France judicial review was totally extraneous to the political tradition since the Revolution, and linked to prerevolutionary “Old Regime” system. Since a generation, it has become a basic part of the system, not only in fact but likewise in the common understanding of it, for France and elsewhere.
    *** I agree that the “constitutional magistrates” decisions may be better than those of the “representatives”; why not? to be seen case case by case. But “more democratic”?
    *** The judicial review by permanent magistrates does not survive, it is a part of a more sophisticated model. Among the advantages: as I said, it is an assertion of the value of selection in sovereignty process, a symbolic counterpart to the universal suffrage; as the reason given is often to protect the citizen against the oppressive State, or a minority against a tyrannical majority, it conveys an implicit discurse about the evils of “pure democracy”; and by multiplying the official centers of political power it lessens the risk of an elite abusing its power against another elite, which would be dangerous for polyarchy – it is good for equilibrium between elites. Even if it does not work always perfectly – some commentators said that the recent US Supreme Court decisions about campaign finance (Citizens United, Mc Cutcheon) give too spectacular a support to the money elite, it is globally useful to allow some level of harmonization betweenf the elites.
    *** Yoram says the institution is “rather controversial” and “problematic ideologically”. Right, but that is beneficial for the polyarchy. The democratic principle is very useful for the system, giving it a legitimacy through the idea of “electoral representation”; but at the same time it is more and more dangerous, given the technological possibility of “direct democracy” – including democracy-through-stochation, the one serious model, but the danger most feared is for now a plebiscitarian endeavour; let’say for instance by a charismatic president with a popular program and the strange idea to take it seriously. The democratic principle is useful to polyarchy but could be dangerous: the permanent virtual controversy fed by the judicial review events weakens it suitably, without destroying it.

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  91. André,

    > ** I disagree with the views of Yoram Gat about judicial review and its relationship with the polyarchic system.

    IIUC, there is not much difference in the way we view this issue. I think we both see “judicial review” as ideologically problematic, but practically convenient for all involved – both elite and masses. Coming up with various theoretical excuses for such a situation is always easy and as a side benefit provides useful employment for intellectuals.

    > “more democratic”?

    Yes, more democratic in the substantive sense: leading to policy that is often more representative of the interests of the average citizen by mitigating some of the most glaring defects of the electoral system.

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  92. *** “Nomothêtai” is only Greek for “legislators”, for all cases. Therefore I think it is better to use “legislators”, and for theinstitution of the late 4th century Athens, “legislative juries”.
    *** Those who consider the Athenian political system in time of Demosthenes as non-democratic must use a peculiar definition of democracy, which is not the natural one – and not the definition of those who put forward the word and the idea in the world intellectual history. I think it is not a good intellectual way. The Second Athenian Democracy orators we know stress the idea of “rule of law”, but of a democratic law, the law of a system where the dêmos is sovereign.
    *** Keith Sutherland says (June 18, 3:39 pm ) that if the law “rules, the method of appointing the lawmakers is of lesser importance. “ Lesser importance? If the law rules, there is more legal safety, but the content of the law does not loose importance – actually it is most important ! And the appointing method of the legislators will be often a big factor of the content of the law.
    *** Keith says “the Greeks viewed the law as a semi-divine entity (gifted to them by the Lawmaker), rather than the product of positive human choice, so the role of the nomothetai might well be to discern the original law in a Rousseauian sense of uncovering the truth as opposed to recording a preference”. That is projecting upon Athens in the time of Demosthenes an archaizing view of Ancient Greece, which, for this City and time (which interests us as kleroterians) has low validity. Right, the Athenians as a whole, even at this time, were quite anhistorical (no number for their democracies as for French republics); they leant to ascribe their institutional laws to past mythical figures – Theseus as figure of heroic mythology, Solon who became a mythical figure because his poetry was kept in the mainly oral culture of 5th century Athens (Demosthenes likes to quote Solonic laws; even Aristotle ascribes to Solon the institution of popular alloted judicial juries, which few historians believe). But the main legislative work in the time of Demosthenes appears to be in the field of public finance, and the subject was about very human positive choices: the amount and assignment of taxes and mandatory contributions by the richest class; the Theoric Fund, which was actually a kind of welfare system, allowing inter-class peace (and therefore said by Demades as “the glue of democracy”); and the idea of channelling money from the Theoric Fund to the Military Fund, considering the Macedonian threat. Very human positive choices, indeed.

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  93. Terry,
    >The key fallacy is the phrase “freely chosen by all citizens” This is absolutely untrue, as i believe anyone giving more than a few moments thought would have to understand. It is not just subject to trivial “less than optimal constraints” but rather fundamentally untrue.

    To win an election you must be visible publicly on the same level as the office being contested and you have to be favored over the others who are visible. The pool of those who are visible is reasonably diverse. The candidates who make a serious go of it represent a very narrow range because the strategically optimal positions (which strike a balance between ideology, outcomes, and popular policy preferences) is narrow in the US (and the UK) and don’t vary too much from year to year. If you decrease the threshold for entry the number of viable positions increases. Take a look at the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Read through the list of parties and look at their various positions and tell me you can’t find one you could support.

    >why not allow any citizen to initiate a petition drive to punish by removal any staff person or other advisor who had mislead a mini-public…with the trial before a jury.

    I’m not fundamentally opposed to a recall mechanism. At least so long as it cannot be used to force out minorities as would be the case if a conventional recall/by-election system were paired with a conventional PR system. “Mislead” is a matter of opinion. It could end up being more of a retention election by an allotted electoral college instead of a proper trial.

    The minipublic/sampling should have the most diverse advocacy possible. I’m not entirely sure how we can get consistently diverse and representative advocacy without an electoral process. Also, those who aren’t in the sampling are still going to have opinions about political figures and policies. They need a mechanism to express those opinions constructively.

    All real world political systems (and any that will ever exist) are the result of horse trading and compromise between the most powerful factions in society and then, ultimately, largely unguided evolution. Complete victory is a fantasy. You and I both know that anything that actually gets put into practice in the real world is going to be a derivative of existing systems. I mean, you were involved in electoral reform for a long time. You know how strongly people can resist even very simple, much needed, and well-tested changes to the electoral system. The state is the ultimate power broker in society. Even a small change is a huge gamble. In order to support a reform you must first have an excellent understanding of both the reforms and your own existing system. Otherwise, how can you know if someone is trying to pull a fast one? Doubt is the default position. The sort of systems that you, Yoram, and Campbell have endorsed are literally a thousand times harder than achieving something like STV in the US. And that’s being generous. You’d have to start by unmaking the entire American civil religion. I mean, the founders didn’t want the sort of system you guys argue in favor of, so you’d have to convince most people that is doesn’t matter what the founders wanted. Coming up with the most perfect system possible on paper is all well and good. If it’s unimplementable then it’s of academic interest only. If it can’t survive the process of being hacked up and stitched together with other random bits favored by other significant subsets of the population (as is always going to be the case for major constitutional revisions in democratic countries) it’s probably not a healthy normative target either. And elections have been the cornerstone of democracy for so long that we can take for granted there will be MASSIVE support for them for many generations to come.

    Keith,
    >But I don’t think we should underestimate the degree to which trial jurors do take their responsibilities seriously and we can anticipate that this will be replicated in legislative juries.

    Right, but my concern is not just the attitude of those inside the jury but outside as well. Their views/attitudes are still of practical significance even if they are of little institutional significance.

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  94. Terry,

    “Executions” was a light-hearted reference to Voltaire’s comment on the fate of Admiral Byng.

    >Wouldn’t you agree that mass elections are just as likely to remove a wonderful competent policy advisor (simply because things went badly), as they are to remove someone worthy of removal?

    That’s a description of our current two-party, fused system of government. The advocates that Naomi and I are proposing would often be singly persons or small parties, and the point is they should be removed by a political, rather than a judicial, process.

    Yoram,

    >more democratic in the substantive sense: leading to policy that is often more representative of the interests of the average citizen.

    And who, pray, is to decide what policies are more representative of the interests of the average citizen? Generally you attribute that role to a “representative” body, but in this case the reference is to supreme court judges.

    André,

    Anachronism takes various forms — whether back-projecting modern priorities onto the classical age or forward-projecting archaic priorities. The rechtsstaat theory of Sealey and Ostwald is controversial, but there is no doubt that the 4th century Athenians pined for the patrios politeia and the (stable) laws of Solon and Draco. And most historians view the 4th century as less democratic than the 5th. I share the view that the randomly-selected nomothetai of the 4th century should be a template for modern demokratia but I don’t believe that the Athenians viewed the institutions in the way that we do — that is entirely anachronistic. This doesn’t bother me, as I have no overriding interest (other than a commercial one) in the history of political thought. Were the 4th century political decisions you referenced the province of the council, assembly or legislative courts? They sound more like decrees than general laws.

    Terry: I haven’t forgotten your request for references on the pre-sortition selection of nomothetai, will get to the books shortly.

    Naomi,

    >my concern is not just the attitude of those inside the jury but outside as well.

    Yes indeed, that’s why I insist that consistency between allotted samples is so important. People need to understand (both theoretically and by practical demonstration) that it would make no difference which citizens were included in the sample, the outcome would be the same. And I also agree that we need scapegoats (“misleading” advisers) who would be punished in subsequent elections/votations.

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  95. Terry,

    On the pre-sortition origins of the nomothetai:

    “After the restoration of democracy in 403 the Athenians decided that the laws of Drakon and Solon should be in force until further notice, but once again that they should be revised, ratified and republished. . . . Two legislative boards (nomothetai) were set up, one elected by the Council of Five Hundred, the other, 500 strong, elected by the various demes in their deme assemblies.” (Hansen, 1999, p. 163, my emphasis).

    The role of the first board was largely administrative (hence it being elected by the council), whereas the role of the second board was to “perform a ‘test’ (dokimasia) of all the laws, i.e. after a hearing, to vote whether or not a particular law should be accepted and included in the revised code.” (ibid.). The sources are unclear at what point in the fourth century these elected panels were replaced by nomothetai randomly selected from the 6,000 pool who had sworn the Heliastic Oath. This is all Hansen has to say on the matter: “by analogy with the jury court it may be supposed that nomothetai were picked by lot for a given day from among those who presented themselves in the morning” (ibid., pp. 167-8, my emphasis).

    Although this is the template for my own modern proposal for allotted legislators, I’m under no anachronisitic illusion that the Athenians viewed this as a form of representative sampling (most historians view it in terms of the avoidance of corruption and factionalism). Hansen’s first sentence also underlies my scepticism regarding André’s claim that the Athenians viewed nomoi as the positive enactments of the will of the people. The (deeply conservative) fourth-century reforms were designed to replace the (somewhat arbitrary) rule of men with the rule of law.

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  96. Keith,
    Funny how the mind remembers what “fits.”… In my copy of Hansen’s book on page 163, I had underlined the word “elected,” and then proceeded to forget about it. However, it is interesting for those who claim the Athenians didn’t have a theory of representation, that these one-time elected legislators were elected by each neighborhood/village (deme) – and presumably in proportion to population (as the Council of 500 were selected by lot proportionately per deme). … Sure looks like a concept of representation.
    I wonder if having the local deme assemblies elect these one-time revision legislators had anything to do with including those under the age of 30 (who were excluded from the jury rolls).

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  97. Terry,

    Yes, we’re all guilty of back-projecting our own priorities onto the historical record and ignoring evidence to the contrary. The truth is nobody really knows why the Athenians used random selection for nomothetic juries — according to the blind breakers (Dowlen and Stone) it was another example of the prophylactic benefit of sortition; whereas stochation theorists (Bouricius and Sutherland) think it’s a form of proto-representation; and elite theorists (Ober and Gat) claim that it’s just a way of securing the interests of the masses against the rich ‘n powerful. My PhD supervisor is a professor of Greek history and she constantly warns me of the danger of anachronism. We’ve ended up with an uneasy compromise in which my claim is limited to the brute fact that Athenians did, for a very short period, use large randomly-selected juries to make the final decision on changing the laws and it seemed to work OK, until overturned by the nasty Macedonians. Exactly why they did this is open to debate but, frankly, who cares? (my supervisor thinks the move to sortition may have been primarily motivated by administrative convenience). However I think we do have to aknowledge that the process started in the reign of the oligarchs and then underwent modifications via election to sortition. So it’s all looking a bit messy, and certainly provides no solace for those seeking a “pure” system of governance.

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  98. Keith,

    Are you saying that during the period of the 30 tyrants that law making was removed from the assembly and moved to a body of legislators (appointed by the tyrants, or elected by deme assemblies?). I thought the transition to nomothetai (whether elected or selected by lot) happened immediately AFTER the overthrow of the 30 tyrants and restoration of democracy.

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  99. Terry,

    As a self-acknowledged grave-robber, with no particular expertise or interest in history per se, I’m not really the person to ask, but it would appear that the whole process of revision of the laws started before and continued under the first oligarchy, and was then incrementally democratised. Nikomachos, the recorder of the laws, was originally appointed in 411. Here’s Ostwald’s gloss:

    “The appointment of nomothetai ushered in a period of constitutional reform that had no precedent in Athenian history and was to last to the end of the fifth century. There can be no doubt that these nomothetai were directly derived from the ten probouloi appointed in 413 BC, from the thirty syngrapheis among whom these were included in 411 BC, and from the anagrapheis appointed at Colonus [which voted for the rule of the 400]. Like all these earlier commissions, the nomothetai were elected by the Assembly . . . As in the case of the syngrapheis, the proposals of the nomothetai were to be ratified by the Assembly.” (Ostwald, 1986, p. 405).

    Ostwald (like Raphael Sealey) clearly has an agenda here, to emphasise the conservative role of the nomothetai in the transition from popular sovereignty to the rule of law. But it’s hard not to acknowledge the fact that the model that we have both chosen to focus on (democracy via stochation) has its origins in the reaction against popular sovereignty.

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  100. *** I had mentioned jokes about “North Korean style majorities”. Yoram Gat writes (June 19, 7:46 pm): “ It is easy to turn anything into a joke, including the electoral system. Mocking official enemies is not a sign of superiority.”
    *** Actually these jokes dont’ have as target the North Korean regime, practically extraneous to contemporary French political debates. This regime is a collateral casualty. The reference is to a farcical process.
    *** Yoram says that the electoral procedure could be likewise a target of joke. Well, I don’t remember any instance. I can remember jokes about the “political class”, but it is another thing. Aggressive jokes against the political class may lead to the idea of substituting this class by another one, better, closer to the ordinary citizens etc…. But changing the political class (the populist recipe) is different from changing the system.
    *** My point was that the electoral-representative idea is a very subtle sham, which needs efficient intellectual refutations, as even the people who are estranged from the system have difficulties to develop rationally their opposition – which I think generally is not the case for people estranged from authoritarian or totalitarian systems.

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  101. *** Keith Sutherland wrote (June 19, 5:58 pm): “My interest in the history of political thought (…) is not the intentions/beliefs/context of the authors in question but the influence of their ideas on practical men (Robespierre, Lenin, Pol Pot, Gat, Bouricius etc)”
    *** Keith has any right to choose his inquiry field (he may understand that some others think that when a genius as Rousseau or Marx writes about a subject, it is interesting to consider their thought, even if it corresponds to worlds different from the 21st century world).
    *** But even focusing on the historical effect of ideas, if it is interesting to see what is the part of Rousseau or Marx active in the intellectual biography of “Robespierre, Lenin, Pol Pot, Gat, Bouricius etc… ”, it is likewise interesting to consider which part of the ideological legacy is inactive, has been explicitly or (more often) implicitly put aside, rejected. And why.
    *** Especially when the rejected part of Rousseau is his ideas about sovereignty, which cannot seriously be said peripheral in his thought.
    *** As a kleroterian Keith should be sensitive to this “substractive” side. Rousseau and Montesquieu were reference figures in the liberal/republican thought of the revolutionary era and afterwards. Both had acknowledged the interest of sortition, at least in some areas and to some extent. Their later admirers/followers rejected totally this concept, deemed as “insane” “primitive” etc , or systematically “forgotten”. This is a very interesting point in the intellectual history of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary times. Substraction by the “practical men” (and their organic intellectuals) is as important an historical fact as their use of a part of the intellectual legacy of the great thinkers.

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  102. André,

    > *** Yoram says that the electoral procedure could be likewise a target of joke. Well, I don’t remember any instance.

    Jokes about elections (or sortition) as a farcical process would be easy to generate. Mencken can serve as an example. The fact that such references are rare in our society is much less a fact about elections than a fact about our society.

    (And, of course, Socrates is reported to have produced jokes about sortition.)

    > I can remember jokes about the “political class”, but it is another thing.

    I completely agree.

    > *** My point was that the electoral-representative idea is a very subtle sham, which needs efficient intellectual refutations, as even the people who are estranged from the system have difficulties to develop rationally their opposition – which I think generally is not the case for people estranged from authoritarian or totalitarian systems.

    I agree that for people with our sensibilities this is true. This may however be a feature of the ideology we are indoctrinated into rather than some natural feature of electoralism. I can imagine that the divine right of monarchs used to be as entrenched in pre-modern times as the meritocracy of elections is entrenched today and therefore refuting those rights of monarchy used to require as much intellectual effort as refuting electoralism requires today.

    It appears, for example, that elite arguments in favor of electoralism and against sortition had no traction with Athenian audiences.

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  103. André:

    >Especially when the rejected part of Rousseau is his ideas about sovereignty, which cannot seriously be said peripheral in his thought.

    A political theorist may well come up with a pure and uncompromising concept of sovereignty (all citizens must rush to the assembly in order to determine the general will). But when this utopian specification comes into contact with empirical reality, the result is usually the opposite of that which the author intended. For Rousseau, “when the people are lawfully assembled as a sovereign body, the whole jurisdiction of the [delegated] government ceases” (SCBook 3, Ch. 14), but if this doesn’t, or cannot, happen (as no room is big enough to hold all citizens) then the rule of the delegated government prevails without restraint.

    >Rousseau . . . acknowledged the interest of sortition, at least in some areas and to some extent . . . later admirers/followers rejected totally this concept.

    Rousseau never proposed sortition for the sovereign legislature, merely suggesting that it was the obvious system of government for simple and tiny communities. Even in his own time this would be the province of “a nation of gods . . . unsuited to men” (Book 3, Ch.4). So the “practical men” did not have much work to do in dismissing sortition — he’d already done it for them. In large states the natural form of government is monarchy (Book 3, Ch.6) and the “Prince” can take the form of a single person or “the body as a whole” (Book 3, Ch.1). So the “practical men” had to do very little work to turn the thoughts of the leading defender of sovereign liberty into a system of dictatorship of a single person or party.

    It is for this reason that I have more interest in the (perlocutionary) consequences of the speech acts of political theorists than their (illocutionary) intentions. The aspiration to create heaven on earth leads directly to the killing fields.

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  104. *** I said that in Second Athenian Democracy the legislative activity was not as important as in modern, dynamic and complex, societies. But I said likewise that there was an important legislative activity in some fields, especially in the financial field.
    *** Keith Sutherland has doubts (July 21, 2 :34pm) « Were the 4th century political decisions you referenced the province of the council, assembly or legislative courts? They sound more like decrees than general laws ». I am not a specialist in Athenian financial history, but I think I can give some data.
    *** The general principle in the Second Athenian Democracy system was : the laws are general rules (established by legislative juries), decrees are one-time decisions (taken by the Assembly), which must be conform to the laws. Therefore the laws established the different « funds » where public money could be spent, and the system of taxes and mandatory contributions. The decrees decided about specific one-time points, and especially about emergency measures ; for instance a decree (by the Assembly) could levy an emergency property-tax (eisphora) for some urgent military necessity.
    *** A law established the repartition (merismos) of money acquired and to be spent between the different funds. Decrees had to conform to this law, but some temporary measures was allowed. We may find on Internet an example with the decree about Peisitheides (www.atticinscriptions.com). This decree gave to a deserving Delian Athenian citizenship, and a small allowance of one drachma a day until he returns to Delos. The money was not in the « merismos » and therefore had to be taken from the small fund of the Assembly (on internet it is said the « People’s fund » but here « people » translates « dêmos » in the technical sense of Assembly). This was a provisional measure, and the same decree asks to convene a legislative jury to put the allowance on a permanent foot.
    *** An important law (not a decree !) forbade to channel money from the Theoric Fund (kind of welfare) to the Military Fund, making such channeling impossible even in case of military emergency. This law was a part of the financial system established at mid-century which included a better management and a kind of welfare system, and which clearly intended to curb the imperialist leanings of the poorer Athenian classes. But with the surge of Macedon this system became dangerous, as the problem was no more the Athenian imperialism, but the Macedonian one.The fight of Demosthenes against this law was long and difficult.
    *** Therefore it is erroneous to see the legislative activity in Athens at the times of Demosthenes as a negligible field, with only some shy amendments upon (pseudo) Solonic laws. It was actually an important field for the political game concerning Athenian finances in relationship with the mounting conflict between the City and Macedon.
    *** NB It seems (but it is not sure, as far as I know) that the law forbiding to channel money from the Theoric Fund to the Military Fund was « entrenched », i.e. that a shield law forbade to modify the Theoric Fund law. Demosthenes and the « patriot party » had to have the shield law canceled, before canceling the law itself. (Such a kind of entrenchment is different from the super-majority model or the US constitutional law model, both contradicting the democratic principle by giving veto power to minorities. It is only a procedural protection – which is well in the line of the Second Athenian Democracy model).
    *** The Second Athenian Democracy was a State with « rule of law », but considering the difficulties of Demosthenes about finances and the fate of the Hypereides decree, some could think that it was too much a rule of law, that it was not adapted to emergency times (even if we may think that the legal considerations were actually secundary).

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  105. André,

    >contradicting the democratic principle by giving veto power to minorities.

    Given that the nomoi took precedence over psephismata, this was in fact the general rule in 4th century Athens, which is perhaps why some historians view the 5th century as the high point of Athenian democracy. To some eyes this may appear a little strange, but I think the main difference was not the microcosm vs the whole, but the time factor — the multi-stage process of legislation left a lot of time for debate and reconsideration. This is why I think we need to be a little careful regarding the danger of anachronistically projecting modern concepts of proportionality onto ancient societies. I think in fact the Rousseau/Condorcet perspective is more relevant — any number of persons are capable of determining the laws as it is a cognitive judgment, as opposed to the expression of a preference. But as there is a risk of error (and corruption), then it’s better to include a reasonable number of persons, hence the need for the size of the jury to reflect the importance of the law under consideration.

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  106. *** Yoram Gat says (June 28, 1/07 pm) : « It appears (…) that elite arguments in favor of electoralism and against sortition had no traction with Athenian audiences”. There is a problem with Yoram’s use of the word “electoralism”. What the Athenian dêmos rejected, it was the “electoral-representative” idea, giving sovereign decisions to elected men and considering the process “democratic” because the dêmos chooses these men (the idea was not extraneous to the Greek political thought, from thinkers avoiding a direct attack on dêmokratia; see for instance Isocrates “Areopagiticus”).
    *** But the Athenians did use elections any time they think technical abilities were needed. For stratêgoi, it is much known. But for instance when a legislative jury had to consider a proposed change in the law, the Assembly elected defenders of the old law. These defenders were not alloted, they were elected, because they had to possess some rhetorical abilities in front of the proposers of change. And in the Second Athenian Democracy some major financial magistrates were elected – see Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 43, 1.
    *** From military and financial elected “magistrates” we may conclude that the Athenian dêmos did hear arguments in favor of election when he thought he needed “managers”. And he did consider in the 4th century that he needed managers not only in military things, but likewise in finance things (and it seems the finances became much better).
    *** In a modern dêmokratia, managers (“ministers”) would be necessary in many fields. That would need elections, but given the corresponding huge political work it will be usually impossible to have the ministers elected by general vote with serious deliberation, and therefore usually the elections would have to be carried by alloted “citizen juries”.

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  107. *** I agree with Sutherland that neither Rousseau nor Montesquieu had the idea of dêmokratia-through-stochation. They did not know the Second Athenian Democracy model, for reasons we have discussed about; and they did not possess the statistical concept of “representative sample”. But Rousseau and Montesquieu did consider seriously the political use of sortition, whereas their later admirers/followers put the idea out of the world of political thought. It was what I name a “substraction”.
    *** Keith seems to think that these “substractions” may be always explained by pragmatic considerations (for instance the political ideas of Rousseau were not adapted to big modern States). It may be sometimes the case. But other times the substraction is linked to other factors, as the political model the “admirers” did actually follow.
    *** I hold that the “substraction” phenomena in the history of ideas have to be studied as closely as the “continuities”; even more closely as they escape more easily to the attention of the commentator.
    *** Note about the rousseauism and French republics.
    In the two centuries after Rousseau the logical use of his political thought in a big State would have been converting it in a confederation of very small republics. Maybe it was utopian, but no follower tried seriously. The Jacobins (who made “federalism” a crime!) were not utopian Rousseauists establishing a political system far from “The Social Contract” against their initial wishes, they followed their own agendas, under the shadow of a famous thinker and writer. When on January 1793 the Convention rejected the « appel au peuple » (referendum about the trial of the king) they behave (with more boldness) in the same way the French deputies did in 2008 when they accepted under disguise the European Constitution the voters had rejected in 2005 through referendum: they affirmed the superior validity of the representative principle. Rousseau is always in the Pantheon as father of the republican tradition but I doubt he is to be deemed guilty of the representative sham.

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  108. Andre,

    Where did Rousseau argue the case for sortition in the sovereign legislature? The only reference that I’m aware of is for the use of sortition in the delegated government of small democracies, and even then he concluded that it was impractical. Rousseau much preferred Sparta to Athens.

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  109. […] more knowledgeable than the general population, and in this sense non-representative. See point #12 here. So the real question is whether knowledge is gained faster or slower than core values and […]

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  110. […] couple more facile arguments conclude the […]

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