“Appeared” is not really the correct word, as I believe all these highly polemical images were selected by the forum moderator. Michels’ iron law doesn’t just apply to political parties, so I would appeal once more to the 426 “followers” of this blog to rise up and seize the reins themselves.
PS It strikes me that the domination of this forum by a tiny minority of highly vocal participants (myself being the worst culprit) is an object lesson as to how the unequal distribution of speech acts can distort the representativity of any kind of group. The images that have “appeared” on this blog certainly don’t represent my views on the political potential of sortition; as to whether the other 420+ followers like them we’ll never know, as they mostly choose to keep schtum. I can’t see how, for groups that can only claim statistical representativity, equality can be maintained in any respect other than voting. This is not the case for persons chosen by preference election as their rhetorical talents will be one of the factors that guide the selection process (there’s no point having someone to represent your views if they never have anything to say or lack the rhetorical skills to speak persuasively).
You make an important point, that “the unequal distribution of speech acts can distort the representativity of any kind of group.” That’s why good facilitation is so important. I had a chance to talk with David Farrell about the Irish Constitutional Convention, and it sounded like they managed to accomplish this with 33 Members of Parliament and 66 ordinary Irish citizens, but I don’t know exactly what they did to avoid having the politicians dominating the conversations.
Hi David, thanks for that. Am I right in thinking that the “ordinary citizens” were volunteers, albeit mediated by a sortition process? If so then the problem is that such a group would not be statistically representative. The other problem is if the group has some sort of statutory legislative role, in which case the impartiality of facilitators would be open to question.
“Facilitation” is a vague term. A “facilitator” could easily be someone with unrepresentative political power who tilts the decision-making according to their own biases.
Equality between the allotted should be maintained through rules regulating the ways the allotted chamber carries on its business. First, of course, is equal weight in voting. Then, equal authority, equal resources, equal access to other members, equal access to media, etc.
Yoram:> rules regulating . . . equal authority, equal resources, equal access to other members, equal access to media, etc.
Rules are important but there is no way of regulating the differentials in informal influence caused by perceived status, knowledge and rhetorical ability — that’s why most attempts at “deliberative democracy” rely so heavily on facilitators. But, as you rightly point out, such persons could easily tilt the decision-making according to their own biases, hence the need to restrict the mandate of statistically-representative bodies to submitting anonymised questions in writing and voting. Most deliberative forums are purely advisory, so the presence of facilitators is less problematic.