A Graphical Illustration of Representation

How accurate will representation be with sortition? To illustrate this I wrote a short program to mimic choosing assemblies at random, and to show how members of a particular group or class are represented. In this example each assembly has 500 members, and the group forms 50% of the population. Typical output looks like this (I have left out twelve pretty boring lines):

Total number of assemblies drawn 400
Population 10 000 000
Assembly size 500
Proportion of class in population 0.500
Expected no of class members in assembly 250.0

251 242 244 251 263 237 257 241 239 232 256 235 244 253 229 241 257 256 250 268
276 241 222 267 270 256 247 …
… 238 244 243 259 263 245 216 260 235 250 240 241 245
227 271 249 263 224 237 251 238 249 263 260 238 247 255 239 243 255 254 237 249
242 246
265 232 252 249 241 259 239 268 252 247 242 227 246 240 237 245 240 241
263 250 241 247 257 278 248 257 257 244 236 256 233 257 243 260 263 250 238 235
251 246 260 267 257 250 258 254 247 242 250 255 250 235 273 255 247 252 260 240
261 235 250 248 247 252 233 266 252 252 257 261 253 258 272 252 249 234 261 235
270 249 251 244 247 256 253 248 239 258 256 250 245 273 253 246 253 247 259 234

Greatest deviation from the expected number of class members = 34.0 or 6.8% of assembly.
Standard Deviation (sigma) = 10.7.
Mean no of class members for all assemblies = 249.60.
2 × sigma = 21.4 or 4.3% of assembly. 95.5% of deviations will be less than this.
3 × sigma = 32.1 or 6.4% of assembly. 99.7% of deviations will be less than this.
Number of over-representations = 182.
Number of under-representations = 198.
Greatest number of consecutive over- or under-representations = 9 (in 400 assemblies).

Some explanations are necessary here. For simplicity, the results in the table above are presented as if all members were drawn at the same time, but there is no such assumption in the program code, and we might regard the results above as a series of snapshots of the assembly composition taken every time its membership is completely renewed. In this case I have taken the proportion of the class in the total population as 0.5.

wikipedia_sd_grey

Random events – like the selection of assembly members proposed – follow a “normal” distribution or “bell” curve as shown above. Statisticians measure the variation from the mean (average) or “scatter” by means of the “standard deviation”, sigma (σ). 68.2% of results will fall within one standard deviation of the mean (dark grey); 95.5% within 2 × sigma (dark + mid grey); and 99.7% within 3 × sigma (dark + mid + light grey). In our case the deviation is the difference between the actual number and the expected number of group members, which is here 250. The sigma values are calculated from the results in the table.

The group in this example might consist of either the men or the women in the population (if they are present in exactly equal numbers), those above the median age, or those in favour of Proposal A, if that proposal splits the population exactly in two. In drawing four hundred different assemblies (corresponding to 2 000 years), the worst deviation from the expected 250 members is an under-representation of the group by 34 members. I have underlined this case in the table above, and it will be noticed that in the next assembly the group is over-represented. This will not always be the case of course, but  things do tend to even out with time, so that if an assembly enacts a measure which is not supported by the majority of the population, and which remains unpopular, it can be overturned by a subsequent assembly. It might be objected that, in the case where a long series of under-representations occurs, the group might have to wait a long time to get a fair deal, but it generally happens in such a series that a number of assemblies come very close to the expected number of group members. (Two such series are italicised in the table). If the group is in fact those in favour of some proposal, the way forward for them is to slightly modify the proposal, so that it becomes acceptable to a clear majority. It will also be noticed that the number of over- and under-representations is approximately equal, and that, generally speaking, one does not have to wait long before the group’s representation is closer to the expected value.

What about minorities? Here are some results for a group which makes up 10% of the population. Perhaps they are left-handers, or people without a mobile phone, without a driving licence, or those in favour of Proposal B:

Total number of assemblies drawn 400
Population 10 000 000
Assembly size 500
Proportion of class in population 0.100
Expected no of class members in assembly 50.0
55 51 43 54 42 59 53 57 49 56 56 55 57 44 49 43 51 44 63 51
51 52 46 49 44 61 60 38 53 38 52 60 46 47 52 53 44 54 50 64
50 55 43 52 55 52 53 …
… 43 58 62 43 68 45 46 63 50 53 61 50 40
56 49 42 54 59 39 46 57 57 56 52 67 40 42 44 59 59 54 42 46
48 49 57 40 56 44 53 54 54 51 41 47 42 50 45 52 36 54 57 54
39 55 46 43 61 45 58 55 56 37 58 52 44 51 46 39 48 50 65 44
56 41 54 56 58 43 50 50 53 50 57 36 54 57 46 43 51 36 42 50
57 44 49 40 49 49 44 50 41 60 53 34 52 59 37 63 42 41 53 46

Greatest deviation from the expected number of class members = 22.0 or 4.4% of assembly.
Standard Deviation (sigma) = 6.8.
Mean no of class members for all assemblies = 50.49.
2 × sigma = 13.5 or 2.7% of assembly. 95.5% of deviations will be less than this.
3 × sigma = 20.3 or 4.1% of assembly. 99.7% of deviations will be less than this.
Number of over-representations = 204.
Number of under-representations = 175.
Greatest number of consecutive over- or under-representations = 10 (in 400 assemblies).

Again, the number of over- and of under-representations is approximately equal, and (usually) there is no long wait for the number of members of the class to approach the expected number. The major difference from the results above lies in the closeness of the representation: 3× sigma = 4.1% of the assembly size, whereas with the group above, 3× sigma = 6.4% of the assembly size. (These figures are calculated from the results shown above for 400 draws, the theoretical figures are 4.0% and 6.7% respectively).

3sigma_group_proportion

Rather than subject the reader to a battery of tabular results like those above, I have calculated  theoretical values of sigma and 3 × sigma for various values of group size as a proportion of the population, and graphed the latter in the figure above. As can be seen, the smaller the minority, the closer the representation will be to the ideal (the expected number). This means that minorities, however small, can expect to have a voice in the Assembly. Even a minority which makes up less than one five-hundredth of the population can make its voice heard, though it should not expect to have a member in every assembly.

3sigma_ass_size

The next figure shows the effect of increasing the assembly size on the three sigma value (calculated from theory, not from the results in the tables above). Naturally, the larger the size of the assembly, the better the representation. Unfortunately, it is probably not practical to go much above 500; even then, the Speaker or Chairperson will have to exercise a little authority to keep conversations under control.

How does this compare with existing assemblies? Consider the case of women. I have used the representation of women as an example because the statistics are readily available, and women form the largest group that is very significantly under-represented in almost all parliaments. The average representation of women in parliaments worldwide is 22.8% (based on 193 countries, with both houses combined in the case of bicameral parliaments). For the Nordic countries it is 41.1%, for non-Nordic Europe 24.5%, for the UK 29.6%, for Australia 28.7%, for France 26.2%, and for the US 19.4% (the US is in 97th place, between Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, and below Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia).[1]

We can show in approximate fashion how faithful the representation is by using tones of grey, such that white corresponds to 100%, and black to 0%. For simplicity, let us assume that exactly half the adult population is female. The four hundred parliaments chosen by lot in our first example have the tones shown in the small squares in the image above, on the lef. A perfect representation, that is to say 50% (250 members in each parliament) would look like the image on the right. Although most of the small squares in the image on the left are not quite the same tone as the image on the right, they are all very close.

For comparison, here are the tones of grey corresponding to some elected parliaments:

On the left is the world average. In the centre is the US, and on the right is Sweden, the best of the countries in the developed world, with 43.6% of members being women, a proportion which is almost the same as that for the worst parliament chosen by lot in the first image.

Although the accurate representation of women and of ethnic groups is very important, it is only a beginning, and a simplistic and not very satisfactory beginning at that. After all, there is something demeaning in an approach that treats all women, or all members of an ethnic group, as essentially undifferentiated and interchangeable. With enough political good will, it would be possible to better represent women and minorities in elected parliaments – indeed, some countries have instituted minimum quotas. However, this does not go anywhere near far enough, as the  representation should be exact not only for obvious traits like sex, skin colour or age, it should also cover opinions, attitudes, and aspirations; indeed, it should  represent the views of all citizens on issues that have not yet arisen. How else can a parliament  make equitable decisions throughout its term of office? Obviously, this is quite impossible with elections; the only way that it can be achieved is by the use of sortition.

Robert Dahl, in After the Revolution?, after proposing short-term advisory bodies chosen by lot, cautions against the use of decision-making bodies – parliaments – chosen by lot with the following statement:[2]

Since, as anyone familiar with the laws of probability knows, the chances are by no means negligible that a sample of five hundred might deviate by a considerable margin from the mean of the whole population, occasionally we might find ourselves with a highly unrepresentative legislature subject to no authority but the next lottery.”

I have argued elsewhere[3] that an Assembly chosen by lot should most definitely not be subject to any authority other than the “next lottery”. Here I wish to point out that, although Dahl’s statement is not strictly false, the phrases “by no means negligible”,  “by a considerable margin” and “highly unrepresentative” are both vague and very misleading. Using the program mentioned above I have simulated 2 million  assemblies – corresponding to 10 million years if members serve for five years – and found the greatest deviation from the expected number to be 54, i.e. 196 members out of 500, or 39.2% of the assembly. This worst case is still twice as accurate as the present representation of women in the US Congress, and better than all the developed countries except Belgium, Andorra and the Nordic countries. Moreover, one should not underestimate the “authority of the next lottery” when the Assembly has the authority to annul or amend any legislation on its own initiative. Indeed, the very fact that an unjust bill can be repealed should tend to dissuade that one-in-ten-million-years assembly from abusing its power.

Notes:

[1] Figures are taken from the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “Women in Parliament and Government” (http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm). See also http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01250/SN01250.pdf, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_United_States_Senate.

[2] Dahl, op cit, Yale University, (1970 and 1990), p. 125.

[3] Down with Elections!, “Accountability with Elections and Sortition” (p. 90 in the printed edition).

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239 Responses

  1. Campbell,

    I find the visualization of the properties of the samples very compelling. It could serve as a basis for a sortition logo and other visual elements. As we discussed, maybe it is time to do away with the over-used kleroterion.

    > 3× sigma = 4.1% of the assembly size, whereas with the group above, 3× sigma = 6.4% of the assembly size. (These figures are calculated from the results shown above for 400 draws, the theoretical figures are 4.50% and 7.50% respectively)

    I find it unexpected that there would be such big differences in the values between your sample and the theoretical values. How did you calculate each?

    For the theoretical values I get:

    sqrt(0.1 * 0.9 / 500) * 3 = 0.04024922,

    and

    sqrt(0.5 * 0.5 / 500) * 3 = 0.06708204.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yoram
    Oops! For the theoretical figure, you’re absolutely right, and I don’t know how I made this mistake.
    I ran the program a great number of times, with different assembly sizes and proportions, and calculated theoretical values for some of them. Probably I copied and pasted the wrong figures – no doubt from an assembly size of 400, which would give the numbers I quote. Or else my brain was tired and I used the number of trials instead of the number of members in the assembly.
    Thanks for pointing this out. Can it be edited now that it’s been posted?

    For the figure derived from the results partially shown in the table, sigma=sqrt(var/n) where var is sum of the squares of deviations (from the expected number), and n the total no of results.

    For the kleroterion, I’m not really in favour of junking it completely, but it would be good to supplement it IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks!

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  4. Campbell,

    >the representation should be exact not only for obvious traits like sex, skin colour or age, it should also cover opinions, attitudes, and aspirations; indeed, it should represent the views of all citizens on issues that have not yet arisen.

    Given that it’s not possible to stratify the sample for opinions, attitudes and aspirations (especially on issues that have not yet arisen), do you agree that (effectively) mandatory participation is required (your calculations assume that everyone who is invited to accepts the invitation). As typical acceptance rates are between 5 and 25% and we don’t know what factors predispose an allotted person to accept the invitation to participate, then I don’t see how accurate representation is compatible with voluntarism.

    And how do you control for mis-representation once the deliberation begins, as some allotted persons will be a lot more persuasive and influential than others. As you know, my own conclusion is that considerations of accurate representation require that participation will be limited to asking written questions and then voting in secret. Otherwise all your careful calculations are without value.

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  5. >”do you agree that (effectively) mandatory participation is required.”

    Certainly not.

    I have already stated my approach to this problem, which is to make participation voluntary, but so well paid that very few people will refuse. If the salary of MP’s is set, say, in the top quintile – or even decile – of incomes, almost everyone will choose to participate , especially if, as I suggest, they are paid for two or three years after the end of their term of office, to compensate for loss of income and advancement in their normal employment. Even if the payment were “only” around the level of MP’s or Congressmen’s salaries, together with expenses and emoluments such as pension entitlements, etc after service, most people would jump at it. (You mocked this, calling it “Willie Wonka’s Golden Lottery”. I don’t know why you pretend to have forgotten.)

    Expensive? It would be a drop in the ocean compared with overall government spending. The savings from not making decisions in order to favour special interests would be enormous.

    Of course, one cannot compete with the incomes of the Gates, Buffets, or Carlos Slims of this world, who probably would not deign to participate. However, these gentlemen (and they are almost all men) already have far more influence than the rest of us by virtue of their wealth. Their absence would make government more representative, not less.

    Representation will never be perfect, whatever the method used to induce citizens to participate. You can’t make participation mandatory for the aged, the handicapped or the ill, or for those overseas at the time of the draw, or prisoners serving long sentences, and so on. Making it mandatory would limit freedom, and is sure to inspire bloody-mindedness in those who would prefer to let others decide.

    >” As typical acceptance rates are between 5 and 25%”

    How many of the projects to which you allude offered seven years very generous pay for five years work?
    How many of them gave participants the opportunity to make binding decisions?
    And in how many of them did those who were selected by lot think, rightly or wrongly, “this won’t make a blind bit of difference to anything!”?

    >”And how do you control for mis-representation once the deliberation begins, as some allotted persons will be a lot more persuasive and influential than others.”

    We’re on well-trodden ground here. I have set out my thinking in DWE! As you know, I see this is as much less of a problem than you do, and I think that your “solution” to this brings even worse problems.

    I’ll add here, though, that one approach that could reduce this effect would be to have all speeches in the Assembly read by a group of professional readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. >”Otherwise all your careful calculations are without value.”
    If you think that this article is about careful calculations (or even careless ones) by me, you’ve got it wrong. It’s a graphical illustration of representation by random selection. Look at the table, or the grey square with all the little grey squares inside. The figures and the tones of grey are the result of a random (or at least quasi-random) process. This is the sort of thing you can expect from lotto machines or a fair computer program. In fact, they are experimental results. Not theory, Keith.

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  7. Campbell, I think we need to distinguish between 1) external and 2) internal representativity:

    1) We all agree that it is essential that the vast majority of those called to serve accept the invitation. It matters little whether this is achieved via the carrot or the stick — in practice I think it will be a combination of the two, as in current UK jury service.

    >Making it mandatory would limit freedom

    That’s true, but my principal concern is to ensure the freedom of those who are not chosen. This places a burden of duty on the proxies to exercise their freedom in such a way that respects the rights to equitable representation for those not included. It’s important to remember that in most sortition proposals the vast majority of people only maintain their franchise by proxy. If the performance of civic duty can be realized without the need for sanctions then so much the better.

    2) >one approach that could reduce this effect [internal distortions of representativity] would be to have all speeches in the Assembly read by a group of professional readers.

    Many litigants in the Athenian courts (both juridical and legislative) employed the services of professional speechwriters. But what about the fact that many (most?) allotted members may not have anything particular to say? I think you make light of the danger of perlocutionary imbalances in speech acts distorting the representativity of the minidemos. What would you do if two assemblies debating Brexit came to opposite conclusions? Which decision would be the representative one? This would suggest that the remit of the minidemos would have to be very tightly constrained in order to ensure consistent representativity, its only claim to legitimacy.

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  8. >”my principal concern is to ensure the freedom of those who are not chosen. This places a burden of duty on the proxies to exercise their freedom in such a way that respects the rights to equitable representation for those not included”

    A fair point, but some of those on whom the lot falls will simply be unable to participate. For the others, you could preach to them, as people do now on our “civic duty of voting”. What effect this would have I don’t know. I would bet, though, that people compelled to participate without very generous compensation are going to resent it, and not take their responsability seriously.

    >”It’s important to remember that in most sortition proposals the vast majority of people only maintain their franchise by proxy”

    That word “franchise” is a problem. If you define it narrowly to mean “right to occupy a seat in the Assembly”, then this is so of my model too. If you include the freedom to propose a measure, and the freedom to express an opinion that will be seen and considered by others (in particular the policy committee(s) and the Assembly, but also by any interested person,) then in my model every adult citizen has the franchise.

    >”what about the fact that many (most?) allotted members may not have anything particular to say?”

    This will be very common, I imagine, for the perfectly good reason that in a particular matter one choice is as good as the other in their eyes. Why fret about it?
    In other cases, they may consider that their point of view has been adequately expressed by another member. Again, where is the problem?

    >”What would you do if two assemblies debating Brexit came to opposite conclusions?”

    I should be totally unsurprised, and quite unfazed, and not just for Brexit, but for any proposal. Suppose that, in the first table above, the group represents those in favour of a proposal which exactly divides the population in two, or would if the population had all the facts and all the time in the world to ponder them, etc, etc. In the part of the table I have presented, there are assemblies with 216 and 273 group members respectively. So the former assembly would reject the proposal, the latter would adopt it.

    Not very satisfactory? The same could happen with your model, too, or with any assembly that does not include the whole population. Notice, though, that within one or two draws of the assembly the deviation swings the other way, so the decision could be changed if the Assembly has the power to propose measures, ie controls the agenda. This is so in my model; not, I think, in yours.

    I have proposed temporary assemblies along the lines of your mute moots to settle close votes. I now think that they would need to be considerably bigger than the permanent assembly in order to have any more legitimacy. This is possible if they don’t debate, but it’s cumbersome and not a perfect solution.
    The real answer to the problem of close votes is for all concerned to avoid as far as possible making proposals that do not appeal to a large majority, and to amend proposals that split the Assembly and the community into equal parts. Sooner or later people will come to realise that this is in everyone’s interests.

    Brexit is not something that stirs me. I doubt if anyone knows whether it’s a good or a bad thing, and for whom.

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  9. Campbell,

    >I would bet, though, that people compelled to participate without very generous compensation are going to resent it, and not take their responsibility seriously.

    I agree, and I’m in favour of very generous compensation (allied with a strong public service ethos). The only reason I use the word “mandatory” is to stress how vital it is (from the point of view of descriptive representation) that the overwhelming majority take up the jury call. Bear in mind that most “deliberative democrats” and neo-republicans are not interested in representation as they want the decisions to be made by the altruistic and public-spirited minority. Democrats, by contrast, should be concerned to ensure that the minidemos is a true portrait-in-miniature of the target population, warts and all. I’m puzzled as to Yoram’s position on this — on the one hand he calls for accurate statistical representation and on the other he holds that representation is impossible in a society made up of corrupt and self-serving citizens. These two positions strike me as both contradictory and dangerous as it provides an opportunity for the representative claims of the likes of the Incorruptible Robespierre.

    >That word “franchise” is a problem. If you define it narrowly to mean “right to occupy a seat in the Assembly”, then this is so of my model too.

    The traditional meaning of the term is the right to cast a vote in a preference election. As we all know this is (in effect) the universal right for each individual to have a near-zero influence over political outcomes. Most sortition proposals seek to replace this with the near-zero chance to have a very significant influence over political outcomes. In the former case it makes no significant difference whether or not you choose to exercise your voting rights and in order to mirror this negative equality we need to ensure that it makes no significant difference whether or not you are included in the minidemos, as the decision outcome will be the same. This requires accurate external and internal representativity, as outlined in my previous comment. I appreciate this will be viewed as a piss-poor standard by neo-republicans and deliberative and epistemic theorists, but it’s what the word democracy means.

    >[most assembly members] may consider that their point of view has been adequately expressed by another member. Again, where is the problem?

    The problem is the “may” in your sentence and the overriding need (from a democratic perspective) to ensure that the perlocutionary force of the expression of the point of view is proportional to its prevalence in the target population. As the law of large numbers does not apply to the internal dynamics of a small group, this will be left entirely to chance.

    >I have proposed temporary assemblies along the lines of your mute moots to settle close votes. I now think that they would need to be considerably bigger than the permanent assembly in order to have any more legitimacy.

    I agree. Here’s my own calculations on the relationship between decision threshold and sample size (presupposing a 99.9% confidence level, mandatory participation and Condorcet independence conditions) for a target population the size of the UK electorate (37,831,600):

    Margin of error–Decision threshold–Sample size
    2%–52/48–6,766
    5%–55/45–1,083
    10%–60/40–271

    [sorry I can’t display the table properly] Once you go below 2% then the assembly size becomes so huge that you might as well have a referendum.

    >Notice, though, that within one or two draws of the assembly the deviation swings the other way, so the decision could be changed.

    Hmm, not so good if the issue is whether or not to Brexit. One is reminded of the decisions of the Athenian assembly which were sometimes reversed on the following day.

    >The real answer to the problem of close votes is for all concerned to avoid as far as possible making proposals that do not appeal to a large majority.

    Good point (Harrington would certainly agree), but difficult to realise in practice given the real diversity of opinion in large post-ideological multicultural states.

    PS I’m amused that it seems to be left to me — an advocate of mixed government — to defend the case for democracy on this forum.

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  10. >>”…the decision could be changed.”

    >”Hmm, not so good if the issue is whether or not to Brexit.”

    You’re dealing with a treaty, and treaties of whatever sort are a Big Fat Problem for democracy, and not only for democracy. But this is a bit off-topic.

    >”One is reminded of the decisions of the Athenian assembly which were sometimes reversed on the following day.”

    Sometimes with good reason. But it would hardly be the following day, unless circumstances changed suddenly. (Pearl Harbor, 9/11, that sort of thing).

    >”difficult to realise in practice”

    Perhaps not as hard as you think with a deliberating Assembly. I have suggested that in the case of a “close vote” that the proposal should be first referred back to the original proposer. (S)he will have a pretty good idea, from the noises made in the Assembly, just where the contentious parts of the proposal lie, even if she hasn’t already discovered this from the submissions made to the policy committee. She may well consider it worthwhile to drop the less popular parts of her proposal in the interest of getting the rest of it through. She would have no way of knowing if a Temporary Assembly is any more likely to pass the measure, and, since the Assembly controls the agenda, a rejected proposal is hardly likely to re-surface immediately without substantial changes.

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  11. Campbell,

    I agree that Brexit and other treaties are Big Fat Problems, unlike the quotidian legislative burden that makes up regular parliamentary fare. But it is a graphic illustration of the need to ensure that every minidemos returns the same decision and that supermajorities are necessary when the decision is close. That will mean a built-in conservative (small c) bias — if there is no clear mandate for change then the status quo is preserved.

    >[The Athenians reversed their decisions] sometimes with good reason. But it would hardly be the following day, unless circumstances changed suddenly. (Pearl Harbor, 9/11, that sort of thing).

    Sometimes they just needed to sleep on it (for example the overnight reversal of judgment on how to deal with the Mytilenain revolt).

    >I have suggested that in the case of a “close vote” that the proposal should be first referred back to the original proposer. (S)he will have a pretty good idea, from the noises made in the Assembly, just where the contentious parts of the proposal lie.

    Yes, good point — an indication of the benign feedback loop between proposer and disposer. This would be both anticipatory and ex post. Note that this would still work in a system that respected the division of labour between advocates and judges, although resubmission would occur after the votes were counted, rather than just eavesdropping on the debate (although the proposer would have to make a conjectural judgment as to exactly which aspect of the proposal was disagreeable). One way round this problem would be for all those voting against the proposal to record on the anonymous voting slip exactly why they were rejecting it.

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  12. Regarding Brexit (in case you think I’m ducking the issue):
    With my system, there would be a single-issue policy committee, probably a dozen or so sub-committees each concentrating on a particular aspect, and of course the (standing) policy committees for Foreign Affairs and for Trade, perhaps some others too. The process of submissions to subcommittees and committees, discussion in subcommittees and recommendations to the policy committee, discussion there and recommendations to the Assembly, and finally, discussion in the Assembly would no doubt take a considerable time. The vote in the Assembly would at least be a considered judgement, and not one taken in a fit of emotion, as for the Mytilenians, and perhaps for Brexit.

    Of course, the decision taken might still be no “better” than one based on a coin toss, or on Madame Rosa’s crystal ball. However, if, in the light of experience, a significant number of people thought it a mistake, it could go back on the agenda. In the particular case of Brexit, the Europeans may well not want Britain back, so maybe you won’t get a second chance.

    >”it is a graphic illustration of the need to ensure that every minidemos returns the same decision and that supermajorities are necessary when the decision is close.”

    I disagree with both parts of this statement. For the first, you can’t ensure this. Not with my model, and not with yours, even with your large assembly of members all wearing duct tape over their mouths.

    For the second part, since you will always be starting with an existing corpus of law, and modifying it to make it more nearly just, you will have great-great-grandfather’s old mistakes and prejudices to deal with (UK abortion law, for instance). As you say, a supermajority will mean a built-in conservative bias. This is an excellent argument for not adopting one, since old injustices and old mistakes (such, perhaps, as Brexit) will tend to remain.

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  13. >” One way round this problem would be for all those voting against the proposal to record on the anonymous voting slip exactly why they were rejecting it.”

    Yes, and you could have those supporting it say why, too.

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  14. Campbell,

    >The process of submissions to subcommittees and committees, discussion in subcommittees and recommendations to the policy committee, discussion there and recommendations to the Assembly, and finally, discussion in the Assembly would no doubt take a considerable time.

    The critical question (from the perspective of democratic legitimacy) is whether this rather opaque and byzantine process would be perceived as representing the considered view of the vast majority of citizens who were not invited to attend. Seeing as no-one has chosen the participants, I think this is highly unlikely. In my proposal (simple up/down votes by a number of parallel samples), if they all voted the same way and the advocacy was public, then I think this has a greater chance of approval.

    >you can’t ensure [consistent outcomes]. Not with my model, and not with yours.

    That’s true, but it can be determined empirically in my model and with your complex hierarchy of committees. Have half a dozen identical hierarchies and if they decide in a consistent way, then it would hard to claim that the decision was not representative. But if they all come to different conclusions (as would be likely with Brexit) then which is the representative one? In my case the parallel samples are no different (in principle) from one large sample.

    >old injustices and old mistakes (such, perhaps, as Brexit) will tend to remain.

    And why should new injustices and mistakes be preferable? In law the burden of proof is with the prosecution, not the defence. And the precautionary principle has a lot to be said for it.

    >and you could have those supporting it say why, too.

    Sure, but it wouldn’t really be necessary.

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  15. >”this rather opaque and byzantine process”

    Both adjectives are unfair. The process would be completely open. I quote myself (DWE!):

    “Openness: as much information as possible made freely available to the public at all times.” (p44)

    “At all stages of this process the text of the proposal, with the various changes made or suggested would be available to the public on the government web site, and perhaps by printed media” (p50)

    “At all times the draft would be available to the public, as would the submissions and the recommendations of the Energy Committee and subcommittees.” (p60)

    Where is the opacity in this?

    The number and responsibilities of the subcommittees would be decided by the Assembly according to the complexity of the question. They form a very simple tree structure, with no looping. There is nothing “byzantine” in this, it is merely an intelligent subdivision of labour. Brexit is a complex question, and if you want simple answers to complicated questions, they exist, but they are usually foolish.

    >”would be perceived as representing the considered view of the vast majority of citizens who were not invited to attend.”

    This is a gross distortion. All citizens are invited to submit their views. Members of the committees are chosen by lot, (no human influence) not “invited”, which implies choice by humans, and some sort of favouritism.

    >”Have half a dozen identical hierarchies and if they decide in a consistent way, then it would hard to claim that the decision was not representative. But if they all come to different conclusions (as would be likely with Brexit) then which is the representative one?”

    I thought I had made it pretty clear that the committees and subcommittees do not decide. They sort, they get rid of irrelevant and duplicate information, they collate, and make recommendations, but they do NOT decide. Only the Assembly does that.

    >”why should new injustices and mistakes be preferable?”

    A bit of dodgy logic here, Keith. There are old injustices which are generally recognised as such. Your new injustices are hypothetical.

    The question is whether injustices and mistakes, of whatever vintage, should be allowed to remain indefinitely because of a “precautionary” barrier to reform, or whether it should be possible to fix them, even at the cost of new mistakes, but new mistakes which could be fixed quickly.

    >”And the precautionary principle has a lot to be said for it.”

    Right. Are there still bishops in the House of Lords de officio? Let’s keep them as a wise precaution against God’s anger.

    Like

  16. Campbell,

    >Where is the opacity in this?

    Even if you post the entire proceedings live online on a dedicated YouTube channel it would still be opaque as a) nobody would bother to watch it and b) there would be no way of knowing who might be pulling the strings of the participants. With the DP model everyone expects the advocacy to be partisan and the media are extremely good at detecting imbalances. If all the jury does is vote and different samples return the same verdict then the process is effectively transparent.

    >All citizens are invited to submit their views. Members of the committees are chosen by lot (no human influence), not “invited”, which implies choice by humans, and some sort of favouritism.

    As we all know the subset of political anoraks who submit their views will be entirely unrepresentative of the target population. Perhaps “invite” is an unfortunate word (although it is literally true), but the issue is how best to represent the considered view of those who are not invited and this requires that the vast majority of those picked (by the lottery machine) accept the invitation. It also (paradoxically) requires that those who do attend keep their mouths tight shut.

    >I thought I had made it pretty clear that the committees and subcommittees do not decide. . . . Only the Assembly does that.

    It doesn’t matter. The point is if the decision is taken by a statistically-representative body (whatever you want to call it) then the decisions of each representative sample need to be consistent, otherwise there is no way of knowing which decision represents the considered view of the target population. I’m genuinely puzzled as to why I need to keep repeating this rather obvious point.

    >There are old injustices which are generally recognised as such.

    If that is the case then these injustices will be rectified by the allotted legislature as the word “generally” suggests a supermajority if not an emerging consensus.

    >Are there still bishops in the House of Lords ex officio? Let’s keep them as a wise precaution against God’s anger.

    The reason for retaining representatives of the Church of England in the House of Lords are to do with respect for our cultural heritage rather than for theological reasons. If the C. of E. ends up as just another faction in a multicultural state then there is a case for extending the membership to representatives of other faiths (assuming, optimistically, that multiculturalism is compatible with the need for long-term social stability).

    Like

  17. >”it would still be opaque as a) nobody would bother to watch it”
    That’s a highly idiosyncratic idea of opacity.
    If people don’t follow the debate on topics that really concern them, that’s their look-out. If they don’t follow the debate on things that don’t concern them, that’s rational ignorance.

    >”there would be no way of knowing who might be pulling the strings of the participants.”
    You’re back to making insinuations which are not backed up by any credible argument. I have dealt quite carefully with the subject of corruption in DWE. If you find a flaw in my arguments or a weakness in the model I propose, I should like to hear a reasoned rebuttal. This sort of vague throwaway line has no value as an argument.

    >”If all the jury does is vote and different samples return the same verdict”
    You have agreed above that this will not necessarily be the case with your model.

    >” we all know the subset of political anoraks who submit their views”
    You’re being opaque and Byzantine, Keith. I haven’t the faintest idea of what a “political anorak” might be. However, I do know that people who feel themselves affected by a proposal will make their views known. If you propose to limit the water that can be drawn from a river for irrigation, you will have a strong reaction from the farmers in the area. Propose to limit the catch of fish, and the fishermen will be up in arms. Propose to raise the excise on diesel fuel, and the truckies will be furious. And so on. Are these people what you mean by “anoraks”?

    >” the issue is how best to represent the considered view of those who are not invited”
    So according to you those in a sufficiently large random sample of a population, and those who are not in the random sample are materially different in some way other than in number?

    >”It also (paradoxically) requires that those who do attend keep their mouths tight shut.”
    For the life of me I can’t see how, with real human beings in a real assembly, you can stop members influencing each other, even with duct tape. Tape might stop larrikins like me standing up and shouting “Bollocks!”, but it’s pretty easy to convey one’s opinion by gestures, by tapping one’s forehead meaningfully or falling about the place laughing, by slow clapping or foot-stamping or… the list goes on and on.

    What’s to stop a member haranguing the others at tea-and-bickies time? You said some time ago (if I understood you rightly) that a “speech act” (ugh!) made outside the chamber didn’t matter, although clearly if it can influence the members inside the chamber it can do so outside. To me that doesn’t make sense.

    >”It doesn’t matter.”
    I think it matters a great deal. The committees will always be too small to be representative in anything other than a very rough way. To a great extent, their function is like that of a secretary: to wade through all the mass of stuff that is submitted, to sum up, and present it in a digestible manner. They also make their own recommendations.

    >”then the decisions of each representative sample need to be consistent”
    Well, you’ve admitted that this can’t be done perfectly, either with my model or yours. I’m interested in working towards something that is as good as possible. Perfection is not of this world.

    >”the word “generally” suggests a supermajority if not an emerging consensus.”
    Let’s not confuse “majority” as in more than half of a group, with “supermajority” as in a mandatory fixed proportion, greater than half, which must be attained before a measure is passed. “Must be attained” (or however you want to phrase it) is where the problem comes.

    >”The reason for retaining representatives of the Church of England in the House of Lords are to do with respect for our cultural heritage rather than for theological reasons”
    Nor for political reasons, of course. But why stop there? Why not re-introduce other parts of the cultural heritage, like the stocks, the ducking-stool, and that quintessentially British invention of flogging round the Fleet?

    >”there is a case for extending the membership to representatives of other faiths”
    So you suggest that “faith” – which can be defined as unreasoning belief in the impossible, the absurd, or the extremely improbable – should be a good and sufficient qualification to be a member of a body with significant legislative power, without even the dubious justification of election?

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  18. Campbell,

    >If people don’t follow the debate on topics that really concern them, that’s their look-out. If they don’t follow the debate on things that don’t concern them, that’s rational ignorance.

    Not so. Rational ignorance has nothing to do with the relevance of the topic, only whether or not devoting time to the topic is worthwhile in cost-benefit terms. It would involve a huge amount of individual effort to follow the deliberations of all your committees; investigating the possible connections of the deliberators would be beyond the means of even the best-resourced investigative journalists. That is why the proceedings are effectively opaque.

    >I have dealt quite carefully with the subject of corruption in DWE.

    What is DWE? The normal standard with a blog post is that it should be self-contained, rather than an index to another work. Active political agents are always vulnerable to corruption (that’s why allotted persons in my proposal have a largely passive role).

    >>”If all the jury does is vote and different samples return the same verdict”
    >You have agreed above that this will not necessarily be the case with your model.

    The model involves different sample sizes for different confidence intervals in order to ensure consistency. If the vote is close then the sample size or the number of samples has to be increased.

    >I haven’t the faintest idea of what a “political anorak” might be.

    This is different from the principle of all affected interests in that “anoraks” are people who are interested in, and have strong opinions on, political issues. Many (most?) people who are strongly affected by an issue will not be disposed to play an active role in formulating public policy. That’s why people like to choose their own representatives for this task — they go by the name of “politicians”.

    >So according to you those in a sufficiently large random sample of a population, and those who are not in the random sample are materially different in some way other than in number?

    Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be interested in sortition as a tool for descriptive representation. I was just drawing your attention to the need to ensure that the representativity was not distorted by a) voluntarism and b) unrepresentative speech acts.

    >What’s to stop a member haranguing the others at tea-and-bickies time?

    Although I draw the line at Harrington’s solution (capital punishment), I’m still keen to minimise the effects of any distorting influence, hence my proposal to restrict formal speech acts to the advocates for and against. This was the operating principle of the Athenian nomothetai, which disparaged any vocal participation by jurors as dikastic thorubos (disorder).

    >The committees will always be too small to be representative in anything other than a very rough way.

    Perhaps that’s why the Athenian equivalent (the council) required 500 members.

    >Why not re-introduce other parts of the cultural heritage, like the stocks, the ducking-stool.

    Because the British constitution has evolved in such a way as to preserve valuable functions (including the need for wise counsel on spiritual matters) and to eradicate superstition. Only militant secular rationalists conflate the former with the latter.

    Like

  19. >”whether or not devoting time to the topic is worthwhile in cost-benefit terms”
    Exactly so. It’s only worth it for things that are relevant to the individual.

    >” It would involve a huge amount of individual effort to follow the deliberations of all your committees”
    That would be completely unnecessary.
    >” investigating the possible connections of the deliberators would be beyond the means of even the best-resourced investigative journalists.”
    If you have an interest in a particular proposal, all that concerns you really is making sure that your view reaches the Assembly. “Possible connections” are neither here nor there. If you express your views to the (sub)committee in writing, and they don’t show up in the report, then you raise hell (in writing) to the subcommittee or the policy committee or the proposals committee. I concede that it might well be worthwhile to have a permanent body to hear and investigate allegations of bias or negligence at the policy committee level. This would be a matter for the Assembly to decide.

    >”What is DWE?”
    “Down With Elections!” There is a link to it in the notes to the article. I see little point in quoting it at vast length when it can be had so cheaply – even for free, if you’re prepared to read it in PDF form. https://www.dropbox.com/s/9tcb5sku8181jrn/DWEprint_just3.pdf?dl=0 (let me know if the link doesn’t work)

    >”This is different from the principle of all affected interests in that “anoraks” are people who are interested in, and have strong opinions on, political issues.”
    So you are saying that in spite of their interest and strong views they are not affected? Then why is that for you to judge and not them?

    >”That’s why people like to choose their own representatives for this task”
    Like to? Fewer and fewer people seem to have any enthusiasm for the choices that are thrust upon them.
    —”Would you like Clinton or Trump in the White House? ”
    —”I think I’d rather be drunk for four years”.

    >”Perhaps that’s why the Athenian equivalent (the council) required 500 members.”
    I really don’t see the equivalence, and I’m certain no Athenian would either. “My” committees are specialised.

    >”Because the British constitution has evolved in such a way as to preserve valuable functions (including the need for wise counsel on spiritual matters) and to eradicate superstition.”
    I’ve listened to far too much “wise counsel on spiritual matters” from (especially) Anglicans to see it as anything other than superstition. You disagree: that’s fine. But that is not the point; the point is the free seats for members of a certain group. Of course, that applies to the other belted earls too, but then they don’t get their seat expressly for being irrational.

    Like

  20. Campbell,

    Regarding rational ignorance, relevance is not the issue, it’s a question of the power to effect change — if your agency is minimal then there’s no point following the arguments etc, even if the topic is highly relevant. That’s why few people bothered to closely follow the arguments on Brexit, even though it will have big implications for all UK citizens.

    The Athenian Council of 500 was the secretariat for the Assembly. It was not specialised owing to the relatively simple nature of governance in small ancient poleis, but the parallel is close. The large size of the council was primarily to protect the sovereignty of the Assembly which would be vulnerable if the agenda and recommendations were controlled by small unaccountable groups of citizens.

    >in spite of [political anoraks’] interest and strong views they are not affected?

    All-affected-interests and activism are simply different dimensions, the latter being a personality attribute. Someone might be very strongly affected by an issue, but simply not the sort of person to speak up about it. Such people (the vast majority of citizens) would prefer to elect President Trump (or President Sanders, were that a possibility).

    >the point is the free seats for members of a certain group.

    We’re not going to agree on this as the case for unelected or unallotted persons in parliament is derived from the doctrine of the mixed constitution, not democratic theory.

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  21. I agree that we are unlikely to agree.

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  22. Campbell,

    >I agree that we are unlikely to agree.

    That’s a shame — if you look back the beginning of our conversation there was a reasonable level of agreement. But I suppose it’s inevitable that a mixed constitution theorist is not going to find common ground with someone relying on a single appointment mechanism for political representatives.

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  23. >”someone relying on a single appointment mechanism for political representatives.”

    The reason is simple: I distrust all other mechanisms.
    If I understand you correctly, you believe that every decision should be made by an elite: “those best qualified”, or some such.
    I am as willing as anyone to agree that some of us are better than others at anything you care to name.
    However, I do not believe:
    1 That there is any sure way of picking those best able to decide in a particular case.
    2 That greater ability gives a greater right to make a decision.
    3 That those with less ability have a lesser right to have their interests taken into account.
    4 That those “best able to decide” can be relied on to attempt make decisions in the interest of all.
    5 That even if they were disposed to do so, that they would be able to know what is best for the others.

    Like

  24. Campbell,

    >If I understand you correctly, you believe that every decision should be made by an elite: “those best qualified”. . .

    That is the exact opposite of my position! I’ve published two books that propose, unambiguously, that all political decisions (apart from minor day-to-day regulations) should be made by a portrait-in-miniature of the whole citizen body, selected by lot. I’ve also spent several years developing this position on this blog, so I’m astonished that my views can be so comprehensively misrepresented.

    To clarify my position I do argue that elites should have a privileged position for policy advocacy (as they always have done, even in the ancient demokratia) as a) it helps if people know what they are talking about and b) it’s hard to see how representation in large states would be possible without competition between opposing elites. However, in my model, elites do not get to decide anything at all, as this role is arrogated to a randomly-selected assembly. That’s why I argue for a mixed constitution rather than a single magic bullet.

    Like

  25. >” I’m astonished that my views can be so comprehensively misrepresented.”

    Not deliberately misrepresented, though it was a rather a careless statement, and clearly I have forgotten some of what you have said, and so did not “understand you correctly”. My apologies. I have one of your books, but it is several years since I read it, and in the meanwhile you have written at least twenty volumes’ worth on this blog, of which some is less unambiguous than you seem to think.

    >”I do argue that elites should have a privileged position for policy advocacy (as they always have done”

    Whether we like it or not, members of elites of any sort – academic, sporting, artistic, business or whatever – always will have a privileged position for policy advocacy. They are the ones who have microphones thrust into their faces or requests for articles or interviews. Those whose principal distinction is wealth can pay to make their views known. I have no problem with this, though I don’t see the need to institutionalise it. However, when you say:
    >” in my model, elites do not get to decide anything at all”
    I doubt that this is really true.

    Who sets the agenda? Who chooses the proposals which (as I understand it*) your assembly members can only either accept or reject? Who chooses the wording? To my way of thinking, the decision is half made at this point.

    Some time ago (I believe) you were hesitating between a “balanced presentation by acknowledged experts” of the pros and cons of each proposal, and a model using “opposing advocates”. If you favour the “balanced presentation” strategy, who decides what is “balanced”? Not the whole community, (I imagine) so it must be a sub-group. That group will have its own interests and prejudices, different from those of the whole community, so you get bias right from the start.

    How do you choose the experts? Again, presumably it is done by a sub-group. Which? The peer group? If so, you favour the conventional, dominant view, and may exclude more radical, original, or newer thinking. This may well be your preference, but surely the community is entitled to have all views presented. How can you be certain that the experts will be impartial? If, as I believe, you cannot, then the decision of the assembly will be tainted, and much more so than by a simple member opening his mouth, because of the aura of wisdom and superior knowledge that your experts will have.

    If you go to the “oppposing advocacy” model, who represents each side? Either you allow the advocates to select themselves, or you choose them. If the latter, who chooses them, and how? Again, it will be a sub-group, with its own interests and prejudices. There is enormous scope for bias, incompetent advocates can be chosen for one side, for instance a group well-known for their personal antipathy to each other, so that their advocacy is nothing but a series of quarrels and accusations of incompetence. Or you could choose very competent advocates determined to sabotage what they are supposedly defending.

    If you allow self selection, so that anyone who wishes to speak may do so, you eliminate the bias, but at the cost of a worse danger: that some “experts” could collude to talk for so long, (like an American filibuster) that a vote could never be taken.

    *Do you still argue that all questions to be decided should be binary? Do you permit an abstention or null vote?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “competition between opposing elites” Are we back to parties? Interest groups like farmers, small shopkeepers, industry groups or the like? Regional groups? Optometrists vs dentists? Hawks vs doves? Ideological groups?

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  26. Campbell,

    > How do you choose the experts?

    It is experts all the way down. We have been over this again and again. Here, for example, is an exchange that is almost five years old. No progress has been made since in Sutherland’s ability to produce coherent answers.

    Like

  27. Campbell,

    Apology accepted.

    >Who sets the agenda? Who chooses the proposals which . . . To my way of thinking, the decision is half made at this point.

    Fair point. I always like to refer back to Dahl’s two distinct stages of democratic decision making:

    “1. The demos must have the exclusive opportunity to decide how matters are to be placed on the agenda of matters that are to be decided by means of the democratic process.” (Dahl, 1989, p. 113)

    In the Athenian demokratia anyone who wanted to could place something on the agenda (although in practice it was generally an elite rhetor) and anyone could stand up at the Assembly and argue for or against it. In large modern states this is not possible without representation. I devote a chapter of my thesis to representative isegoria and argue for a combination of election and direct democratic initiatives (combined with public votation). Although this is sub-optimal from an epistemic perspective, your alternative (random advocacy) would be rejected by Dahl, as the demos does not get to decide what goes on the agenda as the law of large numbers does not apply to the internal workings of small groups.

    I accept that the concept of balanced information/advocacy is problematic but don’t agree that there is a necessary conflict between expertise and partisan advocacy. Brexit is an interesting example because the In and Out groups self-organised but as there were two Out groups the Electoral Commission had to decide which one to recognise (for public funding purposes). The poor quality of the information exchanged was not on account of the partisan nature of the advocacy, it was a consequence of rational ignorance — as everyone was voting, nobody was prepared to listen to detailed arguments, so the partisans had to resort to misinformation and dog-whistle rhetoric. The DP process presupposes balanced information/advocacy and the programme has been running for over 20 years without any serious objections to this aspect.

    “2. At the decisive stage of collective decisions, each citizen must be ensured an equal opportunity to express a choice that will be counted as equal in weight to the choice expressed by any other citizen. In determining outcomes at the decisive stage, these choices, and only these choices, must be taken into account.” (ibid., p. 109)

    I think we both accept that the decision of the minidemos (so long as it is large enough, with very high participation rates and independent voting) reflects the considered judgment of the target population. This was Dahl’s view and most sortinistas would agree.

    >I have no problem with [elite privilege], though I don’t see the need to institutionalise it.

    Unfortunately if you don’t institutionalise it it just goes underground. You can’t eradicate elite privilege, so it’s better to quarantine it to the proposal role and subject it to the intense light of public and media scrutiny. When I described your process as “opaque” I was referring to the ease whereby allotted members with full proposal/advocacy rights could be captured by elite lobbyists.

    >If you allow self selection, so that anyone who wishes to speak may do so, you eliminate the bias, but at the cost of a worse danger: that some “experts” could collude to talk for so long, (like an American filibuster) that a vote could never be taken.

    Isn’t this an argument against your position? In any case it can be addressed by institutional means — the nomothetai had a sand clock and each party was allowed exactly the same amount of time to present their case.

    >Do you still argue that all questions to be decided should be binary? Do you permit an abstention or null vote?

    Sure, but a null vote doesn’t affect the outcome one way or the other. Helene Landemore argues that all decisions can be reduced to binary options and I very much value your earlier suggestion that voters should (anonymously) state their reasons, so if a bill is rejected then the proposer can represent a modified version that will be less likely to fail.

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  28. Yoram,

    >No progress has been made since in Sutherland’s ability to produce coherent answers.

    If you define coherence as resolving a challenging empirical problem with a simple three-stage logical syllogism, then I guess I’m guilty as charged. I devote half my thesis to the seriously challenging task of how to secure representative advocacy in large modern states and it’s difficult to reduce it to the sound bites required for blog posts. I only wish (political) life were as simple as your clearly believe it to be (although it would put loads of political theorists and scientists and publishers like me out of a job).

    Like

  29. >”Apology accepted.”
    Thank you. It really was a piece of muddle-headedness on my part.

    >”your alternative (random advocacy) would be rejected by Dahl, as the demos does not get to decide what goes on the agenda as the law of large numbers does not apply to the internal workings of small groups.”
    Well, of course I disagree. In my model the Assembly has control of the agenda. True, it delegates to the Proposals Committee the work of sorting out which proposals are well enough formulated and have enough support to have a chance of passing, and to the Agenda Committee the task of scheduling the debates, but the PC and AC only make suggestions, and the Assembly can override anything they do pretty much at the drop of a hat. To me, that means the demos has control.

    >”When I described your process as “opaque” I was referring to the ease whereby allotted members with full proposal/advocacy rights could be captured by elite lobbyists”
    I don’t accept that it would be easy to “capture” them, but in any case there would be no point.

    >”Isn’t this [possible use of filibusters] an argument against your position?”
    In the Assembly there is a “Speaker” (or President) who can direct that a member finish her speech after a reasonable time. (The position of Speaker rotates every day, so that an unfair decision can be appealed and overturned the following day.) Probably the Assembly would work out a set of House rules covering such things as length of speeches, interjections, all the usual parliamentary stuff. That’s not for me to decide.
    Policy committees would deal mostly with the written word, though they would be free to invite people to address them. They would also have the power to tell those invited to finish and leave.
    So no, it’s not an argument against my position.

    >”Helene Landemore argues that all decisions can be reduced to binary options”
    Actually, it was your view that I wanted on this, in view of your insistence on the mute moot principle.
    In principle she’s right, of course, just as you can reduce all data to a stream of ones and zeros. However I think it poses practical problems.

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  30. Campbell,

    >In my model the Assembly has control of the agenda. . . the Assembly can override anything [committees] do pretty much at the drop of a hat. To me, that means the demos has control.

    Most of us would agree with Rousseau and the Athenians that democracy requires the sovereignty of the assembly of the people. The question is how this is possible in large modern states where the assembly has to be, of necessity, a minidemos. To my mind three things are necessary: (1) the minidemos should be large; (2) participation should be (effectively) mandatory and (3) speech-acts should be equalised from a perlocutionary perspective. Unfortunately (1) and (2) militate against deliberative norms and (3) is impossible — hence my argument for a mute minidemos with exogenous proposal and advocacy rights, as was the case with 4th century Athenian lawmaking.

    >In principle [Landemore is] right, of course, just as you can reduce all data to a stream of ones and zeros. However I think it poses practical problems.

    And I’m grateful to your suggestion as to how to address these problems (assembly members record their reasons anonymously on the voting slips).

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  31. Thank you, Keith, but that doesn’t answer my question about binary choices.
    I would like to know how you propose to deal with complex legislation such as tax law, for instance, which typically runs to thousands of pages. Suppose you (I mean of course whoever is proposing the measure) want to modify it. You want to reduce personal income tax on certain brackets, increase it on others, reduce or increase consumption tax, reduce or increase property tax, alter excise on alcohol and tobacco and motor fuel, raise or reduce corporate tax, remove certain exemptions, maybe add others, introduce a carbon or pollution tax, and all as a carefully-designed package intended to be more or less revenue neutral, and not to penalise some players unduly or cause turmoil in the economy.

    Do you introduce the package en bloc, or do you present each part separately?
    If the former, members who approve 90% of your changes might feel morally obliged to vote against it because of some change of little financial importance which to them is of great ethical/philosophical/symbolic importance. It won’t necessarily be the same clauses which offend everyone, and so the more complex the package, the more likely to get rejected, even though most people approve of most of it. Others might conceivably disapprove of most changes, but vote for the package because they are strongly in favour of one item. In the extreme case, most of those who vote for it could disapprove of most of the package, and most of those who approve of most of it against could vote against. A little like the election of Jacques Chirac in 2002 (82% voted for him on the second round, although only 20% approved of him).

    On the other hand, if you put each bit separately, beside the fact that this will take much longer, members will be unable to vote intelligently on each part without knowing what else will follow. Publishing full details of all the proposed measures first won’t solve this, because members will have no way of knowing which bits the Assembly (or subsequent assemblies) will approve or reject.

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  32. Campbell,

    I’m grateful to you for the opportunity to better formulate my thoughts. What you are referring to is a common-or-garden budget — presented by the executive to the legislature which then decides whether or not to pass it in whole. In parliamentary systems (the corrupt result of an accident in British political history), the executive forces the budget through on the party whip, but in presidential systems (modelled on early-modern England) the executive is constrained to produce a budget that it anticipates will be approved by the legislature. Members of Congress know that they will be punished by electors if they act irresponsibly (ditto with the president) so they generally arrive at an acceptable compromise (or fall over the fiscal cliff).

    The only difference in your example is that the legislature is selected by a different mechanism (sortition) so cannot be held to account by the demos for its decision. This, IMO, would necessitate the additional constraint of a legally-binding fiscal compact whereby budgets have to balance over the economic cycle. Ministers would have collective and several responsibility for maintaining fiscal probity and would be forced to resign if a compromise with the legislature were not available. Picking up on your earlier suggestion, if the budget were rejected then assembly members would need to state their reasons and the executive would then resubmit a new budget taking into account the objections of the legislature.

    How many iterations might be needed and how would this relate to the sample size and decision threshold? I’m flying a kite here, but we might be able to learn something from jury practice. Ideally the budget should be carried by a substantial supermajority (to make sure that it genuinely represents the considered view of the target population). But if after a couple of iterations there was still no agreement, this might trigger a lower decision threshold. This would parallel the process in the law courts whereby the default position is unanimity and then the judge only accepts majority verdicts when the jury cannot agree. Unlike regular lawmaking, the budget is different in that it has to pass, otherwise the administration grinds to a halt.

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  33. >”What you are referring to is a common-or-garden budget”
    No, no, no. Not even half a budget.
    A budget has two approximately equal parts, revenue and expenditure. Since taxation is generally not the only source of revenue, this example is about less than half a budget. And since it is to be revenue neutral, it doesn’t affect the overall budget. In short, it is a taxation reform, nothing more, and not necessarily even a major one.

    What the bill or bills do is not the point. I might equally well have used as an example health policy, social security, defence, public transport, education…
    The question is: How do you put a complex reform to a mute moot in such a way that (as you put it) “the considered view of the demos” prevails? And by “complex” I mean the sort of thing where the different parts don’t make much sense on their own. From what you have said, I conclude that you would put the whole package to it, wait for it to be knocked back, amend it, and try again. This might work if the clauses in the proposal are numbered and members give some feedback on every clause, but I suspect that you will often need a fair number of iterations to get a good bill. I still prefer a deliberating Assembly.

    >” Members of Congress know that they will be punished by electors if they act irresponsibly (ditto with the president) so they generally arrive at an acceptable compromise”
    A particularly rosy view.

    >”This, IMO, would necessitate the additional constraint of a legally-binding fiscal compact whereby budgets have to balance over the economic cycle.”
    Here you’re lurching off into neo-conservative dogma.

    As far as the budget is concerned, I have proposed (DWE, pp 52-58) what I believe is the only ethical way to set it, and a way which should also give a good epistemic result. In this case the Assembly acts without deliberation, which should make it acceptable to you. However, you chose to scoff.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Campbell,

    >From what you have said, I conclude that you would put the whole package to it, wait for it to be knocked back, amend it, and try again.

    Yes, and the number of iterations would depend on the decision threshold. Remember also that the scrutiny involved by a mute assembly would be vastly greater than in the Mother of Parliaments, where MPs only turn up after hearing the division bell and then vote as instructed by the whips.

    >neo-conservative dogma.

    I’ve never understood what is dogmatic about the suggestion that people should pay their own bills, rather than bequeathing them to their children. And as a simple soul, unschooled in the dismal science, I don’t see why Mr. Micawber’s recipe for happiness does not apply to all social collectivities without exception — even those that can conjure up money from thin air and distribute it by helicopter.

    >you chose to scoff.

    That’s not fair, I’ve been trying to engage with your positively and have thanked you for your suggestions on legislative revise and resubmit. Having said that I still believe that sortition-only proposals are either utopian daydreams or dangerously silly. A stable constitutional settlement will always be a mixed one.

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  35. PS and at least I take the time to talk with you (and I read all of DWE on publication). Nobody else seems interested!

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  36. Campbell

    >”On the other hand, if you put each bit separately, beside the fact that this will take much longer, members will be unable to vote intelligently on each part without knowing what else will follow.”

    Agreed. Those with the final say on policy need to have some degree of working memory. If they remain in office for some time and the advocacy is fairly diverse then there’s no problem. They can go back and forth, change their minds in response to a better proposal made later and resolve the issues in one proposal by approving amendments later. Arguments made in a debate held for one proposal carry over to the others. If the members of the sampling are whipped up over a looming budget crisis their concerns and better-informed perspective will carry over into deliberation over later spending and fundraising reform proposals. Context will be understood. If it’s not then the most fundamental and profoundly political decisions of the day will *have* to be made elsewhere.

    Keith,

    >”The only difference in your example is that the legislature is selected by a different mechanism (sortition) so cannot be held to account by the demos for its decision…. Ideally the budget should be carried by a substantial supermajority (to make sure that it genuinely represents the considered view of the target population).”

    I’m still puzzled by your insistence that the demos needs to be held accountable to itself by some sort of external mechanism. Your concerns about the budget are not appreciably different from any other political issue and they should be handled in the same way. Furthermore, there’s no reason to believe the sampling will care if the executive resigns. It’s not like they’re backbenchers who will have to face an election. They’re going home either way. Ministers can pound their fists and stomp their feet all they want. A short-term sampling (deprived of any working memory) will poke around blindly.

    Also, if the executive can be brought down by forcing a budget crisis and a supermajority is required to pass a budget then a minority of the sampling will have the power to dismiss the executive. If after a delay a simple majority is sufficient to pass a budget then in practice all budgets will be delayed. It’s much better to wait longer and get more of what you want. Even then a simple majority can dismiss the executive by forcing a fiscal crisis of some sort. I suspect this would swiftly become the default mechanism for removing the executive if a supermajority would otherwise be required.

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  37. Naomi,

    >I’m still puzzled by your insistence that the demos needs to be held accountable to itself by some sort of external mechanism.

    That isn’t my claim — only persons (or collections of persons united as a political party) can be held to account. That’s why there has never been, and never will be, a “pure” democracy. All government is mixed.

    >there’s no reason to believe the sampling will care if the executive resigns.

    I’m making the assumption that most people prefer order over chaos and that when they meet together they will vote responsibly as citizens. This will especially be the case if the government has a good long-term record.

    >If after a delay a simple majority is sufficient to pass a budget then in practice all budgets will be delayed. It’s much better to wait longer and get more of what you want.

    I don’t see that as a problem, especially in the light of my suggestion for a fiscal compact — if the demos wants more spending, then it has to agree to higher taxes (or vice versa). This is Condorcet’s proposal to add deliberative time and space to lawmaking.

    PS regarding Campbell’s notion that such a compact is “neoconservative dogma”, it should be remembered that this was the policy of both principal UK political parties in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The consensus has been breached by Jeremy Corbyn, but we have yet to see whether such a policy is acceptable to electors.

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  38. Keith,

    >”That isn’t my claim — only persons (or collections of persons united as a political party) can be held to account.”

    The sampling is the demos (with some margin of error) when it comes to approving proposals. “Accountability” is a rather dubious concept in the absence of delegation and there’s no delegation here. What we have instead is more akin to referendum that relies on statistics instead of mass mobilization. Multiple samplings held in parallel should return the same result. Pinning blame on the particular set of individuals who happen to be drawn does not make sense. Blame properly falls to the the demos itself for its actions or perhaps to the elected advocates who may have led the sampling astray.

    >”PS regarding Campbell’s notion that such a compact is ‘neoconservative dogma’…”

    The idea that a strictly balanced budget is necessary is opinion at best, dogma at worst. Deficit hardliners are not “on the side of the angels” any more than any of the countless other groups united behind issues they deem to be of particular importance. They all can use the same decision-making process to try to have their way.

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  39. The decision-making process must be agnostic with respect to the conflicts that exist in society. If the institutions of the state take sides then they lose their ability to serve as a means of mediating conflicts in society.

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  40. Naomi,

    >Pinning blame on the particular set of individuals who happen to be drawn does not make sense. Blame properly falls to the the demos itself for its actions or perhaps to the elected advocates who may have led the sampling astray.

    I agree completely — the demos (either in full or a representative sample thereof) cannot be held to account. Only named persons (advocates) or aggregates thereof (political parties), along with delegated officials (ministers and cabinets) can be held to account for their actions. That’s why there never has been (and never will be) a “pure” democracy — government is a mixture of democratic, aristocratic and monarchical estates, and only the latter two can be held to account. Voters (in elections, referenda and on legislative juries) are not accountable for their actions (no-one loses the vote for having made the wrong choice) although they do suffer the consequences of poor decisions.

    >The decision-making process must be agnostic with respect to the conflicts that exist in society.

    Correct. In the aftermath of the financial crisis all major UK political parties argued the need for a legally-binding fiscal compact to ensure balanced budgets over the financial cycle. This is not the place to debate macroeconomics and only time will tell whether a combination of permanent deficits, low interest rates and low inflation is possible, but it is unlikely, to paraphrase Labour chancellor Dennis Healey, that the laws of arithmetic do not apply to nation states. Of course Healey made his remark before the era of quantitative easing, but that has only been shown to work in practice (over a very short period), certainly not in theory — practically all economists would agree to that, not just neoliberal hawks.

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  41. >”I don’t see why Mr. Micawber’s recipe for happiness does not apply to all social collectivities”
    It’s highly debatable that you can compare households and governments.

    >”>you chose to scoff.

    That’s not fair”
    Well, the word you used was “bonkers”, but it’s not important.

    >” I’ve been trying to engage with your positively and have thanked you for your suggestion”
    Yes, your replies on this thread have been positive, and in fact you’ve given me too much credit.

    To continue, consider this though:
    You’re prepared to accept members anonymously marking each clause of our bill with a Y or an N to signify whether they approve or disapprove. (I think you also allow an explanation).

    I presume the proposal maker (person, committee, institution, whatever) could then delete or modify clauses which have a majority of Ns (no doubt keeping an eye on the whole package to make sure it still makes some sort of sense)?

    What about allowing the members to mark each clause on a scale, say, of 0 – 10? If you accept that, would you go so far as to allow your proposal maker to simply add up the scores of each clause and divide by the number of members to get the mean score for each clause, and modifying/deleting those which score 5 or less? Note that this would weight the scores according to the intensity of members’ opinions. If you don’t allow this, but do allow members to state their views, is there not a possibility that the proposal maker will delete/modify clauses as a function of the strength of the opinions expressed?

    Now suppose the Assembly is to decide what the usual speed limit should be in a built-up area. This is a simple question, there are no other clauses or conditions on which it depends, and it can be answered with a single number. It’s not binary, though, and there is no “right” answer – I’ve driven where it has been variously 48, 50, 56, and 60 km/hr.
    If you put the proposal “The limit shall be 50 km/hr” there will be members who vote No, thinking it should be 60, others who vote No thinking it should be 40, others who vote Yes, who would prefer 60, but who are afraid that otherwise it will end up being 40, and others who vote Yes, preferring 40, but fearing that it might finish at 60. This strikes me as a right mess, and unlikely to accurately reflect “the considered view of the demos”.

    To make it binary I suppose you could put the question in the form “The speed limit should be not more than x km/hr”, and start with x = 5, and then re-propose it, increasing x by 1 until you get exactly half the assembly saying Yes and half No, but what a rigmarole!
    Would it not be simpler to get each member (after hearing the evidence, of course) to suggest a figure, and then to take the median? You now have half the assembly wanting a higher limit, and half a lower one.
    The figure suggested by each member is effectively a vote, and since we’re taking the median, each vote counts equally.

    Now, if you’re prepared to accept this, come back to my “bonkers” proposal. Why not let the Assembly (after hearing the evidence) set each item of budget expenditure and projected revenue in the same way? It’s true that this is a little more complicated than the speed limit, but really a budget is nothing but a large number of additions and subtractions. Although each figure affects the final result, a spreadsheet would show members the effect of each change as they make it. Remembering that in this case we are scrupulously sticking to your “mute moot” principle, we can expect the diversity of the Assembly to produce a better result than a group of experts.

    You need not worry about members spending like drunken sailors; indeed, I should be worried that they would be too conservative and too much influenced by current fads to pump money into the economy when it’s needed. But neither we nor the “experts” would have any right to complain: whose money is it? and who has the right to spend it or not spend it?

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  42. Hi Campbell,

    Just about to leave on a road trip, so only got as far as:

    >You’re prepared to accept members anonymously marking each clause of our bill with a Y or an N to signify whether they approve or disapprove. (I think you also allow an explanation).

    No. To my mind the jury either passes or rejects the new law in toto. Those who vote against can indicate their principal objection to the bill so the authors of a failed proposal can then collate the N answers and resubmit.

    Will come back to you on the rest of your post in due course.

    Like

  43. >”To my mind the jury either passes or rejects the new law in toto.”
    Yes, this I understand, but can they not afterwards say “clause 1: ok; clause 2: NO!” and so on?

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  44. Campbell,

    >can they not afterwards say “clause 1: ok; clause 2: NO!” and so on?

    As you have already pointed out, legislative bills include a large number of complex and interrelated elements and only the professionals (elected or appointed) — who have the task of making it work in the real world and will be held to account if it fails — have the requisite knowledge and experience. I acknowledge that it would be possible in principle for an allotted deliberative assembly to come to a compromise (which may or may not be workable) however such a process of lawmaking would not be a democratic one (for all the reasons that we have rehearsed at length) and nobody would carry the can if it all ends in tears.

    >whose money is it? and who has the right to spend it or not spend it?

    An interesting question when the money is borrowed and will have to be repaid by future generations who have no say in how it is spent.

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  45. The members vote to either reject or pass the bill in toto, as you put it. Fine. That was always understood. Then they “indicate their principal objection”. Presumably, if they object to a number of clauses, you would allow them to list all the clauses that offend them? (If not, your feedback is very incomplete).
    And I understood that you thought letting them say which parts of the bill pleased them would be a good idea also, again with the idea of getting good feedback. So what is then your objection to members anonymously marking each clause of a bill, AFTER voting, with a Y or an N to signify whether they approve or disapprove?

    >”you have already pointed out […] only the professionals (elected or appointed) — who have the task of making it work in the real world and will be held to account if it fails — have the requisite knowledge and experience.

    This has nothing to do with the question, and I most certainly did not say that!
    You mean experts such as those who caused the banking crisis of 2008 and the “Great Recession”, and who carried nothing except very fat paychecks and commissions? Those responsible for the US Savings and Loans crisis? The experts of the IMF who impose impossible conditions on whole nations? Or the experts who got the US and other nations into the Vietnam war, the Afghan war, the Iraq wars at a cost of millions of lives and trillions of dollars? Or those who approved the US arsenal of 20 000+ nuclear warheads when a few hundred would suffice amply to make the whole planet a desert? The experts in the US who set up the pre-Obama health system which cost twice as much per capita as the UK, French, or Australian systems, and which left Americans with a life expectancy six years lower than citizens in those countries? And there are plenty of other examples.

    I don’t share your blind faith in experts. They may have the knowledge, but they will always favour their own interests, even if this is unconscious. They will always have the prejudices of their cultural milieu.

    >”such a process of lawmaking would not be a democratic one”
    Well, that’s your opinion. Mine is that it would be far more democratic than your model (largely because of the place you give to those experts), and infinitely more so than current electoral regimes.

    >”nobody would carry the can if it all ends in tears.”
    Whether bad decisions are the fault of your experts or of an assembly, it is always the community, or some part of it (soldiers and their families, for instance), that “carries the can”. Not the experts.

    >”when the money is borrowed and will have to be repaid by future generations who have no say in how it is spent.”
    And future generations will be paying the costs of “austerity”, and have no say in it.

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  46. Campbell,

    >So what is then your objection to members anonymously marking each clause of a bill, AFTER voting, with a Y or an N to signify enhether they approve or disapprove?

    Because this is cherry picking and conflates the proposer/disposer distinction. My default is that the bill either passes or fails in toto. You then came up with a sensible idea as to how proposers might be able to revise and resubmit failed bills. But the author of the bill (who will be held to account if it has poor epistemic outcomes) is the proposer, not the minidemos.

    >I don’t share your blind faith in experts.

    That’s the reason the final decision is in the hands of the minidemos, not the experts, and the dialectical nature of the advocacy process will ensure that each bill will be properly scrutinised.

    >Mine is that it would be far more democratic than your model

    I can only refer you back to Dahl’s two criteria for democratic decision making.

    By “carrying the can” I was referring to holding persons to account, not in the loose sense of suffering the consequences. As for spending money that you don’t have, I know my own children would be unhappy if my personal bequest to them was my overdraft and I don’t see what difference it makes if the unit of analysis if the nation rather than the family.

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  47. >”But the author of the bill (who will be held to account if it has poor epistemic outcomes) is the proposer
    So the proposer (who will probably NOT be held to account*) has no need of accurate information?

    >”I can only refer you back to Dahl’s two criteria for democratic decision making.”
    I have no problem with Dahl’s criteria, and maintain that my model meets all five within the limits of what is possible.

    >”I don’t see what difference it makes if the unit of analysis if the nation rather than the family.”
    Then you’d do well to read Joseph Stiglitz’ “The Price of Inequality” (Penguin 2012) and “Globalization and its Discontents” (Penguin 2002). Or get it from Keynes. There’s a huge difference between a household and a state, and not spending the money can cost much more than running a deficit for a few years.

    *It’s true that in Athens they could be with the graphai, one of the least attractive features of Athenian democracy IMO. They are not held to account in our present electoral regimes in a satisfactory manner. They would not be in my model, on principle. In yours, I’m not sure, but it sounds like a thoroughly bad idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Campbell,

    >Stiglitz . . . Keynes

    I admit to having no regard for the dismal science and its high priests and charlatans. As for accountability, in my model politicians would be held to account by failing to gain re-election and ministers who failed to deliver would be sacked. I agree with Hansen that a modern equivalent of graphai would help increase accountability. In your proposal (or that of any other “pure” sortinista) nobody would be accountable. As the classical playwrights pointed out, this is a variant of tyranny.

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  49. >”In your proposal (or that of any other “pure” sortinista) nobody would be accountable.
    Which is as it should be.

    >”As the classical playwrights pointed out, this is a variant of tyranny.
    I don’t think any of the classical playwrights has read my proposal. More’s the pity.

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  50. >”As the classical playwrights pointed out, this is a variant of tyranny.
    Reference, please.

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  51. Campbell,

    >>nobody would be accountable.
    >Which is as it should be

    Unaccountable governance has always been viewed as tyrannical. I’m still on the road but will send you the classical reference (I think it was Aristophanes’ Wasps) when I’m back at my desk. The notion of the harlot’s prerogative — power without responsibility — stretches from the classical era to Stanley Baldwin. I’m astonished to hear that you regard this a a workable form of governance.

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  52. >”Unaccountable governance has always been viewed as tyrannical.”

    Just like Naomi, I’m “puzzled by your insistence that the demos needs to be held accountable to itself by some sort of external mechanism”
    I’ve spelled out in DWE (pp 90 – 92) why accountability is neither necessary nor desirable with sortition.

    Accountability with elected governments is a myth, as Terry and David Schecter have pointed out. “Power without responsibility ” is exactly what elected members have.

    Suppose I’m elected to your parliament. I’m pretty well-paid for this, and in short order I can buy a nice little portfolio of shares. There comes the day when there’s a vote to approve/escalate/send conscripts to a war overseas. I vote in favour. Many of my companies make huge profits from the war. At the end of my term (or, more likely, several terms) it now appears that the war was a Bad Idea. It has cost many billions, and will continue to cost money for another fifty years. A lot of “our” soldiers are dead or wounded, (and also a lot of foreign soldiers and civilians, but of course these don’t matter because they don’t vote). The electorate holds me accountable by obliging me to retire to the waterfront mansion which I’ve bought with the dividends and my parliamentary pension. Severely chastened by this swinging rebuke, I publish my memoirs, and make more money. Meanwhile the victims and their families battle in the courts to get some compensation, and the taxpayer pays the bill.
    Note that it doesn’t have to be a war. It might be a proposal to deregulate the stock markets or the banks, or to bail out the banks because your deregulation has caused a financial or real-estate crisis. Or a proposal to privatise by selling off community property at a fraction of its value.
    Can’t happen? It does happen, and will as long as you have elections. I’m astonished to hear that you regard this (elections) as a workable form of governance.

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  53. Campbell,

    Electoral accountability works in terms of parties, not persons. In parliamentary regimes if a party screws up it could well be out of power for a generation. In my proposal this would continue, and the removal of government ministers (by a vote in the allotted assembly) would be much more rapid and effective than is currently the case.

    >Accountability with elected governments is a myth.

    Although it is in need of improvement, that’s no reason to give up on the whole notion of accountability, notwithstanding the claims of your book. Throughout history unaccountable rulers have been described (accurately) as tyrants. Brief extract from Kinch Hoekstra’s Athenian Democracy and Popular Tyranny:

    “This position of being unaccountable is integral to the jurors’ supremacy: they engage in scrutiny of the magistrates, but – crucially – no magistrates can scrutinise or punish them.98 Philocleon
    emphasises the total discretionary power that jurors have over magistrates as they submit to their euthunai or audits, comparing it to the power of a god.99 The jurors hold all others to account, but they are themselves unaccountable: ‘And for doing this we cannot be called to account [anupeuthunoi] –which is true of no other public authority
    [archē].”

    I suggest you read the full paper at: https://www.academia.edu/24752482/Athenian_Democracy_and_Popular_Tyranny

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  54. Keith,

    >”The only difference in your example is that the legislature is selected by a different mechanism (sortition) so cannot be held to account by the demos for its decision

    >>”I’m still puzzled by your insistence that the demos needs to be held accountable to itself by some sort of external mechanism.”

    >”That isn’t my claim — only persons (or collections of persons united as a political party) can be held to account.”

    >>”Blame properly falls to the demos [not the sampling for its actions]”

    >”I agree completely”

    >”harlot’s prerogative … Why then did the classical playwrights lampoon jurors as unaccountable tyrants? … The classical playwrights lampooned the unaccountable power of jurors because it was a fact”

    I’m not following. If we agree that the sampling is the demos then holding it accountable to the demos is nonsensical. While I’m not as familiar with Classical Athens as I should be, I’m pretty sure their juries were pretty close to your model. Ad-hoc. Silent(ish). Yes/No votes only. So if you aren’t seeking to hold the juries (the demos) accountable to the demos… then what is all this about?

    >”I’m making the assumption that most people prefer order over chaos and that when they meet together they will vote responsibly as citizens.”

    I should probably reply to this bit from before. Even when cabinets are infamously unstable the ministers often have a tendency to carry over from one cabinet to the next. John Huber has a good paper about it. Unexpectedly, cabinet stability is not a good predictor of minister experience or career duration. Almost nothing in practice is ever exactly what one would expect at a glance which is why no de novo mechanism ever works exactly as predicted. Perhaps in practice people will be so dissatisfied with the impersonal technocrats that they will ignore reason and eagerly take the first shot they get at them? Who knows?

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  55. Naomi,

    >If we agree that the sampling is the demos then holding it accountable to the demos is nonsensical.

    Absolutely — in a “pure” democracy the notion of accountability is meaningless. The same would also be true of a “pure” monarchy, although I believe Hobbes acknowledged that the Leviathan would be accountable to God. But I’m not a democrat, I’m arguing the case for a mixed constitution, in which only two elements are accountable — appointed ministers can be removed by censure motion in the allotted house, and political parties that make unpopular or unworkable proposals will not succeed in elections. However the third element — the demos — is, either in full or as a statistical sample, entirely unaccountable as one cannot be accountable to oneself (although, no doubt, the people will get the government it deserves).

    >Even when cabinets are infamously unstable the ministers often have a tendency to carry over from one cabinet to the next.

    Yes, several accountability is, in parliamentary systems, a rare phenomenon. In my proposal, however, only individual ministers are open to censure motions, not cabinets.

    >Perhaps in practice people will be so dissatisfied with the impersonal technocrats that they will ignore reason and eagerly take the first shot they get at them? Who knows?

    That’s very true. If so the bar would need to be raised — it might be necessary for a censure motion to be passed first in the house of advocates and then in the allotted assembly and with a higher decision threshold. This would be anathema to democrats, but I’m not a democrat, I’m proposing a balance between the democratic, aristocratic and monarchical elements of a mixed constitution. Like all non-mechanical equilibria, finding the balance point is a matter of trial and error and it may well change over time.

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  56. >”Electoral accountability works in terms of parties, not persons.
    Of course it is parties that (usually) people vote for or against, but this does not change the argument. In fact, accountability doesn’t work in terms of either.

    A paragraph’s worth of my thinking got left out when I posted last. I should have added:
    Unfortunately, your allotted chamber will not necessarily be able to prevent (the war bill) being passed. When the drums begin to roll, and the media are all saying we must march off and slaughter the Calathumpians to make the world safe for peace, democracy, and Coca-Cola, it is highly likely that all or most of your experts will be as jingoistic and bloody-minded as everyone else who doesn’t actually have to march and slaughter or be slaughtered. The minority in your mute Assembly who are sceptical have been gagged by your thoughtful design, and will be unable to question the conventional “wisdom” and make the experts justify their claims.

    >”Although it is in need of improvement, that’s no reason to give up on the whole notion of accountability”
    It’s just not applicable to a (sufficiently-large) assembly chosen by lot, which, in spite of all you have said about the distorting effect of speeches, will still be far more representative than anything existing, or that has existed in the past. Any body you suggest to supervise them or judge them after their decisions must be less representative, unless it is larger, and also chosen by lot. I suppose you could tack a body of, say, 1 000 members on the back of my model to confirm or reject every decision made by the Assembly; indeed I think Naomi suggested this. I doubt if it is necessary, (except for close decisions) but I am not be viscerally opposed to this. It would be far better than an additional elected chamber. It would add a little to the cost and the expense, but avoiding even one disastrous decision (Vietnam, Irak, deregulation…) would pay for centuries of such additional assemblies.

    Yes, I intend to read Hoekstra’s paper.

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  57. “>”>If we agree that the sampling is the demos then holding it accountable to the demos is nonsensical.”

    >Absolutely ”

    Hooray! But why is this not so when I say it?

    >” As the classical playwrights pointed out, this is a variant of tyranny.”

    “playwrights” in the plural?
    If you’re only referring to that passage in the Wasps (l 587: kai taut’anupeuthunoi ktl – can’t be bothered typing it in Greek), it proves nothing except that Aristophanes wanted to raise a laugh.

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  58. Campbell,

    >it is highly likely that all or most of your experts will be as jingoistic and bloody-minded as everyone else.

    Why so? In the build-up to WW2, most informed opinion was in favour of appeasement; and it was as much the jingoistic public (who were largely in favour of imperialism) that took us into WW1. Most of the political class realised that the empire cost us more than it earned. Bear in mind my advocacy model is based on the law courts and legal counsel have a duty to accept briefs from both side.

    Your last paragraph conflates the notion of personal accountability with descriptive representation, two entirely different concepts.

    >why is this not so when I say it?

    Because both Naomi and yourself appear to believe that I was requiring the minidemos to be accountable to the people (whereas it merely [descriptively] represents the people). I have always argued that democracy and accountability are incompatible, but neither of you appear to have grasped that point. Only persons are accountable and that requires that they can be dismissed, either through the aristocratic mechanism of election or the monarchical mechanism of appointment/dismissal. You can’t dismiss the people so the demos/minidemos is unaccountable.

    Look forward to your response to Kinch’s article, which I believe is forthcoming in an edited collection on popular sovereignty from CUP.

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  59. >”>” most of your experts will be as jingoistic and bloody-minded as everyone else.

    > …Most of the political class realised that the empire cost us more than it earned.
    So the experts on whom you are going to call are the political class?
    As for the empire costing more than it brought in, I think the Indians and Africans would disagree. It is true that the cost of fighting wars of liberation is very high. (Malaysia, Kenya, Cyprus …) Some companies did quite well out of them, however. And there was a lot of military/industrial enthusiasm for Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Irak, as you would expect. Genuine experts, too, especially in all those things that armies need.

    >”Your last paragraph conflates the notion of personal accountability with descriptive representation
    Not so.

    >”You can’t dismiss the people so the demos/minidemos is unaccountable.
    Quite so.

    >”Look forward to your response to Kinch’s article”
    It’s an extremely interesting article, and I think, a very good article. You and I are sure to interpret it in diametrically opposed ways.

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  60. >So the experts on whom you are going to call are the political class?

    My preferred terms are politicians and advocates, and yes they will possess higher degrees of political expertise than randomly-chosen citizens.

    I’m glad we now agree that the demos — an impersonal abstraction — cannot be accountable to itself, but I’m still deeply puzzled as to why you believe a political system in which nobody is accountable for their actions is anything other than tyrannical. Can you provide a single historical example of an unaccountable regime which is not tyrannical?

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  61. Keith,

    >”l have always argued that democracy and accountability are incompatible, but neither of you appear to have grasped that point.”

    Accountability… to whom?

    Let’s say you hire someone to run your business for you. They report to you. You can fire them. They are accountable to you. Now let’s say you fire them and decide to run the buisness yourself. You remain the principle. You report to no one. You are accountable to no one. Previously someone was held accountable. But not anymore. Has there been a net loss in accountability? It’s not such a meaningful question. The answer has more to do with semantics than anything practical. Would accountability in your life be maximized if you were to outsource every little decision to a multitude of specialized officers? There’d certainly be more people being held accountable for their actions. The assumption that it is inherently desirable to have individuals being held accountable for the sake of having “accountability” in the system is what is at dispute here.

    I would agree with you that the principle of statistical representation would be difficult to apply to the administrative and advocacy functions. So designing the system with clean lines of accountability in these areas is plainly needed.

    It bears emphasizing that the degree to which the agents are able to express character differing from that of their principles depends on the degree to which they are able to skirt responsibility. If, hypothetically, the elected and appointed officers could be held accountable and penalized for every little infraction then you would have a democracy despite your different selection methods. Accountability would be strongest when the sampling can dismiss the ministers, judges, and other officers at the drop of the hat for any reason at all. A reduction in the degree of accountability in the overall system (compared with something like what Campbell wants) is necessary to allow the different offices to develop and express the different characters you deem advantageous. Which is fine. I have no problem with, for example, judicial review, but in no way does such a thing constitute an increase in accountability. It’s an unambiguous loss taken for a good purpose. This is why I believe attempting to bundle some sort of “monarchical” character into the executive, the most important element in the effective and efficient functioning of the state, instead of a court or another house, is a very serious mistake. Accountability and these other attributes are diametrically opposed.

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  62. Naomi,

    >Now let’s say you fire [the managers] and decide to run the business yourself. . . Has there been a net loss in accountability?

    In this case no, because the principal and the manager are the self-same person. But the analogy does not apply to the demos, because we cannot all manage the business at the same time. That’s why the democratic principle in small poleis was rotation — to rule and be ruled in turn — but this principle is not applicable to large modern states.

    >I would agree with you that the principle of statistical representation would be difficult to apply to the administrative and advocacy functions.

    A good candidate for the understatement of the year!

    >Accountability would be strongest when the sampling can dismiss the ministers, judges, and other officers at the drop of the hat for any reason at all.

    Agreed, that’s why a pure democracy is neither possible nor desirable.

    >This is why I believe attempting to bundle some sort of “monarchical” character into the executive, the most important element in the effective and efficient functioning of the state, instead of a court or another house, is a very serious mistake.

    Mistaken or not, it’s already a fact, as most executive positions — certainly in presidential systems, and increasingly in parliamentary democracies — are a combination of election and appointment. According to Hansen** all modern “democracies” include a substantial monarchical element, so I’m not introducing anything. I’m currently agnostic regarding the appointment mechanism (election or appointment) for the executive, but let’s not try and kid ourselves that it has, or ought to have, anything to do with democracy.

    **Hansen argues that judicial review constitutes an important aristocratic check on the monarchical and democratic elements of modern governance. This is fine with him as it is one of the prime indicators of the mixed constitution, although it is the final nail in the coffin of the “obsolete” doctrine of the separation of powers.

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  63. >”yes they will possess higher degrees of political expertise than randomly-chosen citizens.”
    That is exactly as I feared. Political expertise, not technical (scientific, engineering, medical, etc etc). In other words, the gift of the gab, glib eloquence, the ability to baffle their listeners with pseudo-science, and the genius for making little arrangements behind the scenes with their colleagues.

    >”I’m glad we now agree that the demos — an impersonal abstraction — cannot be accountable to itself, but I’m still deeply puzzled as to why you believe a political system in which nobody is accountable for their actions is anything other than tyrannical. Can you provide a single historical example of an unaccountable regime which is not tyrannical?”

    1 “nobody is accountable for their actions.”
    That is NOT the case in the model I propose. (Who’s conflating things now?)
    The Assembly as a whole is not accountable (to the demos or any one else), because it is as close as we can get to a perfect representation of the demos.
    Individuals are accountable. If they commit a crime they can of course be charged and tried.
    If they are civil servants and commit a breach of the regulations governing them, they risk dismissal.
    Committees which manifestly fail to fulfil their duties can be dissolved and re-constituted by the Assembly.
    Assembly members who do not fulfil their obligations (to attend, to maintain a reasonable standard of decorum, etc) can be sanctioned. (see DWE p124). The exact details of their duties are not for me to decide, but it is clear that there would be a standing set of House Rules, exercised in the first place by the Speaker, if necessary with the assistance of “Clerks of the House” or some such, in the last resort (if they are violent) with the police. Pretty much as at present.

    2 Semantics.
    If “tyranny” means only “sovereignty”, “summum imperium” or the like (Hoekstra), then this properly belongs to the demos, and is exercised, in so far as legislation is concerned, by the Assembly. Judicial power rests with the courts, as at present. A limited degree of administrative power rests with the civil service. There is an unwritten principle that the Assembly concerns itself only with the general, not with the particular. All this is pretty standard, of course.

    3 As Naomi obviously realises, it’s meaningless to use the word “accountability” on its own without further qualification. “To whom?” indeed.

    4 Can I provide a historical example?
    I don’t think I could provide an example of any regime which has not been tyrannical to some extent.
    Nor can I think of one which shines for its accountability to the demos.

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  64. Campbell,

    >Political expertise . . . In other words, the gift of the gab

    Yes that’s generally the case with advisors in a democracy, it was certainly the case in 4th Century Athens. We may find this distasteful, but it’s better to be honest. It’s the way the law courts (and the Athenian legislative courts) work/worked and we have yet to find a better way of getting to the truth of the matter.

    Regarding accountability you have failed to demonstrate how in your proposal any persons wielding political power can be held to account and still have provided no historical examples of polities (other than tyrannies) that have been organised in such a way. This would cause alarm bells to ring in most political science departments.

    >If “tyranny” means only “sovereignty”, “summum imperium” or the like (Hoekstra), then this properly belongs to the demos, and is exercised, in so far as legislation is concerned, by the Assembly. Judicial power rests with the courts, as at present. A limited degree of administrative power rests with the civil service. There is an unwritten principle that the Assembly concerns itself only with the general, not with the particular.

    Yes it’s straight out of Rosseau, who arrogated sovereignty to the assembly of the people. But, as Richard Tuck has argued in his new book, the sovereign spends most of her time fast asleep, and the delegated government exercises day-to-day power. Rousseau argued that the government had to be constituted by lot (democracy), election (aristocracy) or appointment (monarchy), his preferred method being election. Judging from your reference to the “administrative power” of the civil service your preference is monarchical.

    >I don’t think I could provide an example of any regime which has not been tyrannical to some extent. Nor can I think of one which shines for its accountability to the demos.

    Shouldn’t that make us a little bit humble when it comes to utopian schemes? Or do you prefer a ground zero approach? If so you share this with the 20th century visionaries and look how that ended up. In terms of actual regimes (as opposed to utopian blueprints), liberal democracy probably has the best record from a tyranny and accountability perspective.

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  65. >”Regarding accountability you have failed to demonstrate how in your proposal any persons wielding political power can be held to account”
    “failed to demonstrate” is pompous nonsense, Keith. It was not my intention.
    The only persons wielding political power are the Assembly members as a group. As I have explained, they should not be held to account – individually or as a group – for their vote.

    >”still have provided no historical examples of polities (other than tyrannies) that have been organised in such a way”
    (More pompous nonsense). I have answered this. No government organised as I propose has yet been tried, and no tyranny has been organised as I propose. If you want to prove that my proposal will lead to tyranny, the onus is on you to find examples to back up your case.

    >”Yes it’s straight out of Ro[u]sseau”
    Last time you wanted to be rude you said it was based on a misunderstanding of Montesquieu. Wrong both times. Of course, there’s a lot of fairly conventional political thinking in my proposal, and both gentlemen influenced current political thinking. You get no prize for finding something that either of them has said before me.

    >” the sovereign spends most of her time fast asleep”
    Of course she does, and quite reasonably so, too. In one sense, the history of civilisation is the increasing use of automation, using the term in a very wide sense. Donkey-powered norias to raise water for irrigation, water and wind power to move the mill-stone, a postal service to run our errands for us, programmable washing machines and toasters, and so on. In this sense, the allotted Assembly is just another device to let her get on with sleeping, or whatever.

    >”Judging from your reference to the “administrative power” of the civil service your preference is monarchical.”
    Still more nonsense.
    Of course the civil service has some limited power, just as it has in merry England today, and everywhere else. The bobby – or even a coloured light – can prevent you crossing the road when you want to. The taxation department (or whatever you call it there) has the power to make your tax assessment, and to haul you off to court if you don’t cough up. There’s absolutely nothing novel in my statement.
    (Oops! Forgot that you still have a Queen. Not my preference).

    >”Shouldn’t that make us a little bit humble when it comes to utopian schemes?”
    It should make us put on our thinking caps and come up with something better. Which is what I’m trying to do.

    >”liberal democracy probably has the best record”
    “liberal” is used in so many different ways that I can’t be sure what you mean. As for “democracy”: is there one out there somewhere? In any case, to do better than the dictatorships, absolute monarchies, one party states, totalitarian and oligarchic regimes that we see is no great shakes.

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  66. Keith,

    >”In this case no, because the principal and the manager are the self-same person. But the analogy does not apply to the demos, because we cannot all manage the business at the same time.”

    Ah, but it doesn’t matter if we all participate in the management of the state so long as our non-participation makes no difference. That’s the argument you’ve given in the past for the legitimacy of the sampling. If the sampling is not the demos and the non-participation of those who were not selected does make a difference then we should all just give up and go home. So the analogy fits exactly. The demos is the owner. It could delegate to an accountable manager, but failing to do so does not constitute a loss of accountability because the powers are being exercised by the holder of power to whom the manager would have been held to account anyway.

    >”Mistaken or not, it’s already a fact”

    Sure. But thats no reason to make poor accountability in the executive a design goal.

    >”lot (democracy), election (aristocracy) or appointment (monarchy)”

    But a supreme court is “aristocratic” despite its method of selection, right? Describing a court as “aristocratic” isn’t so useful. It displaces detail with an equivalent amount of non-applicable baggage which must then be qualified. The value of a supreme court is in its ability to serve as a sudo-third party arbiter between the different parts of the state and between the people and the state, treating the written constitution as a binding contract.

    It would be quite easy for selection by lot to fill all of your catgories if such a thing were your first goal. Obviously, the democratic element can be handled through a statstical sampling. Once upon a time the monarchical and aristocratic elements were handled by lottery as well: the chance of birth.
    Furthermore, if an agent can be freely dismissed they cannot exhibit character outside what the principal deems appropriate. As I’ve emphasizing on more than one occasion, dismissal method is at least as important as appointment method in practice. So modeling Campbell’s executive as “monarchical” by definition of the appointment method is not defensible.

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  67. Naomi,

    >The demos is the owner. It could delegate to an accountable manager, but failing to do so does not constitute a loss of accountability.

    In the former case the manager is accountable to the demos, who hires and fires her. The latter (non-delegation) is simply not possible in large modern states as all citizens can no longer rule and be ruled in turn, hence the need for a mixed constitution in which delegated agents (elected, appointed or both) are accountable to the demos. I think we would both disagree with Campbell’s claim that this constitutes a minor administrative matter.

    >that’s no reason to make poor accountability in the executive a design goal.

    It’s not so much poor accountability as ensuring a balance between accountability and stability.

    >But a supreme court is “aristocratic” despite its method of selection, right?

    That is Hansen’s view. From a historical perspective the judiciary is a subdivision of executive power (traditionally referred to as “the magistrate”). But once the justices are appointed (by the president) they become part of the aristocratic estate.

    >dismissal method is at least as important as appointment method in practice.

    Yes that’s true and again indicates the cybernetic unity of the mixed constitution as monarchical appointees owe their continued tenure to the democratic assembly.

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  68. Campbell,

    >The only persons wielding political power are the Assembly members as a group.

    What you are referring to is the sovereign legislative right, but this is a relatively small part of political power (hence the “sleeping” sovereign).

    >No government organised as I propose has yet been tried, and no tyranny has been organised as I propose.

    I imagine all the 19th and 20th century visionaries would have said the same thing, and look what a fine mess we ended up with.

    Liberal democracy is shorthand for competitive party elections under universal suffrage, in which anyone is free to stand for office. It also presupposes equality under the law, equal human rights, separation of powers and a free press. It’s not perfect (and most of us on this site would like to augment it by sortition) but it’s better than other working alternatives from the perspective of non-tyranny and accountability.

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  69. >”I imagine all the 19th and 20th century visionaries would have said the same thing, and look what a fine mess we ended up with.
    So your argument appears to be:
    19th and 20th century visionaries said the same thing as Campbell.
    Therefore Campbell is a visionary.
    19th and 20th century visionaries caused the present fine mess [which you have called “liberal democracy”]
    Therefore Campbell will cause a fine mess. [presumably “liberal democracy” again]

    Good luck with your PhD if you use this sort of logic in your thesis.

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  70. Campbell,

    >the present fine mess [which you have called “liberal democracy”]

    No, my reference was to messianic visionaries like Marx and his various offshoots (on the left an the right). Liberal democracy evolved out of existing political institutions, my objection is to purely deductive rationalist schemes.

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  71. *** Keith Sutherland wrote: “Liberal democracy (= polyarchy) evolved out of existing political institutions, my objection is to purely deductive rationalist schemes.”
    *** If polyarchic systems function in very different areas (the larger polyarchy being India), right, in Britain this system evolved from older institutions. And the British example was part of inspiration for, for example, the French Third Republic, or the USA political institutions. But we cannot reduce political institutional histories of these countries to the British source (the “Federalist Papers” for instance includes a strong theoretical work not reduced to reflection about the British political ways).
    *** The polyarchy did inherit from older times the idea of institutional protection of interests from the State apparatus (the “liberal” in “liberal democracy”). But it added another idea: any social power, even new, even of low social status, must be able to play in the “parallelogram of powers”, no group is excluded; and this is expressed in “general suffrage”, and allows the use of the democratic myth. General suffrage and democratic myth can be approximatively used as the markers of the advent of polyarchy. Here there was something like a mutation, and the use of “democracy”, an abstract word of Greek etymology, is significant. I do not know much British political history, but it seems to me that for these two markers Britain was somewhat late.
    *** There was some effect of “deductive rationalist schemes” in the passage from liberal aristocratic institutions to polyarchic ones, but afterwards a low level of theoretical work on polyarchy itself . Probably its supporters were afraid that it could dangerously reveal the basic problems of the “representative democracy” and help its enemies. And in the competing “totalitarian” movements, there was lack of any serious rationalist institutional schemes. These movements had very strong “meta-historical” schemes (and with strong theoretical work at least in the marxist-leninist case), but without any serious interest on the “political problem” – the one idea was to get the power to the good militants. The result was a strange poverty of political rationalist thought.
    *** Since a generation there is a renewal of rationalist political thought, and I don’t think it is a bad thing.

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  72. *** Keith Sutherland wrote (Sept 23): “One is reminded of the decisions of the Athenian assembly which were sometimes reversed on the following day” as in the famous Mytilenian debate.
    *** We must see that for a ruler to change his idea after a night is not always a bad thing, especially about a highly murderous decision, as in the Mytilenian case. Let’s imagine the US president, instead of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, deciding after a night to drop a bomb on a mountainous desert part of Japan and leaving a small time to Japanese rulers to think about it. Some would consider such a reversion would have been a good decision.
    *** But in the Athenian case there is something to think more. Democratic Athens was more and more imperialist in the 5th century, but it seems the main social support for imperialism was in the poor urbans, who used to reap various material benefits from the Empire. It was like that until the middle of fourth century, when some kind of welfare state was established (with better financial managing and some acceptance of taxes by the rich), which (with the bad issue of the last imperial endeavors) dissolved the imperialist temptations of the poor urbans. At the time of the Mytilenian debate, thus, the “hard liners”, the “hawks” were probably mostly in the town, the “doves” mostly in the countryside. As I said, the participation in the Assembly could not be mandatory, not from libertarian principles, but from practical imperatives. It is quite possible that the Mytilenian debate reversion came partly from a different composition of the Assembly, with more peasants attending it to counter the urban hardliners; some “doves” from the Marathon countryside, for instance ( 40 km walk from the town) could have been absent from the first assembly but felt they had to stop the ongoing process. Any non-mandatory system may lead to situations like that.

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  73. Andre,

    >Some would consider such a reversion would have been a good decision.

    Of course it would be better to come to the right decision in the first place. War strategy (e.g. Hiroshima) is generally an executive decision, but when it comes to general legislation (the prime concern of this blog) I would suggest that a mixed constitution, combined with temporal pauses in the decision making process, would be more likely to come to the right answer compared to any form of unitary sovereignty.

    >Democratic Athens was more and more imperialist in the 5th century, but it seems the main social support for imperialism was in the poor urbans, who used to reap various material benefits from the Empire. It was like that until the middle of fourth century, when some kind of welfare state was established (with better financial managing and some acceptance of taxes by the rich), which (with the bad issue of the last imperial endeavors) dissolved the imperialist temptations of the poor urbans.

    That’s very interesting. I wonder if we can draw any parallel with the twentieth century? There was strong popular support for the European empires and this was a significant contributory factor to WWI (Campbell is wrong to suggest that aggressive foreign policies are invariably the product of the political elite). The decline in populist imperialism certainly correlates with the growth of the welfare state. The biggest threat to the welfare state would appear to be uncontrolled immigration, as welfarism requires a high degree of reciprocity, solidarity and cultural homogeneity.

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  74. >”Campbell is wrong to suggest that aggressive foreign policies are invariably the product of the political elite”
    Did I say that? NO.

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  75. Campbell,

    >Did I say that? NO.

    OK, the “invariably” was perhaps an over-generalisation of your earlier statement:

    “Or the experts who got the US and other nations into the Vietnam war, the Afghan war, the Iraq wars at a cost of millions of lives and trillions of dollars? Or those who approved the US arsenal of 20 000+ nuclear warheads when a few hundred would suffice amply to make the whole planet a desert?”

    Andre’s argument from history was that it was often the urban poor who were pro-imperialism. The Athenian demokratia was well known for its aggressive foreign policy.

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  76. >”OK, the “invariably” was perhaps an over-generalisation of your earlier statement:

    “invariably” was your invention entirely. I don’t dispute André’s statement at all. Then as now, the making of arms provided jobs, even foprgetting the klerouchies.

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  77. *** I don’t think it is valid to compare wars in the ancient Greek world and wars in the modern world. Many factors are very different, and especially the economic benefits of war. I don’t think many poor in US towns dream of bettering their material life through war and conquest.
    *** The relationship of political system and imperialism is an interesting subject, but no relevant today. The great truly imperialist endeavors are no more seriously a possibility, if only because of nuclear deterrence. The democratic Athens could dream what the “republican” Rome realized, unifying by violence under its rule the world (their world, the Mediterranean Hellenizing world), as was the temptation of France (as First Republic, then Napoleonic Empire) around 1800, or of Germany in 20th century (under the hybrid 2nd Reich then the totalitarian 3d Reich). Whatever the regime, neither China nor USA will be tempted by conquering the world. The world empire is no more a dream.
    *** Which are possible are limited military endeavors as the US war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or maybe someday a Chinese aggressive policy in South China Sea. I don’t think polyarchies are more prone than other regimes to such behaviors.
    *** To discuss responsibilities of polyarchies in 1st World War (against hybrid Central States), or in 2d World War (against the Fascist Axis), or in the 3d World Conflict (against Communism –the “Cold War”, not so cold outside of Europe) is not relevant for today political thought. And I am not sure these conflicts could have been avoided, even by the best Western regimes.
    *** Therefore I think we must concentrate on the 21st century situation. If polyarchies are bad for peace, I think it will be mostly from negative reasons, for abstaining to look for solutions in situations which will lead to local wars.

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  78. André
    >” I don’t think many poor in US towns dream of bettering their material life through war and conquest.”
    An American worker with a mortgage and a wife and children to support, whose employer is a defense contractor and virtually the only employer in town, and who will have difficulty in finding other work or re-locating, is highly likely to vote in favour of any policy that he sees as likely to mean that he will continue to be employed. Who can blame him? It’s a matter of survival, not a matter of “bettering his material life”, nor of a dream of imperialist glory.

    >” The great truly imperialist endeavors are no more seriously a possibility.” “The world empire is no more a dream.”
    “Rule Britannia”, “Pour le drapeau, pour le drapeau, que ce cri soit le cri de la France”, “Wider still and wider/ Shall thy bounds be set” may belong to a bygone age, but the economic motive persists. I don’t imagine that the makers of nuclear warheads want to see them used, but while there’s a dollar to be made, they’ll be in favour of ever more warheads. World empire may no longer be a dream, but owning as much of it as possible still seems to be a motive.

    >”If polyarchies are bad for peace, I think it will be mostly from negative reasons, for abstaining to look for solutions in situations which will lead to local wars.”
    Or for allowing their policy to be governed by special interests which gain not so much from promoting war on a global scale, but who can make money from “limited military endeavors”.

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  79. *** I agree that an US worker may be led to support a discourse exagerating external menaces, because it will give jobs to the defense industry. But it is only a limited case, and anyway that does not need actual war (arms may be piled up, as was for nuclear arms).It is quite different from the ancient case, where actual war was necessary to extract tribute and conquer lands to be distributed.
    *** Military interests may exist which in polyarchies will support limited wars, I agree. I doubt it is the main factor in most of today wars

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  80. *** In a famous passage of Aristophanes’ Wasps (548-630), where the juror Philocleon (a poor old citizen) extols the pleasures he get through being part of a citizen judicial jury, he claims the jurors are unaccountable (anupeuthunoi, v 587) and that they have a high power not inferior to Zeus’ one (v 620)
    *** Keith Sutherland says that it makes the juror (and the Athenian dêmos) a tyrant, Campbell Wallace that Aristophanes wanted only “to raise a laugh”.
    *** I disagree with Campbell Wallace: Aristophanes work is thoroughly political, and seriously political behind the jokes. The one problem about Aristophanes is to know if the satire is legitimist: to mock the sovereign to help him to correct his behavior; or if the satire is actually subversive, aiming to discredit the democratic system and to help a future oligarchical endeavor.
    *** I disagree with Keith Sutherland: Aristophanes criticizes ways of feeling and acting which may dangerously develop in any body which has sovereign power, i.e. unaccountable power. But tyranny is more; the tyrant has no deep legitimacy, he cannot consider himself as a true sovereign in charge of the civic community, and acts as if parts at least of the community are enemies. The Athenian dêmos felt as a legitimate sovereign. Right, a fraction of the rich and educated Athenian elite was antidemocratic, but the Athenian dêmos did never consider globally the elite as an internal enemy and actually chose most of his advisers and “ministers” among this elite.
    *** The comparison of the jurors to Zeus in the Aristophanes play is satirical, but there is some logic in it: Zeus, or the God of monotheists, rules the world as a sovereign, without being accountable to any other being. “Kyrios”, which is translated as “Lord” in English bibles, is the same word which could be used to describe the supreme power of the dêmos in dêmokratia. A US legal thriller by Michael Connelly has the title “The Gods of Guilt” (2013), and these “Gods” are the jurors of an US criminal court who have to decide if a man is guilty, without being accountable to anybody, following only their own conscience. The difference is that the Athenian jurors had a wider political weight, which increased after Aristophanes’ time, until to become one of the two channels of popular sovereignty in the “Second Athenian Democracy” model.
    *** I said that the Athenian dêmos did never feel and act as a tyrant. I was speaking of the internal policy. As the head of an Empire, in the fifth century, much may be said about a tyrannical behavior, because there was no real legitimacy in the Empire; even the lower classes of the subject cities, which had affinities with the Athenian democracy, and were potential allies, could not be trusted, as their national pride and sense of national freedom could lead them against the illegitimate domination of Athens.
    *** The idea of the dêmos as tyrant did exist in some ancient antidemocratic thought: we find it in Aristotle, who goes unto explaining that the dêmos, as the tyrant, gives dominance to women (gunaikokratia) “ in order that they may carry abroad reports against the men, and lack of discipline among the slaves, for the same reason” (it looks incredible in a serious thinker, but it is in Politics V,11,11; 1313b). For Aristotle, whose political thought is grounded in class consciousness and class egocentrism, tyranny and democracy are alike as two systems where the elite interests are not institutionally protected from the political power. But the likeness of democracy and tyranny is foreign to the democrat authors (Herodotus, Euripides’ Theseus, Demosthenes) and to such a staunch antidemocrat as Plato. For Plato, democracy and tyranny are both very bad regimes, but antipodal ones: when democracy degenerates into tyranny, the City comes from one extreme to another, from extreme freedom to slavery.

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  81. >”It is quite different from the ancient case, where actual war was necessary to extract tribute and conquer lands to be distributed.”
    I beg to differ. I suggest that even in the absence of actual war the shipwrights, cordage-makers, armourers, blacksmiths, bronze-founders, shield-makers, leather-workers and others profited by the preparations for war, and the maintenance of ships and equipment.

    >”Aristophanes work is thoroughly political, and seriously political behind the jokes.”
    Yes, certainly. But satire works by exaggeration, and you cannot always know in any particular case just how much is exaggeration, and how much is literally true. We should surely not believe that any real person would claim to be smoke rising from the chimney, but other cases are less clear.

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  82. Andre,

    In the ancient demokratia, named persons — both rhetores and magistrates — were individually accountable for their actions, and in this sense it could be viewed as a mixed constitution as the demos — either in the form of the assembly or the jurymen — did not rule in an unchecked manner. If there were no personal accountability then the regime could be described as tyrannical in the sense of one who can say tel est mon plaisir, and make it stick without any personal repercussions. Campbell has suggested that the fact that nobody in his proposed constitution is individually accountable is a point in its favour and it’s this entirely novel arrangement that I find tyrannical (and utterly unworkable).

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  83. *** Advisers and ministers of the sovereign may be made personally accountable to the sovereign, but not the sovereign itself.
    *** Note that democracy-through-minipublics opens ways of, if not accountability, at least of checkability for the sovereign; as in Athens when a judicial jury crushed a law voted by a legislative jury. This can be seen as a superiority of the model if compared to democracy through general assembly or to absolute monarchy.

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  84. *** Keith Sutherland, said (Sept. 23): “why should new injustices and mistakes be preferable? In law the burden of proof is with the prosecution, not the defence”.
    *** “The burden of proof is with the prosecution”. This legal principle of Western criminal law is, as you know, fiercely attacked today, especially by many feminist militants who, about sexual aggressions, ask for “at least equal respect for the word of the victim”. The old principle is not self-evident. It may, as these militants say openly (and as many public agents, before, thought without saying it), have as result that some innocent accused are protected from public repression mistakes, but much more persons are victims of aggressions in their “civil” life. The old principle stems from the idea that the citizen must be as trustful as possible of the public authorities, and that we must give primacy to this political consideration over any utilitarian calculus of sufferance. I tend towards agreement, but it is quite specific a reasoning.
    *** The principle “we must prefer the old law to a new proposal, except if strong evidence guarantees consensus for the change” is different. It favors strongly legislative inertia. There was much to be said for it in old static societies, where old rules could be seen as selected by historical experience (and for such societies we could say, as Chesterton, that “tradition is the democracy of the dead”, even if it is an overoptimistic sentence). But in modern dynamic societies this reasoning is no more valid. Old laws will not be adapted to new circumstances, and legislative inertia will lead to lack of public control on the events. Or the judiciary power will practically “interpret” the laws, actually taking the legislative function. Note that we must not reason here about “conservativeness”. In a dynamic society, legislative inertia may often play against social conservatism, because it leaves the society changing “freely” (which often will mean under the pressure of specific social powers).
    *** Anyway, the two principles are rationally distinct.

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  85. >”Campbell has suggested that the fact that nobody in his proposed constitution is individually accountable is a point in its favour”
    Keith, I have pointed out – above, in this very thread – that individuals ARE accountable, except in the case of the secret vote of members of the Assembly.
    Would you please stop misquoting me.
    I could add that I find your model (insofar as you have been explicit) tyrannical and unworkable.

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  86. Campbell,

    It’s a long thread and I don’t have time to search it, but from memory the accountability that you advocated was restricted to breaches of the criminal law (i.e. corruption). My concern is political,/em> accountability — rhetores who introduced proposals that have poor epistemic outcomes would be unlikely to secure reelection and that incompetent government ministers are removed from office. In traditional democratic theory elected ministers are a protection machine for the civil servants in their departments — they are supposed to fall on their sword if their permanent officials screw up (although this is rarely observed in modern parliamentary regimes). Your proposal appears to be devoid of political accountability as the demos cannot be accountable to itself.

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  87. >”It’s a long thread and I don’t have time to search it”
    That takes the cake as an excuse. In that case you don’t have time to post on this thread, since you can’t do it without misquoting people.
    Use your browser to search “nobody is accountable”. You’ll get three matches. It is in a direct reply to you.
    Obviously there’s no point replying to you, because you “forget” the reply as soon as it’s convenient.

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  88. Campbell,

    I must point out that I have already noted multiple times that Sutherland feels completely unconstrained by the facts. Tolerating this behavior enables him to continue to pollute the public space with his lies and obnoxiousness.

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  89. Campbell,

    >Use your browser to search “nobody is accountable”.

    Thank you for confirming that your reference is to regulatory as opposed to political accountability:

    “If they commit a crime they can of course be charged and tried . . . If they are civil servants and commit a breach of the regulations . . . Committees which manifestly fail to fulfil their duties can be dissolved . . . Assembly members who do not fulfil their obligations (to attend, to maintain a reasonable standard of decorum, etc) can be sanctioned.”

    In classical Athens rhetors who offered poor quality advice to the people (or generals who lost battles) were subject to severe penalties; in modern democracies political parties who come up with flawed proposals or who are incompetent in public office can be out of power for a generation. It is this form of political accountability that is absent in your proposal. Indeed, you applaud the very lack of a modern equivalent of the graphai:

    “They would not be [held to account] in my model, on principle [as it is] a thoroughly bad idea” Or again:

    KS>>”In your proposal (or that of any other “pure” sortinista) nobody would be accountable.

    CW:>Which is as it should be.

    Or again:

    “I’ve spelled out in DWE (pp 90 – 92) why accountability is neither necessary nor desirable with sortition.”

    I rest my case.

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  90. Your statement was: “nobody is accountable”, which is false, as I have explained.
    I’m not sure how you equate political accountability with executing unsuccessful or unlucky generals, but the practice has no place in a civilised state today. Nor would the graphai. Nor would many other characteristics of ancient Athens. To suggest that merely because the Athenians did something that therefore we should do so would be pure stupidity. And making members of an allotted chamber which is descriptively representative of the demos “accountable” to some other entity would also be pure stupidity.

    >”I rest my case”
    And, on the subject of accountability, I am NOT accountable to you. You’ll just have to lump this.

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  91. Campbell,

    I also tried to explain how modern political accountability works (at least in theory). It not be perfect but it’s better than nothing.

    >And making members of an allotted chamber which is descriptively representative of the demos “accountable” to some other entity would also be pure stupidity.

    We all agree with Aristophanes that juries are in possession of the harlot’s prerogative (power without accountability) and that the demos (an abstraction) cannot be accountable to itself. That’s why there never has been nor ever could be a “pure” democracy.

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  92. >” That’s why there never has been nor ever could be a “pure” democracy.
    That does not follow, but even if it is true, there can be something very much closer to it than what we call democracy today.

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  93. Not if there’s an absence of political accountability.

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  94. Dogma.

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  95. The issue of accountability is a concern if there is a division between the interests of the population and some agent they have delegated to act in their behalf. The assertion of Kleroterians generally is that a genuinely representative mini-public with proper procedures and rules will inherently act as the population as a whole would act IF as well informed as the mini-public. Thus the accountability has to be to the whole population in the state of being as well informed as the members of the mini-public on the issue… which can never happen. The group that would in theory do the holding to account is a theoretical group that can never come into existence. For the mini-public to be held to account by the general population in the state of relative ignorance is nonsensical because the charge given to the agent (the mini-public) is to do as we would do if we could all take the time to fully investigate the issue at hand.

    Accountability CAN be relevant in the specific case where the mini-public has overtly failed to inform themselves, taken bribes, or otherwise NOT done their duty. But this is not POLITICAL accountability as it is normally understood. Thus it is only the faithful execution of their work that can be evaluated, not the PRODUCT (policy) they have adopted. The mini-public may make make a decision that turns out to be bad… just as the population as a whole could have if somehow all members of society were engaged. One of the beauties of sortition is that the decision-making body can be continually renewed (with new citizens), so that power will not rest in the same set of hands for decades… This allows for correction of previous bad decisions, whereas elected officials tend to avoid ever admitting error, and stick with bad policies for much longer.

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  96. Terry,

    >For the mini-public to be held to account by the general population in the state of relative ignorance is nonsensical. . . it is only the faithful execution of their work that can be evaluated, not the PRODUCT (policy) they have adopted. . . this is not POLITICAL accountability as it is normally understood.

    Absolutely. Is anyone proposing this? (certainly not Campbell or myself). Jurors voting in secret are not accountable for their actions, especially if (ex hypothesi) a different sample of the same population would return the same verdict. Unfortunately Campbell appears to conflate this sovereign function with governance in general, allowing only a minimal role for appointed civil servants, no role at all for elected officials and, although I might be wrong, I don’t believe he is arguing for government ministers to be selected by lot. My reference to the “sleeping sovereign” was to point out that the unaccountable decision function of the sovereign assembly is only a small part of day-to-day governance in modern states.

    >The assertion of Kleroterians generally is that a genuinely representative mini-public with proper procedures and rules will inherently act as the population as a whole would act IF as well informed as the mini-public.

    This is the lazy, and somewhat dogmatic, assumption that Peter Stone deconstructs in his introduction to the 2008 edition of A Citizen Legislature, so it certainly is not true of Kleroterians “generally”. Whilst it’s true for aggregate functions such as voting (assuming certain demanding constraints), it’s clearly not true for proposing and policy advocacy, as individual speech acts in relatively small groups are not subject to the law of large numbers. Even in small direct democracies like classical Athens, these functions were taken on by individual statesmen, who were personally held to account if they provided the demos with poor advice. Joint and several accountability is an essential part of responsible and responsive governance, so the very notion of a pure democracy is incoherent. That’s why both Hansen and Manin describe modern “democracies” as a mixed form of governance, including democratic, aristocratic and monarchical elements (only the last two being open to accountability mechanisms).

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  97. Likewise, nobody (least of all Campbell) is suggesting that individual public officials (civil servants, bureaucrats, chief executives, department secretaries/ministers) should not be held accountable. They would be accounytable nominally to the population as a whole as represented by a mini-public. The only body to hold them accountable is a mini-public (perhaps the legislative chamber in Campbell’s model, or separate special purpose allotted bodies in my design). Perhaps a special purpose mini-public could also hold the legislative mini-public as a whole to account ON PROCEDURAL GROUNDS (though not on policy decisions) – did they follow the proper procedures to assure a well-informed decision? (like judicial review.)

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  98. Campbell, Terry,

    There is really no problem to add an allotted monitoring/comptroller body to which a decision making body (elected, appointed or allotted) is accountable. In fact this seems like a very useful arrangement.

    What the authority of the monitoring body should be is an interesting question. At the very least it should have the power to investigate and summon witnesses, and it should be expected to produce official periodic reports and to file criminal complaints when necessary. But it could have additional powers, including the power to dissolve the decision making body and have a new one constituted.

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  99. Well, this is how Campbell puts it in this post:

    “If they are civil servants and commit a breach of the regulations governing them, they risk dismissal. . . A limited degree of administrative power rests with the civil service.”

    In the absence of elected chief executives and ministers it might be anticipated that civil servants would exercise considerable power.

    and

    “There is an unwritten principle that the Assembly concerns itself only with the general, not with the particular. All this is pretty standard, of course.”

    Yes, it’s straight from Rousseau, but the devil is in the detail and “particular” power should not be dismissed so lightly. That’s why Rousseau argued that the executives should either be selected by lot (democratic), by election (aristocratic) or appointment (monarchical). Whatever the selection and dismissal mechanism, the delegated government needs to be held to account and that’s why I questioned Campbell’s “I’ve spelled out in DWE (pp 90 – 92) why accountability is neither necessary nor desirable with sortition.”

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  100. Yoram,

    >What the authority of the monitoring body should be is an interesting question. . . . it could have additional powers, including the power to dissolve the decision making body and have a new one constituted.

    So when one allotted sample overrules another, which is the representative one?

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  101. Yoram,

    Perhaps a suitable name for the monitoring body would be the Committee for Public Safety.

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  102. >”Unfortunately Campbell appears to conflate this sovereign function with governance in general, allowing only a minimal role for appointed civil servants, no role at all for elected officials and, although I might be wrong, I don’t believe he is arguing for government ministers to be selected by lot. My reference to the “sleeping sovereign” was to point out that the unaccountable decision function of the sovereign assembly is only a small part of day-to-day governance in modern states.”

    “appears to conflate this sovereign function with governance in general” No, I do not.
    “Minimum role for appointed civil servants?” No, I agree that their role is very important, but, in principle at least, should be confined to administering the legislation, which, in principle again, should be clear and not in need of interpretation by civil servants.

    “no role at all for elected officials.” Correct.

    “I don’t believe he is arguing for government ministers to be selected by lot.” Correct again. In my model Civil Service departments would be headed by a permanent civil servant, overseen by an oversight committee chosen by lot (with retirements and replacements staggered to preserve continuity), which fulfils the role of a Minister, or rather, what (s)he is supposed to do.

    “the unaccountable decision function of the sovereign assembly is only a small part of day-to-day governance”
    Yes, in a perfect world, the laws (at least after a time) would be pretty much settled, like the “Law of the Medes and Persians which altereth not”, and would only need, at most, minor adjustments as circumstances change. The civil service, running like clockwork, would then do almost all the work of government, and the demos – the rest of us – would sleep the sleep of the just.

    >” nobody (least of all Campbell) is suggesting that individual public officials (civil servants, bureaucrats, chief executives, department secretaries/ministers) should not be held accountable.
    Right. They would be accountable to the Assembly, in my model, as you say.

    >”Perhaps a special purpose mini-public could also hold the legislative mini-public as a whole to account ON PROCEDURAL GROUNDS (though not on policy decisions…”
    >”There is really no problem to add an allotted monitoring/comptroller body to which a decision making body (elected, appointed or allotted) is accountable. In fact this seems like a very useful arrangement.”
    This is an interesting idea, but I can’t see it working, I’m afraid. Is there any need for it with an Assembly/mini-public which is constantly being renewed? Especially if the Speaker/President of the Assembly, who is responsible for procedure, is rotated daily?

    >”In the absence of elected chief executives and ministers it might be anticipated that civil servants would exercise considerable power.”
    In our present elected governments, where (sometimes) in the course of Cabinet re-shuffles, Ministers hold a particular department for a matter of a few days only, it is hard to say that there is any control of top civil servants at all. “Yes Minister” is fiction, but it does point up the conflict between the electoral ambitions of Ministers and coherent policy choices. In my model, there is a permanent body overseeing them, whose members owe no-one a favour, who cannot seek re-election or prolong their tenure of office, who (if for no other reason than their number) should be harder to corrupt than a single politician, and who can be held to account by the Assembly.

    >” “particular” power should not be dismissed so lightly.”
    I don’t dismiss it lightly. In fact the “delegated government” – the civil service or administration – is very much subject to accountability.

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  103. Campbell,

    >In my model Civil Service departments would be headed by a permanent civil servant, overseen by an oversight committee chosen by lot (with retirements and replacements staggered to preserve continuity), which fulfils the role of a Minister.

    To paraphrase Sir Humphrey, “that’s an interesting idea, Minister” (trs: it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of working), not that he would mind as it effectively delivers him carte blanche to run his department as best he sees fit.

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  104. In addition to the issue of accountability this discussion invites my analysis about the inherent failings of all-purpose legislatures (the standard in all modern “electoral-democracies.”) There is no reason to transplant that flawed design into a sortition democracy. Special purpose mini-publics are vitally important. Campbell asks ” Is there any need for it with an Assembly/mini-public which is constantly being renewed?” My answer is YES.

    Take a look at existing all-purpose legislatures (for this part of my argument it makes no difference whether they are elected or selected by lot). Simply due to the vast number of issues covered, they inevitably divvy up tasks and policy areas among the members (such as with committees, or party leaders) so that a tiny fraction of them take essentially FULL CHARGE of particular policy matters. The full body nominally makes the final decision in floor votes, but almost none of the members who did not serve on the relevant committee even read the bill before voting. (I served a decade as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives, and know what I am talking about). They follow the lead of their party members who worked on the bill in the committee of reference. This MAY work (though I argue it doesn’t) in an electoral scheme with party platforms, etc., but is completely unworkable in an allotted legislature. Either all members must work more than 24 hours per day to learn about all the topics or they will also delegate to sub-sets that are statistically unlikely to be representative of the population simply due to there smaller numbers. Thus simple math dictates that there must be a large number of limited topic mini-publics to achieve accurate representation with members who have time to become adequately informed.

    All-purpose legislatures also allow for the concentration of power (and thus opportunities for corruption) within each individual sub-committee (even if the individuals serve for a short duration). Large numbers both enhance representativeness and also protect against certain kinds of corruption.

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  105. > “it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of working […] it effectively delivers him carte blanche to run his department as best he sees fit.”
    A statement made without a scrap of justification. You’ll have to give reasons if you want to persuade me.
    * * * *
    Terry’s objection has a lot more substance to it. The “simple math” problem of many issues and only 24 hours/day is undeniable.
    A small part of the answer might be the use of more levels of government. Most people seem to have a horror of this, but here in France we have six levels of government (commune, commune des communes, département, région, France, Europe). I don’t say it is ideal, but the sky hasn’t fallen in.
    ” they inevitably divvy up tasks and policy areas among the members (such as with committees, or party leaders) so that a tiny fraction of them take essentially FULL CHARGE of particular policy matters.”
    I assume that you are talking here of committees formed from amongst the members of the House. So any member’s time is split between (1) Election-oriented activity, (2) Committee activity for the committees of which (s)he is a member, (3) Local constituency activity, and (4) General legislative activity. Obviously (4) is going to be a small part of the member’s time divided between a large number of issues.

    In my model, (1), (2), and (3) disappear, which obviously leaves a lot more time for (4). It probably still will not be enough for every member to examine every issue in depth, except in a very small state. However, if the policy committees and the member’s own staff do their work properly, members will have a good handle on all important matters without spending anything like the time which they would need if they were members of the committee and obliged to start from scratch hearing evidence, checking facts, etc. Certainly this relies on the policy committees performing reasonably well. In a random assembly of 500 there will always be members who have enough background knowledge of a particular subject to flag a committee which does not perform. If not, since all committee recommendations (and the reams of submissions to them) will be available to the public, affected members of the public and/or Keith’s anoraks will no doubt bang on saucepans to alert the Assembly.

    “Large numbers both enhance representativeness and also protect against certain kinds of corruption.”
    Well, yes, but is every issue sufficiently important or controversial to warrant the full 500-member (or whatever) treatment? In DWE I have suggested much smaller committees and subcommittees, but committee numbers should be decided by the Assembly at the time they are set up. I wouldn’t protest against larger bodies for important domestic issues, and very much larger bodies – or a number of bodies with the same brief – to study treaties such as TTIP or TTP or Bre-entry, when it comes.

    What worries me about your MBS model is the void at the centre.

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  106. While freeing legislators from campaign and constituency work would increase available hours, this would not come NEAR the increase needed to cover ALL issues at adequate levels of understanding. Having an increase in the layers of government is merely one way of achieving multi-body sortition in effect… but an inefficient means… especially if they are all still tackling ALL issues that are relevant to their scale. One goal of multi-body sortition is specifically to allow the citizens to focus enough to become WELL informed, which is inherently contrary to the nature of an all-purpose legislature.

    Actually, I share your concern about “the void at the centre” of my design. The trickiest part seems to be the coordination among issues with implications that cut across multiple policy areas. I see three likely approaches, that should probably be jointly employed… 1. the Agenda Council would have the overview perspective and could help assure coordination, 2. a special integration/coordination allotted body might exist (so the Agenda Council can focus exclusively on agenda setting), and 3. the ongoing professional staff and executive branch (selected and managed by allotted bodies) would help policy specific mini-publics coordinate.

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  107. Terry:
    Using more levels of government is subject to diminishing returns, I would think. A common objection is that it increases bureaucracy; not necessarily true, IMO. Government must be split into manageable pieces, which means that some people or businesses will have to deal with more than one government agency. Whether you split it vertically or horizontally probably doesn’t make much difference, the public will grumble either way.

    >”Actually, I share your concern about “the void at the centre” of my design.”
    Three things come to my mind:
    1 relations with other states,
    2 conflicts between decisions made by different mini-publics,
    3 the budget and priorities. If there are hundreds of worthwhile but expensive proposals approved, there may not be enough money to go round. I imagine that one of your mini-publics will be dedicated to the budget, but how will it know what to allot for projects that may or may not be approved?
    You may have answers for all this. It’s a while since I read your paper.

    For my part, I take your comments about the workload seriously. What happens in my model if the workload is too heavy? What is the failure mode?
    I imagine that, first, legislation will become slower. In order to deal with that, I imagine that unimportant items (in the view of the Assembly) will have shorter and shorter periods of debate allotted to them. I would expect verbose or highly technical reports from committees to be sent back with the instruction to be more concise, to “get to the point”. Members might, on their own initiative, speak more concisely (which need not automatically introduce bias in favour of the ever-loving eloquent/assertive members if the Speaker (President of the Assembly) knows what she is about).

    In the limit I envisage the Assembly saying to a committee (in effect): “Look, you guys have spent months looking into this. It’s too hard for us. What is the best decision?” In other words, “You decide for us, and we’ll approve your decision”. Now if the issue is important or controversial and the committee is small and not representative, this is obviously problematic, but then the Assembly would be far more likely to say this in the case of uncontroversial or unimportant issues, and there are surely many of these. Suppose, though, that the workload is such that quite important and controversial issues demand too much of the Assembly’s time to be dealt with properly. What then?

    A possible solution in such a case would be for the Assembly to make the committee big enough to be representative (damn the expense!). Then if it said “You decide and we’ll approve” we would have taken a step towards your model, (something I envisaged in DWE). I think I could live with this. What do you think?

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  108. Terry,

    >Thus simple math dictates that there must be a large number of limited topic mini-publics to achieve accurate representation with members who have time to become adequately informed.

    That’s an interesting idea, but I share Campbell’s concerns regarding the likely problems integrating (and ensuring the affordability of) the decisions of each minipublic. I imagine that every member would quickly go native in the sense of prioritising the issues of “their” panel. And what do you do when the priorities of one panel are diametrically opposed to the priorities of another? An obvious example would be the tension between the priorities of the panel responsible for energy supply with the panel for the environment and climate change.

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  109. Terry, Campbell,

    I don’t see any reason not to leave the issue of creating issue-specific or area-specific bodies in the hands of the allotted parliament. That body would be in the best position to decide whether to create such bodies, when to create them, what authority they would have, how to integrate their recommendations or decisions, etc.

    In general, trying to design a constitutional system in detail a-priori is both usurpative and sub-optimal. Detailed constitutional design should be done by a representative (i.e., allotted) body rather than by self-appointed constitution-makers. It should also be an ongoing process rather than a one time act.

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  110. Yoram
    Yes, I agree with both paragraphs.

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  111. Yes, I agree that a good system should be constantly revised and self-correcting by allotted bodies evaluating past performance… with the proviso that this evaluation needs to be by a separate allotted group that has no reason to be defensive (not relying on self-criticism). What Campbell, I, and many others are doing — proposing a model to get the ball rolling — is essential as well. An allotted representative system is unlikely to spontaneously self-organize. A key, however, as Yoram notes is that the design have a built-in dynamic of democratic self correction and improvement, rather than be thought of as handed down by Solon in perfect final form.

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  112. Terry,

    >What Campbell, I, and many others are doing — proposing a model to get the ball rolling — is essential as well. An allotted representative system is unlikely to spontaneously self-organize.

    Yes, there will always be a need for a revolutionary vanguard to lead the People to the Promised Land. Unfortunately history tells us that the vanguard is not to be trusted when the time comes to abdicate. What if the self-correcting allotted body decides it would rather just have a strong leader? And (more importantly) what if the disenfranchised masses decide they are no longer prepared to submit to the arbitrary, contradictory and unrepresentative speech acts of a tiny kleristocratic elite? All revolutionary movements require constant monitoring and correction by the party faithful against reactionary and counter-revolutionary tendencies.

    Terry, I wonder if you might also respond to Campbell and my concerns regarding the integration problem for subject-specific allotted councils: https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/a-graphical-illustration-of-representation/#comment-19078

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  113. >”a revolutionary vanguard to lead the People to the Promised Land.”
    >”All revolutionary movements require constant monitoring and correction by the party faithful against reactionary and counter-revolutionary tendencies.”
    This is just delirium, Keith.

    >”Unfortunately history tells us that the vanguard is not to be trusted when the time comes to abdicate”
    I’m not sure what we are supposed to abdicate from, but I’m quite sure that I shall be dead before there’s any question of my reaching a position of power (let alone “time to abdicate”). Which suits me fine.

    Perhaps while you’re waiting for Terry to reply, you might reply to questions that you have been asked:
    (With reference to a “balanced presentation by acknowledged experts”
    Who decides what is “balanced”?
    How do you choose the experts?
    (With reference to the “opposing advocates” model)
    Who chooses the advocates?
    Your long rambling reply above in which you quote Dahl carefully avoids the issues.

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  114. Recognizing that the details of how a multi-body (topic-specific) sortition democracy would integrate policies adopted by different mini-publics that could be in conflict would certainly evolve, here is my initial notion. If the executive (selected and overseen by mini-publics) reports that certain approved laws are in conflict, a new mini-public is empanelled to pick one or the other, or develop a blend. In the case of budgeting (an infinite number of worthy public projects could meet with approval by mini-publics, but cost more money than is available), I suggest that a mini-public would annually set a tax plan and budget maximum for general purposes. If a mini-public wanted to add some new program (that would exceed the current budget) they would need to also propose a revenue stream as part of that same bill. The separate Policy Jury would then have to vote the entire package up or down. So revenues would always be roughly in line with approved expenditures (realizing both are prospective and thus may be imperfectly estimated)

    So in short, coordination, integration and resolution of conflicting policies are dealt with be separate juries.

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  115. Terry,

    > An allotted representative system is unlikely to spontaneously self-organize.

    For a system to be representative it must be self-organized in the sense we described above – that it is self determining. That is, it must have the capability of restructuring its institutions and its procedures. Yes – there must be some starting point, but that starting point should be a simple constitutional procedure involving a permanent allotted body, rather than a detailed plan of a government system. “Getting the ball rolling” by offering detailed plans is at best a distraction, and could well be counter-productive.

    Campbell,

    > [Sutherland] might reply to questions that [he] ha[s] been asked

    You are such an incorrigible optimist.

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  116. Terry,

    Your coordination, integration and budgeting juries would have vastly more powers than the topic-specific juries as they would be usurping the existing power of the prime minister in parliamentary regimes. Why exactly would one sample of the same population be expected to accept the veto of another? In the case of parliamentary democracy the prime minister has been elected by her party and her party has received the plurality of votes in the preceding general election, but members of your three all-powerful juries can claim no such mandate. It is also the case that the elected politicians are at least nominally accountable for their decisions but no such claim can be made in the case of juries.

    >If the executive (selected and overseen by mini-publics) reports that certain approved laws are in conflict . . .

    It’s interesting to note that most kleroterians opt for the monarchical appointment system for executives but I question Campbell’s assumption (which is also implicit in the above) that the power of these executives would be nominal, especially as the committees monitoring their performance would not have any prior knowledge of governance. I think you also underestimate the degree to which bills proposed by subject-specific panels will conflict with each other as if this were the exception rather than the rule. I think it’s also plausible that most bills would require additional funding, so the budget minipublic will find itself in permanent session.

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  117. Yoram,

    >that starting point should be a simple constitutional procedure involving a permanent allotted body

    Why do you assume that an allotted body, which has (presumably) undergone no schooling in aleatory thought,** would decide that democracy by lot is the best form of constitution? What if the allotted body decided to abolish itself and opt for competitive elections or even the appointment of a strong leader? And what if several parallel bodies came up with different solutions?

    **Or would you require a political re-eduction in order to undo the false consciousness resulting from centuries of indoctrination? If so then clearly there is a role for a kleristocratic vanguard party.

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  118. Campbell,

    >(With reference to a “balanced presentation by acknowledged experts”
    Who decides what is “balanced”?
    How do you choose the experts?
    (With reference to the “opposing advocates” model)
    Who chooses the advocates?

    The problem of balanced advocacy (representative isegoria) is a difficult one (the longest chapter in my PhD) and I don’t want to hijack your post with an absurdly detailed comment which no-one will read. In short there are three possibilities:

    1) Naomi has tried to persuade me that this can be resolved by purely political means — i.e. those proposing the bill (who have secured the right through election and votation) choose their own advocates and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition selects those for the other side. I’m currently unpersuaded of the epistemic merit of this approach.

    2) Ditto for the proposing advocates with the opposition coming from government ministers who can be relied to resist any change to the status quo.

    3) Ditto for the proposing advocates with the opposition coming from a dedicated House of Advocates, who would be obliged to take up the brief in the same way that QCs are expected to take whatever case is offered to them. I’ve already detailed the composition of the House of Advocates several times on this blog and have no wish to further hijack your post.

    In practice it might well involve a combination of all three (as well as the input from a diverse and competitive media). The operating procedures of the Deliberative Polls should also be studied as they have over twenty years experience in providing expert balanced advocacy. I acknowledge that the simply binary model (proponents/opponents) fails to do justice to the rich variety of possible options but it’s hard to see any alternative way of ensuring balanced information advocacy to the use of dialectic. This is the standard policy of public service broadcasters.

    CW>> [Sutherland] might reply to questions that [he] ha[s] been asked
    YG> You are such an incorrigible optimist.

    I would invite anyone who thinks I am evading this issue to email keith@imprint.co.uk and I will gladly send them the isegoria chapter from my thesis.

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  119. Yoram,

    One of Graham Smith’s comments is pertinent to your implicit assumption that an allotted group would opt for democracy by lot:

    “In both [randomly selected] Assemblies we were surprised that citizens preferred an elected assembly . . . It is assumed that citizens do not support elected assemblies (harking back to the rejection of a North East Assembly in the early days of New Labour), but our experience indicates the opposite.”

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  120. >”Your coordination, integration and budgeting juries would have vastly more powers than the topic-specific juries as they would be usurping the existing power of the prime minister in parliamentary regimes.
    “usurping” is tendentious nonsense. In Terry’s model their powers would be legitimate. The legitimacy of the power of the prime minister in parliamentary regimes is open to question.

    >”members of your three all-powerful juries”
    If I understand Terry, these juries would certainly not be “all-powerful”. You could say that of my Assembly with more justification.

    >”elected politicians are at least nominally accountable”
    Accountability is a sham. It seems to be a notion invented to give a spurious justification to a system that is seriously lacking in legitimacy.

    >”most kleroterians opt for the monarchical appointment system for executives”
    “Monarchical”! More tendentious nonsense. How fond you are of throwing in a pejorative, calculated to annoy, instead of making a logical argument!
    In fact, my preference is for the Assembly to decide how these executives should be chosen. I SUGGEST that they be chosen, as they are in many current regimes, on their merits by a committee of civil servants in their department, and if they are candidates for the head of the department, by other senior civil servants, not necessarily in the same department. There is nothing novel in this, and yes, this is probably what happens in your quaint and monarchical island. I’ll let you into another secret: I prefer (slightly) the monarchical system of driving on the left of the road to the republican system of driving on the right. Does this make me a monarchist?

    >”Campbell’s assumption (which is also implicit in the above) that the power of these executives would be nominal, especially as the committees monitoring their performance would not have any prior knowledge of governance”
    In my model at least, these committees would be permanent, and their senior members would have three or four years of monitoring in their own right, plus what they have learned from those who went before. If you prefer to think that a minister just elected or shuffled into the job a few days before has more experience, I can only shake my head in wonder at your naivety.
    What’s more, I did not say and do not believe that their power would be purely nominal, and I said so in a post above.

    >”so the budget minipublic will find itself in permanent session.”
    Well, why not?

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  121. >”The problem of balanced advocacy (representative isegoria) is a difficult one (the longest chapter in my PhD)”
    My guess is that it is insoluble, but I’ll wait to see your thesis chapter.

    >”This is the standard policy of public service broadcasters.”
    Have a look at this for a criticism of this approach:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-14/aly-calls-for-media-to-stop-pursuing-short-term-victories/7931884

    >”One of Graham Smith’s comments is pertinent to your implicit assumption that an allotted group would opt for democracy by lot:
    “In both Assemblies we were surprised that citizens preferred an elected assembly: they were concerned about the accountability of the structures being imposed by government”
    Why on earth was Smith surprised? I find this totally unsurprising. After two hundred and how many years of being told that elections are essential to democracy, most people (who after all have other things to do than think about political philosophy) tend to believe what has been drummed into them.

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  122. Campbell,

    The word “monarchical” was certainly not intended to be pejorative (it’s also my preferred method for selecting government executives). The primary reference is to Book Three of Rousseau’s Social Contract where he discusses three different appointment methods: 1) democratic (by lot), 2) aristocratic (by election) and 3) monarchic (by appointment). Unfortunately my “quaint and monarchical island” selects ministers (indirectly) by election, whereas “republican” USA uses the monarchical spoils system, but the threefold categorization is still of analytic value. The real challenge with method (3) is how to make an appointments system accountable to the demos — this is likely to present a challenge for a constitution that relies on sortition alone. The monarchical estate will be very powerful and it’s better to recognise (and seek to contain) this power, rather than just insisting it is little more than a minor form of delegated administrative authority.

    >In my model at least, these committees would be permanent, and their senior members would have three or four years of monitoring in their own right.

    That’s one possibility but it runs the serious danger of a) the members going native and failing to be descriptively representative and b) being wide open to corruption by lobbyists seeking either to protect or undermine government ministers in the pursuit of their own sinister interests.

    KS>> ”so the budget minipublic will find itself in permanent session.”
    CW> Well, why not?

    That would certainly make some animals a lot more equal than others (and would make the budget committee a very attractive target for lobbyists).

    >After two hundred and how many years of being told that elections are essential to democracy, most people (who after all have other things to do than think about political philosophy) tend to believe what has been drummed into them.

    So reversing this indoctrination will involve some serious political reeducation, so the enlightened vanguard is going to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future. I think also that the history of election is slightly longer than a couple of centuries. It was a key part of Athenian democracy (for important magistracies) and it was on the increase at the time the second demokratia was snuffed out. It was also extremely important in Rome, so election has a much longer history than democracy by lot, which lasted less than two centuries. Graham Smith is well versed in the modern sortition literature and other forms of democratic innovation so we should take his surprise seriously. His book on the latter subject should be required reading for all kleroterians along with his survey chapter in the recent ECPR collection on deliberative minipublics.

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  123. > “Unfortunately my “quaint and monarchical island” selects ministers (indirectly) by election”
    And then by appointment by the PM or by some form of horse-trading amongst the party heavies. Your use of the word “minister” is as much a source of confusion as the word “monarchical”. In my model there are NO ministers in this sense. The selection process described by me above refers to civil servants, ie more or less permanent employees. Calling these people ministers may be true in the Latin sense of “servant”, ie of the community, but it muddies the waters.

    > “The threefold categorisation is still of value”
    I don’t agree. There is nothing in common between an appointment made by the method above and one made “par le bon plaisir du roy”.

    > “ the serious danger of a) the members going native and failing to be descriptively representative”
    The members will not be descriptively representative, the committees are too small for that. Descriptive representativity is not necessary here. Honesty, competence and conscientiousness are. The committees only need to big enough to ensure that there are several members with these qualities.

    “and b) being wide open to corruption by lobbyists seeking either to protect or undermine government ministers in the pursuit of their own sinister interests.”
    Out comes the bogeyman of corruption! At the risk of annoying other readers of this blog, I quote from DWE (you claim to have read it, but you seem to ignore it):
    “With an elective government, civil servants are under the control of elected politicians. This opens the way to corruption by politicians using their power to improperly enrich themselves or their family or friends; or to unfairly favour political supporters under the temptation of bribes, or under the threat of violence or blackmail.
    Under a government formed by sortition on the model suggested here, Departments or Ministries and their staffs are not subject to a politician, but instead are answerable to the oversight committee. Although this committee is subject to the Assembly as a whole, no individual Assembly member has any authority over it, or over the Department and its staff. The need for a politician to be re-elected disappears, and with it goes campaign funding provided with the intention of getting something in exchange. Unlike elected politicians, members chosen by lot will not need to repay political support. So both the means of corruption, and the temptation or need to be corrupt disappear. Similarly, the opportunity for civil servants to manipulate ministers vanishes. Likewise the need to hide the failings of the administration disappears, and with it the need to manipulate statistics, to trumpet good results, and to avoid scandal by not releasing the bad ones, or by releasing them when the public is distracted by holidays or major sporting events.

    It might be suggested that an oversight committee could abuse its powers in the same way as elected politicians. However, this loses sight of the fact that it will not have the same motivation to repay a political debt, that all its members would have to act in concert, and that it will not be easy to get agreement for a risky proceeding between people of different backgrounds, amongst whom there will always be some who are recently chosen, and so unknown to the others. Unlike a political party which may attempt to save one of its own in order to avoid scandal, neither their fellow-members nor the Assembly would have any reason to tolerate even a suspicion about the probity of an oversight committee member. Civil servants and whistleblowers would have not have to fear corrupt or unfair treatment from members of the Assembly or the oversight committee with no individual power to punish them and who are subject to automatic retirement in a short time.”

    For the inappropriate use of the word “minister”, see above.
    The budget minipublic is Terry’s idea, so I leave it for him to defend it, but I disagree with your comment.

    > “ the history of election is slightly longer than a couple of centuries.”
    Of course it is, and I did NOT say that it wasn’t. The history of confusing elections and democracy is much more recent.

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  124. Campbell,

    >In my model there are NO ministers in this sense. The selection process described by me above refers to civil servants.

    “That’s an interesting idea”, as Sir Humphrey would put it, as it would vastly increase his power, without any corresponding increase in accountability (for anything other than gross incompetence or venality). One of the advantages of ministers to tyrants was that there was always a plentiful supply of scapegoats. The idea that there is no need for political accountability is a real innovation — I suggest you compose an additional verse for John Lennon’s Imagine.

    >Honesty, competence and conscientiousness are. The committees only need to big enough to ensure that there are several members with these qualities.

    Why should these qualities predominate if they are possessed by a minority of committee members, who are unlikely to have prior experience of dealing with powerful lobby groups or the forensic skills necessary to unearth covert malfeasance. And would you not accept that a minority of elected politicians also share these benign qualities or are they all scoundrels?

    >the bogeyman of corruption

    In your proposal I understand that permanent civil servants are subject to the oversight of a small randomly-selected committee, who might be referred to as a collective ministry. Although they would not be beholden to lobbyists for their appointment, why do you think they would not be subject to corrupt influences once they are in office? And lobbyists have many subtle ways of buying influence other than via pecuniary bribes, including flattery, entertainment and “education”. Does the collective ministry require unanimity? If so then lobbyists would only need to target one or two members in order to kibosh the implementation of the general will. I appreciate that the oversight committee would not be in charge of formulating policy — this would be the role of the general assembly — but given that the latter would be rather busy, a lot of the legislative detail would be delegated to civil servants and there would be a lot of devilry lurking in the detail. Your oversight committee would be in effect both a collective ministry and a parliamentary standing committee, a tall order for a small group of randomly-selected amateurs.

    >The history of confusing elections and democracy is much more recent.

    Election has always played a significant role in actual democracies as there has never been a single historical example of a pure form of governance outside of utopian blueprints (like your own).

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  125. >”it would vastly increase his power, without any corresponding increase in accountability (for anything other than gross incompetence or venality)”
    There is this much truth in your statement, that department heads would not be held accountable by Ministers for causing them political embarrassment (for instance by telling the truth). However, it is complete nonsense to pretend that department heads could do as they pleased, when there is an oversight committee which has nothing else to do but to keep an eye on them and report to the Assembly any dereliction of duty.

    >”Why should these qualities predominate?”
    They don’t have to. The mere fact that there are people on the committee who might spill the beans will inhibit dishonest behaviour. Burglars prefer not to be observed.

    >”who are unlikely to have prior experience of dealing with powerful lobby groups”
    Those lobby groups again! This is more bogeyman stuff, Keith.
    Lobby groups go to work on politicians because individual politicians have a good deal of power to initiate and influence legislation. Oversight committee members will have no more power than any other private citizen. Elected politicians have far too much “experience of dealing with powerful lobby groups” for my liking.

    >” the forensic skills necessary to unearth covert malfeasance”
    Another good thing to toss in, without bothering to say what they are or why they are needed! It costs you nothing, and hints that I have made a grave omission. Do elected pollies have such skills? Would they use them if they did?

    >”are they all scoundrels?”
    Of course not. However, the system makes unscrupulous behaviour possible and rewarding.

    >”why do you think they would not be subject to corrupt influences once they are in office?
    To get a Minister to act corruptly, it might be sufficient to have a couple of beers with him in private, and sound him out without committing yourself, ie with very little danger: you could always deny having made an offer, for instance.
    To get a department to act corruptly, you would have to simultaneously suborn all the members of the oversight committee, the department head, and probably, a number of his/her subordinates. These people will all have different backgrounds and/or interests, (it might help the job prospects of subordinates to see the boss dismissed) and hence no reason to collude with one another, or with you. The numbers would make it far more difficult and dangerous. In addition, the power of senior civil servants is much less than that of Ministers. Remember that Sir Humphrey always worked through the Minister – it was his ability to manipulate the minister that gave him power. And lobby groups, in my system, would get far more bang for the buck legally through the media, than through bribes, flattery, “education” and the rest.

    >”Does the collective ministry require unanimity? ”
    No. And again your choice of words muddies the water: Ministers have a role in deciding policy. Oversight committees do not.

    >” a lot of the legislative detail would be delegated to civil servants”
    Ideally, none at all. I have enough experience in the civil service to realise that a degree of judgement and interpretation is always needed in administering laws, but there would be less of this in my system, where incoherences in law can be corrected relatively easily.

    >”Election has always played a significant role”
    The mantra “free elections mean democracy” and vice versa is relatively recent, I understand.

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  126. Campbell,

    >The mere fact that there are people on the committee who might spill the beans will inhibit dishonest behaviour. Burglars prefer not to be observed.

    Your focus throughout has been on legal accountability; my concern is political accountability — entirely absent from your proposal. Senior civil servants, who know how governance works, would easily be able to run rings round a small committee of randomly-selected amateurs with no experience of governance.

    >Lobby groups go to work on politicians because individual politicians have a good deal of power to initiate and influence legislation. Oversight committee members will have no more power than any other private citizen.

    Not so, as you underestimate the degree of detail that will be at the sole discretion of civil servants. This will particularly be the case when the sovereign body has no professional experience of governance and may well come up with entirely unworkable legislation.

    >To get a department to act corruptly, you would have to simultaneously suborn all the members of the oversight committee. . . Ministers have a role in deciding policy. Oversight committees do not.

    Laws are actually decided by parliament. But general legislation leaves a lot of freedom for ministries to determine the details. As under your proposal civil servants only have minor administrative power lobbyists would only need to target a few members of your collective ministry.

    >Remember that Sir Humphrey always worked through the Minister – it was his ability to manipulate the minister that gave him power.

    And that will be his strategy with the new collective ministry.

    KS>>” a lot of the legislative detail would be delegated to civil servants”
    CW>Ideally, none at all.

    Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world — parliament will be very busy and there are no political ministers, so the buck would stop with the civil service.

    Perhaps we should drop this subject now, as it’s very time consuming and nobody else seems remotely interested!

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  127. >”Your focus throughout has been on legal accountability”
    Legal and functional accountability of civil servants.

    >”my concern is political accountability — entirely absent from your proposal.”
    If by political accountability you mean that the Assembly (=demos) ought to be held accountable to the demos (=itself), then, like Terry, I reject this as absurd.

    >”a small committee of randomly-selected amateurs with no experience of governance.”
    Senior members will have four years of experience, and the example of their predecessors. More than many Ministers.

    >”This will particularly be the case when the sovereign body… may well come up with entirely unworkable legislation”
    As happens now. (eg drug laws in the whole world, but particularly Teresa May’s efforts to ban all psychoactive substances except those she and her friends approve of. Ridiculed in a recent New Scientist editorial, protested against by a large number of scientists). Moreover, I have personal experience of trying to administer contradictory regulations. Some situations were quite Gilbertian.

    An allotted assembly may well make blunders, but at least could correct them swiftly and would have no need to stick to them to save face.

    >”Laws are actually decided by parliament.”
    In my naivety, I thought ministers were generally members of parliament, and that they often have a large say in getting things onto the agenda.

    >” lobbyists would only need to target a few members of your collective ministry.”
    And would get nowhere by so doing. Why do you stick to “collective ministry” when I have pointed out that the term is a misnomer?

    >”And that will be his strategy with the new collective ministry.”
    He won’t have the handle on the OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE that the need to be elected gave him over Jim Hacker.

    >”Perhaps we should drop this subject now, as it’s very time consuming and nobody else seems remotely interested!”
    Fine. All you have to do is stop.

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  128. >If by political accountability you mean that the Assembly (=demos) ought to be held accountable to the demos (=itself), then, like Terry, I reject this as absurd.

    I will stop now, once I’ve made clear again (for the nth time) that only named persons can be accountable for their actions. The distinction between political and legal accountability is that in the former case persons (either singularly or in combination) are accountable to electors, whereas in the latter they are accountable to the police.

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  129. >” only named persons can be accountable for their actions.”
    Well, we agree on something.

    >”… are accountable to electors.”
    And I have argued all along that to ask for accountability in this sense in my model is absurd. It’s like finding fault with horses because they don’t have wings.

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  130. Campbell,

    I agree that accountability to voters is impossible in a system that has abolished elections. As we’re now reduced to tautologies, best if we let this conversation RIP.

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  131. Campbell,

    >>”… are accountable to electors.”
    > And I have argued all along that to ask for accountability in this sense in my model is absurd.

    “Electoral accountability” is nonsense under any system. The short version. A longer version.

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  132. Yoram,

    >“Electoral accountability” is nonsense under any system.

    Clearly the vast majority of political scientists are in need of re-education as the notion that voters punish governments at elections for mistakes in office is a dogmatic illusion. So would you give up on the notion of political accountability tout court? That strikes me as a highly irresponsible move.

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  133. It is not my intention to reignite the topic of civil service “accountability” but I do have a point to add. I actually somewhat agree with Keith that there IS a danger of civil servants (staff of the sortition body or executive staff) to effectively favor policies they think the assembly should adopt, or executive branch civil servants to tailor the execution of the mini-public passed law in a particular way… While this may not rise to the level of being called corruption (although it also may) and thus be handled by criminal laws (as Campbell seems to rely on). However, the protection against this distortion is not well described with the phrase “political accountability.” I think we all agree that the oversight of these civil servants is a crucial concern. My notion is that there needs to be a mini-public specifically charged exclusively with assuring the impartiality of the performance of such individuals. Anyone who believed a civil servant was corrupting, distorting, misinterpreting, etc. the intent of a mini-public could challenge a staffer in order for them to be “held to account” by a jury called to judge their performance. A key is that this oversight needs to be by allotted bodies that are NOT invested in the consideration of bills, but stand alone.

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  134. Terry,

    Sure, executives should be closely scrutinized and held accountable by the allotted bodies. Again, the exact form this should take should be up to an allotted body to design on an ongoing basis rather than pre-set by self-appointed constitution-makers.

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  135. Terry,

    >My notion is that there needs to be a mini-public specifically charged exclusively with assuring the impartiality of the performance of such individuals.

    Given that most members of the public have little knowledge of, or interest in, the political process, how would they know? And given that Campbell’s model is for small (and voluntary?) oversight committees what’s to stop members of this group imposing their own agenda? Remember that the impartiality of minipublics is a statistical artefact, and this doesn’t apply to small groups, so it’s hard to understand the rationale behind the view that, in the absence of election, impartiality is the default position. To take the example of contemporary America, there is a significant chance that such bodies would be dominated by one of the factions that are currently at war with each other, so why do you think the disenfranchised public (who can no longer throw the rascals out) would be satisfied by committees in smoke-free rooms?

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  136. >”there IS a danger of civil servants (staff of the sortition body or executive staff) to effectively favor policies they think the assembly should adopt, or executive branch civil servants to tailor the execution of the mini-public passed law in a particular way…”
    This happens all the time with current regimes, frequently because the law is idiotic and/or self-contradictory. I can give some examples from my own experience if anyone is interested. Of course, the civil servants involved, as appointed employees, were in no way representative. The best way of eliminating this is to make it unnecessary by having a coherent law code. Certainly this is easier said than done.

    >” there needs to be a mini-public specifically charged exclusively with assuring the impartiality of the performance of such individuals.”
    It might be a very good idea to have a committee that acted like an ombudsman, to look into alleged abuses. This would be something for the Assembly to decide, in my model.

    >”And given that Campbell’s model is for small (and voluntary?) oversight committees what’s to stop members of this group imposing their own agenda?”
    Would you be good enough to tell me exactly how (by what mechanism) they could, and why they would want to, instead of just blandly insinuating that they will? Come off it, Keith. These cheap throwaway assertions with nothing to back them up don’t advance the debate. Meanwhile, what is to stop them are the howls from the very first citizen who feels her/himself unjustly dealt with. The media, the public and the Assembly will be very aware of any deliberate, systematic abuse, and the Assembly can sack an oversight committee at the drop of a hat.

    The agenda is set by the Assembly, of course. There will be no scope for agenda-setting by an oversight committee. There may be some scope – or necessity – for interpretation of the law by civil servants, as at present.

    >”(and voluntary?)”
    As for the Assembly, ie chosen by lot from entire adult population, free to opt out, but remuneration high enough that most won’t want to. As explained in DWE, which you claim you have read.

    >”there is a significant chance that such bodies would be dominated by one of the factions that are currently at war with each other”
    Dominated, eh? There is certainly the possibility that one or the other “factions”, as you put it, though any group trait would do: M/F, above/below median income etc etc will be present in a higher proportion than in the public. If the non-“dominating” group – or any member of it – feels that unfair/underhand/skulldugging/evil/miscreant forces are at work it can make this known to the Assembly, indeed it has a duty to do so. Even if this doesn’t happen – suppose the one in a thousand case where a committee of ten is entirely composed of members of a group making up only 50% of the public – if it is acting improperly someone will be disadvantaged. That someone will complain. Whether it’s to the ombudsman committee, to the media, or directly to the Assembly, the Assembly will get wind of it.

    >” that the impartiality of minipublics is a statistical artefact, and this doesn’t apply to small groups”
    Even with mini-publics of over 1000 you will typically have a difference between the proportion in the mini-public and in the population. And that brings us back to the first words of the article above: “How accurate will representation be with sortition?” The short answer is a damn sight more accurate than with elections.

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  137. Campbell,

    Although there’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, it’s generally prudent to plan for the worst. You appear to be hinting that the oversight committee will only be composed of ten persons, if so they are unlikely to represent the political views of the whole citizen body and they will be extremely vulnerable to “persuasion” by sinister interests. The dominant assumption of those arguing for pure sortition (primarily Terry, Yoram and yourself) appears to be that factionalism is a product of election, so if you get rid of elections then the natural impartiality and civic virtue of the people will shine through automatically. My view is that factions represent underlying socio-cultural differences and that election merely contains these differences within acceptable boundaries (war-war becomes jaw-jaw; antagonism becomes agonism). I guess this is a philosophical/anthropological disagreement, but the precautionary principle would suggest that the pessimistic perspective should not be overlooked.

    >The best way of eliminating this is to make it unnecessary by having a coherent law code. Certainly this is easier said than done.

    It might be suggested that this will be even more difficult in a system that relies entirely on randomly-selected amateurs, none of whom will be held to account for their actions. “Easier said than done” would make a good epitaph for your entire project.

    >Even with mini-publics of over 1000 you will typically have a difference between the proportion in the mini-public and in the population.

    Of course, that’s why the confidence interval needs to be related to sample size. But the law of large numbers is simply not applicable to the sort of small committees that you are suggesting.

    >“How accurate will representation be with sortition?” The short answer is a damn sight more accurate than with elections.

    That’s true wrt statistical representativity, but election works on the principle that people choose those who they wish to speak and act on their behalf. I have little in common with my accountant and solicitor, nevertheless I am happy to appoint them to advise and act on my behalf and I would be happy for the latter to represent me in court if necessary. You shouldn’t let your visceral disgust for election blind you to the fact that an entirely different principle is in operation. These two forms of representation are as different as chalk and cheese.

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  138. >” You appear to be hinting that the oversight committee will only be composed of ten persons”
    Ten might be reasonable, in my view, but it is not for me to specify the size. The Assembly will do this.

    > if so they are unlikely to represent the political views of the whole citizen body”
    Are you suggesting that a lone Minister will do this?

    >”they will be extremely vulnerable to “persuasion” by sinister interests”
    Once again, you toss out a scary assertion with not a skerrick of evidence. No wonder the rest of us find your arguments unconvincing.

    >”The dominant assumption of those arguing for pure sortition (primarily Terry, Yoram and yourself) appears to be that factionalism is a product of election, so if you get rid of elections then the natural impartiality and civic virtue of the people will shine through automatically”
    I make no such assumption. I do think that elections make parties likely and perhaps inevitable. I also think that parties do not necessarily reflect the divisions of interest in society.

    >” the pessimistic perspective should not be overlooked.”
    Indeed, I do not overlook it. I remain extremely pessimistic about the possibility of ever getting democracy while we have elections. Hundreds of elected governments in power today provide very strong evidence for my view.

    >”It might be suggested that this will be even more difficult in a system that relies entirely on randomly-selected amateurs, none of whom will be held to account for their actions”
    It has been amply demonstrated that it will not happen while we have governments composed of professionals who have an interest in NOT getting coherent laws.

    >”the law of large numbers is simply not applicable to the sort of small committees that you are suggesting.”
    I did not say that it is applicable.

    >”I have little in common with my accountant and solicitor, nevertheless I am happy to appoint them to advise and act on my behalf and I would be happy for the latter to represent me in court if necessary.”
    Presumably, you authorise them to act on your behalf in very well-defined matters, and if they are professional they ask your consent before doing anything major. You don’t give them a blank cheque to make all decisions affecting you, including life-and-death ones, for the next four or five years. You don’t allow them to make war on your behalf, or to conscript you or your children to fight in an unnecessary war.
    You shouldn’t let your sentimental fondness for elections blind you to the fact that an entirely different principle is in operation. These two forms of representation are as different as chalk and cheese.

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  139. Campbell,

    >Ten might be reasonable, in my view, but it is not for me to specify the size. The Assembly will do this.

    I can understand that you might want to arrogate this decision to either an expert in statistical theory or to a body with scholarly and/or practical expertise in group dynamics or committee structure and function. Why would randomly-selected members of the public be expected to do a better job? This is not a political decision in which competing interests have to be represented, so I don’t see the value of sortition in this particular instance. Given the level of detail in your proposal it’s surprising that you don’t feel able to specify such matters.

    KS>> if so they are unlikely to represent the political views of the whole citizen body”
    CW> Are you suggesting that a lone Minister will do this?

    Once again you are conflating two different forms of representation. In the electoral case, voters choose the politicians that they wish to represent them and then (depending on the decision rule and other constitutional factors) the minister is chosen to reflect the original voters’ decision.

    >I remain extremely pessimistic about the possibility of ever getting democracy while we have elections.

    The pessimistic assumption that I referred to is that individual persons may, in the absence of institutional constraints, be tempted to act in their own interests as opposed to following the precepts of republican civic virtue. A simple inversion of your syntax would suggest that you are extremely optimistic about the possibility of getting democracy by abolishing elections.

    >It has been amply demonstrated that it will not happen while we have governments composed of professionals who have an interest in NOT getting coherent laws.

    You’ve been watching too much television. Remember that both Yes Minister and House of Cards are works of imaginative fiction. A more charitable explanation is that elected and appointed statespersons do their best to achieve coherence in a challenging ecosphere.

    KS>>”the law of large numbers is simply not applicable to the sort of small committees that you are suggesting.”
    CW>I did not say that it is applicable.

    Then why select them via sortition? As they will have a long period of service, the prophylactic benefit of sortition will not apply.

    You are right to point out that the analogy between elected politicians and accountants and solicitors is an inexact one, but it is not a question of chalk and cheese. In an ideal world all citizens would meet on a daily basis to listen to the advice of their political leaders (as in classical Athens) and decide each and every issue on its merits. Unfortunately this is not feasible in large modern states, hence the need for representation. I have no sentimental attachment to election, a distinctly imperfect representative mechanism, but when combined with sortition and appointment on merit it is about the best we can hope for.

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  140. *** Campbell Wallace wrote (October 16): “To suggest that merely because the Athenians did something therefore we should do so would be pure stupidity”.
    *** Sure. We are in another world, a deeply different world. But, as the Second Athenian Democracy is the one available historical society we know which was partly a democracy-through-minipublics, it is reasonable for a kleroterian to consider its institutions, and to think about the functions they had in the system, functions which may be necessary in a modern dêmokratia, even if the modern solutions could be different.
    *** An Athenian institution could have several functions. The “graphai” for instance were used to make politicians “accountable”, and, more or less consciously, to insure a high level of agonistic mind in the “political class”. But the “graphai” had other functions and more important ones I think: they did insure better deliberation on some important decisions, and the hierarchy of norms necessary to a “state of law” (conformity of decrees to laws, conformity of laws to the basic principles). When Demosthenes asked a judicial jury to crush “the law of Leptines” on ground of basic principles, his graphê could not have any “accountability” effect against Leptines, actually, because of a time limit. The victim could be only the law itself.

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  141. The first part of your reply is not clear to me.
    >”Given the level of detail in your proposal it’s surprising that you don’t feel able to specify such matters.”
    Why? It would be pointless for me to lay down a number when the Assembly has the authority to change it. Presumably it will set the numbers in the light of experience.

    >”Once again you are conflating two different forms of representation.”
    No. There is no need for the oversight committees to be representative at all. They have no say in policy, they fulfil an administrative function, really. There is less need for them to interpret the law than there is for a policeman, for instance.
    That said, if the number of departments and similar bodies is fairly high (and I would expect it to be higher than at present), though individual committees would not be representative, the total oversight committee membership would be. Not that it matters much.
    Why use sortition?
    1 Both elections and appointment after application and interviews draw people who want the job. Though there is not much scope for corruption on the oversight committees, as I have explained above, some candidates/applicants might want it for the wrong reasons.
    2 You would probably end up with a class of professional OC members. With no new blood coming in with unpredictable interests and attitudes this could become a very cosy little club, and it would probably suit the members not to rock the boat by actually doing the work they were appointed/elected to do.
    3 Can you really see people rushing off earnestly to exercise their democratic right to vote for members of oversight committees?
    4 Why not?

    >”A simple inversion of your syntax would suggest that you are extremely optimistic about the possibility of getting democracy by abolishing elections.”
    If it is done in the way I suggest, yes. Otherwise I would suggest something else, of course.

    >”You’ve been watching too much television. Remember that both Yes Minister and House of Cards are works of imaginative fiction.”
    I seldom watch TV. I’ve only seen two or three episodes of Yes Minister (as part of a course I did years ago) I have never seen House of Cards. I base my opinion on experience. Your “charitable interpretation” suggests to me that you’ve taken too much wise spiritual counsel and tea with the local Vicar.

    >”the analogy between elected politicians and accountants and solicitors is an inexact one, but it is not a question of chalk and cheese.”
    IMO the difference is much greater, in terms of the power they possess, and the fact that you can sack your solicitor or accountant on the spot. Not so with pollies.
    In fact the analogy is completely false.

    >”In an ideal world all citizens would meet on a daily basis to listen to the advice of their political leaders (as in classical Athens) and decide each and every issue on its merits.”
    I don’t see this as ideal, at all. It would be a monstrous waste of time.

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  142. André,
    >” it is reasonable for a kleroterian to consider its institutions”
    By all means. Keith has in the past accused me of having a “contempt for history”. I don’t. (How could one have a contempt for history?)
    Nor do I despise historians, though I am not one myself, and yes, if we can learn from history, maybe we won’t repeat old mistakes. However, I avoid referring to Athens for several reasons:
    1 There seems to be a certain amount of disagreement among specialists on some fundamental characteristics of Athenian democracy. I am not an expert, so I abstain until the dust settles.
    2 I find certain elements rather troubling, particularly the graphai, dokimasia and ostracism.
    3 I don’t think the argument “the Athenians did X, maybe we should do it now” is convincing to those who haven’t considered sortition, even if the argument has some merit.
    4 It is all too easy for non-sortitionists to say “The Athenian system only worked because they had slaves (and women) to do all the work”, and it’s just possible that they are right.
    5 Although attempting to construct a system from scratch may seem arrogant (it does to Keith, I know), it may help us avoid assuming that certain things are universal truths when they may simply be accidents of our culture.
    You suggest that the graphai ensured better deliberation. I have proposed a different mechanism (policy committees) for this.
    As for the “conformity of decrees to laws, and of laws to basic principles” this is a philosophical minefield. I refrain from commenting from pure cowardice.

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  143. Campbell,

    I am happy for you to have the last word on this matter.

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  144. *** Campbell Wallace says that “attempting to construct a system from scratch” “may seem arrogant” but “may help us avoid assuming that certain things are universal truths when they may simply be accidents”. Pure construction is a way of thinking I accept. Only I said that the other way, taking into account the Second Athenian Democracy experiment, is a reasonable way, likewise.
    *** The ancient history is often obscure, and leaves space for debates among historians. But the institutions of the Second Athenian Democracy are exceptionally well known (we have exceptional data probably as a result of the high level of literacy, and of the cultural prestige of contemporary philosophers and orators in later Antiquity). I do not know of many discrepancies between specialist historians about the institutional facts (one debate is : were there magistracies with more than one year time? Hansen says yes, other disagree). We can trust our basic knowledge.
    *** Campbell Wallace finds “certain elements rather troubling, particularly the graphai, dokimasia and ostracism”. Ostracism fell out of use in the Second Athenian Democracy. Dokimasia, habilitation, was an exam by a jury to check if a elected or allotted “magistrate” could be trusted as good citizen and loyal to democracy, independently of his capacities or political sensitivity. It makes sense. As for the graphai, I said they had several important functions. I agree that in a modern dêmokratia we can imagine other ways to satisfy these functions.
    *** Campbell Wallace says “It is all too easy for non-sortitionists to say “The Athenian system only worked because they had slaves (and women) to do all the work”, and it’s just possible that they are right”. No, it is not possible. Modern citizens have no slaves, but they have much mechanical energy serving them, and they have electronical communication. It will be much easier to them to do some amount of “political work” than for an ancient peasant. And if sortition had more and more clout in Athens, it was probably at least partly for a problem of available time. The Assembly could not decide everything, at least with serious deliberation, without consuming too much time.
    *** Please don’t accept the cliché of Athenian citizens as a class of idle people discussing politics when others did the material work. The mass of the citizens of ancient democracies did work, and were despised for that by many elite thinkers. The mass of the dêmos is described by Aristotle (Politics IV, 1291b) as farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, sailors, labourers. A standard anti-democratic theme is that their work made them brutish, and that they had no time to be knowledgeable about politics.

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  145. Andre,

    >Pure construction is a way of thinking I accept.

    I’m sceptical when it comes to the crafting of constitutional blueprints. Can anyone think of a single example of a theory-derived constitutional proposal that has led to stable governance in the long term? It’s apparently too soon to come to a verdict on the French Revolution, but the American “revolution” was little more than a homage to English political experience, with the replacement of heredity by election. The Athenian reforms were ad hoc responses to flaws in the existing arrangements. Even Rousseau, wearing his Legislator hat, did little more than democratise Hobbes, the foremost advocate of realist political thought. So what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have to go back to the drawing board?

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  146. >” I do not know of many discrepancies between specialist historians about the institutional facts”
    André,
    I have already said that I am not an expert. I had the impression that Ober, for instance, disagrees with Hansen, and reading Hansen, that he disagrees with earlier historians (“the graphe paranomon is often connected by historians… ” “Historians often claim…”). Here is a quotation from Canevaro “Making and Changing Laws in Ancient Athens”, p8:
    The most notable of these [“paradoxical results” of previous studies], which this chapter challenges, is the widely-held belief that the creation of detailed rules for legislative change represented a limitation of popular sovereignty in the Athenian democracy, and that the transition from the fifth century to the fourth century brought about a shift from an extreme form of democracy to the sovereignty of the law. Kahrstedt (1938, heavily criticized in Atkinson 1939) gives, to my knowledge, the first full formulation of this widespread tenet. The most influential exposition of this view is given by Ostwald (1986; 524): ‘In matters of legislation the Assembly relinquished its final say to nomothetai. Thus democracy achieved stability, consistency, and continuity when the higher sovereignty of nomos limited the sovereignty of the people’ (contra Sealey 1982 and 1987, who believed that Athens always had the rule of law, and never real democracy). Hansen (1974 and 1991: 150-55, 300-4) has also stressed that the locus of sovereignty shifted from the Assembly to the lawcourts (which have a stronger connection with the law), and Todd (1990: 170) claims that ‘Athens was certainly constitutionally less democratic in the mid-fourth century’. Such statements are in striking contrast both with assessments of fourth-century democracy in contemporary authors and with the epigraphical evidence from the period: the word demokratia (although found in literary texts starting in the 430s) is never found in Athenian public documents preserved on stone before the restoration of democracy of 403…

    A naive non-specialist like me tends to take this sort of passage as evidence of controversy, but your knowledge of Athens is clearly greater than mine, so I stand corrected.
    Dokimasia: Applied to members of a body chosen at random in order to be representative this does not make sense to me. Since it must eliminate some people, any sort of aptitude test must make the sample non-random and non-representative.
    Graphai and ostracism: I cannot see these as being desirable in a modern state.

    CW: “it’s just possible that they are right”. AS: “No, it is not possible”.
    I don’t advance the argument that the labour of slaves and women was necessary to make the Athenian system work, but I am not in a position to prove this argument wrong.
    I don’t post on this forum to express a view about what went on in Athens. My concern is the future.

    >” It will be much easier to them to do some amount of “political work” than for an ancient peasant.”
    One could argue that any benefit from labour-saving gizmos is more than offset by the fact that the modern world is so much more complex, and that its pace is so much faster (largely because of electronic communications).

    Keith,
    >”So what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have to go back to the drawing board?”
    It’s known as “the right of free speech”, if you haven’t heard of it.

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  147. *** Campbell Wallace wrote: “Dokimasia: Applied to members of a body chosen at random in order to be representative this does not make sense to me. Since it must eliminate some people, any sort of aptitude test must make the sample non-random and non-representative.”
    *** I agree. But dokimasia was not used for juries, as it was not used for assembly. It was used for “magistrates”, executive functions, under overseeing by juries. Note that the “magistracies” usually included few numbers, so the risk of allotting an anti-democrat or bad citizen was too high.
    *** I said dokimasia was not used for legislative or judicial juries, which were one of the two channels of popular sovereignty in the Second Athenian Democracy model. But it was used for the Council (Boulê). The Council was considered as a collective magistracy, even if it was an especially numerous one. The juries had the last word in many subjects, not the Council. Dokimasia was less useful statistically for the Council given its size, but the dêmos could fear maneuvers in this permanent body.

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  148. *** Wallace quotes many examples of disagreements about the Athenian democracy between historians, and adds “A naive non-specialist like me tends to take this sort of passage as evidence of controversy”.
    *** But I have said that I do not know of many discrepancies between specialist historians about the institutional facts of the Second Athenian Democracy. “Institutional facts”, it is precise. One historian thinks that the transition from the fifth century to the fourth century brought about a shift from an extreme form of democracy to the sovereignty of the law”, another does not agree. One thinks the Second Democracy was less democratic, another disagrees. That is disagreement about the philosophical idea of democracy, not about institutional facts.
    *** The historians may have their own philosophical evaluations, but they show few discrepancies about the institutional facts of the democracy in the time of Demosthenes, how the system practically worked, because we have much data.

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  149. *** A political mutation from a Western polyarchy to a democracy-to-minipublics will probably not involve such an avalanche of events and such hard class and ideological conflicts as in “revolutions” the paradigm of which is the French Revolution. But it will be an important event, with potentially strong consequences in different fields; and it has no modern example. It could be considered as a “leap in the dark”, as was said for the (much lesser) mutation of the Second Reform Act in Britain. Therefore it is useful to think about all its sides, before the event. Any kind of thinking will be useful. I believe thinking about Ancient Athens interesting. But I cannot agree with Keith Sutherland when he asks: “what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have to go back to the drawing board?”. Their institutional ideas are useful to ascertain the problems which may occur, the difficulties, and the possible solutions.
    *** Some political mutations did need few political thinking, because they amounted to imitation of a well known model, as the communist states converting to polyarchies. But as for political mutations to innovating models I don’t think many had not been more or less guided by relevant political thinking. The American Revolution, which was a real political mutation, was surrounded by serious political thinking, an example of which we can see in the “Federalist Papers”. As for the establishing of Athenian democracy the highly sophisticated Cleisthenian institutions aimed to “melt” the civic collectivity implies a developed democratic thought around Cleisthenes The transition to the Second Democracy model, with the system of juries and graphai, might respond to practical needs, but I doubt it could have occurred without serious political thinking – only, one time more, we are victim of the lack of historical sense of the Athenians.
    *** Keith writes that “American “revolution” was little more than a homage to English political experience, with the replacement of heredity by election.” The American Republic and British parliamentary regime may have evolved into two kinds of polyarchy, and even in 1800 they were cousin regimes, sure, but somewhat different.. Keith seems a little too much Britocentric.

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  150. Andre,

    >But I cannot agree with Keith Sutherland when he asks: “what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have to go back to the drawing board?”. Their institutional ideas are useful to ascertain the problems which may occur, the difficulties, and the possible solutions.

    I have no problem with open-minded approaches to problem solving, but that means starting with what we have now, rather than with a blank piece of paper. Problem solving involves incremental improvements, not a tabula rasa. Unfortunately the authors that I’m referring to believe that sortition is the only valid democratic principle and rule out any accommodation with election, as this is disqualified a priori on account of its aristocratic and elitist associations. I also find the stock answer to problem solving — appoint a representative (allotted) body and leave it up to them — dogmatic, on account of the implication that the decision outcome will automatically be democratic, representative and optimal from an epistemic perspective. The fact that two of such bodies may well come to entirely different conclusions doesn’t appear to be of any concern.

    >A political mutation from a Western polyarchy to a democracy-to-minipublics will probably not involve such an avalanche of events and such hard class and ideological conflicts as in “revolutions” the paradigm of which is the French Revolution.

    If it’s a mutation we are seeking then we should drop all the polemical language about abolishing elections and ostracising all politicians.

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  151. >”Problem solving involves incremental improvements, not a tabula rasa.”
    Rather a dogmatic statement! But even if incremental improvements are the only way to advance, we need some idea of which direction we should advance in.

    >”rule out any accommodation with election”
    It’s not so much the ” aristocratic and elitist associations” that rule it out, it’s the fact that it so often produces horrible results.

    >” I also find the stock answer to problem solving — appoint a representative (allotted) body and leave it up to them — dogmatic…”
    On the one hand you accuse me of being a self-appointed constitution maker, and say that I go into too much detail, on the other you blame me for suggesting that most of the details should be left to the Assembly to decide. You can’t convict me of both faults, Keith.

    >”the implication that the decision outcome will automatically be democratic, representative and optimal from an epistemic perspective”
    Did you mean the “assumption…”? In any case I didn’t say that, didn’t imply it, and don’t assume it. No, it’s just that I don’t presume to lay down the law for future generations. (Is that foolish?). What I do believe is that decisions made by the Assembly which I propose will be far more democratic and representative than anything we have at the moment. Certainly, mistakes will be made: we are talking about humans, after all. If it is possible to correct them swiftly, as it should be with my model, we will get reasonably fair laws (if not “optimal”) in time.

    >”The fact that two of such bodies may well come to entirely different conclusions doesn’t appear to be of any concern”
    The fact that two such bodies may well come to entirely different conclusions is obvious from the little grey squares and the tables in the article at the beginning of this thread. I won’t say that it is of no concern, but we have to accept the realities of statistics.

    >”we should drop all the polemical language about abolishing elections and ostracising all politicians.”
    If you’ll drop your polemical language I’ll be more than happy not to ostracise anyone, including you and politicians. Abolishing elections, if it is done in a way similar to what I suggest, would nevertheless be an excellent idea.

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  152. I shall probably be too busy to comment on this forum for some time. I have to do some manual work which I hope won’t make me (more) brutish, or prevent me from being, if not knowledgeable about politics, at least interested in political systems. My absence will not mean that I acquiesce in anything and everything that is said here. No, no, no.

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  153. Keith,
    Here is a partial explanation of why I think it is acceptable that different mini-publics might make different decisions in identical circumstances…
    Fundamentally, the results of public policy (and all human actions) are FAR more subject to random chance effects than we like to admit. (The idea that “We plan: God laughs).

    The goal of public policy making is to constantly adjust plans to steer away from bad outcomes as much as possible and to avoid a consistent bias TOWARDS bad policy.

    I believe that political decision-making rarely has “right” conclusions, and that there is wide range of relatively good (and a much wider range of possible bad) decisions. In general, well-organized and well-informed mini-publics would tend towards good decisions (in the interests of the general population) AND, if renewed with new members regularly, have a natural tendency towards self-correction when prior decisions turn out to be bad. Electoral and oligarchical governments, on the other hand have a consistent bias that (for numerous policy areas) leans towards bad decisions, and does not have a natural self-correcting tendency. Instead, swinging between competing political parties means swings between distinctly different, but mutually bad, policy decisions in certain policy areas while ignoring other vital policy areas where the major parties agree on bad policy. In other words sortition provides “Securities Against Misrule.” (the title of John Elster’s recent book and Jeremy Bentham’s work centuries before).

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  154. Terry,

    Your approach, as usual, is 100% epistemic — the words “good” and “bad” appearing a total of nine times in a very short commentary. The problem is that beauty is entirely in the eye of the beholder — as a life-long partisan of the left, certain political options appear to you (and many followers of this blog) as naturally good, whereas the preferences of your opponents are simply bad, self-interested, venal etc. Unfortunately partisans of the right have similar convictions, so we have invented this thing called “politics” in order to resolve the matter. Nadia Urbinati has argued, persuasively IMO, that the epistemic approach that you favour is a disfiguration of democracy — as it is not possible to know whether a decision is good or bad, the only criterion is that it should reflect the preferences of the majority/plurality of citizens.

    The regular decision rule in democracies is majority or plurality voting — either directly on policies or indirectly via the appointment of representatives — and the only innovation kleroterians have suggested is to restrict the voting to an informed and representative subset of the target population. But in order for the votes of the subset to be accepted as legitimate by those who no longer get to vote, significant measures are required to ensure both balanced information advocacy and ongoing representativity — a challenging task. You have in the past agreed that consistent decision outcomes are a necessary indication of balanced information advocacy and ongoing representativity and I’m disappointed that you appear now to have dropped this requirement, arguing instead that so long as the decisions are made by “ordinary” citizens, rather than an elite, they will, of necessity, be good decisions — even though the decision outcome may fluctuate between different samples of ordinary citizens.

    >We plan: God laughs

    This is an observation on the unintended consequences of social action (we propose, whereas god disposes) and provides no reason to relax the requirement that our democratic procedures should accurately reflect the informed preferences of the majority/plurality of citizens. It also shows that ordinary mortals (unlike an omniscient deity) cannot know what is “good” or “bad” a priori.

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  155. *** I don’t want to study now the general question of discriminating bad or good decisions. But at least we may consider specific cases.
    *** It seems there is one case of “objectively” bad decisions: when the result is contrary to the aims of the deciders. For example if we accept that President Bush’s aim was to establish in Iraq a workable unitary polyarchic State, we can say his decisions were bad.
    *** When the result of a decision is contrary to the avowed aims of a decider, either he was sincere, and we come back to the first case, or he was lying, and lying is bad along most values systems.
    *** When a decision is later lamented by the decider himself, and remains lamented, we can say the decision process was bad.
    *** Another case: when a decision will be considered, by the mass of the members of a given civilization, as horrendous – let’s say, the Hitlerian genocide, that even no neo-nazi sizable group approve (they say it did not happen).
    *** These cases do not cover all the range of decisions, but at least a sizable part of them.

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  156. Andre,

    Agree with those examples (especially [in the Iraq case] with the benefit of hindsight). But what about deciding the best way of providing medical care? Some in the US envy the UK National Health Service, but those of us who have to rely on it can be attracted to the French insurance based system. And what is the “good” decision on abortion rights? Most political issues do not admit of such analysis, although partisans always argue that they are on the side of the angels. That’s why we cannot abolish politics. I do recall Terry once acknowledging that his epistemic model presupposes that the big political decisions have already been made, but he never explained exactly how.

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  157. Keith,
    Foirst off I’m not sure what past discussions you have in mind where I may have given certain impressions to you… I agree that repeated identical decisions by parallel mini-publics would confirm the accuracy of the representation, but I don’t insist on it by any means. I also don’t recall suggesting that the BIG decisions would be made prior to sortition, other than the one fundamental decision to USE sortition hence forth (I have said that a referendum, though a flawed tool is probably the most appropriate tool to establish sortition because the referendum currently has accepted legitimacy (see Brexit).

    As to my epistemic foundation… yes, I see democracy (sortition) as the best tool for making good decisions. Here “good” means in the interests of the general population. I am not an advocate of democracy a priori, but as the least bad of those forms of government that have been tried from time to time. My foundation is the belief that power should not be concentrated in a small number of hands, because they will tend to NOT work in the interests of most people, or ESPECIALLY not in the interests of those people with little power (even if that group is a minority rather than a majority). Power can be concentrated as military might, wealth, or political control (usually they all go together). Thus I am not inherently opposed to Platonic philosopher kings … But I have not been convinced they would not be corrupted and act as an oligarchy against the interest of those without power. I just think democracy is the best chance for good government in the interests of the general population … though I still have qualms about how to protect minorities who are weak and discriminated against. I haven’t yet seen a plan that adequately protects the rights of shunned minorities, though perhaps someday some sort of oppressed minority veto scheme coupled with sortition democracy might be invented.

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  158. >”The problem is that beauty is entirely in the eye of the beholder … it is not possible to know whether a decision is good or bad … significant measures are required to ensure both balanced information advocacy and ongoing representativity”
    “Balance” is also in the eye of the beholder, and it is not possible to say that information or advocacy is balanced.

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  159. Terry,
    >”I am not an advocate of democracy a priori”
    I’m surprised at this. I would have thought that your words: “good decisions. Here “good” means in the interests of the general population.” make you a democrat – at least if you accept that people of sound mind are the best judges of their own interests. Not perfect judges – they (we) make mistakes – but the most reliable judges, and certainly to be preferred to philosopher kings! This is not something to be diffident about; I should be ashamed to feel any other way.

    >” I still have qualms about how to protect minorities who are weak and discriminated against. I haven’t yet seen a plan that adequately protects the rights of shunned minorities”
    I don’t think it is possible to provide institutional safeguards against the tyranny of the majority without instituting the tyranny of minorities. Protection of minorities must come down to popular opinion and the general sense of fairness at the end of the day. Oddly enough, this can work quite well, when the public are properly informed. Witness the advances made for equality for women, recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, gay/bi/trans/etc rights and so on.

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  160. Terry,

    >Here “good” means in the interests of the general population.

    And there’s the rub — with the exception of obvious examples like those that Andre has suggested there is no way of knowing this a priori. That’s why democrats like Urbinati argue against the use of the epistemic categories that you have always adopted. Democracy is nothing more than a decision rule and has nothing to do with words like good and bad. As you rightly point out the rule of Platonic guardians could lead to governance in the interests of the general population — although you consider it unlikely.

    >I haven’t yet seen a plan that adequately protects the rights of shunned minorities.

    They are often better protected under tyrannical leaders than in democratic systems, where ethnic and sectarian cleavages often come to the fore. You would probably attribute this to the schismatic influence of vote-grabbing demagogues, but we have yet to see how it would function under democracy by lot.

    Campbell,

    >“Balance” is also in the eye of the beholder, and it is not possible to say that information or advocacy is balanced.

    Epistemic balance, as in biomechanics, is a dialectical process (all tightrope walkers have two arms) and this, of necessity, requires a reductive and simplistic approach. According to the dialectical strategy the two opposing sides in a decision process have to agree what constitutes balance — the case against the Brexit debate was not so much that it was unbalanced as epistemically challenged. The dialectical approach is used in deliberative polling and both sides have to agree on the final information package. The origin of the dialectic is the courts, and can be traced back to 4th century Athenian practice. It’s not perfect but, as Jack Nicholson would put it, it’s as good as it gets.

    >Protection of minorities must come down to popular opinion and the general sense of fairness at the end of the day. Oddly enough, this can work quite well, when the public are properly informed. Witness the advances made for equality for women, recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, gay/bi/trans/etc rights and so on.

    The protection of minority rights is generally arrogated to the courts, bills of rights and other liberal constitutional safeguards. The examples that you cite were imposed by a liberal elite in the teeth of public opposition. A sortition-only constitution would find it extremely difficult — if not impossible — to maintain these liberal safeguards against demos tyrannos. Beware of rose-tinted spectacles.

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  161. >”this, of necessity, requires a reductive and simplistic approach … two opposing sides”
    And this is your first simplification, all problems are reduced to binary. Never mind what goes on in the real world.

    >”The examples that you cite were imposed by a liberal elite in the teeth of public opposition”
    “Imposed” is not always correct, though it was true for the abolition of capital punishment in some countries, where the opinion polls indicated that the public were opposed. In the case of Aboriginal rights in Australia, the referendum in the 70s was overwhelmingly in favour. Opinion polls seem to be in favour of marriage for all in some places at the moment, and yet only a small percentage are “LBGT”, and less would be affected. Public opinion is not necessarily illiberal when it is informed.

    >”A sortition-only constitution would find it extremely difficult — if not impossible — to maintain these liberal safeguards against demos tyrannos.”
    I’ve just said that I don’t believe you can provide institutional safeguards against the tyranny of the majority without instituting the tyranny of minorities. Not with sortition, not without. Bills of rights, written constitutions, Magna Carta and so on are only as effective as the strength of popular opinion to see them upheld. As for the courts, not even the worst totalitarian regimes and dictators have ever had any problem in finding judges and prosecutors to do their will. No guarantee here.

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  162. Cameron,

    I clearly acknowledged (“reductive and simplistic”) that the digitalisation of an analogue world involves simplification. However that’s a necessary price to pay for balanced information and advocacy. What makes you believe that the free deliberations of a random sample will, of necessity, generate balanced information and advocacy, given that individual speech acts in small groups are not subject to the law of large numbers and most citizens will not be already well informed on most of the issues that they are required to rule on?

    >Public opinion is not necessarily illiberal when it is informed.

    True, but it is generally informed by a liberal elite and its elected spokespersons — to be deprived of their disproportionate influence under your constitutional proposals. Remember that far more elected politicians read the Guardian (and the late-lamented Independent) than ordinary citizens, who prefer the Sun, the Mail and the Express. You only need to look at the widespread populist revolt against the “liberal elite” throughout the western democracies to see that democracy by sortition may well be highly illiberal.

    >I’ve just said that I don’t believe you can provide institutional safeguards against the tyranny of the majority without instituting the tyranny of minorities. . . No guarantee here.

    Nothing in life is guaranteed (other than death and taxes). But the fact that liberal democracies have traditionally resorted to extra-democratic constitutional safeguards should make one pause for thought. Given the above-cited newspaper preferences of average citizens, there is no good reason to believe that sortition is likely to provide a better alternative. Beware of rose-tinted glasses.

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  163. *** Some dictatorial regimes may protect minorities, because they use them against majorities they are afraid of. But that strategy heightens the antagonisms and after the fall of the regime the situation may be worse.
    *** Some dictatorial regimes may be very bad for some minorities. The paradigmatic case is Nazi Germany. Democracy-through-minipublics was no responsible, sure, but it is interesting the one element of Nazi system which had some democratic character (even very far one), the referendum, avoided any subject of minority persecution.
    *** Right, a perfect polyarchy gives lobbying rights to any group, and any “minority” therefore will have a say in politics. But the play of the lobbies will often heighten antagonisms, and the result may be ambiguous for minorities.
    *** Courts in a polyarchy may protect a minority from abuse by a legislation. But even well-intended courts will be practically powerless against social phenomena, which the polyarchic system is often unable to rein. Many of the social ills in contemporary Western societies, including those affecting “the underprivileged minorities” are not the result of oppressive legislation, but of absence of efficient legislation. Therefore dêmokratia presents for these minorities two possibilities: the advent of oppressive legislations intended to lower even more their situation, or some social betterment they will be beneficiaries, and maybe especially beneficiaries (example: a good health system will better the general health, but practically more the health of the “underprivileged” minorities). The democratic choice is reasonable for minorities, but there could be resistance from their specific elites.
    *** Actually the existence of a “communities”, majoritarian or minoritarian, is contradictory to the idea of “dêmos” itself. The democracy needs to “melt” the dêmos. It was Cleisthenes policy at the beginning of the Athenian democracy. It seems it was more difficult in overseas cities, where the melting was not between clans, or with some immigrants or freed slaves, but between Greek colonists and autochthonous people. We do not know well the history of these cities, but the problems in Cyrene mentioned by Aristotle (Politics, VI, 1319b), with the amount of “base elements” in the new dêmos which “provoked the notables further in the direction of being reluctant to endure the democracy” probably correspond to a “racial factor”.
    *** In a polyarchy a minority has a say in politics through a specific lobby. In a democracy-through-minipublics a minority has a say through the participation of its members to the minipublics, and to their deliberations. Against Keith Sutherland, I approve face-to-face deliberations, because it is not so easy to propose an oppressive policy when a would-be victim is seating with you in the same jury. A mini-dêmos system with face-to-face deliberation will have, with good procedures, a built-in melting effect.
    *** Melting may be impossible in some cases of countries with populations divided, on the same territory, by too high an amount of hate and fear. Dêmokratia actually will be impossible, because there will be no possible dêmos. We must look for an ad hoc political solution for some time. Note that with such situations, if polyarchies and dictatorships are possible, their historical record is not very good.

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  164. Andre,

    >The democracy needs to “melt” the dêmos. . . . I approve face-to-face deliberations, because it is not so easy to propose an oppressive policy when a would-be victim is seating with you in the same jury. A mini-dêmos system with face-to-face deliberation will have, with good procedures, a built-in melting effect.

    Yes that’s true, but the problem is communicating the empathy experienced by the members of the minipublic to those that they “represent” in the target population. Melting is relatively easy when everyone gets the chance to rule and be ruled in turn, but is much more difficult in large multicultural states that are liable to ethnic and sectarian cleavages. This is why I insist that the decision outcome of different samples has to be invariant wrt to the target population, and this will mean majority rule. It’s no good just members of a minipublic getting on fine with each other as in the eyes of the vast majority of citizens who are not involved directly this may just be seen like a cosy clique (especially if members are rewarded handsomely for their participation). So the advocacy needs to be just as robust and agonistic as the society that it represents, even if deliberative democrats find this offensive. Minority rights will have to be protected by extra-democratic means, including guaranteed advocacy rights for minorities (along with other constitutional safeguards).

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  165. >” What makes you believe that the free deliberations of a random sample will, of necessity, generate balanced information and advocacy”
    I don’t claim this – in fact I make no claims about balance at all. Nor do I look to the random sample – the assembly – to generate information. That comes from the community, including the experts.

    >”it is generally informed by a liberal elite and its elected spokespersons — to be deprived of their disproportionate influence under your constitutional proposals.”
    “By a liberal elite” may be true. “By the elected spokespersons” is much more dubious, there’s a lot of disinformation goes on. “Deprived of a DISPROPORTIONATE influence”: so they should be. Deprived of all influence? No. Decisions on policy will be informed, in my model, by the work of the policy committees and by those who make submissions to them. This will be far more thorough than the information – or disinformation – that comes from your English newspapers. The “widespread populist revolt against the “liberal elite”” is of course largely manufactured by politicians and newspapers.

    >”democracy by sortition may well be highly illiberal.”
    You argue as though you think that my aim is to make a particular flavour of government – liberal and left-wing – emerge. It is not. I base my argument for sortition on fairness in decision-making, on fulfilling the criteria for democracy (Dahl, Fishkin), not on “good epistemic outcomes”. If my model were introduced tomorrow in, say, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, or Russia, it would not necessarily instantly produce a liberal, tolerant government. That said, in the long term, I think it probably would tend in that direction. Poor people, especially women, generally seek better education for their children, not for political reasons, but so they can have a better standard of living. Better education, a better standard of living, better information, and especially better research into policy, will lead to more tolerant laws. Certainly the ability of minorities to express themselves in the Assembly will help to let the majority see their side of things.

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  166. Campbell,

    >I make no claims about balance at all. Nor do I look to the random sample – the assembly – to generate information. That comes from the community, including the experts.

    Goodness gracious me — although my dialectical approach to balance is crude and reductive it’s better than nothing! Given the domination of the public sphere by the hated “corporate” media with their populist agenda, this is setting the bar pretty low. In the isegoria chapter you requested (have you read it?) I do make the case for the arithmetic equality introduced by competitive media but also outlined the need for proportionate** (in Plato’s sense of the word) equality — in which low-subscription liberal broadsheets are given a allocated a guaranteed seat at the table. This is in the spirit of John Dryzek’s argument that all (minority) discourses should be represented — no doubt you find this both elitist and undemocratic (which it is, but it is an essential element of a liberal politeia).

    >The “widespread populist revolt against the “liberal elite”” is of course largely manufactured by politicians and newspapers.

    So why is it that the rise of populism correlates exactly with the decline in newspaper subscriptions and the general disparagement of the political class. For a refutation of your (unsubstantiated) claim I recommend Ford and Goodwin’s Revolt on the Right.

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  167. *** Keith Sutherland writes; “Minority rights will have to be protected by extra-democratic means, including guaranteed advocacy rights for minorities”.
    *** “Guaranteed advocacy rights for minorities” is not extra-democratic by itself. A good isêgoria system would usually give the needed diversity of advocacies. But it would be good to follow a dialogue principle: any mini-dêmos treating an issue must speak with the categories specifically concerned by the issue, each category being “represented” by an allotted sample. For example if the mini-dêmos is debating about jails, a sample of wardens and a sample of detainees. If some “hard” Christians want to be allowed not to host a homosexual marriage in their restaurant, a sample of these “hard” Christians and a sample of gay and lesbians. About “heterosexual harassment in the campus”, a sample of male students and a sample of female students. If some “friends of animals” want to forbid corridas or hunting, a sample of citizens with the sensitivity of “friends of animals” and samples of corrida- viewers or of hunters. I acknowledge problems may sometimes occur in practically enforcing this principle, but it is better than to reserve advocacy to “category elites”, which may have poor affinity with democracy and, consciously or not, will lean to heighten the antagonisms to insure their material or moral advantages as category elite. The elites, the organizations, etc will always have their say, but they must not get all the field.

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  168. Andre,

    Good point. By extra-democratic I meant that participation would not be guaranteed by the representation algorithm. I agree that it’s essential to ensure advocacy rights for those directly concerned and also for “liberal” (human rights) discourses that would not be included by purely democratic means. I think this is an example of proportional equality in the Platonic sense, but it’s an unfortunate term as its democratic reading would suggest that the presence in their minipublic would be proportionate to its presence in the target audience, and that’s the opposite of what Plato intended (equality of worth). I think this all falls under the isegoria category as the relevant principle for the decision jury is arithmetic equality.

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  169. *** I wrote: “The democracy needs to “melt” the dêmos. . . . I approve face-to-face deliberations, because it is not so easy to propose an oppressive policy when a would-be victim is seating with you in the same jury. A mini-dêmos system with face-to-face deliberation will have, with good procedures, a built-in melting effect.”
    *** Keith Sutherland answers “Yes that’s true, but the problem is communicating the empathy experienced by the members of the minipublic to those that they “represent” in the target population.”
    *** I agree, and it is connected to the wider risk of discrepancy between the mini-dêmos and the “public opinion” of the dêmos at large. Some amount of discrepancy cannot be avoided, but to reduce it is a basic problem of a modern dêmokratia. I see various ways, but there is need of thinking about.
    *** Clearly, I do not consider the minipublics as the one way of “melting” the dêmos. But a high numbers of minipublics about specific or local issues may help to “melt” the dêmos through common deliberations.

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  170. *** Beware of blending the subject of dêmokratia with the subject of “populisms”. Yes, populist movements are revolts against oligarchizing elites, but that does not mean by itself a movement to democracy. A populist movement may be directed against specific elites, and actually akin to other elites (is it true that many people elected by the “Tea Party” belong to the moneyed elite?). Other populist movements may be around a demagogue seeking personal power.
    *** In ancient Athens (as in other 6th century Greek cities) a tyrant, Peisistratos (Pisistratus), was followed by popular support and can be considered as a kind of populist. The founder of the democracy, Cleisthenes (himself a grand son of a tyrant of Sicyon, with the same name) chose another way, and established the democratic institutions.
    *** Populist revolts against oligarchizing elites may be manipulated, including through “plebiscitary” ways. We must not mix them with real democratic endeavors, which in modern times even more than
    in ancient times, need the institution of citizen juries, acting as mini-dêmos. Any populist challenger who does not consider this institution is foreign to dêmokratia.

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  171. Andre,

    >Beware of blending the subject of dêmokratia with the subject of “populisms”.

    My point is only that populists and sortinistas share a common antipathy to elites; however the progressive reforms lauded by Campbell et al are the result of the (covert) agenda of liberal elites, not public pressure. Our own MP stood for parliament in 1997 to further the cause of gay equality (his Conservative opponent was an outspoken homophobe), although you would not have known that from studying his (Blairite) election manifesto. In his 2004 Sunday Times review of one of our books the veteran Labour MP Frank Field opined that

    “Many [Labour] supporters hold social views well to the right of the Conservative party and offer opinions on asylum that the British National Party tries to reflect. Yet they vote Labour, not just through habit, but because the party has convinced them it is on their side. The unspoken compact is that Labour voters let the elite peddle social policies that often appal them, in return for the economic protection a Labour government has historically delivered.”

    A democracy-by-lot, in which decisions are taken on a case by case basis, would be unlikely to pursue a liberal social agenda, in particular on issues like immigration, asylum and human rights.

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  172. *** Keith Sutherland writes: “A democracy-by-lot, in which decisions are taken on a case by case basis, would be unlikely to pursue a liberal social agenda”. The concept of a “liberal agenda” is to be examined.
    *** Many of the items of this “agenda” correspond closely to trends of modernity itself. Demographic modernity, for example, includes low death rate, which more or less quickly lead to low birth rate (the “demographic transition”). Centering women to bearing and rearing children is no more a demographic survival imperative, and therefore the women will enter more or less quickly all the social fields. The trend towards “equality of genders” is a result of the irreversible demographic modern trend, and reversals of this equality will be exceptional and ephemeral, or mostly cosmetic (the hijab after the Iranian “Islamic Revolution” – but actually Iran is taken by the trends of modernity, including about women’s status). That trend towards equality of genders , combined with the modern birth control technology, leans to more relaxed control of sexuality, which was actually more a control of women’s sexuality. There is not only the demographic modernity factor. The cultural modernity leads to a decline of hegemony by traditional faiths; there are contemporary countries where a traditional faith crushes individual freedoms, but few of them are really culturally modern countries – let’s say countries where literacy has been general since three generations. And the world will come back neither to the old demographic regime nor to the mass illiteracy.
    *** The elites, or at least the more dynamic elements of the elites, being at the dominating centers of societies, are more sensitive to the trends of modernity – the culture elite is more sensitive to intellectual trends, the business elite to techno-economic trends. But if the elites are successful to impose their “modern values”, it is because the elites are powerful, yes, but likewise because the trends of modernity act on the masses themselves.
    *** A basic tenet of dêmokratia, freedom of political debate, will act against mental inertia and speed the acceptance of modernity trends by the overall society.
    *** The risk, I acknowledge, is rejection of this freedom of debate, which would destroy dêmokratia itself. We can easily imagine a dêmos rejecting freedom of debate (isêgoria and parrhêsia) seen as subverting old values. But any regime may destroy itself, and I am not convinced the risk is so high for dêmokratia in societies where the regime could be first established.
    *** A basic problem is that the elites follow the modernity trends, but with twists corresponding to their own moral, political and material interests. “Globalization” is a modern trend, right, given the ease of communication and transport. But this trend was used (through political decisions about “free trade”) to transfer manufacturing work to countries with low wages, no trade union and no minimal wage; with permanent blackmail (“if you Vietnamese workers ask for higher wages, we will transfer the plant to Mozambique”). Opening our borders to refugees and actual or virtual stateless persons of the entire world is a modern trend because all the world is near to our consciences, but the asylum theme is used by elites which have specific immigration agendas, as lowering internal wages, or creating “a multi-cultural society” with separate ethno-racial blocks (the exact opposite of the democratic “melting”) through well devised policies about immigration and insertion of the immigrants.
    *** There is no symmetry. The elites favor policies, not really rational, but at least mostly coherent with their specific interests. The common citizens are reactive, and sometimes over-conservative (if you don’t drive, and are not pleased with the driving, you are tempted to put the brakes). These popular reactions are not rational, and cannot be such. When there will be real democracy-through-minipublics, we will see policies more rationally attuned to the central moral and material interests of the dêmos.
    *** I cannot guarantee to Keith that a British democracy-through-minipublics will not close the country let say to known heretics (Ismailis, for instance), known atheists or known homosexuals fleeing a Pakistan overtaken by murderous talibans, whereas neighbouring polyarchies would be hospitable. I cannot guarantee to Keith that a British democracy-through-minipublics will not establish a legislation intended to unleash a public campaign of harassment against gays and lesbians. But deducing the “illiberal” character of future decisions by minipublics from some popular reactive feelings in polyarchic societies is not so convincing.

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  173. >”it’s better than nothing!”
    No, because you assume that there is some sort of objectively definable balance. My approach allows all to have input.
    “politicians and newspapers” should have read pp and media. They still watch telly.

    >”have you read it?”
    Reading it now.

    >”My point is only that populists and sortinistas share a common antipathy to elites;”
    Speaking only for myself, my antipathy is to the undue influence of “elites”. But what do you mean by an elite? If we’re talking of a group of eminent physicists, for instance, I’m full of admiration, even if they have temporarily mislaid most of the matter and the energy in the universe. If you mean a loose group of individuals who hold more than their fair share of power, and use it to further their own ends, then of course I look at them askance.

    >”however the progressive reforms lauded by Campbell et al are the result of the (covert) agenda of liberal elites, not public pressure”
    Sometimes, no doubt. So what should I do? Join my nearest liberal elite, and plot with them?
    (Dahl (After the Revolution, p 124) thinks I’m already in it, since I have read that page. How embarrassing! And how sneaky of me, to get there without even myself noticing!)

    >”Given the above-cited newspaper preferences of average citizens, there is no good reason to believe that sortition is likely to provide a better alternative”
    >”A democracy-by-lot, in which decisions are taken on a case by case basis, would be unlikely to pursue a liberal social agenda, in particular on issues like immigration, asylum and human rights.”
    You cannot deduce how a “democracy-by-lot” would behave from surveys of readers of British newspapers. Survey questions are often ambiguous, and answers are always given without reflection and without knowledge of all the facts. Not so in a properly designed democracy.
    Is it fair to categorise people by the newspaper they read?

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  174. *** Keith Sutherland said: “My point is only that populists and sortinistas share a common antipathy to elites”.
    *** Wallace Campbell disagrees with such a sweeping statement, and I disagree likewise. Actually sortinistas are against oligarchizing elites, or oligarchizing parts of elites, not always against any elite. At least not me. But I acknowledge I mention elites most often as antidemocratic forces. My excuse is that in polyarchies the system heightens the oligarchizing tendencies of all most important elites (whereas for instance authoritarian regimes heighten oligarchizing tendencies only in some elites), and that they will supply the most dangerous opponents of a mutation to dêmokratia. But dêmokratia does not imply a permanent war against the various elites of the society

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  175. *** About elites and dêmokratia.
    *** In any society (except the simplest ones) there will be various elites along several dimensions, grouping “the highest” along this dimension, with some hazy limits and some intensity of consciousness. And there may be “layers” inside the elite. Social and political processes act to shape the elites. For instance strongly progressive taxes (or specific taxes on “high fortunes”) helps to shape a moneyed elite. Higher education, with other factors, helps to shape a “culture elite”. A high level of complexity in law helps to shape a legal elite. The managing of human apparatus may create a specific elite. Technical abilities, specific knowledges, specific power in some institutions, etc may help creating elite consciousness, and therefore specific elites. Sometimes the elite may not be apparent, but exist nevertheless.
    *** The political problem is with the self-centering and oligarchizing tendencies which may easily develop (Rousseau said that “by dint of being a good senator, one becomes a bad citizen” ). A democracy might have problems with reining on these tendencies, the polyarchic system by pushing elites to convert into lobbies heightens the oligarchizing tendencies in the most powerful ones.
    *** It would be a very bad idea to identify dêmokratia with a built-in war against the elites. We will not come back to a simple society. In a modern society, an ideology of war against the elites will only lead to dissimulation of the elite phenomenon. Better to acknowledge the actual social landscape, including the various elite phenomena, and let the sovereign dêmos establish institutions able to prevent the dangerous potentialities of elitism.
    *** A specific problem appears in the information and deliberation procedures about expertise; it will be difficult but necessary to disentangle as strongly as possible the knowledge of the experts and the effect of their belonging to an elite, with its collective identity and its bias.

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  176. Andre,

    >The elites, or at least the more dynamic elements of the elites, being at the dominating centers of societies, are more sensitive to the trends of modernity.

    This is all a bit too whiggish for my taste. If its the case that the elites are just ahead of the curve in coming to terms with the structural changes engendered by “modernity” then why not leave it up to them, and drop all this talk of demokratia? Whenever I hear a politician talk of “modernising” I start counting the silver as this is just camouflage for a deeply political agenda. Demokratia should mean people living the lives they choose, rather than being victims of a teleological perspective on historical inevitability, that’s why a plurality of UK citizens voted to leave the EU and its Kantian cosmopolitanism.

    >It would be a very bad idea to identify dêmokratia with a built-in war against the elites. We will not come back to a simple society. In a modern society, an ideology of war against the elites will only lead to dissimulation of the elite phenomenon. Better to acknowledge the actual social landscape, including the various elite phenomena, and let the sovereign dêmos establish institutions able to prevent the dangerous potentialities of elitism.

    I agree 100% — I have always argued that elites should be quarantined into a purely advisory role, in a similar manner to rhetores in the second demokratia. But those who argue the case for pure sortition are not prepared to allow elites any independent status, they are purely on call at the whim of the allotted sample. My argument is that this will not lead to balanced information and advocacy as it will depend on purely random factors — i.e. the whim of the tiny minority of allotted members who happen to have any kind of knowledge or interest in the topic at hand. To make matters worse the allotted group will be highly reliant on guidance from the permanent officials attached to each panel. Much better to take advantage of the poly in polyarchy and allow the competing political elites to slug it out between them, with the minidemos determining the outcome.

    I think you should also acknowledge that some commentators on this site (Yoram being the principal culprit) use the word elite in the singular case and view it in terms of the structural opposition between the elite and the masses — essentially Marxist political sociology updated with 1%–99% language derived from the Occupy movement. Some commentators appear to believe that elite power is the product of the electoral process and will disappear completely after the kleristocratic revolution. This perspective is adopted in recent books with titles like Down with Elections! (Campbell), Against Elections van Reybrouk and The End of Politicians (Brett). This sort of antagonistic language is deeply problematic and, given the growing mainstream interest in sortition, entirely counter-productive, as turkeys are unlikely to vote for Christmas.

    Campbell,

    >(Dahl (After the Revolution, p 124) thinks I’m already in [the elite], since I have read that page.

    I think we should all read that page and see where that puts us in the 1%–99% schema (Dahl would put us firmly in the 1%). On the next page he goes on to discuss sortition and concludes (pace Campbell) that “if service were optional, the system no longer being random would lose much of its merit”.

    >Is it fair to categorise people by the newspaper they read?

    Well, yes, if there is a good range of options available. I subscribe to the Sunday Times because it’s political views are better aligned with my own than any UK political party.

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  177. >”But those who argue the case for pure sortition are not prepared to allow elites any independent status, they are purely on call at the whim of the allotted sample
    Not true. On the one hand you preach humility, on the other you presume to put words in other people’s mouths. The elites (whoever they are and however you define them will have the right to make their views known at their own initiative, NOT “at the whim of the allotted sample”.

    >”the whim of the tiny minority of allotted members who happen to have any kind of knowledge or interest in the topic at hand”
    Keith, this is utter rubbish, and I’m afraid I think that you are being deliberately malicious.

    >”To make matters worse the allotted group will be highly reliant on guidance from the permanent officials attached to each panel.”
    Are you referring to the policy committees? Your comment is nonsense if you are talking about my proposal. Any member of the public, including double Nobel Prize winners and post-grad PS students at East Anglia University – surely the crème de la crème! – will be able to make their profound and invaluable insights available.
    On the other hand, if they spout BS, they are likely to get a bit of well-deserved flak.

    >”Some commentators appear to believe that elite power is the product of the electoral process and will disappear completely after the kleristocratic revolution. This perspective is adopted in recent books with titles like Down with Elections! (Campbell)”
    1 You haven’t addressed the question of just what you mean by “elite”. Do you mean the 25-year-old BMW and Audi-driving suits who think they are Christmas because they have made a killing on the stock exchange? Do you mean the party bosses? CEOs of corporations big enough to dictate policy to national and supra-national parliaments such a as the EU? Or do you mean those who deserve respect for their scientific or technical knowledge and achievements?
    2 “Elite power”: This should be the power to convince with H’s “force of the better argument”. It has been noticeably absent recently in the case of climate change policy, also on the subject of drug policy, economic poiicy, immigration policy, punishment/incarceration policy in the US, abortion policy in the UK… the list goes on and on. Yet you accuse me of wanting to abolish a power which hardly exists.

    >”This sort of antagonistic language is deeply problematic”
    At least it’s honest. Would you prefer “Elections are Really Great, But Let’s Abolish Them”?

    >”given the growing mainstream interest in sortition”
    Beware of rose-tinted spectacles.

    >”Dahl would put us firmly in the 1%”
    As one of my proof-readers put it: “Dahl doesn’t possess absolute truth.” Pace Dahl.

    >”“if service were optional, the system no longer being random would lose much of its merit”
    You cannot compel the sick, the dying, the handicapped, those who have to care for them, expatriates, Trappist monks, prisoners serving long sentences, and no doubt others to be present for a period of years. The best you can do is to make it “opt-out” ie non-obligatory, but so well paid that few will want to opt out. Damn the expense, it’s peanuts compared with the cost of major blunders like Iraq.

    >” I subscribe to the Sunday Times because it’s political views are better aligned with my own than any UK political party.”
    In short, you like the comfort of an echo-chamber atmosphere. I subscribe to a weekly which gives articles chosen from other papers all over the world. Many (most?) of them are not at all aligned with my “political views” (whatever they might be, I only know my opinion on particular issues). I learn a good deal from it.

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  178. Campbell,

    > You cannot compel the sick, the dying, the handicapped, those who have to care for them, expatriates, Trappist monks, prisoners serving long sentences, and no doubt others to be present for a period of years.

    Those making a good case for being unable to physically attend meetings should be accommodated to participate remotely.

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  179. Yoram,
    >”Those making a good case for being unable to physically attend meetings should be accommodated to participate remotely.”
    This might work for some people, but I don’t think it will work in all cases. Some physically handicapped people, for instance, have barely enough strength and energy to do the things essential for life. Their carers – often family – may work 12 or 14 hours a day, and feel morally bound to continue as long as the dependent person lives. This is less uncommon than you might think.

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  180. You could also allow people to assign a replacement when they can make a good case that they have constraints. That should, of course, be a rare exception (and the replacement should be someone whom they know personally).

    That said, there will always be people who will decide they do not want to take the job. Forcing such people into the job is a horrible idea. People who take the allotted slot must be committed, and must understand that they are publicly committed, to doing the job well.

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  181. Campbell,

    >The elites (whoever they are and however you define them will have the right to make their views known at their own initiative. . . Any member of the public, including double Nobel Prize winners and post-grad PS students at East Anglia University – surely the crème de la crème! – will be able to make their profound and invaluable insights available.

    As does any citizen. What you seem to be proposing is a modern (i.e. electronic) version of isegoria rights in the Athenian direct democracy. What this overlooks is the difference of scale whereby both isonomia and isegoria require representation mechanisms. Your proposal allows only for the former (or not even that, according to Dahl’s criticism cited above).

    >I think that you are being deliberately malicious.

    Not at all. Most citizens have no clear views or knowledge on most political issues.

    >You haven’t addressed the question of just what you mean by “elite”.

    The only reason I even use the word is in reaction to the default position on this blog regarding the structural distinction between the elite and the masses — the function of sortition being to seize power from the former and return it to the latter. If anyone is going to define the meaning of “elite” it should be Yoram. My preference is “advocates”, who will include (inter alia) elected politicians and members of the House of Advocates. Was Demosthenes a member of the elite? Certainly not in the sense that Pericles was.

    >You cannot compel the sick, the dying, the handicapped, those who have to care for them, expatriates, Trappist monks, prisoners serving long sentences, and no doubt others to be present for a period of years.

    The important thing is to focus on the principle of statistical representation and bear in mind that everyone who turns down the invitation will adversely affect the accuracy of the portrait-in-miniature. The default position, as in jury service, should be to attend. Some writers on sortition assume that it doesn’t matter who shows up — just so long as the assembly is composed of “ordinary” citizens (i.e. the 99%) — and ignore the fact that most sortition-based groups are heavily weighted in favour of those who wish to change the status quo in the topic under consideration, whether that be the prevailing electoral algorithm or same-sex marriage. Volunteers are, by definition, unrepresentative.

    >In short, you like the comfort of an echo-chamber atmosphere.

    Yes, life is short and I don’t have a lot of time to spend contemplating political matters over which I have no real influence. But if I was a member of a decision-making body I would wish to be presented with much broader information and opinions.

    Yoram,

    >That said, there will always be people who will decide they do not want to take the job. Forcing such people into the job is a horrible idea. People who take the allotted slot must be committed, and must understand that they are publicly committed, to doing the job well.

    That would be true if allotted persons performed all the active functions of elected politicians in a parliamentary democracy. In my proposal all they have to do is stay awake, listen to the arguments and then vote. For doing this they would be well paid, so the commitment required would be minimal — as in the case of Athenian legislative jurors.

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  182. >” You could also allow people to assign a replacement”
    Not sure about this. Or should it be the next person drawn by lot? I’d prefer to duck the issue and leave it to the Assembly.

    >” there will always be people who will decide they do not want to take the job. Forcing such people into the job is a horrible idea.”
    Absolutely.

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  183. Although assigning a replacement would enable someone to choose a proxy for themselves, the practice would be wide open to the possibility of corruption.

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  184. Campbell,

    > I’d prefer to duck the issue and leave it to the Assembly.

    I agree. Like all details, this is something that should be designed by a representative body. Only the general principles need to be part of the preliminary platform.

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  185. Yoram/Campbell

    >Only the general principles need to be part of the preliminary platform.

    What would you do if the first decision of your representative body was to abolish itself and leave all decisions to elected representatives or a charismatic leader? This is a distinct possibility which the Legislator has to consider. Under my proposal this wouldn’t be an option as the jury would simply be determining the outcome of motions placed before them (although a citizen initiative against sortition that gained sufficient support in the public votation would become a parliamentary bill).

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  186. two points…
    1. I think I agree with Keith that allowing a person selected by lot to CHOOSE a substitute if they can’t attend is open to corruption of some sort. But more importantly to me is the reinvigoration of the idea of SELECTING representatives… (like voting). What if every randomly selected person argued that THEY also wanted the option to SELECT a replacement, etc. I think we need a clean break with the “choosing paradigm.”
    2. On the potential for modern universal isegoria… While not all assembly members can hear (read) everything that is submitted, everything that is submitted can be randomly distributed to random readers (these readers don’t need to be members of the assembly) who give each piece they get a thumbs up or thumbs down, or score the piece or whatever… as having value for the deliberators. Every submission would go to at least a few readers…A basic easily understood algorithm could present items that got a thumbs up to more readers, etc. … such that the BEST information and arguments (on all sides) would eventually work their way up to the miini-public decision-makers. This can be done so that balance (not just the dominant side getting their pieces advanced) is achieved, and the useless or weak submissions don’t waste the time of the mini-public. Isegoria is about the right of the assembly to get information from any citizen, as well as the right of any citizen to offer information…This does not mean that EVERYTHING gets heard… but this would be BETTER than the Athenian Assembly system of SELF-censorship, where most citizens with things they wanted to say didn’t have the gumption to even offer their thoughts.

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  187. >”What this overlooks is the difference of scale whereby both isonomia and isegoria require representation mechanisms. Your proposal allows only for the former”
    Representation is not necessary for the second. “Quot homines, tot sententiae” is not literally true. There are really only so many things you can say about any particular issue. Those things will be said many times over by different people, which is one reason why the policy committees are there: to sort and summarise the arguments. And before you say that this puts expert opinion at the mercy of the whims of the policy committee members, please remember that if that opinion is even plausible, it will have support in the community and hence in the Assembly, that the Assembly has authority over policy committees, and so any attempt to suppress such advice cannot succeed.

    >”not even that, according to Dahl’s criticism cited above”
    I suppose you mean (Dahl, 1989, p. 113)?
    “your alternative … would be rejected by Dahl, as the demos does not get to decide what goes on the agenda as the law of large numbers does not apply to the internal workings of small groups.”
    This is rather glib and quite inaccurate. The demos – any citizen – puts forward the original proposals. If they get sufficient support to be taken seriously they will go onto the agenda. There may be some small delay while the proposal is put into suitable form, but a proposal that has any chance of passing will have the support of a large group within the Assembly, whose members will not all be bashful wallflowers, and who will want to know the reason for any excessive delay.

    >”Most citizens have no clear views or knowledge on most political issues.”
    This is quite irrelevant to your false and malicious statement:
    “they are purely on call at the whim of the allotted sample”
    The elites or experts or whatever have a right to make submissions, just like anyone else. The policy committees also have a right to invite them to do so.
    Use of the word “whim” is not an argument. This sort of distorting language is deeply problematic.

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  188. Terry,

    What is the difference between choosing and selecting? As for your proposal for winnowing down isegoria submissions, this will still mean an overwhelming bias in favour of those who want to upset the apple cart. It’s quite hard to write a proposal that things should remain the way they currently are — it would be a bit like John Cage’s work Four Minutes, Thirty-Three Seconds [of silence]. In the 4th century Athenian legislative process half of the advocacy time was dedicated to spokesmen elected by the Assembly to defend the existing laws. Neither Campbell nor yourself have proposed anything remotely comparable and (I would suggest) this is on account of your activist provenance.

    Campbell,

    >Representation is not necessary for [isegoria]

    So why has John Dryzek dedicated most of his life to proposals to ensure that all discourses are represented? Manin’s stage of Party Democracy is entirely focused on the need for representative isegoria, so I’m puzzled by your attempt to abolish it with with wave of your hand. The relevant Dahl criticism of your position was “if service were optional, the system no longer being random would lose much of its merit”.

    >The demos – any citizen.

    Now I see the origin of the flaw in your overall argument. The demos is not any citizen, it is the aggregate judgment of all citizens. My use of the word “whim” is because the decisions as to which evidence and arguments to include will be taken by a tiny handful of randomly-selected citizens. In Terry’s proposal the huge volume of inputs are winnowed down by “a few readers”. There is nothing remotely democratic about such a random process of isegoria.

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  189. >”What would you do if the first decision of your representative body was to abolish itself and leave all decisions to elected representatives or a charismatic leader? This is a distinct possibility which the Legislator has to consider.”

    Have I had another promotion here? Dahl instantaneously converted me to a member of the elite, KS seems to have dubbed me “Legislator”! I’m going up in the world faster than the Lord High Executioner! Do I get the title “His Solonic Majesty”, and the Jupiter music from Holst’s “Planets” every time I post now?
    Nevertheless, I like the question.
    What would I do? I’d be surprised, certainly. I would probably also think it very foolish, but what would I DO?
    Absolutely nothing. In fact I would consider it an advantage that the government could abolish itself. (If only some others could be persuaded to do so!)

    >”Neither Campbell nor yourself have proposed anything remotely comparable”
    And Campbell, for one, is not going to excuse himself. Your notion that this means a bias in favour of “upsetting the apple cart” (a typical example of your use of very loaded terms) is just not true. Devoting half the Assembly’s time to defending the existing laws, regardless of injustice, would be highly biased and quite unjustifiable. If conservatism, of itself, is a virtue, why not go back to the Twelve Tables or Hammurabi’s code?

    >” why has John Dryzek dedicated most of his life to proposals to ensure that all discourses are represented?”
    1 Ask John Dryzek.
    2 I have proposed a model that allows all discourses to be represented. (I do less hand-waving than you seem to think.) If your discourse boils down to (for example) “Stop all immigration now because migrants take our jobs” and there are fifteen million others who say this, is it necessary for the Assembly to hear the same thing repeated fifteen million times? What they need to hear is all the arguments against immigration and the evidence for each argument. Similarly for the opposing view(s).

    >”Now I see the origin of the flaw in your overall argument. The demos is not any citizen”
    Aaaargh! Of course I know that! If any citizen can propose/comment/criticise/agoreuein then all citizens who wish to will.

    >”it is the aggregate judgment of all citizens.”
    Before or after hearing the arguments for/against? Obviously it can’t be “after” if we are talking about putting the matter on the agenda. So any citizen (=all who wish or hoi boulomenoi if you must have it in kitchen Greek) is reasonable.

    >”if service were optional, the system no longer being random would lose much of its merit”.
    Neither you nor Dahl can oblige people who are unable or unwilling to serve in a meaningful way. My model attempts to make the representation as exact as possible. Perfect representation is not possible. If you look at the tables in the article at the beginning, you will see that most assemblies do not have exactly 250 members of the group that constitutes one half of the adult population. This is so for sex (M/F), those in favour of proposal “A”, or any other trait. Since the number of traits or characteristics – call them what you will – is effectively infinite, the assembly will never exactly represent the population in all respects. We just have to live with this. It will, however, represent it a damned sight better than any existing legislature, and the slight decrease in representativity caused by humanely permitting to opt out those for whom participation would be a hardship is negligible. So also for the slight decrease in representativity caused by deliberation in the Assembly. To quote one of your favourite philosophers: “You strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”.

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  190. Campbell,

    I use the term “Legislator” in Rousseau’s sense of someone involved in fundamental constitutional design. That would put Terry and yourself in the company of Solon, Cleisthenes and Lysurgus were it not for the fact that they were all reforming existing constitutional arrangements, whereas you have assumed the god-like powers of starting from a blank slate. That puts you more in the company of Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. I’m not being facetious as I’m sure all three were as well-intended as you are, at least when working at the draft stage.

    >Devoting half the Assembly’s time to defending the existing laws, regardless of injustice, would be highly biased and quite unjustifiable.

    That is exactly like saying devoting half of court-room time to defending the accused, regardless of injustice, would be highly biased and quite unjustified. If the accused is innocent until proved guilty, then the same would apply to the contents of the statute book. It’s up to the jury to determine what constitutes “justice”, not political activists who deny that there could be any virtue in conservatism.

    You misunderstand the term “discourses” as Dryzek uses it. He is not referring to the identical speech acts of fifteen million people but to the range of possible options, including perspectives held by a tiny minority that cannot be guaranteed to emerge spontaneously from the internal workings of a randomly-selected group of average citizens. Discourses that Dryzek identifies on environmentalism (one of his pet projects) include wildlife management, conservation, preservation, reform environmentalism, deep ecology, environmental justice and ecofeminism. There is a distinct possibility that (for example) the ecofeminist discourse would not be adequately represented if isegoria were left entirely to random, that’s why Dryzek is wary about sortition. The inclusion of minority discourses comes under the section on “proportional” equality (in the Platonic sense) in my isegoria chapter.

    >any citizen (=all who wish or hoi boulomenoi if you must have it in kitchen Greek) is reasonable.

    Reasonable for a small direct democracy, but not for large multicultural states. Leaving the selection of which isegoria to include to “a few readers” is entirely undemocratic. If you could find the time to read my chapter on representative isegoria we might be able to have a more constructive conversation on the alternative to sheer randomness. There were two aspects to Athenian democracy, isonomia and isegoria. We all agree that the former requires (statistical) representation, but for some reason you believe that the latter doesn’t, despite the enormous difference in scale and complexity between ancient and modern poleis.

    >Perfect representation is not possible.

    The problem is that most sortition projects set the bar very low. In the case of the British Columbia constitutional convention only 4% of the original stratified sample came to the selection meeting, yet this allotted group is still cited as the paradigm example of decision making by minipublic. Deliberative Polls only have a slightly better track record, despite Fishkin’s heroic attempts to ensure accurate statistical representativity. I think we would both seek a drop-out rate of nearer 1%, but as actual projects are working with 96% that’s the reason that Andre, Naomi and myself like to use words like “mandatory”. I agree that the human rights of those selected must be preserved but I’m more worried about the human rights of the vast majority of citizens who will be disenfranchised by the kleristocratic coup.

    >To quote one of your favourite philosophers: “You strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”.

    That’s the first time I’ve heard St. Matthew referred to as a philosopher!

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  191. I’m genuinely puzzled by the predominant view on this blog that it is unimportant which concrete individuals take up the kleristocratic challenge, just so long as they are not selected by the despised principle of distinction that underlies election. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the Marxian notion of the universal class — i.e. that class of people within a stratified society for which, at a given point in history, self-interested action coincides with the needs of humanity as a whole. The Analytical Marxist Jon Elster (1998), for example, defines democracy as “any kind of effective and formalized control by citizens over leaders or policies” (p.98), and deliberative democracy as “decision making by discussion among free and equal citizens” (p.1). Elster appears to be entirely unconcerned as to which citizens exercise control, so presumably he sees citizens’ interests as more or less interchangeable — in contrast to the sinister interests of the elite (Elster, 2013).

    Assuming (with Elster?) that the proletariat is the current universal class, then according to the arithmetic underlying the selection algorithm, sortition would privilege such an entity at the expense of the elite, which clearly corresponds to the 1%–99% distinction that Yoram has frequently referenced. If it’s the case that the self-interested action of this universal class coincides with the needs of humanity as a whole, then clearly it matters little which empirical individuals are chosen given that (assuming simple majoritarian principles) their interests will naturally predominate.

    Needless to say, whether there is a universal class in modern post-industrial multicultural societies is another matter.

    Refs:

    Jon Elster (ed.), Deliberative Democracy, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    Jon Elster, Securities Against Misrule: Juries, Assemblies, Elections, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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  192. >” you have assumed the god-like powers of starting from a blank slate.
    I have assumed no powers at all. I merely make a proposal; you seem to think I don’t even have the right to do that! (So what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have…”).

    >”That puts you more in the company of Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot.”
    This doesn’t deserve a reply.

    >”That is exactly like saying devoting half of court-room time to defending the accused, regardless of injustice, would be highly biased”
    Not at all.
    Opponents of any measure would of course make their views known; if they were numerous and/or garrulous they might well take up half or more of the Assembly’s time. Your idea would give them half of the time automatically, plus some large proportion of the remaining time.

    >”[Dryzek is referring] “to the range of possible options, including perspectives held by a tiny minority that cannot be guaranteed to emerge spontaneously from the internal workings of a randomly-selected group of average citizens”
    And it is precisely the range of all possible options that will come out in my model – not necessarily from the members of the Assembly, but from the entire community, and even beyond the community, in these days of the web. As I said above: “Nor do I look to the random sample – the assembly – to generate information. That comes from the community, including the experts.”

    >”Leaving the selection of which isegoria to include to “a few readers” is entirely undemocratic.”
    To begin, “which isegoria to include” just doesn’t make sense. I suppose you mean “the selection of which evidence or opinions to include”. This would be undemocratic, if I had proposed it, but I haven’t. The policy committees’ duty is to include all views, discarding duplicates. If they don’t do their job properly, you can be sure those who feel their point of view has been improperly omitted will scream, and will find support in the Assembly, probably including from those who don’t share their views, on principle. There are some people of principle in the world, after all.

    >”If you could find the time to read my chapter on representative isegoria we might be able to have a more constructive conversation”
    >”That’s the first time I’ve heard St. Matthew referred to as a philosopher!”
    Of course, I was referring to the fellow that Matthew quotes, but you are right, it would be more correct to call them both “activists”. I suppose I’ll have to explain the reference: You find a gnat – the statistically imperfect “speech acts” in the Assembly – in my soup. You make the point in your “Isegoria” chapter that newspapers follow or reflect the views of their readers for commercial reasons. Fair enough, but you then seem to swallow the notion that this huge, hairy and rather ugly beast is perfect or nearly perfect representation.

    >” it is unimportant which concrete individuals take up the kleristocratic challenge, just so long as they are not selected by the despised principle of distinction that underlies election”
    For my part, I might dislike elections somewhat less if they actually did consistently select distinction rather than ambition.

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  193. *** Wallace Campbell (October 26) distinguishes bad elites (as today financial or political elites) and “those who deserve respect for their scientific or technical knowledge and achievements”.
    *** I understand him. But the elite of Nobel Prizes is an elite, which may be connected to larger elites, which may have collective consciousness and inbuilt bias, including unconscious ones. If a sovereign dêmos asks for expertise from members of this elite, he must beware of the elitarian phenomenon. It will be necessary to elaborate procedures to reduce its effects. I will not consider here the possibilities, except two. Dokimasia would be useful for experts; especially at the beginning of a dêmokratia it would be good to consider only experts who as citizens approved the transition to dêmokratia, and therefore may be trusted a priori. Second, if some body of experts gives an advice, it will be useful to check the consensus through a secret vote, an open vote being more sensitive to the pressure of the surrounding collectivity.

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  194. *** Yoram Gat said (October 27) “there will always be people who will decide they do not want to take the job. Forcing such people into the job is a horrible idea. “
    *** OK. Supposing a mini-dêmos convening in a room of the Civic Hall for a one day political work, I agree that there may be adjacent private rooms where reluctant jurors may use the day in private activities (video playing, looking TV series, reading novels or other innocent leisure). They will represent perfectly the truly apolitical citizens (including the more honorable ones, those who would say; “God forbids me to legislate”, for instance). What I want to avoid through “mandatory allotment”, it is the absence in the mini-dêmos of citizens who are not truly apolitical, but would avoid political service from pressures of private or professional life, especially combined with unconscious ideas of inferiority. I think such people, when anyway having to go to the Civic Hall for the day, will usually go to the political room instead of the private rooms. Therefore representativity would not be seriously damaged

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  195. *** Keith Sutherland asks (October 27) “What would you do if the first decision of your representative body was to abolish itself and leave all decisions to elected representatives or a charismatic leader?”
    *** I acknowledge self-destruction of a democracy is a theoretical possibility; but it is true for any political system. Let’s suppose an absolute monarchy where the legitimate heir is democrat, or Trostkyite; the regime will disappear through self-destruction. And in a polyarchy if some important social powers don’t accept the rules of the system, it can disappear likewise; see the Weimar Republic as a famous example.
    *** Among the possibilities of self-destruction of a democracy, there is reversion to polyarchy. But will it occur often? Personally, I doubt, except in cases of strong external pressure.

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  196. Keith,
    Further to André’s reply:
    You have said there is not a snowflake’s chance in hell that my scheme will ever be adopted. If, however, it were adopted, I think it’s just about as improbable that it will choose to self-destruct. So whether I’m right or you are, this case will almost certainly not arise. Unless, of course, some “democratic” state (the US?), obliges it to commit suicide: André’s “strong external pressure”; the cases of Grenada and Chile come to mind.

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  197. André,
    >” Wallace Campbell”
    I prefer it around the other way: Campbell Wallace. Ozzervise you sound like ze Direction générale des finances publiques. (C’est pas grave.)
    Elites: I only wanted to be clear on what sort of elite Keith had in mind. I agree that elites may have bias: I would even say that it is probable: think of Wegener and his theory of continental drift, which was scoffed at by the best geophysicists and geologists of his time. Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is illuminating on this.
    Nevertheless, I can’t accept dokimasia for opinions or for the experts or others who express them, any more than for members of a body chosen by lot. We want all views, including the heretical ones. Especially the heretical ones.
    Tests of aptitude and competence have their place, of course. It’s comforting for the passengers if the pilot of a plane or the conducteur of a TGV actually knows how to drive the damn thing.

    >”What I want to avoid through “mandatory allotment”, it is the absence in the mini-dêmos of citizens who are not truly apolitical, but would avoid political service from pressures of private or professional life,”
    Give them gold. Much gold. Think of Cleopatra and Numérobis.

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  198. Keith has wrote
    >”In Terry’s proposal the huge volume of inputs are
    winnowed down by “a few readers”

    To clarify, the idea is to crowdsource this winnowing by a vast number of randomly designated readers so that EACH submission is read by at least a few readers… not that a “few readers” would do the winnowing. For example, perhaps if a submission gets five thumbs down from five random readers it won’t advance, but if it gets one thumbs up it gets advanced to more readers, etc. The idea is that ANY citizen can offer ideas or arguments in this manner, and the most useful submissions from all sides of an issue will eventually rise to the mini-public membership.

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  199. Terry,

    >the idea is to crowdsource this winnowing by a vast number of randomly designated readers so that EACH submission is read by at least a few readers.

    Exactly, if there were a large number of submissions, then each may well only be evaluated by only a few readers. You assume that your self-appointed censors of public isegoria are a) impartial, b) knowledgeable and c) free from hegemonic thinking. All three assumptions are, to say the least, optimistic as a) it would be comparatively easy for a partisan mass movement to dominate the crowd-sourcing process, b) peer review, while not the ideal way of determining quality, does at least ensure that the referees know what they are talking about and c) most of the minority discourses identified by Dryzek would be snuffed out by the prevailing hegemony in the public sphere. Why is it that all of you who are so insistent on representative isonomia in large complex societies are content to rely on a direct democratic approach to isegoria? The ancients viewed both elements of demokratia as equally important, so if one requires representation in large poleis then why not the other?

    Andre,

    Yoram’s claim that mandatory participation is “horrible” ignores the fact that in current experiments with minipublics only around 5% of those in the original sortition agree to participate, and this is clearly far removed from accurate statistical representation. It’s interesting that younger persons on the left (Yoram, Campbell etc.) prefer the neo-liberal solution of stuffing their mouths with gold whereas old fogies like you and I are more attuned to the ethos of public service and citizenship that is presupposed by both jury service and National Service. Sure, it must have been horrible to receive your call-up papers (one of the reasons that sortition went out of favour during the Vietnam war era), but this is an aspect of citizenship that was one of the defining characteristic of the ancient republics.

    Campbell,

    >I can’t accept dokimasia for opinions or for the experts or others who express them, any more than for members of a body chosen by lot. We want all views, including the heretical ones. Especially the heretical ones.

    Agreed. In my book I insist that membership of the House of Advocates is for life, for the reasons that you provide.

    >I have assumed no powers at all. I merely make a proposal; you seem to think I don’t even have the right to do that! (So what right do Campbell, Terry etc. think they have…”).

    What I should have said is that proposals derived from pure speculation (rather than attempts to improve existing arrangements) should be filed under utopian fantasy, rather than political theory. The trouble with utopian proposals, is that they generally turn out as highly dystopian, hence the reference to Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. Popper locates the seeds of 20th century dystopias in Plato’s utopian dream.

    >Your idea would give [opponents] half of the time automatically.

    Exactly. As in 4th century practice and modern adversarial parliamentary systems that also respect the dialectic between progress and conservation. All successful motor vehicles have two pedals — the accelerator and the brake. (Oakeshott pointed out that farm vehicles actually had a third pedal — the scrotch peg — which he compared to the role of tradition, but I’m happy to subsume that within the conservative domain.)

    >And it is precisely the range of all possible options that will come out in my model – not necessarily from the members of the Assembly, but from the entire community, and even beyond the community, in these days of the web.

    This ignores all the research on the effect of the internet that indicates it has led to an impoverishment of the public sphere as there are so many competing voices that 99% of them are obliterated by the prevailing hegemony. Although anyone is free to contribute to the debate, this freedom is a bit like standing on a soap box in the middle of the Sahara Desert and (effectively) talking to yourself.

    >You make the point in your “Isegoria” chapter that newspapers follow or reflect the views of their readers for commercial reasons. Fair enough, but you then seem to swallow the notion that this huge, hairy and rather ugly beast is perfect or nearly perfect representation.

    Not so, I have no interest in perfection, I’ll leave that to St. Matthew. The chapter acknowledges the complexity of representative isegoria and argues the case for a messy combination of election, direct initiative, advocacy groups, commercial media and other factors. That’s why I subsume it all under the general rubric of representative claim making.

    >For my part, I might dislike elections somewhat less if they actually did consistently select distinction rather than ambition.

    Manin is insistent that distinction is in the eye of the beholder, he is not advocating a recourse to traditional aristocratic values. That’s why he considers audience democracy to be a legitimate metamorphosis of the representative principle.

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  200. *** Campbell Wallace wrote (October 28): “Nevertheless, I can’t accept dokimasia for opinions or for the experts or others who express them, any more than for members of a body chosen by lot. We want all views, including the heretical ones. Especially the heretical ones. Tests of aptitude and competence have their place, of course. It’s comforting for the passengers if the pilot of a plane or the conducteur of a TGV actually knows how to drive the damn thing.”
    *** I agree that we may need “heretical views”. Actually, among my very diverse readings, I read quite regularly a fascist/ nazoid review. But I think a sovereign dêmos should distinguish, among advisers, those who applauded the advent of dêmokratia and those who militated against it. In case an advice is supported by 75 % of, let’s say, “Nobelized economists” or “Nobelized biologists”, but only 15% of those, among them, who are democrats, I think it is matter of thinking more.
    *** “It’s comforting for the passengers if the pilot of a plane actually knows how to drive the damn thing.” Right. But it is comforting likewise if the pilot is not Al Qaida sympathizer.

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  201. *** Keith Sutherland writes (October 28): “I use the term “Legislator” in Rousseau’s sense of someone involved in fundamental constitutional design. That would put Terry and yourself in the company of Solon, Cleisthenes and Lycurgus were it not for the fact that they were all reforming existing constitutional arrangements, whereas you have assumed the god-like powers of starting from a blank slate.” That puts you more in the company of Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. I’m not being facetious as I’m sure all three were as well-intended as you are, at least when working at the draft stage”.
    *** We must consider separately, among the political issues, the basic and very specific issue: which is the system generating rules and policies? Lenin, Mao or Pol Pot had the same answer: our militant group. It is the answer of any totalitarian movement, even if the militant groups may have very different ideologies and policies may be very different. Whatever Keith Sutherland thinks about the political ideas of Terry Bouricius or Campbell Wallace, they are for dêmokratia (ortho-democracy, I suggested), they do not ask for power to be allocated to a specific militant group, and therefore the analogy is worthless.
    *** It could be used only about a discourse of the kind: “we are for dêmokratia, but it cannot be established immediately, it needs previous social reforms that only the power of our militant group can enforce; dêmokratia will come later”. I did not see any discourse of this kind from the usual contributors of this blog.
    *** Keith puts Terry Bouricius or Campbell Wallace in the same class than Lenin, Mao or Pol Pot as people who want to “start from a blank state”. But actually from the “political system” point of view, Mao founding Red China used an already well known model, the totalitarian model, which showed in China its various known potentialities. The kleroterians are much more innovative. You can criticize them, but they belong to another class.
    *** Right, people who dream of a global revolution, converting rapidly all the fields of social life to their own global model, drafted “from a blank state”, will be tempted by a totalitarian system, because they have few hope to convert immediately the majority of citizens about all the facets of their model. But proposers of a political mutation to dêmokratia usually do not reason like that. They are “constructivist”, but they think their draft may be accepted by many citizens without previous “temporary dictatorship”.
    *** Identifying the drafters of democratic institutions to the initiators of totalitarian movements is therefore unreasonable.

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  202. Andre,

    My intention was not to make a parallel between kleristocracy and totalitarianism, merely to focus on proposals that were devised on a purely theoretical basis — unfortunately all the historical examples I can think of are, or ended up as, totalitarian. I suppose if one were to include utopian socialist and anarchist proposals this would not be the case, but none of them have been put into practice, possibly on account of them being designed for a society of angels rather than men. The real contrast that I seek to draw is between reform and revolution. The addition of sortition to the existing polyarchic institutions would fall into the former category, and that’s why radicals like Yoram are so disgusted by reformist proposals for sortition, as they involve sleeping with the enemy. His own proposal is based on little more than a logical syllogism plus a couple of anachronistic arguments from authority. It strikes me that Campbell and Terry’s proposals are of similar provenance although the latter does have the benefit of many years of public service, so certainly knows more about legislative procedures than most of us. But I think he has let his disgust with elected politicians (and Marxist provenance) get the better of his measured judgment.

    >But proposers of a political mutation to dêmokratia

    I’m all for that, but I don’t think Campbell, Terry or Yoram’s proposals fit the Darwinian adaptationist metaphor. They would be better described as Creationism (or Intelligent Design), with the authors assuming the god-like status of the Legislator, the irony being that while they advocate randomness, there is nothing remotely random about their Grand Designs. By contrast my own proposal, to mutate the judicial jury into a legislative jury, is entirely adaptationist, as a) all other aspects involve minor adaptations to existing political institutions and b) the system has functioned reasonably well in an earlier political ecosystem.

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  203. Keith,
    Yes, big advances of democracy with sortition are limited by prior institutional frameworks. But they are also limited by assumptions and lack of imagination. IF nearly everybody ASSUMES that any sort of democracy MUST be based in elections, then a whole realm of possible superior reforms never get considered. I think what Campbell and I are doing is trying to help free the mind of future reformers to look at other possibilities. I wonder what might have been possible if the citizenry in Tahrir Square had heard of and been demanding random juries of average citizens, instead of “free and fair elections.” I think it unlikely any democracy will completely do away with elections for generations to come, but appreciating that such a democracy is theoretically possible (and possibly superior) opens the door to a whole range of reforms (including those advocated by Keith Sutherland).

    Liked by 1 person

  204. Terry,

    >IF nearly everybody ASSUMES that any sort of democracy MUST be based in elections, then a whole realm of possible superior reforms never get considered. I think what Campbell and I are doing is trying to help free the mind of future reformers to look at other possibilities.

    Sure, but why does it have to be sortition only? — every political system, past and present, has involved a mixed constitution of some kind. It’s the desire for purity — reliance on a single principle — that I find puzzling and this is the reason I resort to purple prose when referring to the proponents of this, and other, utopian schemes.

    >appreciating that such a democracy is theoretically possible (and possibly superior) opens the door to a whole range of reforms (including those advocated by Keith Sutherland).

    Unfortunately utopian projects for pure sortition (especially those that celebrate the end of politicians) will drive away anybody trying to improve our existing political arrangements incrementally from the inside.

    >I think it unlikely any democracy will completely do away with elections for generations to come

    That’s what I refer to as the marxian/millenarian mindset — it may take some time, but the state/elections (delete as appropriate) will eventually wither away. I’m glad that you take a pragmatic view regarding the need to acknowledge prior institutional frameworks but your perspective is thoroughly teleological rather than adaptationist.

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  205. Keith,
    >”younger persons on the left (Yoram, Campbell etc”
    Things just keep getting better on this blog. First Dahl catapults me into the elite, then you promote me Legislator, and now I’m younger, too! “On the left”, though? Oh well, relative to you perhaps I am, like almost everyone else.

    >”the neo-liberal solution of stuffing their mouths with gold ”
    So it’s neo-liberal to pay people for service, rather than temporarily enslaving them? Are you really suggesting that it would be better to conscript them for five years without pay, and expect them to earnestly and dutifully consider and vote without resentment?

    >” this is an aspect of citizenship that was one of the defining characteristic of the ancient republics.”
    And one of the defining characteristics of Hitler’s regime. Accompanied by appeals to the ethos of public service.

    >” I insist that membership of the House of Advocates is for life”
    I can just see all those ninety-year-olds feverishly producing heretical and outlandish ideas. Some will, it’s true; John Burnheim is an honourable example of a young head on old shoulders.

    >”What I should have said is that proposals derived from pure speculation (rather than attempts to improve existing arrangements) should be filed under utopian fantasy, rather than political theory.”
    But what you DID say was to question our right to speak out. Do I have to insist on the irony of the great Champion of Isegoria, on his snow-white charger, trying to muzzle others because they disagree with him?
    I don’t reject the word “utopian”. Utopias are useful. I do object to being lumped together with Plato. So would he, no doubt, if he were able.

    >>”Your idea …”
    What I said was “Your idea would give them half of the time automatically, PLUS SOME LARGE PROPORTION OF THE REMAINING TIME.”
    Misquoting me by leaving out an essential part of my statement is hardly fair, so you haven’t properly replied to this.

    >”This ignores all the research on the effect of the internet that indicates it has led to an impoverishment of the public sphere …”
    You miss the point completely. (Deliberately?) The web is a mediocre soap-box unless you’re famous, but it is an excellent resource for research. I am referring to the possibility of seeking solutions, information, arguments and counter-arguments on the web, and using them to inform your ideas. You then submit the fruits of your labours to the policy committee. This is not at all like standing on a soap-box in the desert.

    >”I have no interest in perfection”
    Yet you demand it from others. You reject a deliberative Assembly because of the slight bias which members’ speeches may introduce (I’ve given reasons why it is likely to be very slight). Yet you eagerly embrace the rough-as-bags “isegoria” that the daily blatts may give. Quotes because it is nowhere near equal, and because there is often a time-lag of several years, which renders it meaningless.

    >”Manin is insistent that distinction is in the eye of the beholder”
    Why bring Manin into it? You could have stood up and said this like a grown-up. Yes, distinction is in the eye of the beholder, but if you look at the current soap opera in the US, you’re entitled to ask where is the distinction when neither candidate can muster the approval of half the electorate?
    + + + + +
    André,
    >”I think a sovereign dêmos should distinguish, among advisers, those who applauded the advent of dêmokratia and those who militated against it.”
    I’m afraid that maybe you have just eliminated Keith. But is there a foolproof test for democratic sympathies – or Al Qaida sympathies – and even if there is, do we democrats (at least, I think that I can call myself one) have the right to exclude non-democrats?

    >” it is comforting likewise if the pilot is not Al Qaida sympathizer.”
    Or a pathological depressive, or a gambling addict whose debts have made him lose touch with reality. I’m told the airlines are much more interested in psychological testing of pilots than they were.

    >” Keith puts Terry Bouricius or Campbell Wallace in the same class than Lenin, Mao or Pol Pot as people who want to “start from a blank state”.
    Thank you for your defence of Terry and myself. There is of course a huge difference between advocating such things as forced collectivisation, all power to the soviets, and so on, and trying to find a fairer system of decision-making, without attempting to say what the decisions should be.
    As for the blank slate, I am much less ambitious and less innovative than Keith says or than you give me credit for. Of the three conventional branches of government and the “fourth estate”, I would make significant changes to only one: the legislation; I leave entirely untouched the administrative branch, except for replacing the Minister or Secretary (US usage) by a small oversight committee, and I leave the judicial system pretty much untouched except for the rotation of judges, and removing judicial meddling with legislative decisions. The media would also be untouched, except for the addition of state news services in those countries which do not already have them.
    + + + + +
    Keith,
    “the provenance of Campbell and Terry’s proposals”
    A little while ago, my proposal was “based on nothing more than a misunderstanding of Montesquieu”. Then it was “all straight out of Rousseau”. Then it was a “utopian fantasy” “derived from pure speculation”. Now, it seems, in common with Yoram’s, that it’s based “on a logical syllogism and a couple of anachronistic arguments from authority”. If you really believe that I need you to tell me where my ideas come from, then please make up your mind! And, coming from you, the phrase “anachronistic arguments from authority” is particularly ironic.

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  206. Campbell,

    >Of the three conventional branches of government and the “fourth estate”, I would make significant changes to only one: the legislation; I leave entirely untouched the administrative branch, except for replacing the Minister or Secretary (US usage) by a small oversight committee

    You underestimate the consequence of banishing the principle of elected presidents and indirectly elected prime ministers. The administrative branch (which you refer to as the civil service) would have considerably more power than under an elected system, especially if the only constraint was an oversight committee of amateur citizens with no prior experience of public administration.

    >And coming from you, the phrase “anachronistic arguments from authority” is particularly ironic.

    Anachronism to a historian is not reference to past practices, it is either a) imposing modern standards on antiquity (e.g. claiming that there was no ancient demokratia as slaves and women were not citizens) or b) applying ancient notions in a modern context without acknowledging the differences. Aristotle’s observation that sortition was democratic applied to a small polis where all citizens could rule and be ruled in turn. For sortition to be democratic in a large modern state other considerations, such as the need for descriptive representation, need to apply. If this is the case we also need to consider carefully exactly what does and doesn’t fall within the statistical-representation mandate.

    >Are you really suggesting that it would be better to conscript them for five years without pay and expect them to earnestly and dutifully consider and vote without resentment?

    As I’ve stated frequently on this forum (and in my books), generous pay for jurors is essential. But this is in the context of an assumption that jury service is a public duty and the default position is for everyone selected to participate, unlike the 5% participation rate currently obtained by sortition projects. If I repeat, yet again, that the use of the word “mandatory” is only to emphasise the centrality of this problem, will that be sufficient for you to drop this charge? Please note also that my proposal is for short ad hoc jury service rather than the creation of an aleatory political class.

    >But what you DID say was to question our right to speak out.

    I regret using those words. But those of us who are engaged in a serious effort to ameliorate (rather than overthrow) representative governance are alarmed at anything that will enable serious and practical people to dismiss sortition as a utopian dream or another variant of post-Marxism. The principal reason that I refused to publish Brett’s new book is because he insisted on calling it The End of Politicians. Although I agree with many of his arguments I am not prepared to offer the oxygen of publicity to an effort that will undermine all our good work. (Needless to say I also regret the title of my first book, The Party’s Over). If I’m a bit over zealous about this it’s because I’m a poacher turned gamekeeper myself and very aware of the danger of shooting oneself in the foot.

    >I don’t reject the word “utopian”. Utopias are useful. I do object to being lumped together with Plato.

    Given that all modern philosophy is a footnote on Plato, I’m afraid this is something you will have to learn to live with.

    >“Your idea would give them half of the time automatically, PLUS SOME LARGE PROPORTION OF THE REMAINING TIME.”

    Certainly not in my proposal (based on the nomothetai) in which prosecution and defence have equal time.

    >You reject a deliberative Assembly because of the slight bias which members’ speeches may introduce (I’ve given reasons why it is likely to be very slight).

    I very much doubt it. Fortunately we won’t have to rely on reasons, as our disagreement can be resolved empirically.

    >Why bring Manin into it?

    Because the Principle of Distinction that underlies preference election was originally formulated in his 1997 book.

    >The media would also be untouched, except for the addition of state news services in those countries which do not already have them.

    Note that the BBC, and other public service broadcasters, would strongly object to being described as a “state news service”. One of the objections to the Leveson report was that, if implemented, the regulator would (effectively) give the state the power to create a state news service. Citizens of totalitarian states would not see their news services as a good model for liberal regimes to emulate.

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  207. >”the civil service would have considerably more power”
    Well, as you know, I strongly disagree. I wonder if anyone else on this blog agrees with you on this? I’ve read Dahl’s After the Revolution p 124, don’t bother quoting him, he doesn’t allow for the dedicated oversight committees. Your “no prior experience” is a bit far from the truth, too.

    >”claiming that there was no ancient demokratia as slaves and women were not citizens)”
    One thing I have not done.

    >”applying ancient notions in a modern context without acknowledging the differences.”
    That sounds like KS to me.

    >” unlike the 5% participation rate currently obtained by sortition projects”
    1 With quite limited resources.
    2 With no power to make binding decisions.

    >”my proposal is for short ad hoc jury service”
    And mine for (probably) five year terms. What might be tolerated with grumbling in your proposal is just not suitable for mine. Hence the buckets of money approach.

    >”those of us who are engaged in a serious effort”
    Lack of being serious is another of my sins?

    “to ameliorate (rather than overthrow) representative governance ”
    I’m hardly trying to overthrow it. To steal Ghandi’s phrase, I think it would be a very good idea.

    >”Certainly not in my proposal”
    Ah. Just don’t expect me to introduce it in mine, it would in effect give them about three quarters of the time.

    >”as our disagreement can be resolved empirically.”
    I doubt this.

    >” would strongly object to being described as a “state news service””
    OK. What I call for is state-financed media “The management would operate under an oversight committee, since it would be dealing with public money, but would have autonomy with regard to programs.”

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  208. KS>>”applying ancient notions in a modern context without acknowledging the differences.”
    CW>That sounds like KS to me.

    Why so? I borrow two aspects of Athenian democracy and then seek to transform them for modern societies:

    1) From an ideological perspective the Greeks argued that demokratia involves two elements — isonomia and isegoria. In both cases I argue that representation is required to adapt them for the modern world. Sortition advocates agree in the former case, but the latter requires a complex mix of non-sortive institutions.

    2) This ideological distinction was fully respected by the 4th century process of nomothesia involving large randomly-selected legislative courts. Statistical science would indicate that the jury sizes employed for large modern states would be in the same order of magnitude as those used in antiquity. Regarding the selection process for the advocates, in the ancient example the proposers were self-selecting, so I add representative mechanisms (petition thresholds, votation, election) for the modern example. The defence advocates were elected.

    What is anachronistic about any of the above?

    >I’m hardly trying to overthrow it. To steal Ghandi’s phrase, I think it would be a very good idea.

    I’m afraid you’ve just acknowledged my point. In your view governance is not representative so there is nothing to ameliorate. Democracy doesn’t exist therefore we need “real” or “true” democracy (to paraphrase the young Marx).

    KS>>”as our disagreement can be resolved empirically.”
    CW>I doubt this.

    It’s quite simple. You just appoint several large samples from the same target population to determine the same issue in parallel and see if they come to the same conclusion. If they don’t, then the variance must be a product of the speech acts of the individual participants.

    Like

  209. >”I borrow two aspects of Athenian democracy and then seek to transform them”
    So far, so good, but it’s in your attempts to demolish other people’s ideas that you fudge.

    >” Democracy doesn’t exist therefore we need “real” or “true” democracy (to paraphrase the young Marx)”
    This is a caricature of my position, which is that (electoral) democracy is very imperfect, we should realise this, and try to find a better way of implementing democracy. (“Better”, we’ll never achieve perfection).

    >”It’s quite simple. You just appoint several large samples from the same target population to determine the same issue in parallel and see if they come to the same conclusion. If they don’t, then the variance must be a product of the speech acts of the individual participants.”

    Not so. I don’t know what you consider qualifies as a “large sample”, but here are some results for assemblies of 10 000 members, where the population is evenly divided on some issue, (or would be if it had all the facts and the time etc etc):
    Total number of assemblies drawn 1000 Population 10000000 Assembly size 10000
    Proportion of class in population 0.5000 Expected no of class members in assembly 5000.0
    4971 4943 5111 4944 5034 5129 5026 5006 4990 4997 4997 4985 5031 4972 5010 5115 4983 4961 5024 5019
    […]
    4989 5010 4927 5017 5013 4951 4822 5079 5001 5028 4974 4985 4993 5044 5008 4944 5026 4982 5001 4935
    Note the figure 4822 followed by 5079 in the last line. If the population is equally divided over proposition ‘A’ and these figures represent the numbers in the sample in favour, you will quite obviously get a different result from these two assemblies, whether or not speaking is allowed. To be sure, 4822 is the greatest deviation from the expected value in that particular batch, but you talk as though you expect _exactly_ the same result from two successive assemblies. Only six assemblies out of a thousand had exactly 5000 members. Consequently you have almost a 50:50 chance of getting a different result in two different assemblies. To me, this makes your fear of the bias that speaking will introduce completely out of proportion.

    Incidentally, I think the statisticians on the site might criticise your use of the word “variance”.

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  210. *** Campbell Wallace wrote (October 30) “ is there a foolproof test for democratic sympathies – or Al Qaida sympathies – and even if there is, do we democrats (at least, I think that I can call myself one) have the right to exclude non-democrats?”
    *** I did not suggest to exclude non-democrats of all functions of expertise and advising. I suggest to use them cautiously, and distinguishing from democrats, who alone may be “habilitated advisers” through dokimasia.
    *** To be a habilitated adviser of the sovereign dêmos is not a basic right of any human being; to exclude anti-democrats from the body of habilitated advisers is not an injustice.
    *** A foolproof test? At the beginning of a democracy-through- minipublics, all those who publicly opposed the mutation may be considered as not to be trusted by the new sovereign. Those who approved must be trusted, at least until later clear opposing evidence. I acknowledge that a kleroterian may turn into Al Qaida sympathizer, but the risk is low, and if among “habilitated advisers” we have a small per cent of enemies of democracy, it will not usually have serious consequences.
    *** Later, I acknowledge, there will be more possibilities of “moles”, antidemocrats masquerading as democrats, but I am not sure that they will be numerous enough to be dangerous.
    *** Dokimasia is only about civic virtues (eliminating for example people guilty of corruption) and about loyalty to the system. It is not about political sensitivities of any other kind.

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  211. *** Keith Sutherland wrote (October 30) “You underestimate the consequence of banishing the principle of elected presidents and indirectly elected prime ministers. The administrative branch (which you refer to as the civil service) would have considerably more power than under an elected system, especially if the only constraint was an oversight committee of amateur citizens with no prior experience of public administration. “
    *** I agree with Keith Sutherland. There is a strong risk of specific elites exercizing power through administrative function. But actually it is already the case in polyarchies with indirectly elected ministers unable to oversee really their administrative apparatus, being more preoccupied by electoral prospects, image giving, story telling. The specific elite, which may be connected to external material or ideological lobbies, or constituting a lobby itself, may rule behind the screen. Maybe it is especially the case with the French State, an over-centralized one, with very big administrations, but it must happen elsewhere.
    *** I think a democracy-through-minipublics would have to combine election of managers by a minipublic in charge of the field – better to say “nomination” of the manager to differentiate from mass election of representatives – and overseeing of the activities. Let’s consider an administration as the US “Food and Drugs Agency”: a specific “legislative” minipublic, a nominated manager, overseen by an accounting minipublic. I think we could have a democratic-led agency, reasonably proof from lobbies.

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  212. Campbell,

    >here are some results for assemblies of 10 000 members, where the population is evenly divided on some issue, (or would be if it had all the facts and the time etc etc)

    Now I understand why we are talking past each other — you are conflating two entirely different problems:

    1. When a population is evenly divided on some issue then no decision rule will offer a reliable way of determining the outcome. In an earlier comment I discussed how the sample size of a minipublic would need to be so large — way past the threshold of rational ignorance — that a referendum would be needed (and the losing party would be unlikely the accept the outcome).

    2. The problem that I was referring to was how to ensure the post-deliberative representativity of the minipublic. By this I don’t mean that the minipublic would remain 60/40 if the population was split 60/40 — if this were the case then there would be no point deliberating. What we’re all interested in is what the decision would likely be if everybody were able to deliberate — this would require a swing that was consistent between samples.

    The problem is your assumption, widespread on this forum, that a body that accurately describes the target population would, of necessity, act like it. This is the assumption that Hannah Pitkin and Peter Stone takes issue with. To see why this assumption is unfounded, just take a look at this blog. Even though everyone here has opted in, it remains the case that out of the 518 current followers only a tiny number play an active role and there is no way of knowing whether the speech acts of Yoram, Terry, Andre, Campbell, Naomi, Keith etc accurately reflect what others would say if they had the time and inclination. It also remains true that some people are more persuasive than others — either through their discursive style or perceived status. For example if Jurgen Habermas or James Fishkin were to make a comment, then I imagine more people would sit up and listen than to the likes of Keith and Campbell. The law of large numbers simply doesn’t apply to the internal workings of small groups and this is why I argue in the relevant chapter of my thesis that isegoria needs to be subject to representative mechanisms and that these will, of necessity, be entirely different to isonomia.

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  213. Cambell,

    Just to clarify — if the target population was split 60/40 and all the deliberative samples returned majority verdicts no lower than 55/45 then we could be sufficiently confident regarding their post-deliberative representativity.

    Like

  214. André,
    I am not familiar with your proposal, but I find all this extremely worrying.
    “distinguishing from democrats, who alone may be “habilitated advisers” through dokimasia.”
    Who has the right to distinguish them, and on what basis?

    “to exclude anti-democrats from the body of habilitated advisers is not an injustice.”
    Are you quite sure? If A can be a “habilitated adviser” and B not, then surely B has less rights than A. Why should there be less rights for those who do not think as we do? We’re not the Church, you know; we don’t speak in God’s name. (God forbid!)

    “At the beginning of a democracy-through-minipublics, all those who publicly opposed the mutation may be considered as not to be trusted by the new sovereign.”
    I’m only guessing, but it seems possible that Keith (for instance) might oppose your democracy-through-minipublics, on principle and in all good faith. Is that a crime? If not, why should he be excluded? He should be reproved in a brotherly fashion when he talks outrageous nonsense, of course, and maybe not trusted to ever speak common sense, but I doubt if he would steal the silver, drink your beer while you’re in the WC, or offer bribes in order to install his preferred system.

    “Dokimasia is only about civic virtues (eliminating for example people guilty of corruption) and about loyalty to the system. It is not about political sensitivities of any other kind.”
    Well, if these people have been found guilty of a crime in a court of law and sentenced, then the sentence ought (I believe) to be the end of the punishment.
    Do you want to deprive them of some part of their civic rights? This might be acceptable as part of the sentence, but if not, how can you justify it? Who decides? It sounds a little like the “double peine” that Sarkozy promised to remove and did not, and if it is some administrative body or functionary who decides, it is distinctly sinister IMO. Maybe it’s a tic of mine, but the expression “loyalty to the system” sends a shiver down my spine.

    >” the civil service) would have considerably more power than under an elected system”
    A few people have said this. Not one has offered any justification.

    >”There is a strong risk of specific elites exercizing power through administrative function. But actually it is already the case in polyarchies with indirectly elected ministers unable to oversee really their administrative apparatus,”
    Yes indeed. The solution you propose, viz: “a specific “legislative” minipublic, a nominated manager, overseen by an accounting minipublic” is not so very different from what I put forward, the main difference being that in place of your “legislative minipublic” I would have policy committees, with power only to recommend. Since drugs make a vast topic, probably quite a few permanent ones and single-purpose ones as and when necessary.

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  215. >” you are conflating two entirely different problems:”
    No. I could have chosen a 60:40 split or any other; I will run it if you wish. You will see a similar thing, the proportion of the group in each assembly will differ by some amount, which demonstrates the falseness of your claim: “It’s quite simple. You just appoint several large samples from the same target population to determine the same issue in parallel and see if they come to the same conclusion. If they don’t, then the variance must be a product of the speech acts of the individual participants.”

    >”When a population is evenly divided on some issue then no decision rule will offer a reliable way of determining the outcome.”
    True. But when the proposal A goes on the agenda, no-one knows the exact split in the population.

    >”The problem is your assumption, widespread on this forum, that a body that accurately describes the target population would, of necessity, act like it. This is the assumption that Hannah Pitkin and Peter Stone takes issue with.”
    1 I’ve read Pitkin, she is on the desk beside me as I write. You gave some references in the past, I re-read them at the time, and in my eyes, they didn’t make your point. I don’t find fault with Pitkin, merely your interpretation of her. As for Peter Stone, is there another place where his argument is set out other than the preface to whatever it is? I already have the text of the book, I’m not inclined to buy it just for the preface.
    2 If the assumption is “widespread on this forum”, it’s just possible that it’s a reasonable one. Not everyone here is from the lunatic fringe, even if I am.
    3 Are you suggesting that your mute moots will not act like the target population? That’s not what I understood.

    >” just take a look at this blog”
    The analogy doesn’t stand up. Most of the 518 have other things to do: an honest job for instance. None of them have to vote on a concrete proposal. They may come and go as they wish, maybe read an article and then go away for a year. Whatever we decide or are unable to decide won’t affect them in any way. They may even find our discussion pretty boring. (!)
    With an assembly – mine or yours – the members are obliged to be there, on pain of losing an very good job, in my case. Arguments that they disagree with will be made to their face. The decision of the assembly will affect them, so it’s in their interest to speak out (my assembly). In order to make things as fair as possible, like MPs at present, members will have staff to help them prepare speeches. Those who wish can have a professional deliver their speech, indeed the Assembly might decide to have all speeches of substance (over 140 words?) read by professionals.

    >”The law of large numbers simply doesn’t apply to the internal workings of small groups”
    You can give that phrase a rest. I have never claimed that it did. I do not claim that the post-speech position of the Assembly will be identical with the pre-speech position, merely that it will be pretty close, given (1) the arrangements above, and (2) the information provided by the policy committees. Moreover, there is a safeguard, the Temporary Assembly (which will meet your specification almost down to the duct tape) in the case of a close vote. How close the vote may be before a TA is necessary can be decided from experience by the Assembly itself, after an initial guess.

    >” if the target population was split 60/40 and all the deliberative samples returned majority verdicts no lower than 55/45 then we could be sufficiently confident regarding their post-deliberative representativity.”
    The problem is that there is no way of accurately finding the split in a population which has all the info available and which has taken the time to study it and make a considered decision, because such a population will never exist.

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  216. Campbell,

    >The problem is that there is no way of accurately finding the [pre-deliberative] split in a population which has all the info available and which has taken the time to study it and make a considered decision, because such a population will never exist.

    There is no need to, the only point that I’m insisting on is that every sample should come to the same post-deliberative conclusion with a sufficient margin of confidence to ensure majority rule in every instance. All that matters, from the point of view of the excluded majority, is that it would have made no difference whether or not they were included in the sample, the outcome would have been the same. My speculation (which is open to empirical refutation) is that the variation introduced by random advocacy and endogenously-specified information would be such as to make consistent outcomes unlikely, in which case which decision would be the representative one? To make it absolutely crystal clear, I’m not remotely bothered that the post-deliberation verdict should be the opposite of the pre-deliberative prejudice iff the trajectory of each sample is the same. How could anyone argue that such a decision was illegitimate (assuming basic democratic norms)? Who could possibly object?

    >Are you suggesting that your mute moots will not act like the target population?

    I don’t know (and don’t care). The goal is, as Fishkin puts it, to find out what everyone [or at least the majority] would think under good conditions. His own experiments would suggest that serious constraints are required on the deliberative mandate if we want to know what “everyone” would think, rather than just the members of the sample.

    KS>>”The law of large numbers simply doesn’t apply to the internal workings of small groups”
    CW>I have never claimed that it did. I do not claim that the post-speech position of the Assembly will be identical with the pre-speech position.

    That is not the point. The reference is to the internal dynamics of small groups which are likely to be random (in the pejorative sense), so that different samples will be . . . different, so we will not know which is the representative one. I couldn’t care less as to whether or not they are identical with the pre-speech position — if they were, then what would be the point of deliberation? I’m really struggling to see how I can make this any clearer — and yet we continue to talk past each other.

    >As for Peter Stone, is there another place where his argument is set out other than the preface to whatever it is?

    I’l see if I can find Peter’s m/s copy next time I go into work. His point is basically that a group that looks like America will not necessarily act like America. To quote the relevant section from Pitkin (pp. 144-5):

    If the contemplated action is voting, then presumably (but not obviously) it means that the [descriptively-mandated] representative must vote as a majority of his constituents would. But any activities other than voting are less easy to deal with. Is he really literally to deliberate as if he were several hundred thousand people? To bargain that way? To speak that way? And if not that way, then how?

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  217. Campbell,

    For a treatment of the “a sample acts like the population would” argument (the “mirroring” argument), including a link to Peter Stone’s introduction to C&P, see here: https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/a-theory-of-sortition-part-1-of-2/.

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  218. Great! Thanks, Yoram

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  219. Keith,
    >”There is no need to [find the [pre-deliberative] split in a population]
    Well, your reply implies that you want to compare pre- and post- verdicts. Nevertheless, yes, it would be possible, in principle, to test using several samples on a particular question. To properly test my model, though, you would have to set up the whole box and dice several years before, to give the public time to get used to the idea of making submissions to policy committees, the policy committees time to learn to function properly, and the Assembly to develop some “House Rules” or conventions, which obviously would be different from present practice. Once that happens, the amount of “endogenously-specified information” – by which I take it you mean new information and new opinions generated within the Assembly – would be effectively nil, as the much larger pool outside the Assembly would have already produced all available info and possible opinions. “Then what would be the point of deliberation?” I would expect members’ interventions would be mostly concerned not so much with opposing or defending the content of particular bills, but with procedure: modifying the agenda, suggesting possible modifications or that a bill be split into two parts to be voted separately, objecting to a decision by yesterday’s Speaker, and so on. I don’t see how an assembly can work without the right to do this.

    >”I don’t know (and don’t care) [whether mute moots will act like the target population]”
    >”different samples will be . . . different, so we will not know which is the representative one. I couldn’t care less as to whether or not they are identical with the pre-speech position ”
    In view of your previous statements insisting on silent assemblies, this to me is incoherent.

    >”I’m really struggling to see how I can make this any clearer ”
    Yes, you are struggling.

    >”To quote the relevant section from Pitkin (pp. 144-5):”
    The most obvious thing about this passage is that it is NOT relevant here. Pitkin makes it crystal clear that she is talking about one elected member “representing” one electorate. It no doubt applies also to multi-seat electorates; it most certainly does not apply to a member of a representative body chosen by lot, where only the whole assembly can be considered truly representative. And inserting the word “descriptively” in square brackets is putting a word into Pitkin’s mouth in an unjustifiable way.

    >”The problem is your assumption, widespread on this forum, that a body that accurately describes the target population would, of necessity, act like it. This is the assumption that Hannah Pitkin and Peter Stone takes issue with.”
    Peter Stone’s criticism, it seems to me, is not directed at the descriptively-representative or “portrait in miniature” idea so much as some sloppy and bizarre thinking on C & P’s part. Stone says:
    “The Representative House apparently doesn’t have to do anything specific in order to do its job. It just has to exist … some small percentage … will stay home or move to Hawaii and become beach bums … members who don’t vote will even in their non-voting be truly representative of the public”
    I’m entirely with Stone on this. I’m not with him when he implies that those with mental health problems should be excluded. We lunatics (your description) have a right to be heard! Especially on mental health issues, as the mental health professionals are coming to agree.

    From Stone again:
    “The point, which Callenbach and Philips recognize only to a limited degree, is that descriptive representation is desirable because—and only to the extent that—it contributes to the goal of good lawmaking.”
    The obvious question is “What is good law-making?” I would argue that any law-making which does not take into account the interests of all members of society cannot be considered good, and that, given full information, each adult person must be considered the best judge of his or her own interest. (Certainly everyone makes mistakes, but we have a right to go to the devil in our own way.) Given the impossibility of direct democracy, descriptive representation is the most ethical way to decide, and so the “best”, at least the best that can be found.
    Now that I’ve read this passage, I’m quite happy to let the whole thing drop, Keith, unless you find some new ammunition against me. I can honestly say that I’ve considered everything you’ve said so far, and though I have modified my thinking and my model somewhat, you haven’t convinced me that there is a fundamental, irreparable flaw in either. (Maybe someone else will). I doubt if you will change your position much, either, which doesn’t worry me. The more competing ideas out there, the better.

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  220. Campbell,
    If I may try to clear up confusion about Keith’s core complaint… As he says, he is NOT seeking a mute jury to avoid a variance between the non-selected general population opinion on an issue and the allotted jury opinion. He assumes and SUPPORTS such change in opinion resulting from more information and study. His point is simply that two descriptively representative juries that actively debate a topic might come to opposite decisions because one happens to have a persuasive YES advocate and the other happens to have very persuasive No advocate. Thus his question which mini-public reflects the democratic will of the population? Like Keith, I agree that the final jury SHOULD be mute, but since I want democratic agenda setting and policy development I argue that these functions should also go to (different) mini-publics that ACTIVELY deliberate, with the final mute jury making the confirmation that the prior work didn’t go too far astray. Even in my model, because there is active deliberation there could be a wide variety between parallel juries… but that is more democratic than an elite body taking those tasks, and is subject to a final mute jury test.

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  221. Terry,

    I’m hugely grateful to you for outlining my position so clearly and succinctly. Perhaps in future I should ask you to post on my behalf and then there won’t be so much time wasted on this blog with people talking past each other!

    I think it’s true to say that all of us agree on the principle of representative isonomia and that a minidemos can faithfully represent its target population (given certain conditions) when it comes to voting. But we still disagree on the necessary conditions for representative isegoria and I’m struggling to understand why this should be, as the speech acts of members of small groups are simply random and not amenable to the law of large numbers. So why is it that I seem to be the only active poster on this blog who is troubled by this?

    For some time it’s struck me that our disagreement reflects fundamental differences in political sociology — between polyarchic and post-Marxist perspectives. Yesterday I attended a politics department seminar at our university discussing Ernesco Laclau’s work on populism, where the presenter made a useful distinction between Marxian and post-Marxist perspectives. Whilst both approaches make a distinction between the elite and the masses, post-Marxians abjure crude economic determinism in favour of an approach that views elites in terms of culture and “discourse”. These two approaches do overlap though — the Gilens and Page paper, so beloved of post-Marxists on this forum would be better described as neo-Marxist on account of its emphasis on the economic foundation of political elites (and their supporters). Laclau was heavily influenced by Gramsci’s work on (elite) hegemony — according to him the role of populist politics is to overthrow the existing hegemony and replace it with one representing the current underdog (the masses). According to post-Marxist advocates of sortition, once the kleristocratic revolution has taken place the elite hegemony will have been overthrown and replaced with a new discourse — the hegemony of the common people. In the same way that it mattered little who were the spokespersons for the old hegemony it matters little who their (non-elite) replacements are as the new discourse will be no less hegemonic than the old one. This is why, I believe, Yoram, Campbell and yourself are content with the (effectively) voluntarist principle as its the discourse that rules, as opposed to the individuals voicing it. That’s why such an approach is compatible with “democratic agenda setting and policy development”. At least it’s “more democratic than an elite body taking those tasks”.

    But poyarchists would argue that democratic agenda setting and policy development is better achieved by a reformed electoral process, combined with popular initiative and a robustly competitive public sphere. The polyarchic analysis, which Naomi, Andre and myself adopt, views existing political and social structures in terms of a number of competing elites, that are constituted by a variety of methods. There is no hegemony (although there can be shifting alliances between the different elements on the Venn diagram) and elites will always be with us, for all the reasons given by the likes of Harrington, Madison, Jefferson and Adams. Given this, the goal of constitutional designers should be to focus on the poly in polyarchy and trade off one elite against another, quarantining their role to a purely information and advocacy one, and ensuring that the final judgment is in the hands of a representative microcosm of the target population.

    Given the fundamental difference between polyarchic and post-Marxist political sociology I’m not very hopeful of progress to resolve the problem of representative isegoria on this blog.

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  222. Terry,
    Thanks.
    If we assume that two mute assemblies, after receiving and mulling over all the info, will give the same verdict to the same question, and that two non-mute assemblies will give different verdicts, then one or both of the latter must have moved from the “pre-speech” position, which is that of the mute groups. Keith says “I couldn’t care less as to whether or not they are identical with the pre-speech position”. I find this incoherent.

    Your suggestion, that he is referring to the non-informed opinion of the general public would mean that he didn’t read my post carefully; I said “the pre-speech position of the Assembly”.

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  223. Campbell,

    If speech moves the group away from their pre-speech positions, then non-representative speech moves the group in a non-representative direction. That’s the issue.

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  224. Campbell,

    What is the difference between the pre-speech position of the assembly and the non-informed opinion of the general public? The speech acts that I’m referring to convey (partial) information and advocacy — so why would people change their opinion in the absence of speech acts? The pre-speech assembly is (by definition) a portrait in miniature of the target population, so why would there be any difference? All the members have done is walked in the assembly door, taken their coats off and sat down.

    As Naomi suggests, the problem with randomly-generated speech acts is that they may well be non-representative (as the law of large numbers doesn’t apply to the internal workings of a small group) so will move the group in a non-representative direction. Isn’t this all just plain obvious — unless you buy into the post-Marxist argument for the people’s hegemonic discourse, according to which all speech acts from ordinary people will be interchangeable?

    I remember earlier on you argued that the ideological differences between members of the public were largely manufactured by politicians and powerful media conglomerates. Notwithstanding the fact that demagogues amplify the differences for their own purposes, my understanding of current US politics is that the sharp difference between the two warring factions reflects underlying socio-economic, cultural and ethnographic factors. Political scientists would point to the relatively stable existence of coastal “blue” states and inland “red” states to confirm this analysis.

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  225. >the “pre-speech” position, which is that of the mute groups.

    Aha, perhaps that explains us talking past each other. By “speech” I’m referring to any exchange of information and opinion and this includes formal presentations and written information. Although the jury may be mute, it listens to the information and advocacy exchange in the courtroom. Most jurors have made their mind up whilst still in the mute stage of the proceedings but their views at this stage will be very different from members of the general public who have not been informed by the information/advocacy exchange. The only reason that jurors lose their mute status in the jury room is on account of the need for consensus (unlike in the case of a legislative jury). The reason that the verdict of the jury is held to represent the considered view of the target population is that it has been informed in a balanced way (by the prosecution–defence advocacy dialectic), whereas there are no guarantees of balanced information in a context where information requests are generated and then communicated endogenously. It will be purely down to chance and will be unduly biased by any hegemonic discourse in the public sphere.

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  226. >”The pre-speech assembly is (by definition) a portrait in miniature of the target population, so why would there be any difference?”
    There will be a difference because the members of the Assembly will have the information from the policy committee(s) there in front of them, and will be expected to have familiarised themselves with it before the matter comes to the Assembly. The general population has other things to do, such as earning a living.

    >”All the members have done is walked in the assembly door, taken their coats off and sat down.”
    Not so. They have a job to do, most will make an honest attempt to do it, and those that who are not conscientious by nature will be subject to peer pressure and to ridicule from those with opposing views if they spout off without doing their homework and studying the facts. They’re not going to spend all their time in the Assembly: they will have to have time allotted to study the pros and cons of forthcoming proposals.

    >”the problem with randomly-generated speech acts … will move the group in a non-representative direction.”
    You’ve said this at least a dozen times. Please give us all a break.
    Of course those who speak try to influence others, and I’m not saying that there will be no effect. I do say that the more egregious opinions voiced will be countered by others who see themselves as likely to suffer if those opinions are acted on, especially as any decision of the assembly will affect its members. This will tend towards balance, though I’m not saying that the effects of rival speeches will cancel out perfectly. I do say that since the members have all relevant information at their fingertips it will not be easy to pull the wool over their eyes. Yes, there may be some net movement in a non-representative direction after all the speeches have been made, but the movement will be rather small, and not important except when the vote is fairly close, which is when the Temporary Assembly kicks in.

    >”underlying socio-economic, cultural and ethnographic factors.”
    I don’t know which statement of mine you mean, and I doubt if I was referring to the US in particular. Of course there are underlying differences of interest. There are also party loyalty, demagoguery, and advertising campaigns. Then there is the endemic sensationalism of the media: you don’t get an audience by saying “Everyone had a nice day, and the weather was fine”. I think it was Beaverbrook who, when asked “What sells newspapers?”, replied “War”. It doesn’t have to be war, anything worrying will do.

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  227. >” there are no guarantees of balanced information in a context where information requests are generated and then communicated endogenously. ”
    I would be more than surprised if, on any issue that interests the public – and that must mean every proposal that comes to the Assembly, since otherwise it wouldn’t get there – members of the Assembly could “endogenously” generate any information or opinion that is not present in the dossier that comes from the policy committee. And that info, coming as it does from the whole community will be balanced – by definition, in my view.

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  228. Campbell,

    >the members of the Assembly will have the information from the policy committee(s) there in front of them

    That comes within the rubric of speech acts — as I’ve just explained this includes communication of information and opinion, both in the form of writing and speech (including “homework”). It doesn’t make any difference whether a text is read in manuscript or communicated orally. As the information has been collated endogenously it cannot be assumed to be balanced or to adequately include minority discourses (“all relevant information”). What is included (and excluded) is largely determined by random factors, including the personal preferences of the volunteer members of your various small committees, whose job it is to filter the enormous volume of input from the public sphere (all the while heroically resisting the temptation to succumb to the inducements of powerful lobbyists).

    >>”the problem with randomly-generated speech acts … will move the group in a non-representative direction.”
    >You’ve said this at least a dozen times. Please give us all a break.

    On this occasion I was quoting Naomi.

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  229. Keith,
    I don’t much care how you define “speech act”. I don’t use the term, except in quoting you. Of course it makes no difference whether the communication is oral or written. “Endogenous”, though is wrong, the info comes from the whole community. “Collating” does not include the right to omit significant stuff. “Personal preferences”: the committee do have the right to express their opinions: having ploughed through all the info, they qualify as experts in the sense that they know what views are held and by whom. “Filter” is another example of your selecting a loaded term, they don’t have the right to leave out stuff that doesn’t please them, they do have the right to say why they think a particular view is true or false.

    >”random factors, including the personal preferences of the volunteer members of your various small committees, whose job it is to filter …”
    Of course, you conveniently forget the fallibility of your “advocates for and against”, that of those who choose them, of those who formulate the proposals, and of those who put them on your rigid agenda. No possibility of bias or random (“in the bad sense”, as you put it) factors here! As for the idea of some unspecified experts producing a “balanced” presentation (in whose eyes? how do you define “balanced”?), the possibility for gross (and deliberate!) distortion of the facts is horrendous.
    For my committees, there is a mechanism to keep them on the strait and narrow: Those who make submissions will scream if their point of view is not present in the dossier that the PC forwards to the Assembly. And unless they are a very tiny minority, there will be someone in the Assembly who will sympathise, and who, thanks to the right of Assembly members to speak out, will raise the matter in the Assembly, so that if action is warranted, it can be taken.

    >”On this occasion I was quoting Naomi.”
    Well then, she’s heard it too.

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  230. Campbell,

    Our constant talking past each other indicates the incompatibility between the polyarchic and post-marxist worldviews. To the former there is no elite hegemony and the way to create balance is to trade one dominant elite against another and for citizens to decide between them using a democratic mechanism (election and/or decision by minidemos). Note that “balance” is a result of the dialectic between, not the choice of, advocates. Although any dualism is crude and reductive it works in the courts and accurately describes the schism between the blues and the reds in the US and Brexiteers and remainers in the UK. Note that both sides have their own elites and represent around half of “the people”. This divide represents genuine cultural, ethnographic and socio-economic facts, it’s not just manufactured by the MSM and demagogues. I acknowledge that the ultimate source of information is the public sphere, that’s why I use terms like “collating” and “filtering” (I’m surprised that you view the latter term as loaded — is this because it was first used by James Madison?)

    Polyarchists like me also view with total incredulity your assumption that balanced information will simply emerge spontaneously via committees of amateur volunteers, that personal preferences and corruptibility will be automatically ironed out by the system, and that all relevant discourses will be represented. I don’t see any way of reconciling the polyarchic and post-Marxist perspectives. Yoram’s latest post is also of relevance here.

    >Those who make submissions will scream if their point of view is not present in the dossier.

    Blimey, that will create a lot of business for manufacturers of ear defenders as there’s going to be a whole lot of screaming going on!

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  231. >”Our constant talking past each other indicates the incompatibility between the polyarchic and post-marxist worldviews”
    Just when I was going to take the blame for the “talking past each other”! Let’s go back to your comments:
    “What is the difference between the pre-speech position of the assembly and the non-informed opinion of the general public?” and “All the members have done is walked in the assembly door, taken their coats off and sat down.”
    and my comments in reply:
    “the members of the Assembly will have the information from the policy committee(s) there in front of them, and will be expected to have familiarised themselves with it before the matter comes to the Assembly.” and “they will have to have time allotted to study the pros and cons of forthcoming proposals.”
    This should have been spelled out clearly in DWE, and it isn’t even mentioned. Its omission excuses your misunderstanding. I suppose it seemed obvious at the time I was writing, but I see now that it is important to state it.

    As for ” the incompatibility between the polyarchic and post-marxist worldviews”: I didn’t know that polyarchy had a world view. I learn from Dahl that polyarchy is something that tries to be democracy, but doesn’t quite make it. I gather from your comments that you think I am a “post-Marxist”, which leaves me bemused, although it is true that – like all of us – I was born after Marx’s death, so in that sense I can’t deny it. I used the term “elite” only to ask you what you meant by it. I suppose that if I follow this blog long enough, you’ll explain to me what my world view is. Funny that you think this necessary.

    >” “balance” is a result of the dialectic between, not the choice of, advocates.”
    The problem is that that raises the question: do you let everyone be an advocate? If you do not, then there must be some choice, and some bias will be inevitable in that choice, even if everybody is trying to be honest. If they are not, of course, it would be simple to choose incompetents on one side, or deliberate saboteurs, or just to exaggerate the qualifications of one side, while discrediting the other. If you do let everyone be an advocate, it would be extremely easy to filibuster, using a large number of advocates if necessary, to prevent a proposal ever coming to the vote.

    “Filtering” I regard as loaded because it implies choosing some arguments and rejecting others. While we’re on the subject “amateur volunteers” is loaded and hardly accurate.

    >”view with total incredulity your assumption that balanced information will simply emerge spontaneously via committees of amateur volunteers”
    I view your interpretation with total incredulity. It’s not accurate. For want of a better definition, I take “balanced” in this context to mean that all views held in the community are presented. The only way I see to achieve balance is to allow everyone to make submissions. Since that may generate huge amounts of redundancy, it is necessary to have a way of eliminating duplicates, and I see the best way is by committees chosen by lot (to eliminate human choice, not to get representativity), by rotating the members, and by allowing them to stay long enough to acquire competence. I acknowledge that humans are fallible, but as I have said, there is a mechanism to keep them in line.

    >”there’s going to be a whole lot of screaming going on!”
    Committee members will soon learn that if they want to keep their highly paid job, they will need to be meticulous in their work.

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  232. Campbell,

    >I didn’t know that polyarchy had a world view.

    The polyarchic world view is that elites are ubiquitous but not hegemonic (see for example Dahl’s original New Haven study). Given this ubiquity, the best one can do is to pit one against another and quarantine their power. Another word for the polyarchic world view would be liberalism, but this word has become corrupted by association with political leftism in the US.

    >if I follow this blog long enough, you’ll explain to me what my world view is.

    The post-Marxist kleristocratic weltanschauung is that the population can be divided into the elite and the masses and that full-mandate sortition is an improvement on liberal democracy as the elite are excluded (or at least outnumbered). On account of the binary nature of this distinction it makes little difference which members of the masses are empowered to act on behalf of everybody else.

    >do you let everyone be an advocate?

    As you know, my view is that advocacy is an elite function. I suggest you refer to the mechanisms for achieving balanced advocacy in Deliberative Polling, along with the advocacy chapter that I sent you recently. The approach to balanced information attacked by Yoram’s post-Marxist criticism on the DemocracyCo thread is also a good example of the polyarchic approach to advocacy. According to Yoram the choice of advocates should be entirely in the hands of the members of the jury and any attempt by an external body to introduce balanced advocacy is (by definition) undemocratic.

    KS>>”there’s going to be a whole lot of screaming going on!”
    CW>Committee members will soon learn that if they want to keep their highly paid job, they will need to be meticulous in their work.

    However meticulous they are people will still complain as the range of nuanced perspectives on most issues is near to infinity. That’s why advocacy has to be reduced into a dialectical exchange, as then there will only be two screamers. In the case of Brexit (and most other controversial issues) the BBC can be sure it’s got it about right so long as it is accused of bias by both camps.

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  233. >The post-Marxist kleristocratic weltanschauung

    That should earn me a place in Pseud’s Corner in Private Eye!

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  234. (CW)”>if I follow this blog long enough, you’ll explain to me what my world view is.”
    And lo and behold he attempts to do it! Priceless, Keith.

    >”However meticulous they are people will still complain as the range of nuanced perspectives on most issues is near to infinity. That’s why advocacy has to be reduced into a dialectical exchange”
    So because it is not possible to get all the nuances of colour, we must see everything in black and white? The logic escapes me. You reproach “post-Marxist kleristocrats” with making a binary distinction between “elites” and “the masses” (leave me out of that!), and then insist on the same simplistic reduction with ideas!

    >”the BBC can be sure it’s got it about right so long as it is accused of bias by both camps.”
    You come perilously close to saying something good about a state news service.

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  235. Campbell,

    I’ve always acknowledged that a binary, dialectical approach to advocacy is crass reductionism. But it’s the method that has always been used for judicial, political and legislative decision making — there are only two division lobbies in the House of Commons and the accused is either guilty or innocent. Landemore is one of the principal advocates of the epistemic approach favoured by Terry and yourself, yet she claims that decisions are always yes or no and that you can’t be half pregnant. It’s also the approach to advocacy adopted by public service broadcasters who seek to be impartial. So it may not be perfect, but it’s better than leaving it to entirely random factors, and assuming that the knowledge of the microcosm will automatically reflect that available in the public sphere in a manner that respects both arithmetic and proportional equality (in the classical sense).

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  236. PS you really shouldn’t refer to the BBC as a “state news service”!

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  237. >”epistemic” approach favoured by me.
    No, as I have said before.

    “yes or no”
    I’ve already pointed out that in a deliberative assembly there are other possibilities than putting the matter immediately to the vote.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    “All’s black or white”
    Just won’t do.

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  238. Campbell,

    >I’ve already pointed out that in a deliberative assembly there are other possibilities than putting the matter immediately to the vote.

    All parliamentary bills are subject to debate (hence the etymology of the word parliament), and trial jurors are obliged to listen to the adversarial exchange prior to returning their verdict, but the arguments can still be reduced to a dialectical format. The bill either succeeds or fails and the accused is either guilty or innocent.

    We’ve explored my objections to your proposal fairly comprehensively now. Why not offer a rejoinder to the criticisms of Chouard’s proposals in Yoram’s new thread, as there would appear to be considerable overlap with your own attempt to replace election by sortition. Admittedly Chouard does prefer debates in camera, but this would appear to be his (realpolitik) proposal to shield the people’s representatives against the inevitable onslaught of elite lobbyists. You, by contrast, assume that the full glare of publicity will keep the political process spotlessly pure and that the full range of opinion in the public sphere will be sympathetically represented in the minipublic, rather than being dominated by the isegoria of the rich and powerful. Chouard would appear to be taking a more realistic perspective, even though his proposals sound rather scary to old-fashioned liberals like me.

    Like

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