Criteria for the application of sortition in a political system

Preamble:

Representation by sortition is defined as “democratic” while representation by election is defined as “aristocratic”. Sortition is a democratic instrument because this way people are represented by “their peers” while in an election-based system people are choosing “the best” as “leaders” (= electoral aristocracy).

To illustrate the aristocratic nature of the electoral system, we can take the example of (what may be a somewhat romanticized description of) pirate ships. A hundred years before the French Revolution, pirate ships were run on lines in which liberty, equality and fraternity were the rule. On a pirate ship, the captain was elected and could be deposed by the votes of the crew. The crew, and not the captain, decided whether to attack a particular ship, or a fleet of ships.

The ancient Greeks (circa 400 BC) used the electoral system for the designation of “the best” as military generals. The legislative institutions, however, were based on democratic instruments: representation by sortition and the people’s assembly. Using an electoral system for legislative institutions mainly finds its origins in the Roman Republic [1].

The ECHR (European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) only mentions the “right to free elections”. Democracy as a right is not mentioned throughout the convention. The term “democratic elections” belongs to the misleading propaganda language of politicians and mass media.

Sortition is a democratic instrument which, together with other democratic instruments and elements (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, …), can be deployed in a democracy. However, sortition is not a silver bullet. Not every application of allotment results in a democratic decision-making system. Here are some criteria that should be kept in mind when assessing whether a sortition-based institution promotes democratic outcomes.

CRITERIA:

1) Basic Criteria

With sortition, the basic criteria, which are applicable in the referendum system remain valid:

– Setting the political agenda by the citizens / initiative
– Information and debate – transparency of public data
– Decision-making power

2) The sampling system

Sortition systems can be complex, a fact which increases the possibilities of manipulation and errors. Even in simple, transparent systems such as the mechanical lottery drum a bailiff is present. In the Netherlands (2014), there was a suspicion of manipulation in the digital lottery.

The choice of the selection system, and the details of implementation, have to be justified by their function.

– The sampling system must be simple (e.g., simple random sampling) and conducted in a professional manner.
– The sampling procedures must be public.

3) The number of citizens appointed by sortition

A further criterion is the number of citizens appointed by sortition. This number will determine the margin of error, the reliability and representativeness of the panel appointed by sortition.

It may be that we pursue no representativeness for a particular application (e.g., G1000 Belgium: maximum diversity instead of representativity) or limited representativeness (e.g., Oregon Citizen Initiative Review: geographically and demographically representative).

Of interest is also the “rotation” which is a must in a  democratic system. Governing and being governed in turns is the essence of a democracy.

The number of citizens to be allotted should:
– Depend on the desired representativeness.
– Be a function of the allowed margin of error on the results.
– Be a function of the desired reliability of the results.
– Depend on whether mass participation is a goal.

A statistical calculation yields of required size as a function of the allowed margin of error and desired reliability.

– A large number of participants will be less susceptible to coercion and corruption and will also increase the likelihood that efforts to manipulation be reported more quickly.
– The panel of citizens appointed by sortition has to be “a true image of society” as a whole.

A properly implemented system with between 400 and 600 citizens is usually sufficient to ensure reliable operation. Having fewer people has to be justified in detail.

4) Period of service of the allotted citizens

A short period of service has several advantages. Longer times will therefore have to be weighed by their advantages and disadvantages. (Here: short = a day or several days, long = years.)

– A short service period increases the total number of participants over time.
– A long service period gives rise to greater opportunities for manipulation and slows down rotation.
– Longer service discriminates against participants who can not afford a long absence, or do not wish to do so.
– A long period of time may increase expertise. This may be considered both as an advantage and a disadvantage. More expertise means that the panel differs from an “image of society”.

5) Decision-making power

With panels who have only advisory jurisdiction there is on average a participation rate of 2%. This means that if you ask 100 people to participate in such a panel, only 2 people will show up. This could not possibly be representative.

It has been proven that when citizens have effective decision making-power they are more likely to take part in such initiatives.

In principle participation in a legislative panel appointed by sortition is obligatory (a civic duty). Such an obligation will of course be difficult to enforce but various measures that encourage participation may be introduced (fee, assistance, motivation, …). With voluntary participation, there is the risk of “professional participants” and paid participants (funded by civil society, businesses, interest groups, …).

This way, the “image of society”, which is the basis of the jury system, is no longer valid.

– It is of interest to increase the turnout and have it really representative in order to speak of a democratic instrument.

6) Manipulation

It would be unrealistic to expect that the strong financial and economic powers that now influence political decisions would quietly relinquish that influence when sortition is introduced into the political system. We have to anticipate that these powers will mobilize in order to maintain their power.

We can look at a system which we know and which has long demonstrated its reliability (Belgium: at least until the recent changes): the jury system in the juridical system [2]. A jury of 12 citizens designated by sortition (from the electoral registers) makes decisions of guilt or innocence. In comparison with countries (such as the Netherlands) where the court decisions are made by professional judges only, it appears that the jury system is certainly not inferior in the quality of justice it provides. We also see that both parties (accuser and accused) can call witnesses and experts, completely independent of each other.

Juries with mixed systems composed of professionals and citizens appointed by sortition give disappointing results. This is not surprising, such a panel is not at all “an image of society”.

– Avoiding manipulation by “independent neutral staff” who assist deliberation
– Determining which experts and interested parties have to be invited
– No composite panels of professionals (i.e. politicians) and people appointed by sortition

7) Considerations regarding so-called “deliberative” panels

A system that is often used is the division of a big allotted panel, which has heard the experts and interested parties, into small groups which discuss among themselves, under the supervision of “neutral facilitators”, the matters at hand. Then the whole group decides.

Although this system facilitates deliberation, it carries major risks of manipulation, especially if it is not about non-binding “recommendations” but about decisions where large sums of money may be involved (some examples of corruption in Belgium: army shells, Agusta army helicopters, special waste containers, windmills in the North Sea, …). Thus what can and what can’t work will depend on the application.

– We note in this regard the appearance on the scene of the “participation industry” that professionally accompanies participative events. This industry involves academics as well. Overcoming the potential of professionals to manipulate the outcomes can be potentially overcome through the use of bodies such as “supervision juries” which are part of the design proposed Terrill Bouricius.

– One must also distinguish between the “satisfaction of the participants” and the “results” that depend on other parameters.

– Participants of panels appointed by sortition can, in principal, not discuss among themselves but just listen to the experts and stakeholders and vote afterwards.

8) Comparison to referendums

One can also judge proposals (with or without sortition) on the basis of the following criteria: cost, the sampling system used and type of representation, and outcome. One will soon find out that even gathering the data for making such judgments is not easy.

One of the great advantages of referendums (citizens’ initiative) is that all discussions and events take place in public and are accessible to everyone. This freedom to participate and full openness is not found, at least not to the same extent, in the sortition system.


[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beasts-God-Democracy-Changed-Meaning/dp/1783605421

[2] For what reason the French Revolution has established the jury system in criminal cases on September 3, 1791?

“Ce que caractérise Ia cour d’assises, c’est l’indépendance de cette jurisdiction. Elle offre la garantie que les jurés, en raison de Ia durée momentanée de leurs fonctions, n’abuseront pas de leur autorité.”

Translation:

“What this juridical system features is offering the independence of this form of justice. A guarantee that jurors, because of the short duration of their duties, will not abuse their authority.”

Advertisements

115 Responses

  1. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for this: a very interesting and important topic and a very stimulating article. There is lots that I agree with and lots that I disagree with and it would be fruitful to go over the ideas here in detail.

    Before I start, I’d like to link to a few posts of mine that I think are relevant for this topic:

    1. Institutional design power parameters
    2. Internal-dynamics design parameters
    3. A theory of sortition, part 1 of 2
    4. A theory of sortition, part 2 of 2

    Now, to your points. I’ll start with a few short comments on the first points. The later points are more complex and would require more detailed discussion so I’ll postpone those to separate comments.

    1. The preamble: (a) I agree to the general thrust. (b) I am not sure what the purpose of bringing up the example of the pirate ships is. (c) I think there is good reason to doubt that the Athenian assembly (and it should be “the ancient Athenians”, not “the ancient Greeks”) was a particularly democratic institution. After all, many non-democratic poleis had assemblies as well. Also, and perhaps for this reason, the ancient texts do not tend to see the assembly as a primarily democratic institution. (They do assert that having the assembly as sovereign is democratic, but that is a different matter from having the assembly make day-to-day decisions.)

    2. Basic criteria: setting the agenda by “popular initiative” is not a democratic process. Just like elections it grants powerful people and organizations a hugely disproportional influence over the agenda.

    3. The sampling system: (a) Indeed, unnecessary complexity should be avoided – in sampling as in other aspects of the system. (b) It may be worth mentioning that the elections mechanism suffers from the potential for manipulation and fraud as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The example of the Pirate ships shows a clear difference between the appointment of a leader (the captain in this case) and the “democratic” decision (at ships level) of the crew to attack or not a target. For many people the aristocratic nature of elections is not clear at all.
    It is not because powerful people can influence or start an initiative that common people should be excluded. It is far better to improve regulations, demand transparency and put limitation of funding campaigns in place, then taking away for everyone the possibility to put a subject on the political agenda. Therefore I kept the possibility to place a subject on the political agenda in our sortition proposal (evaluation jury, a Multi body system as proposed by Terrill Bouricius)). The right to put a subject on the political agenda is an important democratic right.
    And yes, also powerful or rich people can put a subject on the agenda. But also some poor citizens. Everyone has an equal right to put a subject on the political agenda. It is possible that you need to prove some level of public support but it can be a far more modest requirement then you need now for a referendum.
    And for me, but this is a personal choice, the referendum system stays the ultimate expression of sovereignty of the people. When all else fails, people must have the right to decides themselves. And yes, powerful people might have more influence. But at least, at the end, it is my own decision.

    Like

  3. For those who don’t know our (democratie.nu) proposal it can be downloaded here http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/137395.pdf The history of the word “democracy” by Francis Dupui Déri can be downloaded here https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259648867_History_of_the_Word_Democracy_in_Canada_and_Quebec_A_Political_Analysis_of_Rhetorical_Strategies : An examination of the speeches of modern Canada’s “founding fathers” lays bare their openly anti-democratic outlook. I-low did a regime founded on anti-democratic ideas come to be positively identified with democracy? Drawing on the examples of similar studies carried out in the United States and France, this analysis of the history of the term “democracy” in Canada shows that the country’s association with “democracy” was not due to constitutional or institutional changes that might have justified re-labelling the regime. Instead, it was the result of the political elite’s discursive strategies, whose purpose was to strengthen the elite’s ability to mobilize the masses during the world wars.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Regarding this part: “Sortition is a democratic instrument because this way people are represented by “their peers” while in an election-based system people are choosing “the best” as “leaders” (= electoral aristocracy),” I would highlight that sortition is democratic because anyone can be chosen simply due to the fact that they are a human being — that sortition is the absence of any qualification to rule.

    I would say something like: “Sortition is a democratic instrument because anyone can be chosen to take part in decision-making simply based on the fact that they are a human being. It requires no qualification to rule. In sortition, all human beings have an equal right to take part in decision-making and are equally able to be selected to a governing position.

    Election-based systems are based on the idea that some human beings are more qualified than others to rule over their fellow human beings; in an election-based system all human beings are not equally able to be selected to a governing position and not all human beings have a right to an equal say in decision-making. This is an undemocratic system that by design privileges certain human beings over others in decision-making that affects everyone.”

    Rancière (drawing on Plato) emphasizes the key part of the definition of sortition: “What thus characterizes a democracy is pure chance or the complete absence of qualifications for governing. … Democracy is the specific situation in which there is an absence of qualification that, in turn, becomes the qualification for the exercise of democratic arche.”

    (Although I think it’s important to keep in mind that Rancière’s “no qualification” is masking a qualification, that of being human, that is rendered invisible due to the anthropocentrism here.)

    Like

  5. Regarding this: “The ECHR (European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) only mentions the “right to free elections”. Democracy as a right is not mentioned throughout the convention. The term “democratic elections” belongs to the misleading propaganda language of politicians and mass media,”

    I would not concede the point that the ECHR lacks a right to democracy. I think there are very strong arguments that the ECHR contains a robust right to democracy that requires systemic reforms (such as sortition) to fulfill. I’m working on this in detail and will post a paper on this at some point in the future.

    I would reword this to something like: Leading interpretations of the ECHR have often advanced the problematic viewpoint that elections are the foundational component of a “democratic society” [the term “democratic society” is mentioned throughout the ECHR and is a requirement and human right]. However, read together with the larger body of international human rights law, the ECHR contains a right of everyone to take part directly in decision-making that affects one’s life. This is the essence of a democratic society. Electoral systems systemically fail to respect, protect, and fulfill this right. Sortition is a mechanism that can help secure this right for everyone. …

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello Jonathan, very good, but “no qualification” is also not completely true. Even in the juridical system (here in Belgium) you have to prove that you can read and write (to some extend) and understand the language of the trial. Nevertheless sortition stays also a system of representation because you, yourself, have no say. Anyway, I don’t see any problem to change the text. Maybe keep both arguments.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. About the ECHR indeed they mention ” the ECHR contains a right of everyone to take part directly in decision-making that affects one’s life” but we may be sure that every word in that convention is very well considered. The right for “free elections” (and regular) is described in detail and installs this way an obligatory “electoral aristocracy”. On the other hand the “right of everyone to take part directly in decision-making” is left open to interpretation. We, here in Belgium have indeed the right to “petition” government. And thats it. They are in compliance of the ECHR. But suppose that the Swiss referendum about the introduction of sortition is a success, it is against the ECHR to abolish the electoral system completely.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s great you’re doing this. These comments are just offered for consideration in the event you think they may strengthen the work.

    Regarding the sortition criteria [and regardless of one’s stance on sortition], it may be helpful to make even more explicit three criteria against which to analyze sortition on a sliding scale from the absence of sortition to hybrid sortition decision-making systems to pure sortition decision-making systems. Below are three key criteria necessary for a pure sortition system. [Maybe one thinks that pure sortition is a bad thing, but these criteria below help make more explicit where decision-making control lies so that the justifications for the relevant control can be examined more carefully and explicitly.]

    (1) A sortition body controls the sortition methodology.

    A sortition body has control over the methodology of the sortition selection process. Randomly selected participants have control over the methodology for random selection (e.g., what methodology is used for random sampling, how many people are randomly selected, how the boundary of the population from which randomly selected persons are drawn is defined, etc.).

    This does not necessarily mean that one sortition body has control over decision-making regarding both the sortition methodology and policy-making. It is possible that the methodology decision-making could occur in one special sortition body and the policy decision-making could occur in a different sortition body. It’s also possible that one sortition body could delegate the methodology decision-making to experts (but with the sortition body always maintaining ultimate power). The key is that a sortition body of some kind has ultimate authority over the methodology of sortition itself.

    (2) A sortition body controls policy-making procedures (including agenda setting).

    A sortition body has complete control over the policy-making process, can hire and fire moderators, can set questions (agenda setting), can change course and ask and answer different questions or pursue a completely different course than that originally intended. (The same issues as mentioned above apply here; it’s possible that one sortition body sets policy-making procedures for another sortition body that does policy-making; it’s possible that this function is delegated to a non-sortition body (e.g., experts), but with a sortition body retaining ultimate control; the key is that ultimate authority is maintained by a sortition body of some kind.)

    (3) A sortition body controls policy-making.

    The final, authoritative decision-making power is located in a sortition body. The sortition body does not act as an advisory body or consultative body for a different body that has final, authoritative decision-making power. Of course, the sortition body can call on and receive input from experts and others, etc., could be informed by elected institutions, administrative institutions, etc. — but the sortition body has final, authoritative decision-making power.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. not on topic but it might interest you: our proposal about the ECHR : Proposal of modification of article 3 of the “additional Protocol of the “ Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ”
    Motivation:
    Article 6 of the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of 1789 : “The Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part, personally or through their representatives, in its making”…

    ARTICLE 3 :

    Right to free elections
    The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.

    ARTICLE 3 (proposition) :

    Right to free elections and referendum
    The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the
    choice of the legislature.
    They also guarantee the right to launch a binding referendum on popular initiative at all legislative levels and to appoint representatives by sortition at all legislative levels

    and yes, I still am in favour of the “multi body” idea of Terrill Bouricius. I think your proposals fit well in our idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. >Of interest is also the “rotation” which is a must in a democratic system. Governing and being governed in turns is the essence of a democracy.

    How is that possible in a large modern state?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Paul,

    > And yes, also powerful or rich people can put a subject on the agenda. But also some poor citizens.

    You could say the same thing about elections: “powerful people or rich people could get elected (or select their candidates) but so could some poor people.”

    The point is that both elections and the “popular initiative” process are both ways for the powerful to exert disproportional power. In both cases there are exceptions, but it is the rule that matters.

    It seems that if referenda are to be used, and they probably have their place as a specialized constitutional procedure, the agenda should be set up by an allotted body.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello Yoram,

    in our sortition proposal the political agenda is set by an allotted body that examins the proposals of the citizens. In order to make some pre selection there can be a signatures threshold.
    This way I think that a lot of referendums can be avoided.

    quote: The Evaluation Jury (7.) will evaluate legislative proposals, who are submitted by citizen petition (4.), on their societal importance. In case of acceptance they are submitted to the “elected representatives” (5.) and the “Legislative Citizens Jury” to vote on (3.).
    . unquote

    Hello Keith,

    >Of interest is also the “rotation” which is a must in a democratic system. Governing and being governed in turns is the essence of a democracy.

    How is that possible in a large modern state?

    It is even not necessary to meet in person, unless for the more “important” juries (For the moment I don’t trust electronic voting and especially internet). People can work on their own or in small groups in their own community.

    quote:The Agenda Jury is made up of a, appropriate for this purpose, sample of 600 citizens (for example, through preliminary survey). The appointed citizens stay available to be selected for selection in the other jury groups, with the exception for the time that they are serving in the Agenda Jury. The appointed Agenda Jury is available for a month (not during the holiday period) to evaluate the societal importance of submitted bill/proposals within a certain time frame (for example 14 days). This means that they will, at the most, be active for a month and 14 days. During exceptionally busy times multiple Agenda Jury’s can be called up.
    Agenda Jury members don’t need to have meetings (the member list is not public.) unquote

    And even with meetings, the large numbers of the populations today make it possible to have vast rotations even without being called up more than a couple of times in a lifetime.
    Even in a small country like Belgium we have 8.000.000 people on the electoral list. This means, if all juries have 500 members we can call up 16.000 juries for serving one day, every day. Even if we all can be politically active one day in 50 years this means 320 juries a day. Even with a participation level of 20% this is 64 different juries a day. Serving on different levels of government, this seams to be enough. Be careful with my math, especially with the number of zero’s :-)

    Like

  13. Paul,

    In a small polis like Athens, randomly selected citizens had significant power so rotation was a substantive concept (hence Aristotle’s remark on its essential role for democratic freedom). Rotation cannot deliver significant power to citizens in large states with tens or even hundreds of millions of citizens, hence the need for the modern versions of isonomia and isegoria to involve representative mechanisms. You don’t need to be a mathematician to work this out, its just plain obvious. Modern discussions of sortition should drop any reference to rotation.

    Like

  14. Hello Keith,

    in this I don’t agree. Rotation is very important. In local discussions I repeatedly had the remark (and it also counts for me personally) that there are a lot of “poll’s” taken from a “representative” number of people but, even I am in my 70 ties nobody ever asked my opinion about anything. Participation (or at least having the possibility) in political decision making is for me essential in what we want to call a “democracy”. I think with a multi body system at all levels of government we don’t have a problem to involve everybody (or at least a “representative” number) op people. In our proposal we even had to be careful not to exeed the number of people available. Of course participation level stays unknown but we can use the number of people that involve themselves in referendum activities (about 40% , for us Switserland is a reference http://www.swissinfo.ch/directdemocracy/the-swiss-vote-more-than-any-other-country/8483932 ).

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Paul,

    Sortition does enable a descriptively representative sample, but Aristotle’s argument about rotation was a moral one to do with the nature of equal freedom. Either all citizens get a realistic opportunity to rule and be ruled in turn (most Athenian citizens could have ended up “king” for one day if they wanted to) or they don’t. We really do need to keep participation and representation distinct. My publishing company was planning to launch a new journal of Deliberative and Participatory Democracy and I asked Carole Pateman (author of the seminal text on the latter) to join the ed. board — her response was that the two forms of democracy have little in common.

    Like

  16. Hello Keith,

    yes indeed, representation and rotation are very different items. But unavoidably, the chosen system of representation (many participants and a multi body system and short duration, versus the opposite ) has an effect on rotation and has thus to be taken in consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Paul,

    > in our sortition proposal the political agenda is set by an allotted body that examins the proposals of the citizens.

    Ok – but as the “basic criteria” section reads now it seems like an endorsement of the “popular initiative” process, and no reference is made to having allotted bodies determining the agenda for referenda.

    Also, are you implying that allotted bodies cannot come up with their own proposals and must accept or reject as is proposals that are handed to them by someone else?

    How about the following?

    1) Basic Criteria

    With sortition, the basic criteria, which are applicable in any democratic mechanism remain valid:

    – Setting the political agenda – the agenda should be set by the citizens rather than being imposed by an elite
    – Information and debate – open discussion and transparency of public data
    – Decision-making power – the citizens should have effective power to set policy from the full range of feasible options, not merely to make recommendations or select from a restricted set of options defined by an elite.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I would oppose Yoram’s suggested amendments for reasons that I have provided at length elsewhere.

    Like

  19. Regarding the number of members in an allotted body:

    It seems that you keep pushing for bigger numbers: more representativity, lower margin of error, a truer “image of the society”. But that must be missing an important – indeed crucial – consideration. If there was no strong reason for reducing the number of members, we would be dropping the whole sampling mechanism and going for a mass participation mechanism (“direct democracy”).

    What are the considerations for reducing the number of the members?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. >What are the considerations for reducing the number of the members?

    In order to overcome rational ignorance.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Yoram and Keith,

    of course you can reduce the members. We know that very small juries can work in specific circumstances (juridical jury of 12 citizens). We also know that the results of the Oregon CIR (and alike) with 40 citizens (stratified) presents reasonable work (a citizens perspective of an initiative). The results of the Washington Jury (wages of politicians) is to review (10 citizens stratified, mixed with 7 professionals ) and so on. But this are not legislative juries. In that case I would stand for a non disputable number to start with ( around 500). And in special cases with a good explanation these numbers can be reduced if wanted. But I think this is not only a matter of knowledge about statistical systems but also about “perception” of reliability and representation. And of course some risks are greater with small numbers (coercion, corruption, influencing,..)

    Like

  22. Hello Yoram,

    “” Ok – but as the “basic criteria” section reads now it seems like an endorsement of the “popular initiative” process, and no reference is made to having allotted bodies determining the agenda for referendums.

    Also, are you implying that allotted bodies cannot come up with their own proposals and must accept or reject as is proposals that are handed to them by someone else?””

    Yes, we kept the “referendum” system apart from our sortition proposal. I don’t think it is wise to merge them. It is difficult enough when they are discussed apart from each other. We know the example of BC where a proposal of the jury was “defeated” in a referendum but politicians had imposed a “special majority” which is in our view against the equality rule. (proposal rejected by a minority)

    The use of the “evaluation Jury” as we proposed is in the example limited to evaluate citizens proposals. But there is no “theoretical” limit in what it can do. These possibilities have yet to be developed and only depends on your imagination or knowledge of examples.

    Like

  23. Hi Paul,

    In fact I agree that for a high powered body a membership of hundreds is desirable (although I would put the number somewhat lower than 500). But that was not my point. The point is that the considerations or criteria that you mentioned all point in the direction of increasing the number of members. The point is that that cannot be the entire picture, or else we would not rely on sampling at all. There need to reasons for reducing the number, and the document should discuss them.

    Referring to the posts I linked to above (“A theory of sortition”), the ability of an allotted body to generate representative policy relies on two planks: (1) self-representation of the decision making body, and (2) representation of the interests of the population in the allotted body. Increasing the number of members in the allotted body strengthens the second plank but weakens the first plank. A balance has to be struck.

    Sutherland, bowing as always to conventional wisdom in elite circles, offers the standard “rational ignorance” argument as the reason for reducing the number of members in a decision making body. And it is indeed one such consideration. But it is in fact only a secondary consideration, for even if it were possible to convince a substantial majority of the citizens of a country to educate themselves on a particular topic (and this is not a fantastic scenario), this would not enable mass-political democratic decision making on that topic.

    Like

  24. Paul, agree 100% with your last two comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Paul,

    >In [the case of legislative juries] I would stand for a non disputable number to start with ( around 500). And in special cases with a good explanation these numbers can be reduced if wanted.

    The confidence interval is the important factor, but some statisticians argue for as many at 1,000, although this is pushing nearer to the rational ignorance threshold.

    >But I think this is not only a matter of knowledge about statistical systems but also about “perception” of reliability and representation.

    Yes, and that may lead to a larger jury than would be strictly necessary. The numbers could be reduced once people have got used to the stochation principle.

    >And of course some risks are greater with small numbers (coercion, corruption, influencing,..)

    One way of getting round this would be to limit the mandate of the jury to listening to the arguments and then voting in secret.

    Yoram: >Also, are you implying that allotted bodies cannot come up with their own proposals and must accept or reject as is proposals that are handed to them by someone else?

    Paul: >Yes

    Agree. The 4th century Athenian legislative system maintained a strict separation between proposing and disposing, with sortition only having a role to play in the latter. Restricting the proposal role to a tiny group of citizens would be a form of oligarchy. How to ensure that the proposals properly reflect the preferences of the target population is a non-trivial problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Hello Yoram,

    the discussion is proceeding a little to fast. I don’t understand your comment: “” Referring to the posts I linked to above (“A theory of sortition”), the ability of an allotted body to generate representative policy relies on two planks: (1) self-representation of the decision making body, and (2) representation of the interests of the population in the allotted body. Increasing the number of members in the allotted body strengthens the second plank but weakens the first plank. A balance has to be struck.””
    I have to read first the articles you refer to. I don’t think I know them. (next week I have some more time)

    As far as I can see now the criteria list I propose still stand as a “check list” that leaves open all posibillities.
    The only things I want to add for the moment is the possibility of a “multiple body jury system” with his advantages. Also the possible use of additional involvements of citizens by all means available (Iceland constitution) has to be mentioned. But I have to study that case a bit more in detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. We face several dilemmas in designing a sortition body. To name four:

    1. Size (bigger is more representative, but increases rational ignorance or intellectual free-riding).
    2. Term (shorter preserves representativeness – higher participation rate and resistance to corruption, while longer increases skills and knowledge)
    3. Active deliberation vs. just listening to pro/con and voting (diverse groups deliberating together can uncover better win-win proposals, but also suffer from group-think and unrepresentative distortion).
    4. a full charge mini-public deciding its own agenda and rules is maximally free of elite domination, but can also thereby become corrupted and self-serving.

    The natural instinct is to compromise, balance conflicting benefits and costs and find the sweet spot (the optimal size, term of office and deliberation style, etc.) in a single perfect mini-public. But the better approach is to take the best of EACH design option and use it in a separate sortition body so we get All of the positive benefits of each design option and protect against the negatives. For example, one mini-publc establishes an agenda, but does not draft nor vote on policy proposals, numerous small active deliberating groups can develop proposals which a mute large jury hears and votes on.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hello Terrill,

    also a concern of mine is that the more complex the task of the alloted body, the more influence (manipulation) is possible from the organizing organization.
    Something that was a surprise for me was that most people who participate in such events are happy or even very happy (enthusiastic) that they did it, even there is no real result (as far as they and we know).
    This let me think that they are well received in a “professional” way. A good welcome, a listening ear, you are important, what you say is important and we are here to listen (at last there is someone listening to you) and so on… Some wining and dining (something most or many of us are not used to) , maybe stay over night in a hotel, expenses payed (this is normal but “unusual” for most of us). And I know from personal experience that corruption and manipulation start this way, at “very low” level.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Terry,

    Your analysis of the four areas of trade-offs is spot on but why do you insist that sortition has to do all the heavy lifting and not consider the possibility of a hybrid system involving sortition, election and direct initiative? I can’t think of a single historical example of a well-functioning system of governance that was “pure” in the sense of relying on a single selection principle (classical Athenian democracy was certainly not a “pure” system). In the past you have acknowledged that your approach is utopian but Paul’s thread seems to be concerned with practical possibilities rather than abstract ideal types.

    Like

  30. Ben Margulies’ review of David van Reybrouck’s book on the Democratic Audit website outlines some of the problems of governance by multi-body sortition:

    Finally, the book’s model for a system run on these ‘aleatory-democratic’ (‘aleatory’ meaning ‘based on chance’) lines, though very thoughtful, is also hugely complex. It involves no fewer than six types of assembly: An assembly to set the overall agenda; ‘interest panels’ to propose specific legislative topics; a review panel to prepare detailed bills; a ‘policy jury’ that would vote on the bills (but not debate them); an oversight council to handle complaints and judicial review; and a rules council to set rules for the other bodies. It is unlikely even the most educated, wonkish voter would find such a Rube Goldberg machine an attractive model.

    http://www.democraticaudit.com/2016/10/30/book-review-against-elections-the-case-for-democracy-by-david-van-reybrouck/

    The adjective that I generally use to describe such a complex system is “byzantine”. Much better to use allotted juries for functions that we know they do well (listening to opposing arguments and deciding the outcome) and leave the other functions to electoral and direct-democratic procedures.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. While I like Terry’s list of dilemmata, it also smuggles some unsubstantiated – in fact demonstrably wrong – assumptions through the back door.

    “Size (bigger is more representative)” – This “more representative” implies a higher decision quality with higher numbers, which sounds right for frequentist statisticians but is demonstrably incorrect in consideration of a real life situation with subjective probabilities. We know that errors do not improve beyond a certain sample size. We tested this in many ways. The simplest one is by asking people to decide what a coin toss will result. Their prediction is 68% and the error does not change if you make the sample bigger. So I argue for strictly limited sample sizes at the level of efficiency (we like 99%), and no bigger.

    “Term (longer increases skills and knowledge)” – This implies a rule that foresight in a topic is not considered which contradicts et least our model. We envisage rapid appointment on single and connected decisions. Higher topical foresight increases likelihood of sortition (through more lots). Clearly, retaining a huge pool of good candidates, facilitates fast rotation. Key is to strive for a good 50% of the population participating in the virtual chambers of “higher” democracy actively in any given year. And hope that 100% vote for the party committed to the true, participative democratic process.

    “Active deliberation vs. just listening to pro/con and voting” – A restriction to “just listening” is grotesque, given freedom of speech and the importance of the wisdom of the crowd for good decisions. The deciders may and should deliberate on a proposal as much as they like before voting. However, if they want to improve/change something of the proposal, it is the sole discretion of the proposer to incorporate the change (or have his proposal potentially rejected). Interactive deliberation at all three virtual chambers is not only a good thing, but extremely important.

    “Full charge mini-public can become corrupted and self-serving” – This is only true when lacking fastest rotation, which is an absolutely indispensable requirement given that specialisation is progressing faster and faster. See “Term” above.

    Like

  32. HJH:

    >A restriction to “just listening” is grotesque, given freedom of speech and the importance of the wisdom of the crowd for good decisions.

    The 4th-century Athenians (who actually tried this stuff out) certainly would not agree with you, as this was the procedural rule for the legislative courts.* And Surowiecki (the author of The Wisdom of Crowds) argued vehemently against deliberation. Have you read his book? I think you are conflating Surowiecki’s argument with the epistemic case for cognitive diversity (Page, Landemore etc). Landemore is adamant that her book has nothing to do with the wisdom of crowds.

    * Freedom of speech for the allotted few actually harms the (virtual) freedom of speech of the disenfranchised many as the law of large numbers doesn’t apply to the speech acts of small groups.

    Like

  33. Keith asks
    >why have sortition “do all the heavy lifting” [be used to select the various bodies]?

    I propose that one of the bodies be instead self-selected… all who wish may join an Interest Panel to try and craft a proposal that can pass muster by sortition bodies…though I also reserve the option to create some Interest Panels by sortition as well. There are three reasons sortition is used for the other bodies.
    1)Blind break anti-corruption protection applies to all of the bodies,
    2) diversity applies to the Review Council that engages in active deliberation rejecting, accepting and melding the different proposals from numerous Interest Panels, and
    3) statistical sample size representativeness applies to the final Policy Jury.

    Some bodies are small to facilitate active deliberation (but thereby forfeit statistical representativeness), but always, the final decision is made by a larger mini-public.

    HJH notes that there is no need to over-do the size of a body… and this is correct for any sub-level body that is not making the final policy decision. It is also true that a sample of 500 is nearly as accurate for a population of 10,000 as for a population of 10,000,000,000. The question is simply how often we are willing to have a statistically inaccurate body. But likewise, a sample of 45 has a fairly high chance of being an inaccurate representation, regardless of population, UNLESS there is some sort of supermajority voting requirement (which unfairly benefits the status quo).

    Like

  34. Terry,

    >I propose that one of the bodies be instead self-selected

    However you reject the idea that people might prefer to select others to represent them or that persons should be selected on the basis of proven merit and expertise. In short you appear to reject the aristocratic principle tout court although one would be hard pressed to find historical examples of effective governance that did not rely on selection by merit to some degree. That’s why your proposal is utopian/revolutionary, rather than evolutionary.

    Like

  35. In my view there are only two criteria for a political system.
    – Trust in the system
    – General acceptance of the decisions
    We do know that at this moment elections and elected politicians are loosing on both terms for many years now.
    But this are long term criteria.
    When I look at the WCCSEO http://www.salaries.wa.gov/ My first reaction is that I don’t trust this system (composition of sortition and professionals). But on the other hand it is working now for about 30 years and I think Washington is a referendum and initiative state, so I presume that in that time people would have started an initiative to ameliorate the system if they think it doesn’t work well. It would be interesting to convene a jury of 500, hear the experts and then vote on the salaries and compare both results.

    Like

  36. Paul,

    >– Trust in the system
    >– General acceptance of the decisions

    I think this is exactly right. Some epistemic democrats argue that general acceptance will depend on the “rightness” of the decisions, but I’m sceptical as I believe democratic norms* require that the decision should reflect the informed preferences of the majority/plurality, irrespective of epistemic considerations. I also agree that the votes of a randomly-selected and silent jury of 500 would be the best way to uncover the informed preferences of the target population. That’s certainly how the 4th-century Athenians did it.

    *These two criteria would lead to very different outcomes in aristocratic, meritocratic, monarchical or theocratic societies, but that doesn’t undermine their validity.

    Like

  37. Hello Keith,

    quote:
    I also agree that the votes of a randomly-selected and silent jury of 500 would be the best way to uncover the informed preferences of the target population. unquote

    I am in doubt a bit about “the best way”. I would rather say “the safest way, all things considered”. Deliberation has his merits but is also very dangerous as far that manipulation is concerned. Also a definition of a “good result” is very difficult I think. We must take into account that vested interest will try to influence politics, no matter what political system is used.
    What can be done with “unlimited” money to influence a Jury? We can estimated the amounts available by looking at referendums. That money will still be used. The only question is “how”.
    If my (imaninary) “participation company” is allowed to organize the event I can deliver the desired outcome you pay for. Don’t you think? Those companies are performing very well these days (stakeholder engagement) but there is nothing at stake compared with political power. (Example : Process design & project management of a project in participative democracy engaging citizens and stakeholders around specific challenges in Zaventem, Nossegem, Sterrebeek and St-Stevens-Woluwe.)

    Like

  38. Paul,

    >Deliberation has his merits but is also very dangerous as far that manipulation is concerned. . . What can be done with “unlimited” money to influence a Jury?

    The Athenian demokratia made a categorical distinction between deliberation (isegoria) and judgment (isonomia). I think we agree that the 500-strong jury is the “safest way, all things considered” for the latter, the remaining problem being the former. This is why deliberative advocacy needs to be provided exogenously and in a balanced manner. In the case of the Brexit referendum the two camps were nominated by the Electoral Commission and there is no reason to believe that the result was “bought” by either camp — if anything the Remainers were better funded yet they lost, despite the additional benefit of support from the majority of the mainstream media. The only problem with the Brexit referendum was rational ignorance and this would be overcome by the use of a 500-strong jury.

    Like

  39. Hi Keith,

    with our organisation we make a distiction between plebiscites (referendum at the initiative of government) and the referendum. The plebisite is often an instrument of party politics (Brexit) or dictators. In Switserland it is not allowed. And we oppose it strongly. The Brexit was also in a country where people are not used at all to a referendum, in that case a vote out of frustration with the government in general is (and not about the brexit) is to expected. Most people didn’t believe that the result of the referendum would be followed by the government (it was informative). It is a reference but in the right perspective ;-).

    Like

  40. Paul,

    I only used the Brexit referendum as an example of how not to do it. I published a piece on Open Democracy arguing that a sortition-based alternative would be better: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/keith-sutherland/brexit-lottery

    Like

  41. I’m looking forward to Peter Stone’s paper “Why I Am Not a Sortinista” at the sortition panel at the PSA conference next month. This is from the abstract:

    “It is no longer enough to make the democratic case for sortition; it is now necessary to consider the respective democratic contributions of sortition and other institutional devices, notably election. Some sortition advocates have shied away from this challenge, out of a conviction that sortition is the uniquely democratic selection mechanism. I call such advocates sortinistas, adapting (in an admittedly revisionist manner) a term employed in dialogues over sortition. In this paper, I shall critique the sortinista approach to democracy, focusing upon David van Reybrouck’s recent book Against Elections.”

    I agree with Peter’s argument but would prefer the term “Kleristocrat” over “Sortinista” as full-mandate sortition is a form of oligarchy.

    Like

  42. Keith, your reference to the Athenians keeps confusing deliberation with the two responsibilities for the designing of, and the deciding on, proposals. They are different things. The activity of deliberating designs or decisions is not “conflating” anything. Unless we can agree to distinguish these entirely different responsibilities, our debate will be moving in circles.

    “And Surowiecki (the author of The Wisdom of Crowds) argued vehemently against deliberation.”

    I am not aware of anything like this in the book. To the contrary, S. explicitly mentions supervisory boards as an example of crowd wisdom. These boards very much deliberate on management proposals before voting on them. If you believe otherwise I cannot comment without an exact reference.

    Like

  43. Addendum: Just dug out my copy of Surowiecki. Sure, despite making a general case for crowd wisdom, S. warns of mistakes with badly managed deliberation or deliberation in badly designed small groups.

    Fair enough as long as we do not throw out the babe with the bath water. Dangers of bad execution exception does not invalidate the principle.

    Like

  44. For convenience I have dug out the exact conclusion of Surowiecki on deliberation (p.190):

    “There are two important things about these studies. The first is that group decisions are not inherently inefficient. This suggests that deliberation can be valuable when done well, even if after a certain point its marginal benefits are outweighed by the costs.”

    Note: Surowiecki is mostly concerned about efficiency…

    “The second point is probably obvious, although a surprising number of groups ignore it, and that is that there is no point in making small groups part of a leadership structure if you do not give the group a method of aggregating the opinions of its members. If small groups are in-cluded in the decision-making process, then they should be al-lowed to make decisions.”

    Note: Surowiecki sees deliberation very much as preceeding decisions.

    QED.

    Like

  45. HJH,

    >Keith, your reference to the Athenians keeps confusing deliberation with the two responsibilities for the designing of, and the deciding on, proposals.

    The Athenian distinction was between proposers/advocates and disposers. This involves separate personnel and the latter group do not deliberate (other than silently). Sortition is only a legitimate form of representation for the latter.

    If you look at the last chapter of Surowiecki’s book the reason he argues against applying the wisdom of crowds directly to politics is on account of deliberative democracy, which he rejects as a “quixotic” project (p. 260). I’ve had a long private debate with Helene Landemore in which she explicitly distances her position form the wisdom of crowds.

    Like

  46. While it may not be a focus of Surowieki, he does mention, and there is a lot written by others (such as Cass Sunstein) about the distinctly different benefits and dangers of active deliberation in tapping the “wisdom of crowds.” For some sorts of decisions (for example, problem solving) it is essential that the diverse group members be able to share their unique private knowledge or ideas with the other group members, for the group to hit upon a better solution to some problem. To ban such give and take deliberation would forfeit some of the most important benefits of diversity in group decisions. However, in other circumstances, active deliberation can prevent the uncovering of the wisdom of crowds…such as when “information cascades,” or social deference to those of higher status cause members to abandon their own opinions for bad reasons and defer to the opinions of others whom they assume know better (even if they don’t). As in the Condorcet jury theorem, there are times when full independence of members judging what they have learned is the ONLY way to elicit the wisdom of crowds. In short, BOTH participatory and internal deliberation are useful depending on the specifics, but they need to be performed by different groups of individuals gathered into distinct bodies.

    Like

  47. Terry,

    Although it’s just terminology, Helene refers to this as “collective wisdom” rather than the wisdom of crowds. I guess the point is that crowds (unlike a small group) don’t interact or deliberate. The wisdom of crowds is nothing more than a statistical aggregation of individual judgments (as in the Condorcet theorem). Helene scolded me for conflating the two things, and I’m just passing on the message. It always helps to have distinct concepts to stop misunderstanding, so I suggest we go with Landemore’s Collective Wisdom (small deliberative groups) and Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds (statistical aggregate of individual judgments).

    Like

  48. Keith,

    “deliberative democracy, which he rejects as a “quixotic” project”

    You may wish to read that passage of Surowiecki again. His “quixotic” label refers to a specific proposal of Fishkin. And his reasons are key: cost and time-consuming. He does not imply a deficiency of deliberation per se.

    “The wisdom of crowds is nothing more than a statistical aggregation of individual judgments.”

    That simplification is a dangerous misapprehension of praxeologic mechanism science. This is touching on the extremely important difference between the market mechanism vs. plain linear statistics. Try running the world economy by the latter and it’s good night nurse.

    Terry,

    in general agree.

    We need to be very careful though with: “when full independence of members judging what they have learned is the ONLY way to elicit the wisdom of crowds”.

    That contains a big fallacy. When it comes to future questions there is no such thing as static wisdom. Most papers in the field which I have seen measure straight knowledge, which is a completely different beast to subjective predictives. If we run experiments with individual probabilistic forecasts, it becomes very evident that the the collective aggregate needs a mechanism approach, a frequentist approach will just amplify errors.

    Like

  49. >a frequentist approach will just amplify errors.

    Errors presumably means making the “wrong” decision. I’m afraid that (you) demarchists and (us) democrats are just talking past each other.

    Like

  50. *** Keith Sutherland writes (March 25): “one would be hard pressed to find historical examples of effective governance that did not rely on selection by merit to some degree”.
    *** Sure. But such a discourse may be easily confusing. We must distinguish “governance” and “sovereignty”. In the classical absolute monarchy, the king was sovereign from a traditional-hereditary legitimacy. But, for at least one part of his permanent advisers and usually for his ministers, he did choose through selection by merit.
    *** In 4th century Athenian democracy, the sovereign dêmos did choose military and financial managers: he selected them (as being both technically able and personally reliable). But the basic choices were made by general vote or allotted juries, i.e. without any kind of selection.
    *** When Demosthenes (Against Leptines, 107) describes as oligarchical the election to the Spartan Senate, it is not because any election has to be considered as oligarchical (Demosthenes and his listening jurors knew very well about the election of military and financial managers in Athens), but because an elected Senator of Sparta was to “share with one’s peers the sovereign power on the political system” (tês politeias kuriô genesthai meta tôn omoiôn”).
    *** This distinction between sovereignty and governance will be clear in any political system where there is a defined sovereign. But neither in polyarchic regimes, nor in totalitarian regimes. Sure, these two classes of system were the more important ones in 20th century, but 21st century kleroterians may think outside of these models.
    *** I am strongly committed to have personal sovereignty on my basic life choices. But I try to select my doctor, my lawyer etc. …, as permanent advisers and as reliable carriers of my basic choices.
    *** I underwent surgery recently, and by writing I gave the surgeon the right of making basic decisions if necessary when I was unconscious. In this case, I delegated my personal sovereignty to my “minister”. But it was a very exceptional circumstance; whereas the electoral-representative principle asks the dêmos to do that as a system.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. *** Keith Sutherland goes along with the same basic error: ignoring the role of informal deliberation, either in the ancient Agora or in contemporary situations.
    *** He writes (March 27, 2:09 pm): ” the point is that crowds (unlike a small group) don’t interact or deliberate. The wisdom of crowds is nothing more than a statistical aggregation of individual judgments (as in the Condorcet theorem).”
    *** But, at least about issues deemed important, the individual judgments come after interactions and deliberations in families, in peer groups, between friends, in the work places, in coffee shops etc … And now in Internet. I favor an amount of institutionalized face to face deliberation for various reasons, including the defects of informal face to face deliberation. There may be arguments against the idea, but it is not possible to exclude the fact of informal deliberation because it is informal !

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Fully agree with Andre about informal deliberation. And given the well-documented dangers of ill-managed deliberation it would be grotesque to just rely on unstructured informal deliberation. Any decision committee will benefit from well-managed formal deliberation about the proposal as part of a decision process.

    Is anybody else here sick and tired of listening to the broken record of “the Ancient Athenians did it so and so”?

    Their system is evidently gone. It had good elements but by mindlessly copying of everything they did we would propagate also the flaws which brought its downfall.

    Like

  53. Andre, HJH

    >In 4th century Athenian democracy, the sovereign dêmos did choose military and financial managers: he selected them (as being both technically able and personally reliable).

    My reference was to the role of the political advisers (rhetors and demagogues). I agree that sovereignty should be with the demos, but the problem with a pure sortitionist system is that it makes no allowance at all for selection on (perceived) merit. As Pericles put it, “I advised, but you decided”.

    And I have nothing against informal deliberation, my only point is that if deliberation is going to be institutionalised then it needs to be representative, and restricting it to a tiny randomly-selected sample does not achieve this (for reasons that we have gone over many times).

    Like

  54. “restricting it to a tiny randomly-selected sample does not achieve this (for reasons that we have gone over many times).”

    “Tiny” is a misleading wording, when other (me included) propose well-defined sizes. If every decision needs 500 or 1000 people (whatever numbers are being pulled out of the hat) this will be totally inefficient, proper deliberation is much harder and takes longer in these numbers. Demarchy will have a hard time to start. Not many matters can activate that dimension of interest of people willing to deal with the complex and strenuous matter of a real world policy decision.

    We are doing ourselves no favour by arguing senseless huge numbers based on assumptions about numeric perceptions of the mathematically ignorant, instead of determining the exact number needed and defending it with science.

    Like

  55. HJH,

    Keith seeks to avoid the problem of large random samples debating by assigning that task to an elected chamber, with the large random sample merely listening to the final pro and con presentations and voting without further active deliberation (only in the members’ individual minds).

    I think active deliberation by a medium sized randomly selected body is beneficial (as long as the final decision is made by a large mini-public.) There are many reasons for having such a body do the deliberation (amending and perfecting bills) rather than an elected one. 1) anti-corruption effect of the blind break, 2) more representative than an elected body, 3) more diverse than an elected body, and a factor that others haven’t discussed…4) more able to ACTUALLY deliberate. Elected members have a partisan electoral imperative that reduces “debate” in the chamber to little more than theatrical grand-standing to pave the way for the next election. Legislators also have an unfounded sense of superiority and of knowing more than they actually do. This erroneous certainty (which is virtually essential to being willing to stand for election) makes them all but incapable of deliberating. It requires open minds, willing to learn and change opinions to genuinely deliberate, and that almost never happens in elected chambers (they have their manifesto to uphold). The only deliberation that goes on in modern elected legislatures is behind closed doors among legislative staffers and selected lobbyists trying to “perfect” a bill, and perhaps a tiny bit within a party caucus. Legislators and most of their staffers are instead devoted to public relations and how policy proposals help or hurt their image.

    Like

  56. Hello hjh

    “”Any decision committee will benefit from well-managed formal deliberation about the proposal as part of a decision process.”” Would you like a juridical Jury that is “well-managed formal deliberation” to judge you in a court case? Who controls the managers? They are payed by whom? they are selected by whom? How far can they go in “managing”?
    What is the difference of “brainwashing” and “managing the deliberation” and how to control that?

    Like

  57. HJH,

    >“Tiny” is a misleading wording

    A small deliberative group and a large randomly-selected jury are tiny in comparison to the electorate in large modern states. What word describes the ratio better? Miniscule?

    Terry,

    We all agree on the dysfunctions of electoral representation, but the ability of a randomly-selected group of volunteers to overcome these dysfunctions in an epistemically reliable and democratically-legitimate fashion has yet to be demonstrated. And from a pragmatic perspective, as there is a zero chance of multi-body sortition coming into being any time soon, would it not be better to focus on the one thing we know sortition can deliver (a large random sample listening to the final pro and con presentations and voting without further active deliberation) and seek to improve the existing mechanisms of isegoria by incremental reforms. By all means fly your sortition-only kite on utopian forums, but wouldn’t it be better to focus here on the one thing we can all agree on?

    Paul,

    >What is the difference of “brainwashing” and “managing the deliberation” and how to control that?

    I agree, and (more importantly), how can the vast body of former electors, excluded from direct involvement, be deemed to consent to the outcome of such a process? Of course we have to remember that demarchists like HJH believe that there is a “right” answer to every political question.

    Like

  58. Hello Paul,

    “Would you like a juridical Jury that is “well-managed formal deliberation” to judge you in a court case?”

    These are all good questions and to answer them it is important to know how the jury/committee procedure works in New Demarchy.

    1. The moderator is determined from amongst the (foresight-weighted) sortitioned jurors by (equal) sortition. Note that this means that we must over-recruit one member. (So 31+1, 43+1, 74+1, for the 90, 95 and 99% confidence levels with 65% supermajority.)

    2. The moderator’s well-defined and exclusive task is to ensure that the formal rules of deliberation and voting are kept. The moderator does not participate in the subject matter deliberation.

    Now with this in mind, to answer your question:

    In Austria, the deliberation of a criminal court jury has been managed in its formal and procedural aspects by an “Obmann” (Presider) elected from amongst that jury for 200 years. It would be unheard of and literally unwise that the jury is to shut up and be not allowed to deliberate amongst themselves before voting.

    Still things can always be improved, so we Demarchists prefer sortition of the Obmann and a clear separation of roles. So yes absolutely, if I were to face a criminal court I would very much like them to do a well-managed formal deliberation before they continue on to voting about the various jury questions.

    Like

  59. HJH,

    >if I were to face a criminal court I would very much like them to do a well-managed formal deliberation before they continue on to voting about the various jury questions.

    There is a fundamental difference between a judicial and legislative trial — in the former case the jury is charged with establishing the facts beyond reasonable doubt, whereas in the latter case the “jury” is merely expressing an informed preference, constrained only by the need to ensure that the preference reflects what the majority of the target population would think under “good” (well-informed) conditions. Deliberation is essential in the former case, on account of the need for unanimity but in the latter case harms the ongoing representativity of the sample.

    Like

  60. Terry,

    The difference is as follows: We see no necessity whatsoever for “large” (=numbers out of the hat) random sample deciding over the head of a foresight-weighted sociodemographically stratified demarchic committee’s vote.

    Keep in mind that the committee already has strictly determined representativeness according to a pre-determined confidence level. Even for worldwide decision this means 74, no more, normally only 31 or 43. These are group sizes which can still deliberate and thus vote with the benefit of all associative learning and deep understanding resulting from a debate. The process should stop there.

    An additional large sample vote, would just re-introduce some deficiencies of general referenda, such as cognitive overload, not to speak from other problems such as inefficiency, reduced democratic agility, and wasted deliberative bandwidth. Most importantly, if a group is too large for deliberation, there will be a far lesser level of wisdom in their votes than in that of the original deliberating well-sized and well-managed committee. We’d be doing ourselves no favour by adding this superfluous institution.

    Like

  61. Keith,

    >”Deliberation is essential in (judicial trial), on account of the need for unanimity but in the (legislative) case harms the ongoing representativity of the sample.”

    Are you really sure? Two problems:

    First, any legislative proposal is made on supposed facts, often predictions, and makes a decision based on the subjectively predicted impact of a proposal. Predictions happen to be my specialty and there is consistent evidence that undeliberated predictions are worse than those of a well-organised group. EE.g. in the 1980ies Germany predicted that continuing the burning of coal would create a huge floodwave by 2020 and in 2005, started CO2 emission trading on the back of that “argument”. The proposal was so badly designed, that they now burn more coal than ever. Still, there is no floodwave. Bad predictions bad decisions. This shows that deliberation is needed in both trial types, actually even more in legislative trials, because the subject matter is way more complicated.

    Second, the representativity of the sample does not change at all through deliberation (absent guns). Why would you say such a thing? Deliberation may change some opinions but that’s a different matter and an crucial feature when dealing with complexity.

    >”demarchists like HJH believe that there is a “right” answer to every political question.”

    You misunderstand. We did EXPERIMENTS where people are asked for predictions where an outcome (“right answer”) became available. That allowed us to test predictions with and without deliberation. Bad predictions cause bad decisions.

    Like

  62. HJH

    >Keep in mind that the committee already has strictly determined representativeness according to a pre-determined confidence level. Even for worldwide decision this means 74, no more, normally only 31 or 43.

    From the point of view of public acceptance, an (elected) World Fuhrer would have far more perceived legitimacy than the Rule of the Wise Demarchs. Lord save us from mathematicians!

    Like

  63. HJH

    If women are from Mars and men from Venus (or is it the other way round?), demarchs and democrats would appear to inhabit different galaxies!

    Like

  64. I’d like to elaborate on one point from my previous post…
    I think we can agree that at SOME point SOME group should engage in “well-managed formal deliberation” in order to perfect proposals for dealing with problems society faces. My point is that elected groups cannot do this. They have more essential goals, which revolve around retaining power. It is possible for a sortition body to consult experts and agree on an optimal deliberation process to minimize cognitive biases (confirmation bias, salience availability bias, social status bias, etc.). Humans are humans, so this won’t be perfect… but a deliberation method CAN be devised that will improve rational deliberation. BUT this cannot be applied to elected officials, because they have both psychological barriers and an electoral imperative that demotes optimal deliberation to near irrelevancy. ONLY sortition can allow good deliberation… whether the final decision is made by a separate mini-public or not.

    Like

  65. Hello Terrill, I do agree with you. I attended several meetings of all kind where a form of deliberation was used. The most “careful” type was that one of the attendants of the small group took care that everyone had his say on turn in a limited time. When time allowed it, several rounds could be done. Even then it is visible that not everyone has the same skills to express his/her views. A real discussion is even more “unequal” and sometime forces participants in silence because they feel that they are no match or are simply not extrovert (or skilled) enough to defend their position.

    Like

  66. Keith – The last two posts do not really make sense and (sorry) somewhat appear populist, not deliberative. I will wait for more substantial comments on the subject matter. But I am afraid there is no way around maths.

    Terry, I certainly did not argue in favour of any elected group and their deliberation. Your comment speaks out pro deliberation, so I assume we are parallel.

    Paul, rules for a well-managed deliberation process are precisely there to minimise the occurrence of such botched ones which you describe. There are enough precedents of talk time rules, e.g. in public debating contests, so “silence” can be avoided by design.

    The fundamental question remains: Will deliberation before a vote result in better decisions than enforced silence? We can experiment empirically around this, but from the little I know already about decision science I do not have the slightest doubt that deliberative votes vastly outperform passive listeners’.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Terry,

    At Westminster it’s generally agreed that the most successful scrutiny is by House of Lords select committee, largely on account of the higher level of expertise and lower level of partisanship. In my first book, The Party’s Over, this was the model that I used for my advocacy house and I think it has more to be said for it than a purely allotted scrutiny body. Sortition could be used to select personnel from the relevant civil society expert groups so I guess this would be a reasonable match to some demarchy proposals. So I guess that would give a three-stage-model:

    1. Proposal: elected politicians and direct initiative/votation
    2. Scrutiny: demarchic committee
    3. Disposal: stochastically-representative jury

    Like

  68. Here is the recent scientific evidence on the benefits of deliberation before voting combined with support for a supermajority vote:

    “Starting from Kalven and Zeisel (1966), numerous scholars have argued that juries do a good job at reaching an understanding of the facts. In a study of mock juries, Ellsworth (1989) writes: “In general, over the course of deliberation, jurors appear to focus more on the important facts and issues, come to a clearer understanding of them, and approach consensus on the facts.”

    https://www.econ.nyu.edu/user/lizzeria/merged-15.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  69. *** Paul Nollen writes (March 21) that Canada’s “association with “democracy” was not due to constitutional or institutional changes that might have justified re-labelling the regime. Instead, it was the result of the political elite’s discursive strategies, whose purpose was to strengthen the elite’s ability to mobilize the masses during the world wars. “
    *** The use of the “democratic myth” was not specific of Canada. It was a general trend, with only chronological differences. In modern societies where traditional legitimacy was less strong, the democratic myth was a powerful source of legitimacy. And, right, a powerful legitimacy is especially useful when people have to go to war and risk their lives.
    *** The problem for 21st century polyarchies is that the democratic myth is becoming dangerous, as authentic democracy is made possible by new technologies and new concepts as “representative sample”. The supporters of the polyarchic system are hesitating about the strategy to choose.

    Liked by 1 person

  70. *** Jonathan Crock (March 21) quotes Rancière “What thus characterizes a democracy is pure chance or the complete absence of qualifications for governing. … Democracy is the specific situation in which there is an absence of qualification that, in turn, becomes the qualification for the exercise of democratic arche.” And ads
    “It’s important to keep in mind that Rancière’s “no qualification” is masking a qualification, that of being human, that is rendered invisible due to the anthropocentrism here.”
    *** Right, there is anthropocentrism. Other beings are not politically qualified. Rancière maybe is afraid of majoritarian rule by bacteria.
    *** But Rancière’s discourse, founded on the Athenian experiment and ideological debates, forgets that no democrat theorist ever did qualify the young children for example.
    *** The democratic principle does not exclude qualification. It excludes the POLITICAL qualification. Any member of the society who is recognized able to marry, to choose his job, to choose his life place, to migrate into another country, to enlist into the military, to beget children, etc.. , who is “socially able”, is along the democratic principle qualified to be a member of the collective sovereign. No political selection.
    *** The “democratic myth” is under attack nowadays, especially maybe in France. And we see the democratic principle under twin attacks. First, especially after Brexit, we could see discourses challenging the political qualification of “uneducated citizens”, without idea of cancelling their social ability (for now!). And we have a movement towards giving electoral franchise to all mentally disabled people, without giving them the right to do freely their basic life choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Paul,

    Regarding term of service, again, like in the matter of the size of the decision making group, it is clear that there must be a consideration in favor of longer periods, otherwise we would be talking about periods measured in minutes or seconds – which is the average time spent by a citizen when making political judgments.

    So, yes, expertise is increased by longer service periods, and it is certainly a desired feature of a decision maker. Yes, at the same time there is a risk that a longer time period would be associated with changing values and interests. So, again, a balance has to be struck, but it is clear that any term that is not measured in years is not suitable for a high powered decision-making body.

    Like

  72. Yoram,

    Rather finding the least bad compromise between conflicting goods (shorter terms avoids corruption and identifying as elite with a feeling of power, but longer terms allows gathering more knowledge), we should jettison the old idea of a single-all purpose legislative chamber. An all-purpose legislative chamber only makes sense under the electoral mandate concept… as trustees or agents, and is inappropriate for sortition. We should have both longer term and shorter term bodies in the process to maximize BOTH goods, while checking the dangers of each. An analogy…Long term engineers should design a bridge but a short duration jury should decide if a bridge is desirable at a given location.

    Liked by 2 people

  73. Yoram,

    as far that long term involvement is concerned maybe elected representatives are not so bad at all. Certainly at high levels of government they are by definition “the best” (electoral aristocracy) and they are used to handle lobbyist and money. This is not the case with a panel appointed by sortition. I would not trust them for a second in the environment of a political scene like the Senate or Chamber of representatives at national level. Coercion, bribery, corruption, manipulation in all forms is the daily working climate there. If you don’t belong to “the best” hardened in battle at that level you are lost.
    It like a sports competition where you have the best team against a team appointed by sortition. It wont work.
    As said before, “trust” in the political system and “general acceptance” of the decisions taken, are the fundamental ingredients for any political system.
    If it is an objective that the sortition system in politics is better then the electoral system we have to be very careful in the choice of instruments and the use of it. It is significant that the proposals of David Van Reybroeck are, in general, accepted by the politicians (and media). It is no danger at all for the vested interests otherwise they would not give him such a platform. It gives them the chance to postpone democracy at least for several decades and even maybe discredit sortition as a useless system.

    Like

  74. Terry,

    >An all-purpose legislative chamber only makes sense under the electoral mandate concept… as trustees or agents, and is inappropriate for sortition.

    Agreed. Yoram is wrong in his simplistic assumption that an allotted chamber would function exactly like an elected one but with a different selection mechanism. “Trustee” and “agent” are subsets of the active variant of representation and have no bearing on the function or mandate of a descriptively-representative body. The fact that Yoram insists on calling randomly-selected persons “delegates” even though they were not chosen, authorised or mandated by a constituency is indicative of this fundamental confusion.

    I’m glad that we agree on this conceptual point, although we differ on how best to instantiate active political representation. I share Peter’s Stone’s astonishment that anyone can seriously advocate sortition as a stand-alone political system, see: https://www.psa.ac.uk/conference/2017-conference/participatory-and-deliberative-democracy-sortition-and-democratic-0

    Like

  75. Paul & Yoram,

    being a Futurist, I urge everybody to leave the narrow pattern of what has been in the past. Jettison a few old ideas like Terry said above. Once we have an automobile, a car will need a very different construction to a horse carriage.

    The “politician” of the future will not the elected representative. He or she is the collective innovator who develops a policy idea, proposal, or collective enterprise. Proposals must be presented to a representative jury, no more no less. These’s member’s vote will give the innovator the mandate on behalf of the represented population to pursue and develop the innovation. Think “collective venture committee”.

    Once the innovation is out, we, the citizens, will track broad and transparent indicators of what was promised to what was delivered. A manageable matter of specific surveying. This broad engagement and evaluation is akin to “buyers”, commercial innovator’s customers, collected by market research companies.

    As our innovator’s social endeavour evolves he must get an approval by a freshly sortitioned (short-term) committee year by year, to remain in charge.

    The politicians of the future will be of the “collective entrepreneur” type. The best do-ers, a Steve Jobs personality type, not an elected demagogue, or just the smoothest/roughest talkers, like recent presidential types.

    Like

  76. HJH,

    >The “politician” of the future will not the elected representative. He or she is the collective innovator who develops a policy idea, proposal, or collective enterprise. Proposals must be presented to a representative jury, no more no less.

    Agreed, but would point out that this was also the role of politicians in 4th century Athens, so we need to go back to the future (with or without a gullwing De Lorean). And the Athenian collective innovator could not present his policy idea to the representative jury until it had received a mandate from the whole political community (in the assembly). The modern equivalents of this popular filter are election and Swiss-style votation. So a modern hybrid will involve election, direct initiative and sortition — “pure” sortition systems are the subject matter of utopian fantasies.

    Like

  77. Keith: “the Athenian collective innovator could not present his policy idea to the representative jury until it had received a mandate from the whole political community”

    That’s totally inefficient. It should be self evident that the modern world is too complex and specialised for “the whole political community” to decide on “every proposal”.

    (It was inefficent probably even 2000 years ago. No wonder that Classic Athens lost so often to any old autocrat state which happened along.)

    For efficiency, the collective innovation/progress sequence must be streamlined also in democracy:
    1. Proposal: Collective Entrepreneur / Leader
    2. Approval: Representative (foresight-weighted) Committee
    3. General Happiness Tracking: Predictive surveying

    Like

  78. HJH,

    It was the inefficiency of 5th-century legislative procedures that led to the 4th century reforms. But the Athenians did this not by abolishing mass democracy (every new law still had to pass the hurdle of a show of hands in the assembly) but by augmenting it by politicians having to argue their case in detail before, and leaving the final decision in the hands of, a well-informed microcosm of the whole demos. I know that the notion of large (501+) randomly-selected juries is anathema to demarchs, but that’s the normative principle underlying equality by lot — it’s a democratic norm that just happens to have “efficient” side effects.

    Like

  79. HJH,

    “”Proposals must be presented to a representative jury, no more no less. “” yes, ok. Thats only part of the story. Maybe take a look at our proposal. http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/137395.pdf

    Like

  80. Hi Paul,

    I had a look, thanks. I am all in favour of any progress, which your model would be. All here believe in for some flavour of sortition, but so far, most is theory talk (or history hour). Not much of substance was allowed to happen in the real-politics world.

    Happy to compare notes on ideas, check for differences, and will definitely report back with experiences whenever something gets actually carried out.

    Our short-hand working draft is kept here: https://www.99pct.org

    Some differences (without presuming any judgement on what’s better or more likely to get implemented):
    1. Implementation as a party, hence no constitution change or politician consent needed
    2. Committees always at exactly statistical sample size for 99%, no more, fast rotation, irrespective of function
    3. Exact sociodemographic stratification comes after foresight weighted sortition
    4. Committee voting always with supermajority 65%, no less, after well-managed deliberation
    5. Constant open opinion pooling (with proper technology) of broadest population on defined empirical policy impact variables before decision and afterwords for tracking and decision revision.

    Liked by 1 person

  81. Hello HJH,

    No time yet tor read your working draft but I look forward to it. At democratie.nu we are against supermalority rules, it is amongst other arguments a violation of the equality priciple, it is minority rule (the counterpart of majority rule). We did some research about this subject, we do know majority rule is often discussed but most solutions are worst than the problem. http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/143003.pdf We had the example of BC where the proposition of the alloted panel was rejected by a minority (supermajority rule enforced by the politicians) in a referendum.

    Like

  82. >> Paul “are against supermalority rules”

    Attention there is a big mistake in that statement. Let’s not mix up minority interests with supermajority voting requirements. People are better than that. The task of a jury is to decide in the interest of the community they do. For example: It was men who would (and did) vote for female suffrage.

    The purpose and proven effect of supermajority is better deliberation, voting discipline, and necessary confidence levels when using samples. A simple majority vote requirement would actually completely undermine an efficient future democracy.

    Like

  83. Terry,

    > We should have both longer term and shorter term bodies in the process to maximize BOTH goods, while checking the dangers of each. An analogy…Long term engineers should design a bridge but a short duration jury should decide if a bridge is desirable at a given location.

    This seems like no more than wishful thinking. It is much more likely that such an arrangement would minimize BOTH goods, while amplifying the dangers of each: the unrepresentative longer term bodies have the power to design the proposals to benefit the own narrow interests they do represent, while the statistically representative body is constrained to choose from a short menu of proposals offered by the elite-dominated bodies, based on information provided by the elite-dominated bodies, and has no time to make an independent study of the issues.

    In fact, the arrangement you are suggesting is quite similar to the arrangement we have today: the professionals (politicians) are making the proposals (electoral platforms) while the short term jury (the entire electorate) can choose between competing proposals (i.e., vote for their preferred party).

    Like

  84. Terry/Yoram, can you guys clarify? Terry’s comment makes perfect sense as the quasi monopoly on legal drafting is taken away from government (e.g.in essence only EU government can propose new laws which appears to be one part of the big problem we have over here).

    In demarchy, anybody (a collective entrepreneur / group) can propose something, this creativity does not actually need a formal “body”. Why should somebody need to be elected to have good ideas and drive them to implementation? Nobody elected Steve Jobs. Innovators can and probably will work on their improvement bit all their life, AFAIC.

    As the (weighted sortition) short-term committee approval is required before the collective us is committed and must pay up for the next stage/or next budget year, whatever, all should be perfectly under control. The representative committee would recognise illegitimate elite-interest proposals, latest after a year.

    Yoram, it would be good to have a structured consensus model here of what is actually proposed as sortition-governance, even if we need to mark some alternative (theoretical) solutions until we have evidence of what works in each cogwheel.

    Like

  85. >Terry/Yoram, can you guys clarify?

    You have to remember that Yoram rejects the argument against rational ignorance, and related epistemic considerations. As far as he’s concerned it’s simply a matter of interests, and a randomly-selected deliberative group will automatically represent the interests of the masses. Who knows he might even go so far as to claim that “knowledge” is an epiphenomenon of interests, or perhaps that would be a bridge too far.

    Like

  86. > You have to remember that Yoram rejects …

    Like many of Sutherland’s assertions, this is assertion has no connection to reality.

    Like

  87. That’s good to hear Yoram, I’m glad that you’ve now accepted that there is an epistemic argument for sortition.

    Like

  88. There is no end to your lies, Sutherland.

    Like

  89. So in your previous message you denied denying the epistemic argument and now are denying your denial? It’s not surprising that HJH is confused.

    Like

  90. hjhofkirchner,

    > Yoram, it would be good to have a structured consensus model here of what is actually proposed as sortition-governance

    I am not quite sure what you mean by that, but I support a reform along the lines of Callenbach and Phillips: replacing elected chambers with allotted ones, but otherwise keeping them essentially as they exist now.

    Then those allotted parliament chambers can restructure the system as they see fit: they would be able to do a much better job of making democratic reforms on an ongoing basis and in response to ongoing developments than any a-priori designer could.

    Like

  91. Sutherland,

    Your ability to pack multiple lies into very few words is truly a wonder. You should be writing instruction manuals for people aspiring to become habitual liars like yourself.

    Like

  92. @ Keith,
    >> It’s not surprising that HJH is confused.

    You misunderstand. The lack in clarity is not regarding who said or believes what.

    I wish for sortition, therefore my instinct is against any “ad personam”. It seems a dangerous artifact like which person was born lucky to be aristocracy, or which person is flamboyent enough to be elected president for the next 4 years.

    The only important factor for our joint project will be our future reality: Will something/anything of the sortition idea be realistically implemented? Do we care more about whom it is from or do we care to get it working?

    @Yoram:
    Are you citing a forum consensus? Can we add a structured wiki here or somewhere? The Thread / Discuss site format is not ideal for that part of our endeavour.

    @Paul – It’s great that you tried to bring some structure into this. we should have more of that.

    Like

  93. hjhofkirchner,

    No – this is my opinion. I don’t believe you will find enough common ground here to build a consensus around anything.

    Like

  94. Yoram is right about that, and the inability of the active participants of this blog to even understand each other (let alone build a consensus) should make us sceptical regarding the possibility of deliberative democracy.

    Like

  95. Yoram & Keith: Are you two unified for once, both lamenting the lack of common ground and consensus here? :-)

    Personally, I’d be game to try to build a consensus model together, using the deliberative methods and tools discussed here. It would be interesting to see what we come up with.

    How about if we swallow our own medicine. We could do a resolution on the most desirable implementation of sortition.

    Like

  96. Unfortunately deliberation is not a medicine that I believe in — I think it’s status is akin to homeopathy. My experience with attempts to deliberate on this forum have led me to the conclusion (that I believe Terry also shares) that people with a strong interest in a topic are the least likely ones to compromise. That’s why the model that I advocate is agonistic — both parties in an argument (in this case Yoram and myself) would present our case in front of the randomly-selected jury who would determine which party was most persuasive. This is just the replacement of war-war with jaw-jaw, and I think it provides a plausible scenario for the evolution of political parties.

    Like

  97. Before Yoram answers, two points which I notice.
    1. A committee can decide only on one proposed model at a time. So it would never be “Keith’s against Yoram’s”, but a deliberation “pro/con this one”. Then the committee decides.
    2. It would not the proponents with their different models who need to compromise. Each can try to convince the representative committee.

    Would that be acceptable?

    Like

  98. Two questions:

    1. Who originates the proposal (“this one”)?
    2. How is the committee constituted and who or what does it represent?

    Like

  99. Sorry for being not clear enough.
    1. “Who originates the proposal (“this one”)?”
    Answer: Above you said that you proposed a model. So you’d be the proposer.
    2. “How is the committee constituted and who or what does it represent?”
    Answer: The universe is the collective population which you think should accept and rule itself according to your proposal. From those we draw a representative sample. (My addition proposal would be to make it also foresight weighted, but I guess we’ll have enough work with getting a representative committee together in first place.)

    Like

  100. 1. But if I proposed a model and Yoram proposed a model, then while the committee could reject both models it couldn’t accept both of them, so it would effectively be choosing between two (or more).

    2. It’s always puzzled me that sortition from the general public has been utilised for constitutional conventions as this particular form of law making is a long way removed from people’s ordinary experience. Country-fair goers are pretty good at guessing the weight of an ox and ordinary citizens could come to well-considered views on quotidian legislation but I would be inclined in this instance to represent a public that knows what it’s talking about. So I guess the public that I would want represented would be political theorists, constitutional lawyers and those with practical experience of governance (civil servants and statespersons). Unfortunately this is precisely the group that Yoram would seek to disenfranchise.

    My model here is, of course, entirely undemocratic, but I think this is an example of Rousseau’s original lawgiver (a collective version of Moses, Solon, Lycergus etc). I’m also more inclined to believe that sortition would evolve via incremental stages, starting with randomly-selected second chambers, as opposed to following a rational blueprint.

    Like

  101. Keith: “the public that I would want represented would be political theorists, constitutional lawyers and those with practical experience of governance (civil servants and statespersons).”

    If we improve sortition (as we now have the technical means) by foresight-weighing we would give greater chances to people who forecast correctly any negative prediction to be prevented by your proposal or any positive predictions brought about by it. (Of course, for a short prediction horizon.)

    As long as they are correctly stratified in a second step, we can accept their vote as representative of what the populace would decide, were it as knowledgeable and foresightful.

    That may bring in a few from of the professions which you mention or it may not, if they turn out to be unrealistic thus fail to qualify with their predictions. We’d know if they really know what they are talking about, or if they are just talking big.

    Like

  102. HJH,

    How do you identify “accurate forecasters” (using Tetlock’s methodology?) for an unprecedented constitutional change? I take the view that the sortition pool should be people with relevant life experience. In the case of general legislation (the price of beer and energy, the quality of the air we breathe, whether or not to meddle in the Middle East etc), everyone is likely to have an interest, but few people have experience or knowledge of the day to day task of governance/legislation, the theoretical presuppositions underlying the concept of political representation, or the constraints of constitutional law. I’m also sceptical regarding the viability of grand schemes to change this or that, preferring instead the evolutionary approach.

    I appreciate the irony of my position, in that I’m arguing that universal sortition should not be the way to introduce sortition into the political system, but then I have scant regard for social contract theory as a basis for legitimisation and consent. I also think that the unbridgeable chasm between Yoram and my views on this matter shows how impossible it would be to build a working consensus.

    Like

  103. Keith,

    yes, scoring predictions is the objective (falsifiable in Popperian sense) way to measure knowledge and expertise. An aside: If you refer to Tetlock I guess you mean his pop-science book “Superforecasters”. The science and theory of using the market mechanism for information aggregation and communications actually originates from F.A. Hayek, a representative of the Austrian School of Economics. And it was empirically supported by another Nobel laureate, Vernon Smith, in his famous paper about the Hayek Hypothesis

    However, are you saying that you want to the political system to change how it changes but you yourself doubt the proposed method can be applied to such change? I guess we do not need to discuss how that would be received by any committee asked to approve such change …

    All the best, Hubertus

    Like

  104. The Tetlock book I referred to is Expert Political Judgment. I’m still astonished that you think falsifiablity is an appropriate criterion for democratic politics — it certainly underlines the unbridgeable gap between demarchists and democrats.

    >However, are you saying that you want to the political system to change how it changes but you yourself doubt the proposed method can be applied to such change?

    I’m happy with the way constitutional changes occur in the UK (gradual evolution), but using universal franchise sortition as a way to introduce universal franchise sortition is pulling yourself up by your own bootstrings, especially as perceived legitimacy will be partly a consequence of the system working in practice. But I do think political theorists can come to a consensus on the (dual) nature of political representation; polsci experiments can be done to demonstrate whether sortition can generate a consistent decision outcome (a prerequisite for representative isonomia); and statespersons and civil servants can have an informed perspective as to whether such a system could work in practice (will the trains still run on time and will there be money to pay the bills?)

    Of course these are all elite agents, so do I think such a decision can be taken via universal franchise sortition? Frankly, no I don’t, as fundamental constitutional issues are too far removed from the everyday experience of ordinary people.

    Like

  105. PS the reason that I’m sceptical about the ability of ordinary citizens to decide fundamental constitutional issues is that on many occasions if I’m watching the TV News with my wife, she’ll ask me if I like such and such politician, do I think they come across well etc etc. Each time I explain carefully that it really doesn’t matter whether one likes the person in question, what matters is the policies they are pursuing and (generally) I don’t have an opinion on most policies because I haven’t studied them. But then the next night I get the same question . . . But I’m fully confident that my wife’s judgment on particular issues, when informed in a balanced manner and in conjunction with the judgment of several hundred others could be a democratically-valid and epistemically sound way of resolving everyday political decisions. But the reason that I wouldn’t want to entrust constitutional issues to ordinary citizens is because this is so far removed from their everyday experience.

    Like

  106. “I wouldn’t want to entrust constitutional issues to ordinary citizens”

    Hmmmm. Even in our current constitution, major constitutional changes (which your model appears to be) need a vote by (all) ordinary citizens.

    Here is the source of this constitutional law provision (in German language):
    https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokument.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Dokumentnummer=NOR40045767

    So, in reality (when put to the objective test) you argue for epistocracy instead of democracy? Italy had a lot of that. Do we really need to repeat their sorry experience with this method?

    Like

  107. My case for epistocracy is limited to constitutional matters, that are a long way beyond the experience of most citizens. Whilst ordinary citizens are capable of deciding on the individual laws that govern them, only historians, political theorists, constitutional lawyers, statespersons, and civil servants have the necessary experience and skill set to design constitutions. Rousseau was no epistocrat but he drew a fundamental distinction between basic lawgiving (the role of Moses, Solon, Lycergus etc) and everyday lawmaking. And this distinction has been honoured by the US Constitution which attributes a semi-divine status to the Constitution. The calls for allotted constitutional conventions only make sense to those who see sinister interests wherever they look.

    >Even in our current constitution, major constitutional changes (which your model appears to be) need a vote by (all) ordinary citizens.

    Social contract norms would require all citizens to approve the change in a referendum, but I thought we were arguing the case for demarchy/sortition democracy, not the plebiscite.

    Like

  108. Yoram,
    To clarify my post,,, “the unrepresentative longer term bodies” you refer to in my proposal, which you call elite-dominated, are essentially the same as the all-purpose sortition legislature you advocate for — randomly selected citizens willing to serve for a couple of years perhaps. By serving longer they become more expert. Why are they the height of democracy when you advocate such a body, but elite-dominated when I advocate for the same thing, but with the important condition that their products must go before a short duration (and thus MORE representative) final jury for approval?

    Like

  109. Terry,

    If the long term body is indeed representative, then the shorter term body is at best useless, and quite possibly a point of weakness where the powerful can apply their power to influence outcomes.

    Now, regarding the long term body. It is you who presented this body as representing experts (“engineers”) rather than the entire population. The difference between an allotted parliament and your proposal, as I understand it, is that the body you propose is not expected to be representative of the entire population: the filter of “willing to serve for a couple of years” introduces a huge bias if the incentives to serve are not in place. Few would turn down an offered full-time seat in a powerful national parliament where the service is associated with tradition, power, prestige and adequate material compensation. On the other hand, few would be “willing” to serve in a body where participation is expected to take place on one’s spare time, without adequate compensation and with unclear influence on policy outcome (because it is one of many such bodies and adoption of the proposals they come up with is up to another body).

    It is my understanding that while I am talking about the former arrangement, you are talking about the latter. Is this not the case?

    Liked by 1 person

  110. Terry,

    Aren’t the members of your long-term body volunteers (winnowed by sortition), or is that one of the other committees in your scheme?

    Like

  111. Yoram,
    The Review Panel would be a well-paid, randomly selected body. We can’t yet actually know what the rate of accepting the appointment would be (Yoram expects VERY high), but since people could voluntarily opt out of service, it would necessarily be LESS representative than a short duration and larger mini-public with quasi-mandatory service (my Policy Jury). The two big difference between a Review Panel and Yoram’s all-purpose legislature are 1. each would deal with only a defined set of issues (rather than ALL legislation), and 2. after a bill was finalized it would need ratification from a Policy Jury.

    Keith,
    No, these bodies would act like a legislature and be well paid. the only unpaid bodies are the small (but numerous) Intertest Panels that generate raw proposals for the Review Panels to slice and dice in preparing final bills.

    Yoram,
    Your expectation of a very high acceptance rate for your all-purpose sortition legislature seems too optimistic. Firstly, these members will NOT have the prestige nor (unofficial corrupt) power of elected legislators. Good pay will help, and perhaps over time a sense of civic obligation and pride will come to dominate culture… but not initially. Also, presumably these sorts of legislatures would also exist at regional and local levels, where the prestige all but evaporates, and the topics dealt with are a lot less sexy. I assume you imagine your same design for lower levels of government, but perhaps not.

    Like

  112. Sorry Terry, by “voluntary” I meant self-nominating, rather than unpaid. I must have confused the interest panel with the review panel or another of your committees. The trouble with your proposal is that it’s so complicated — I’ve read your JoPD paper a couple of times and I’m still confused. I think this is a real problem for its acceptability, that’s why I prefer to focus on the one body (policy jury) that pretty much everyone agrees should be constituted by sortition (and most of us agree should be short term, ad hoc, paid and mandatory).

    I agree with you that the high acceptance rate anticipated by Yoram would only apply to an all-powerful oligarchic body (as you have described his proposal).

    Like

  113. Terry,

    I agree that when there are multiple, possibly very many, limited purview allotted bodies without final decision-making powers then it is not reasonable to expect very high participation even when participation is a high priority. The situation with a single, high power, high prestige, high visibility body is very different. (By participation, BTW, I don’t mean merely showing up but rather meaningful involvement in the decision making.)

    Indeed this issue is a fundamental problem that advocates of division of powers ignore as they indulge in proposing larger, more complex, systems that formally involve more people in decision making. Formal decision-making power can be too concentrated to be democratic, but it can also easily be too thinly spread to be democratic. When formal decision-making power is thinly spread, informal, de-facto decision making power becomes concentrated. This is exactly what happens during mass elections: formally the power to select government is spread among the citizens, while in fact it becomes concentrated in the hands of the elite that selects the viable candidates.

    Like

  114. Yoram,

    >power . . . becomes concentrated in the hands of the elite that selects the viable candidates.

    “Viable” is the significant adjective — in two-party systems without primaries, parties select the candidate that is most likely to win most popular support, that’s why Labour chose Tony Blair over Gordon Brown and the Tories chose David Cameron over David Davis. Interestingly, increasing intra-party democratic choice (via primaries) generates a candidate like Jeremy Corbyn, who is unlikely to win popular support. So elites are a lot more likely to select popular candidates than democratic political parties and power to select governments will be spread among the citizens when the elites choose the candidate.

    Like

  115. https://www.amazon.com/Revolting-Establishment-Undermining-Democracy-Theyre/dp/0008220824 an attack against sortition ‘David Van Reybroeck” style by Mick Hume. DVR ‘s attitude against the referendum and his proposal for a new “elite” appointed by sortition and “enlightened” by so called independent “experts” are the basic lines. And I even guess that he has no knowledge of DVR’s proposition of a “mixed senate” of professional politicians and citizens appointed by sortition.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: