On the Citizen House: A Disquisitional Fiction

On the Citizen House: A Disquisitional Fiction is a novella of ideas in the form of socratic dialogue wrapped up in a road trip. Formatted as a proto-screenplay, description is sparse, characterization thin. Dialogue and visuals dominate.

The Citizen House is the world’s first national legislature chosen as the original Athenian democrats did — by sortition (by random selection). Two representatives face the challenges of advocating for their disparate views (eugenics / universal basic income) in a legislature demographically more reflective of the entire population than any other.

Amazon e-book: http://tinyurl.com/yao8lckx

68 pages, single spaced. 22,800 words.

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“Anyone have any better ideas?”

Terry Bouricius pointed out the following story in The Onion, “America’s finest news source”:

Humanity Surprised It Still Hasn’t Figured Out Better Alternative To Letting Power-Hungry [Depraved People] Decide Everything

NEW YORK—Noting that it has had thousands of years to develop a more agreeable option, humankind expressed bewilderment this week that it has yet to devise a better alternative to governing itself than always letting power-hungry assholes run everything, sources worldwide reported.

Individuals in every country on earth voiced their frustration that, in spite of generations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse they have suffered at the hands of those in positions of authority, they continue to allow control over the world’s governments, businesses, and virtually every other type of organization and social group to fall to the most megalomaniacal pricks among them.
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Sortition in fiction

Most of what is written about sortition, or what I prefer to call fetura, is academic or polemic, but I have recently published a novel in which it features prominently. You might enjoy reading how this might unfold in the real world, or at least the real world of alternative history science fiction.

New Amazon Kindle book by Jon Roland

Wayward World: A new kind of hero must set history on a different course to save Earth from destruction almost a thousand years in the future.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MPW3Y10

You don’t need a Kindle device to read it. Almost any browser will do, with a plugin, or get the app. This is a fundraising project for the Constitution Society. All the revenues go to it.

Still making some minor edits to it that should be live in a day or so. Internet slow for you? If you can get to the book, reading it can give you something to do while you wait.

An interstellar planet is on a collision course with Earth in 1000 years. To get humanity ready to divert it, human technical progress needs to be advanced more rapidly, and history will take a wrong turn in 1265. Our heroes have to take Earth on a different course, without being around for the entire thousand years, so they have to set up institutions that can continue to move things forward and avoid several disasters that will set humanity back even further. They face strong resistance and many hazards, but are led by one who has the skill and charisma needed, if she can survive long enough.

One of the advantages of the Kindle edition is that it has live links to many web pages that provide background on much of the content discussed in the chapters.

David Grant’s play about sortition to be read in St. Louis

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Global movement towards representative legislatures

St. Louis, Missouri, 18 October: A world-wide movement towards establishing legislative bodies that are fully representative finds expression in the staged reading of “Our Common Lot” by David Grant. The short play is written for an international conference, “Democracy for the 21st Century,” to be held in December at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt.

In the play, Marisa, Alma, Sami, and Ali live in a city embroiled in conflict and violence — the Regime, the Opposition, the Opposition to the Opposition. When the fighting stops, they ask themselves: What is the best way to move forward? “Our Common Lot” argues for choosing legislators in the way that the first democracy did – by random lot, known as ‘sortition.’

In the original Athenian democracy, sortition was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy. Most recently the city of Melbourne, Australia has used a random sample of citizens to determine its ten-year financial plan. Two-thirds of the recent Irish Constitutional Convention was composed of sortitionally-chosen citizens.

The reading of “Our Common Lot” is its world premiere. The ensemble includes Adam Flores, Carl Overly, Jr., Erin Roberts, and Jacqueline Thompson.
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Humor in Article Based on Erroneous Assumption About Athenian Democracy

A rather amusing article in the Onion makes the mistake of assuming that the Athenian democracy was an electoralist system and therefore subject to the same elitist control:

Anthropologists Discover Ancient Greek Super PAC That Helped Shape First Democracy

ATHENS, GREECE—In a finding that provides new insight into the roots of Western civilization, a team of anthropologists from Cambridge University announced Monday the discovery of an ancient Greek super PAC that helped shape the world’s first democracy. “At the same time Cleisthenes first instituted a representative form of government in Athens, it appears that a group of wealthy citizens and merchants created an organization to influence these new voters by bombarding them with around-the-clock political messages,” lead researcher Daniel Rogers said of the early political action committee, named Athenians for a Better City-State, which is said to have received millions of drachmas’ worth of funding in gold, lambs, dates, loaves of bread, and slaves from Athens’ largest and most influential trade groups. “While the committee was prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates seeking public office, AFBCS nevertheless spent astonishing sums on orators hired to stand in the Agora and recite the negative traits of politicians that the super PAC opposed, as well as on writers who were hired to pen slanderous epic poems.”

Down with Elections! Part 4

DOWN WITH ELECTIONS!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

PART 4

Theoretical Considerations and Explanations

Athens

Proponents of sortition usually refer to the fact that it was used in Athens, and sometimes use the Athenian constitution as a yardstick for comparing other proposals. There is no attempt here to reproduce or imitate the Athenian democracy, which had several features which would now be considered objectionable, among which are:

  1. The exclusion of the majority of persons living under the control of the government from any say in that government. One can argue about the relative numbers of adult male citizens, adult female citizens, metics (metoikoi, foreigners living and working in Athens) children of citizens, and slaves, but clearly the adult male citizens were a small minority of those affected by the laws which they alone could vote on. Amongst adult male citizens, the Athenian constitution was eminently democratic, amongst those who were subject to its laws, it was oligarchic.
  2. The lack of separation of justice and legislature.
  3. Ostracism. It was not necessary to commit a crime to be ostracised and exiled, merely to be feared.
  4. Dokimasia. This was an examination, not to determine whether a citizen was competent, but whether he was eligible for office, and if so, whether his political views were offensive (usually meaning that he had oligarchic sympathies).
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And Now for Something Completely Different…

There’s apparently a fictional newspaper online called the Mammalian Daily, which purports to cover the lives of a bunch of animals living in a zoo. Apparently, the animal leaders of the zoo are selected by sortition. See…

http://www.mammaliandaily.com/breaking-news/focus-on-sortition

It is, however, a stratified sample by category of animal. We don’t want a ruling body dominated by amphibians, after all.