Sortition on ideochina.com

The Chinese language blog ideochina.com – 思想中国 – has an article about the troubles of the elections-based system of government (what may be termed “eklogocracy”). Among other ideas for reform, the article mentions proposals involving sortition.

Abstract:

In the past quarter of the century,democracy has won the day,with most countries in the world claiming themselves to be democracies. However, the glory is fleeting. In exactly the same period of time, the advancing step of western democracy starts faltering, and its theory is being challenged in an unprecedented way. The idol of democracy is entering into twilight, surrounded by more and more pessimistic views. Theorists of democracy have now started to reflect on the inherent deficiencies of representational democracy, rethink electoral democracy, and seek to return to real democracy by exploring various institutions that can involve the participation of the populace.

The author appears to be an Equality-by-Lot reader.

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Problem with posting comments – a workaround

Update 2: If you are still having technical issues, please let me know by email.

Update: It seems the issue was associated with the blog’s theme. I have changed the theme and now the issue is resolved. Sorry if the new theme causes any disorientation. This is probably a temporary inconvenience.

There seems to be a problem with posting comments. This seems to affect only users who are logged in to the WordPress. If you are having this issue, log out of WordPress before you start commenting. You can then post the comment without logging in.

If you wish to post a comment while being logged in, that can be done by logging in after having started writing your comment using the little WordPress icon next to the comment box.

If this doesn’t get resolved soon, I’ll ask WordPress support for help.

2014 review – statistics

Below are some statistics about the fifth year of Equality-by-Lot. Comparable numbers for last year can be found here.

2014 Page views Posts Comments
Jan 2,038 11 179
Feb 2,370 8 110
Mar 1,975 7 76
Apr 2,890 13 269
May 2,956 5 265
June 2,403 8 119
July 2,552 14 205
Aug 1,950 3 71
Sept 2,022 8 91
Oct 2,511 10 105
Nov 2,490 8 108
Dec (to 28th) 2,318 10 183
Total 28,475 105 1,781

Note that page views do not include visits by logged-in contributors – the wordpress system does not count those visits.

Posts were made by 11 authors during 2014. (There were, of course, many other authors quoted and linked to.)

There are currently 188 email and WordPress followers of this blog. In addition there are 83 Twitter followers (@Klerotarian) and 50 Facebook followers.

Searching for “distribution by lot” (with quotes) using Google returns Equality-by-Lot as the second result (out of “about 20,600 results”), as well as the third result. Searching for “sortition” returns Equality-by-Lot as the 5th result (out of “about 73,900 results”).

Call for 2014 review input and award nominations

As in the past years (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010), I would like to create a post or two summarizing the sortition- and distribution-by-lot-related developments of the year and the activity here on Equality-by-Lot.

Please use the comments to give your input on what you think are the most mention-worthy events or essays of the past year.

This year I had the idea of initiating a yearly award for the most notable sortition-related article, essay or activity (or maybe a few awards covering a few categories). The award I am thinking of is mostly honorary rather than material (with maybe a token gift). Comments regarding the award(s) idea and nominations are also hereby solicited.

The rich or the powerful?

There has been a lot of debate on this blog recently as to whether or not political outcomes are unduly influenced by the rich; in this post I want to consider the influence of other nondemocratic agents – activists, civil society pressure groups, non-corporate lobbyists and academics in the social sciences and humanities. The reason for the inclusion of the last category is because most political leaders are educated in these disciplines – unlike, say, in China, it’s hard to identify political leaders who studied the natural sciences or engineering – so academics in these fields will have had a powerful influence in their formative years. There are more Oxford PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) graduates in the House of Commons than Old Etonians (35 to 20) and 50% of ministers and 28 percent of MPs were educated at Oxbridge, the vast majority in the above-mentioned subjects. Jeremy Waldron, in his inaugural lecture for his (Oxford) chair of social and political theory argued against the focus of the PPE syllabus on the ’57 varieties of luck egalitarianism’ as opposed to ‘political’ issues like representation, sovereignty and the rule of law, and it’s the resulting influence of the equality lobby that I want to address in this post. Some of the material is anecdotal, and some evidence of partisan influences in the formulation of a UN convention on disabilities equality.

The primary school in my village (pop. c.300) has recently constructed, at considerable expense, a ‘sensory room’ to meet the needs of one part-time disabled pupil. (Bear in mind this is happening at a time when local authority budgets are squeezed to the extent that rural residents are being told that they will need to grit their own roads this winter (and pay for the materials) as the council does not have the funds.) This is the result of government policy that insists that the disabled must be fully integrated in regular society, and has closed down most of the special schools that accommodated the specific needs of disabled children. Speaking to two parents of disabled children (one Aspergers and one cerebral palsy), they both volunteered that this politically-motivated policy has been disastrous for their children because, unlike their peers in special schools, their everyday growing-up experience provided a constant reminder of their neediness.
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The Vergne lotteries literature database

Antoine Vergne has shared his database of lotteries related literature. The database currently contain 365 items touching on a variety of topics related to distribution-by-lot and sortition, covering theory, practice, history and advocacy, and ranging in time from antiquity to the present.

For those who are interested to access the list, it is available in bibliographical format and as a report.

The database is managed as a Zotero library. Readers who wish to help manage and extend the database are invited to leave contact information below or to email me (the address is here).

The Warm, Fuzzy Side of Sortition: When Deliberation Goes Right

Has anyone read Tom Atlee’s Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics? Chapter 5 is called “Citizenship and Randomly Selected Ad Hoc Mini-Publics.”

Tom’s been an advocate of sortition for decades and it seems there hasn’t yet been a discussion of his thought on Equality by Lot. Beyond being a long-time advocate of “Citizen Deliberative Councils” and other sorts of minipublics, he has deep insights into group dynamics—the conditions under which groups go beyond simple bargaining and reach something closer to creative wisdom.

In my humble opinion, there’s an inadvertent academic bias on this blog that leaves out significant work from activists and non-academic writers like Tom. I think it would serve us well to do otherwise.

To that end I will list some brilliant ideas I’ve gleaned from his latest book, Empowering Public Wisdom (2012), and from reading some of his blog.
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