Alexander Guerrero: The lottocracy

As was mentioned here before, some time ago Prof. Alexander Guerrero and his ideas about the use of sortition in government were the subject of an article in The Boston Globe.

I thank Prof. Guerrero for alerting me to a recently published essay of his about sortition in the online magazine Aeon. The essay presents Guerrero’s proposal, but starts with an interesting analysis of the failure of elections and follows the proposal with an analysis of the promise of sortition.

The lottocracy
Elections are flawed and can’t be redeemed – it’s time to start choosing our representatives by lottery


The celebrity comic Russell Brand is gesticulating wildly, urgently, in a hotel room, under the bright lights of a television interview. ‘Stop voting, stop pretending, wake up. Be in reality now. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference. We know that already.’ He is responding to his interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, who is taking him to task for never having voted.

We are brought up to think that voting is important, that it is a necessary condition of being a politically serious person, that we can’t complain about politics if we don’t vote. This last principle has echoes of the more reasonable parental admonition, said of lima beans or cauliflower: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. But that principle is based on sound epistemological grounds: you might, for all you know, like cauliflower or lima beans. The voting thing is, as Brand argues, stupid. There are ways of participating in public affairs other than voting. For example, one can become a celebrity and call for revolution in a television interview.

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