Down with Elections! Part 4


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Theoretical Considerations and Explanations


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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