Democracy Talk, Episode 1

Patrick Chalmers and I are aiming to turn this into an ongoing video series. Any comments are welcome.

10 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Fraudcast News and commented:
    Democracy Talk TV – this inaugural episode sees presenters Patrick Chalmers and Yoram Gat tackle the question of “sortition” – what it is and why it might produce far fairer and more transparent political decisions than currently emerge from electoral politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yoram,

    Interesting, but you misrepresent the activity on this blog in two important respects:

    1. Not everyone is interested in the political potential of sortition, some — including Conall Boyle, the founder of the online kleroterian movement — are only interested in sortition as an equitable way of distributing public goods and responsibilities. Others, such as Peter Stone and Oliver Dowlen, are interested in the political potential of sortition, but only as a way of protecting the electoral system from factionalism and corruption.

    2. Even amongst those who share your interest in sortition as a form of political representation, some of us see this as supplementing rather than replacing election.

    Of course there is no way of knowing the beliefs of the 461 followers of the blog, and you do acknowledge in passing that some contributors may differ in degree to your views but, as the founder of the blog there is a danger that listeners will conflate your own (extreme) views with the blog as such. And your claim that the political class will only be forced into accepting sortition by public pressure is contradicted by your observation that sortition for the upper house in Belgium has been supported by senior politicians. In addition to this Burnheim’s proposal has garnered the enthusiastic support of a former state premier in Australia and sortition is being used increasingly by governments to ascertain public attitudes on a wide range of issues. Needless to say politicians will not be favourably disposed towards any proposal to replace election with sortition, but that is not the policy of many posters on this blog.


  3. Yoram,

    Great to hear this interview. Glad you and Patrick did it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] why I’m planning on ramping up Democracy Talk – an as-yet experimental audio and video reporting series focused on innovations in our political decision-making processes and accompanying […]


  5. >Any comments are welcome.

    Welcome but, as usual, completely ignored.


  6. Hi Keith – sorry that you’re feeling that your comment was ignored. I, for one, have been mulling it over and not in any way ignoring it.

    I can’t, of course, speak for Yoram but I am interested by exactly what point it is that you’re trying to make.

    Is it basically that you don’t want posts such as the above interview to appear on this blog or more that you don’t want Yoram to associate this blog with his own personal political views about the real-world application of sortition?

    Your point 1 is a tricky one – raising for me the conundrum of where “political” starts and stops. As I see it, both examples you give are in themselves “political” albeit from different parts of the political firmament.

    Point 2 is too impossibly broad to answer in its details though what I gather from it is basically your objection to Yoram’s apparent conflation of this blog with his own views.

    That’s a deliberative challenge in itself – I don’t personally know the answer.

    As an aside, what I am hoping to do with the emergent Democracy Talk series is to translate the findings of political innovators and experimenters into more everyday language that non-expert-but-interested citizens could engage with. Yoram and I experimented here with the super cheap-and-cheerful option of Google video. It’s not fantastic – I am the first to admit it. In the same spirit of accessibility to all – I am also doing audio interviews with practitioners all around the world.

    What I foresee is regular journalism output incorporating news of governance innovations, analysis of current political questions from the perspective of innovators and, maybe, a practitioners’ corner on the practicalities of experimenting. I suppose the basic premise of the planned show is that our conventional political systems are dysfunctional and in urgent need of wholesale reform – something your comment suggests may itself may be unpalatable to many of the 461 followers of this blog – I’m not sure.

    If the premise is unpalatable or somehow otherwise flawed – what would be interesting is to have an online debate about it among the blog’s followers – laying out why that may, or may not, be so.

    I would be fascinated to hear what people had to say.


  7. Patrick:

    >your objection to Yoram’s apparent conflation of this blog with his own views.

    Exactly. Some posters have no interest in the political potential of sortition and some who do are seeking to supplement, rather than replace election with sortition. Clearly Yoram and yourself are both from the radical end of the political spectrum — unfortunately there is no obvious way of assessing the views of the majority of followers of the blog. But I do think the moderator should keep his own perspective on the political potential of sortition distinct from the overall mission of the site — the study and promotion of ways to increase equality in a variety of domains through the use of random selection. I’m delighted to see interviews like yours appear on the site, so long as the interviewee does not conflate his own views with that of the site — this constitutes a breach of power when the interviewee also happens to be the site moderator.


  8. Hi Keith

    I think that core question’s for you and Yoram then.

    As for me being a “radical” or not, it depends which part of this definition you choose (

    I wouldn’t characterise myself as:
    “a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods”. (it’s the precise tenor of that last bit that troubles me)

    “a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist”. (who is to define undeliberated definitions of “extremist” given our generally poor levels of political literacy?)

    Nor would I accept applying to myself several of the other definitions given on that site.

    I would accept:
    “of or going to the root or origin; fundamental”

    I find today’s politics as currently practised pretty “radical” in terms of their effects on peace, equality, justice, fairness, environmental despoilation and concentration of the means to inflict extreme violence on fellow humans in the hands of a narrow few.

    My motivation in seeking better forms of government comes from a profound disappointment, not to say disgust, with status quo systems and a determinedly optimistic conviction in the possibility of their radical improvement.

    If that’s your definition of radical then, okay, I plead guilty as charged.




  9. Sutherland,

    As I often wrote, I don’t respond to you for the simple reason that past experience shows there is no prospects of anything useful resulting from exchanging comments with you. I don’t feel I ever learned anything of use from you, and you certainly have shown no sign of having learned anything from me.

    As for “conflating this blog with my own views”, this is an outright falsehood, like so many of the claims you make. Not only haven’t I made any claims that I speak for the writers or readers of this blog, I specifically said (around 2:20 into the video) that writers and readers of the blog hold a range of views and that I am presenting my own view.


  10. Yoram:

    >I specifically said (around 2:20 into the video) that writers and readers of the blog hold a range of views

    It was a bit like a 24 minute presentation on Google which contained the mandatory disclaimer: “other search engines are available”. Patrick’s interview gave the impression that you, as founder/convenor, were describing the website Equality by Lot, as opposed to your personal views on the political potential of sortition. Do you deny points 1 and 2 in my commentary?


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