Richard Askwith: People Power

Richard Askwith, a former executive editor of The Independent, has a new book out:

People Power: If we want to defend our democracy we must expel the Lords and replace them with the people

In his new book, ‘People Power’, Richard Askwith makes the case for abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with a citizens chamber of 400 people to bridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’

[…]

Here’s how [to reform Parliament]. We start in the obvious place, at the least democratic, southern end of the Palace of Westminster. We expel the occupants. And we give the House of Lords to the people.

We cannot put everyone in the chamber; nor can we sensibly put everything to referendum. What we could do, though, is create a People’s Chamber, whose 400 members, randomly conscripted from the electoral roll as jurors, would be a small, representative sample of the population as a whole.

The details are negotiable. Here’s one hypothetical version. Everyone eligible to vote is also eligible for selection by lot to serve in the chamber for a fixed term of, say, four years. Service is compulsory, well-paid and prestigious. The People’s Peers can wear ermine and, if they want, use titles; the financial rewards are comparable to a sizeable lottery win.

[…]

In nearly 20 years of banging on about the potential benefits of a People’s Chamber, I have grown used to two big objections to the idea. The first is that random selection would produce representatives who weren’t up to the job. The second is that, simply, it ain’t going to happen.

My usual response to the first is that we already have a system that produces representatives who aren’t up to the job: not all of them, by any means, but as many as you’d expect in a comparably sized random population sample.

For a long time, however, I found the second objection persuasive. No matter how neat the idea, there really couldn’t – could there? – be the slightest chance of its becoming reality.

Now I’m not so sure.

[…]

“People are tired of experts,” said Michael Gove when campaigning for Brexit. He was right, but he missed a bigger story: people may be tiring of politicians, too. Not all people or all politicians but many of both. How could they not? Westminster is the setting for a system of parliamentary democracy in which the educated elite manage the democratic mandate of the ignorant masses. But if the masses have rejected the educated elite – precisely because they are educated, elite and, for good measure, cocooned in the Westminster bubble – where does that leave the system?

The people’s trust is broken – and the political professionals who are blamed for breaking it are in danger of joining the liberals and the experts, on the wrong side of history. For the first time in centuries, the legitimacy of Parliament itself is in doubt.

For those of us who believe that, for all its flaws, our representative democracy is worth defending, the question of Lords reform is becoming urgent. How can you defend as “democratic” a system in which our futures are decided, in part, by a chamber that is no more democratic than the Garrick Club? A reformed system that required the wholehearted support and active involvement of ordinary people would be a different matter. Its democratic legitimacy would be beyond question, and the whole system would be stronger as a result.

The People’s Chamber would be a workable solution to a real, urgent and obvious danger. There is a rising tide of populism in Western politics: a non-specific clamour for direct democracy that threatens to submerge representative democracy in the tyranny of the mob.

It is folly to ignore that tide. It is folly to yield to it. The wise course is to react constructively, neither denying facts nor surrendering to them. Somehow, we need to channel those waves of popular discontent.

My rough proposal for Lords reform offers a simple form of channelling. Others may be able to suggest a better form. But we have to do something.

169 Responses

  1. a People’s Chamber, whose 400 members, randomly conscripted from the electoral roll as jurors, would be a small, representative sample of the population as a whole. . . Service is compulsory, well-paid and prestigious.

    Yess! Note that without compulsory participation, the sample would not be representative as it would be dominated by busybodies and people interested in politics (a tiny minority of the citizen body).

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  2. I have read this seemingly unchallenged sentence so often, and get increasingly puzzled at it’s frequent repetition: “A” People’s Chamber, whose 400 members, randomly conscripted from the electoral roll as jurors, would be a small, representative sample of the population as a whole.

    All good, but why is it that people always talk about “a” sample, when it should be obvious that we could have many such samples, on many more issue than todays single parliament can handle?

    Why do we not talk more about bringing the tremendous innovation dynamic of the private business system – working in parallel, dividing the effort, specialising and constantly gaining productivity – to the antiquated public system?

    Broadband democratic bandwidth could be the very key improvement which will convince the people by its superior decision quality that sortition is better than today’s party tyranny.

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  3. a good example for ‘mob rule are of course alle the countries and states worldwide with ‘direct democracy”. https://www.idea.int/data-tools/data/direct-democracy# . This is for me enough to classify this person as ‘ill informed’ and somebody spreading ‘fake news’. But my basic question about long term ‘political’ involvement stays: how long will a representative ‘citizens jury’ appointed by sortition (accordingly to the rules of the art) will stay ‘a true picture of society’ when they resides in the ‘House of Lords’? How many day’s before the corruption of power strikes? How many day’s before these people starts to think about their future employment ‘after serving’? http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/150841.pdf

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  4. I’ll have a third objection. I think we should think of more modest beginnings.

    It proves already hard to implement in practise the selection of a moderator using sortition (see my blog posts on the method). Objection (1) exists at this small scale that some people are unfit or do not want to be a moderator. It poses a second problem: how to get rid of “bad” moderators?

    The next scale for me would be the union/cooperative/party/company where we could apply sortition to designate the executive board.

    I think that we need to go through this steps before having a chamber designated using sortition otherwise it seems a too daunting task.

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  5. Paul:> how long will a representative ‘citizens jury’ appointed by sortition (accordingly to the rules of the art) will stay ‘a true picture of society’ when they resides in the ‘House of Lords’?

    Yes this is a serious problem, that’s why Terry and I argue for ad hoc juries allotted on a case-by-case basis, as with 4th century Athenian lawmaking.

    Romain:> how to get rid of “bad” moderators?

    Simple: don’t have them in the first place. Of course this limits the role of the citizen jury to silent deliberation and voting (ditto: 4th century Athens). As for the need for modest beginnings, there have now been so many calls for allotted second chambers that I think we are pushing at an open door. We should unite behind this project but only if we can agree on what sortition can and cannot do: https://equalitybylot.com/2011/03/03/what-sortition-can-and-cannot-do/

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  6. Keith > Simple: don’t have them in the first place.

    Being a “good” or a “bad” moderator varies along time. Likewise being a “good” or a “bad” houselord varies along time. And most often the best, well-intentioned person becomes the worst kind of dictator if you wait long enough. It seems naive to think that fatigue does not exist and that people remain the same.

    Keith > beginnings, there have now been so many calls for allotted second chambers

    If something has been tried for a long time without resulting in its implementation, it might mean that we need to find a different angle, no?

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  7. There is (apart from the criteria I use for the development of our propositions) a very easy and fast system to evaluate proposals for an evolution towards ‘democracy’, be it referendums or representation by sortition. When a majority of politicians is in favor, forget it, you are sold, even before starting. (not intended personally Terry ;-) ) . We saw that phenomena with the ‘David Van Reybroeck’ proposal of a ‘mixed Senate’ (citizens appointed by sortition alongside of professional politicians). This proposal was so disgusting that it was the start for us to examine the criteria who should give us (the people outside the room) the necessary ‘trust’ in any new ‘political’ system. We don’t need a new elite. It is already difficult enough to get rid of the old one.

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  8. Romain:> I agree we are all potential dictators, that’s why you can’t have moderators in a democratic chamber.

    >If something has been tried for a long time without resulting in its implementation

    Just a few calls from relatively obscure writers, activists and politicians. The original text (by Anthony Barnett and Peter Carty in 1998) was ridiculed, not so with more recent proposals. We’re only just beginning to build up a head of steam.

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  9. I agree we are all potential dicators. That’s why you can’t stay moderator for long (don’t remember what the end of former the sentence was linked to). I think that everyone, even the best of us, is going to become evil if they stay in power for long. A good moderator can become evil in a situation of power (lord of the ring is an excellent metaphor to illustrate this point). Likewise with fatigue an excellent moderator can become mediocre with time. Like a professional tennis player after ten matches will play their worst tennis.

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  10. It’s not just a question of evil-doing, in a political assembly (with a legislative mandate) there is no way of ensuring the impartiality of the moderator. With elected chambers party discipline can help to overcome this, not so with an assembly comprised by sortition, hence the impossibility of impartial moderation.

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  11. You say that a sorted assembly will be more partial than an elected assembly?

    I am not talking about an assembly but a moderator/animator/facilitator in a group discussion, a single person. The question is how do we designate them? My proposition is to designate them using sortition.

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  12. The fact that a person is selected by an impartial mechanism (sortition) does not make them impartial — everybody has their own own beliefs, preferences, interests and prejudices and this will inevitably colour their judgment. In an elected assembly the house speaker will have a party affiliation (or background) and the opposition (and the media) will be on the lookout for bias.

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  13. Sortition is unbiased when you sample from an inclusive list (all people). If the draw is limited to volunteers (as most people want) then you introduced a dangerous bias also present in elections. I agree that making the role optional also introduce a bias but I think weaker.

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  14. And I agree that people are partial. But there is partial “good” and partial “bad”, this the justification for a forced resignation system (the thumbs up to designate a new moderator/animator/facilitator)

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  15. Even if participation is mandatory, sortition cannot ensure that the person selected is unbiased, as there is no such creature! You’re confusing the selection procedure with the end result.

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  16. No one is unbiased, but unbiased BEHAVIOR is demonstrably possible and is respected in moderator/mediator/facilitator/judicial circles. This is where procedures – for selection, for feedback/discipline and for removal – are key. Just for example, if a supermajority of parliamentarians and/or of a leading professional association of facilitators can remove a facilitator for cause with a vote of no confidence, that is a powerful check on facilitator bias and manipulation IN THEIR ROLE.

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  17. While it will be necessary to establish an initial remuneration plan for members of a mini-public, a separate minipublic should evaluate and revise all ground rules for policy-making bodies. For example, there is substantial social psychology research indicating that the off-the-cuff proposal to have members be “well-paid and prestigious. The People’s Peers can wear ermine and, if they want, use titles; the financial rewards are comparable to a sizeable lottery win.” is a bad idea. Many replicated research studies show that giving people a feeling of being “powerful” tends to lead them to behave less ethically, and also to be less able to absorb important information. It is not just extended exercise of power that corrupts people, it is the simple fact of feeling very important that diminishes their empathy for others and ability to act beneficently.

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  18. Tom, that’s all very well but anything that introduces an element of randomness (in the pejorative sense) to a body that is supposed to be a portrait-in-miniature of the target population will have to be abandoned. Remember that the big problem is convincing the vast majority of people that it makes no difference whether or not they are personally involved, the outcome would be the same.

    Terry, that’s very interesting, and supports the case for the stick rather than the carrot. Can you let us have some references?

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  19. Let’s discuss. What kind of bias should we be afraid of? We have data from last summer, unpublished, which suggests that a self- selected crowd may be more knowledgeable about a subject matter on hand, than a random one. Question: is knowledge good or bad? Further, let’s consider proposed rental cost regulations to limit rental below current market rates in a country where an 80% majority of people rent. Likely it would result in such legislation being passed. The result of similar legislation in pre-war Austria was a grinding halt in house capacity creation and a housing crisis.

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  20. Hubertus, in a demotic age the only way to resolve the epistocracy vs democracy issue is to let those who know opine (for and against) and those who don’t know judge the outcome. If the balance of evidence is that rent controls lead to a housing crisis then renters are unlikely to be as stupid as you might imagine.

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  21. I take exception of your introduction of the word stupid. The original rent limit decision “Freidenszins” was certainly not made by stupid people. So why should ordinary people be stupid just because of a decision matter is extremely complex?

    Most importantly, I challenge the wisdom of demanding or convincing people that it be a desirable attribute that “it makes no difference whether or not they are personally involved, the outcome would be the same.

    Imagine we draw lots for who shall play a violin piece of Mozart. If we enforce this on the whole population, the correlation of outcomes would be very high of course. But the outcome itself would be terrible cat-music, as the vast majority of the forced people does not know how to play the violin, far less how to play it excellent.

    I shall argue, that a random draw from self-selected crowd volunteering to perform Mozart will produce something much more pleasing to the General Ear than the forced procedure.

    The correct criterion is that it is desirable that “it makes no difference how often the procedure is repeated, the outcome would be the same, the best possible decision.“

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  22. Why minipublic members should not be given trappings of power…

    Experiments in which participants were randomly assigned to powerful or non powerful role found that the mere possession of power over others, over time, leads to corrupting behavior. Even participants’ that tested high in inherent honesty prior to the experiment had a tendency to succumb to the corrupting pressures of power. One such study author, John Antonakis and his colleagues from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, found that there was a marked tendency for increased power as well as levels of testosterone to lead to corrupt behavior. Their study, published in The Leadership Quarterly, employed the “Dictator Game” (commonly used by psychologists), in which one participant is assigned the role of deciding how to distribute money from a common pot to himself and other participants The “dictator can choose a default distribution plan, or a pro-social or anti-social (selfish) manner. The more “power” in terms of number of other participants (”followers”) or options for possible ways to split the pot, strongly correlated with more anti-social or selfish decisions. [“Leader corruption depends on power and testosterone” DOI: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2014.07.010 and appears in The Leadership Quarterly, published by Elsevier. http://phys.org/news/2014-10-power-corrupt-honest.html#jCp ] Other experiments have revealed that winning in one competition tends to promote cheating in subsequent competitions, while “winning” in a lottery does not. In summarizing recent research on winning and cheating conducted by Israeli professors Amos Schurr and Ilana Ritov, University of California, Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner (who did not participate in this particular study), was quoted in a Scientific American article observing that “When we win in competition, in particular when we establish we are above others in rank, we will feel more powerful… And dozens of studies have found that the simple feeling of power makes people feel above the scrutiny of others and act in impulsive, self-gratifying and unethical ways. Feelings of power, whether it comes from wealth, a person’s position in a hierarchical structure or in this case competition, can indeed lead to various abuses like lying and stealing.” [quoted in https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-winning-leads-to-cheating/ accessed Oct. 7, 2017.]

    A few summary articles about feelings of power corrupting and diminishing empathy and competence:
    https://phys.org/news/2012-03-power-cloud-ability-good-decisions.html
    https://phys.org/news/2012-10-reveals-perception-power-status-differently.html#nwlt

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  23. Hubertus:> Imagine we draw lots for who shall play a violin piece of Mozart.

    You are repeating the hoary old chestnut — conflating skill and judgment. As Aristotle observed flute playing is an elite skill but its up to the listeners to decide which music they prefer. Likewise in democratic politics it’s up to the experts to provide information and policy advocacy, but the decision as to who is most persuasive should be in the hands of a representative sample of the citizen body.

    Terry:> Experiments in which participants were randomly assigned to powerful or non powerful role found that the mere possession of power over others, over time, leads to corrupting behavior.

    That’s certainly a good argument for short-term ad hoc juries, but I don’t see any evidence that making jury service well-paid and prestigious would lead to poor outcomes. I would prefer an emphasis on civic duty, but I don’t have a problem with anything that emphasises the vital importance of the juror’s lot — we expect them to listen carefully, think deeply and vote according to their best judgment. I would certainly be in favour of a modern version of the Heliastic Oath and a bit of pomp and ceremony wouldn’t be out of place (especially in a country like the UK).

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  24. Keith> “the decision as to who is most persuasive should be in the hands of a representative sample of the citizen body”

    This prescriptive statement lacks any argumentation or logical support why it would bring the best possible decisions for public policy.

    Its fallacy is an implicit assumption that a majority decision by a general laymen public in todays increasingly complex and specialised world will be as just as good for the general public, as a majority decision by a qualified random subset of the general public with above average subject matter knowledge.

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  25. Hubertus:> This prescriptive statement lacks any argumentation or logical support why it would bring the best possible decisions for public policy.

    That would be because we live in a democracy, not an epistocracy. Nadia Urbinati, one of the leading contemporary democratic theorists, has described your emphasis on “good” outcomes as one of the principal disfigurations of modern democracy (except that there’s nothing modern about it, as it goes back to Plato). The case for democracy is both normative (egalitarian) and practical as, in a demotic age, the decision-making process has to be acceptable to the vast majority of citizens who would have no part in it.

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  26. Rbouricieus >> mere possession of power over others, over time, leads to corrupting behavior.

    It strenghen the point raised in the discussion with Keith: finding a good moderator can happen, staying a good moderator is impossible. Power needs to rotate fast. Sortition enables such a fast rotation, a daunting task with elections.

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  27. Sorry Keith, but just because that’s how you wish do define democracy is not a valid reason.

    Maybe you can explain us why and how wrong decisions could be preferrably right ones. (beyond name dropping of people who claimed so).

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  28. sorry could not edit …. “how wrong decisions could ever be preferrable to right decisions.”

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  29. “Wrong” and “right” decisions is the language of epistocracy, and has nothing to do with equality by lot. The best that you can hope from democracy is a way to reveal the informed preferences of the majority.

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  30. Dear Keith,

    Do you notice that all your statements in this thread are prescriptive on your personal authority, that it be thus: You demand that things shall be defined just as you say they are, without offering reason or falsifiability?

    At the same time you appear to be quite aware of the problems your definitions institutionalise and admit their inferiority: “The best we can hope …”

    Democracy, if we define them as the emergence of rules which codify the true General Will, can be organised and proceduralised in a much better way than your definitions suggest. Keep in mind Clark’s first law before you say that this is “impossible”.

    The very first thing to be accepted though, is that that we must put Popper’s scientific principle to work to advance democracy, that we must have a procedure to falsify a collective decision ex-post, to determine whether it was right (it brought about its ex-ante goals) or wrong (failing to do so).

    You just brush this off as “epistemic” but vice versa from a critical-rational point it is a pre-requisite for science and progress. Think deeper and please recognise that your definitions and procedural demands merely rely on belief and are not falsifiable. Hence, Karl Popper would have classified them as belonging to the metaphysical, like ghost stories and fairy tales.

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  31. If you want sources for the view that democracy is primarily a procedure to deliver political equality, then read anything by Dahl, Urbinati or even David Estlund. I can go along with your view that democracy is an attempt to “codify the true General Will” (even though Rousseau was certainly no democrat). Democracies have, with the benefit of hindsight, made terrible mistakes but the notion that these can be pre-empted scientifically has nothing to do with democracy. Helene Landemore, notwithstanding the title of her book (Democratic Reason), acknowledges that her position could be better described as ‘political cognitivism’:

    Political cognitivism [is] roughly the view that there are right and wrong answers in politics and that these answers can be known, if only approximately’. (Landemore, 2013, p. 15)

    At the end of the day this reduces to

    In this pure problem-solving context, we implicity assume the existence of an oracle, namely a machine, person, or internal intuition, than can reveal the correct ranking of any proposed solutions. (Landemore and Page, 2015, p. 234)

    Whilst such an approach, if possible, is attractive, it has nothing to do with political equality (hence Urbinati’s view that it is one of the “disfigurations” of democracy).

    References
    ========

    Landemore, H. (2013). Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Landemore, H., & Page, S. E. (2015). Deliberation and disagreement: Problem solving, prediction and positive dissensus. Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 14(3), 229-254.

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  32. quote: Democracies have, with the benefit of hindsight, made terrible mistakes :unquote. What do you mean by ‘democracies’? I presume hat you are referring to the ‘electoral aristocracies’ we have in place in most of our countries? Or are you referring to Switserland or other states who have ‘direct democracy’? Maybe direct democracy is not perfect but in no way it is comparable with ‘electoral aristocracies’.

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  33. Further to Paul’s correct comment, let’s keep in mind that some – if not most of us here – believe in the possibility of much better mechanisms than either electoral aristocracy or Swiss direct democracy.

    Keith thanks for the willingness to go along – at least for the present debate – with the definition of democracy as “a process to codify the true General Will”. As you also say that you find the critical-rational approach “attractive”. This leaves us with your objection regarding some missing “political equality”.

    In a future critical-rational democracy (“Open Democracy”) equality is not defined as “everybody is equal” or worse, “everybody must contribute to any old problem-solving” but the procedural requirement is that “everybody gets an equal chance” to participate freely in a societal problem solving process of free personal choice.

    The reason, the hypothesis behind it, is that this second definition allows the political sphere to benefit from increasing specialisation and progress, just like the business sphere progresses rapidly and currently outpaces the former enormously, in line with rising political dissatisfaction.

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  34. *** Keith Sutherland writes : « If the balance of evidence is that rent controls lead to a housing crisis then renters are unlikely to be as stupid as you might imagine. » We may think that a minipublic would not be stupid. The elected representatives, sure, are not stupid, and they may know more or less the balance of evidence – but they are not independent, their basic aim is to be re-elected, and thus they may please the uninformed voter (if there is no opposite push by a strong lobby). The politicians who would put their re-election under « higher » considerations will tend towards being excluded from the game.
    *** In a referendum voters may be not well informed. And they may think : « let’s curve excessive rents. And the government has to find other ways to develop the housing supply (public housing, fiscal stimulation, or others ways) ». When the vote is on a specific law, this is a temptation to act like that. In a referendum, but likewise in a citizen jury in charge only of the subject “control of rents”. In a modern dynamic society the basic choices are about policies, laws are ways of implementing policies. In a modern dêmokratia we must have an allotted jury in charge of the housing policy, not an ad hoc jury for the law about rents. We must have an allotted jury in charge of the energy policy, not an ad hoc jury to decide closing or not the nuclear plants, or the coal mines.
    *** A central Chamber, as the one proposed by Askwith, is necessary to organize the various juries, and to harmonize the policies, as there will be interactions. But it would be not possible for one Chamber to study and decide about everything.

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  35. Right answers vs. equality…
    Clearly a reasonably well designed democracy, which is based in political equality, can make bad decisions (decisions that with hindsight did not anticipate the unintended consequences, etc. that if the people had anticipated would have caused them to make a different decision). Athenian democracy made various bad decisions. But the measure of “rightness” is what the people would want once the implications of the decisions become fully apparent. HJH seems to be arguing that the optimal democracy design helps the people anticipate the likely outcome of decisions and whether they will be pleased by them down the road, rather than what the people (through minipublic, referendum, or whatever), even if reasonably well informed, think about a policy only in the present. This seems to me to be a principle that any sort of government (monarchy, oligarchy or democracy) would desire … making decisions that the sovereign will be happy with later on. It does not DEFINE democracy, but is a desirable feature that is fully compatible with and improves democracy. The scientific method can be used to make “right” decisions more likely… with “right” being defined IN A DEMOCRACY as those the people will be happy with once the decision is fully implemented.

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  36. I greatly appreciate this clarifying comment. While noting that “right decisions” are different from “wise decisions”, the two are very closely related in your comment, I posted it as a comment in my exploration of participatory wisdom on my “wise democracy pattern language” at https://www.wd-pl.com/the-nature-of-wise-outcomes-in-a-wise-democracy/comment-page-1/#comment-38797. We are looking at the same dynamic through somewhat different lenses. My pattern language attempts to usefully identify design factors that (could) bring together power, participation and wisdom in various coherent governance systems.

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  37. right or wrong in a democracy comes down to ‘acceptance’, no matter what ‘system’ used. Democracy is ‘a political system whereby the way decisions are made, and their outcome, are accepted by everyone, even when you personally don’t agree’. In my view this is true for all systems used in what we hope becomes in time a better (or real) ‘democracy’, elections (where it is appropriate), referendum and sortition. It is clear that this will impose high standards on the systems used and the only the fact that a panel is appointed by sortition is far from enough, as the Australian case is suggesting. I am especially thinking about ‘small panels’ who start (at government initiative) with ‘manipulation’ (scientifically called stratification), go on with moderated manipulation (called education) and then are surprised that nobody ‘outside the room’ accept the outcome of what they decide.

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  38. Paul, I was referring to the defining principle of democracy (political equality), not the various different institutional incarnations.

    Hubertus:> In a future critical-rational democracy . . . “everybody gets an equal chance” to participate freely in a societal problem solving process of free personal choice.

    So that’s isegoria, but no isonomia. That’s certainly not demokratia in the classical sense (more a case of open access to the guardian class).

    Andre:> We must have an allotted jury in charge of the energy policy, not an ad hoc jury to decide closing or not the nuclear plants, or the coal mines.

    OK but I hope you acknowledge that your proposal has no historical precedent (it certainly bears no resemblance to the Athenian courts), it’s just a thought experiment based on the principle of statistical representation and speculation as to how it might work. My guess (which is no better justified than yours) is that it wouldn’t work for the following reasons:

    1. As a permanent body this presupposes long service by the participants (in order to develop expertise) and it would be open to all the social psychological pathologies that Terry listed (as the participants increasingly “went native”).

    2. It would be wide open to corruption by sinister interests as there would be no party discipline or need to secure re-election.

    3. The executive (with the support of the press) would ridicule the body as it was not selected on the basis of merit and had no democratic mandate.

    4. There is no reason to believe that the citizens who were not included would take the view that their interests were represented automatically as they had no part in choosing who should represent them.

    5. The views of the body would be random in the pejorative sense that they will be dominated by the small proportion of those allotted who have the requisite presentational skills or perceived social or professional status.

    Terry:> “right” being defined IN A DEMOCRACY as those the people will be happy with once the decision is fully implemented.

    Sure, but how on earth is this possible, given Popper’s principle of the unintended consequences of social action? Tetlock’s research only tells us that experts are no better than ordinary folk in predicting outcomes and, given the rapid pace of social and technological change, a past record in accurate predictions is no basis for the future. Politics certainly has an epistemic aspect — conservatives genuinely believe that the market is the most efficient way of supplying most goods (including, eg, healthcare), whereas “progressives” prefer the state to have a key role. In a democracy it’s the people (or their representatives) who choose which vision of the future is more persuasive, this isn’t the privilege of the “expert” predictors. The best we can hope for is a well-informed choice and that’s the rationale behind the “attentive” (mini)public.

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  39. Keith’s objections to long-term allotted bodies (a mix of valid, and I believe invalid reasons), is why I advocate such ongoing minipublics NOT have any final policy authority. They would have great importance in refining proposals or establishing procedural rules for policy minipublics, but there would be little reason to bribe them since they don’t pass any laws. Keith is correct that they would be less LIKE the general public, simply because of the fact that many people would decline to make such a long-term interruption in their regular lives. HOWEVER, they would be far MORE representative than any elected legislature in history, and far LESS subject to corruption, whether from bribery, or psychological effects, because of their limited power.

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  40. @Terry: The first part of your comment reflects correctly what I said, thanks. But the second part: “any sort of government (monarchy, oligarchy or democracy) would desire, making decisions that the sovereign will be happy with later on” is not what I said.

    I said “Democracy as a process for the emergence of rules which codify the true General Will.” Hence not at all about a monarch’s goals (egoistic or altruistic as they may be), but all about the people, as a whole, thus “democracy”.

    Further, when I require mandatory falsification of all collective decisions ex-post, to determine whether a specific decision was right (it brought about its ex-ante goals) or wrong (failing to do so)” that has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with “happy”. Validating this formal right or wrong, no more but also no less, is indispensible to introduce the scientific principle into democracy, to give us control over whether social decisions for certain means brought about the desired goals.

    @Paul: While general acceptance is a necessary condition for a working democratic decision procedure – well, any rule system – it is still insufficient for a functioning democratic system.

    Let me illustrate: In pre-WW2 Europe, the people of several countries voted for certain men (the means) who promised them a better future (the ex-ante goal). These men, dictators, subsequently not only abolished democracy but also created a much worse future, with millions dead and devastated countries.The decision was universally accepted, but was it right? By the critical rational criterion I described it was “wrong” (because it failed ex-post to bring about a better future.)

    @Keith: There has been a lot of academic (in the worst sense of the word) hyping of the differences between Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper on unintended consequences. In a practical critical-rational democracy, clearly, there will be some point where the prediction of intended outcomes, and known possible unintended outcomes will have a reasonable granularity. For both we can calculate the divergence of ex-ante prediction and ex-post realisation, so there is no issue at all. There still remains the unknown unintended outcome, but that should be no excuse to reject a formal process for the known goal parameters.

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  41. Hubertus:

    >In pre-WW2 Europe, the people of several countries voted for certain men (the means) who promised them a better future (the ex-ante goal). These men . . . created a much worse future.

    I’m no historian, but I believe that in Germany during the late 1930s the epistemic goals of the Nazi party (full employment and a return of national pride) had been fulfilled and Hitler was widely praised for his policies in this respect (similar arguments could be made regarding the rapid industrialisation of the Soviet Union). In the longer run, of course, the policies were disastrous. So it’s nothing to do with an academic dispute between Hayek and Popper, it’s just a question of the chosen timescale. Was the Roman Empire a victim of its own success? Will the policy of liberal multiculturalism lead to the end of the West? These are all epistemic questions that can only be answered with the benefit of hindsight. I’m not aware of any system of governance, at any time or place, that has successfully implemented your Holy Grail — a scientific solution to political decision making (and it has certainly nothing whatsoever to do with the topic of this forum — equality by lot).

    Terry:> [policy minipublics] would be far MORE representative than any elected legislature in history.

    Whilst this is true with respect to certain descriptive criteria (primarily socio-economic and diversity related), this is only one form of representation. The regular electoral model involves politicians making a claim to represent the beliefs and preferences of their fellow citizens and this requires no resemblance whatsoever between the persons making the representative claim and their potential constituents. What would be your view if the 2016 US presidential election had ended up with voters choosing between the representative claims of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? No doubt the DNC was partly motivated to support Clinton for oligarchic and plutocratic reasons, but it remains the case that (as her husband realised) to win an election in a deeply divided polity you have to reach out beyond your core supporters to the middle ground and they (wrongly) believed Clinton would do this better than Sanders. You should also not discount the role of ideology — many Democrats genuinely believed that establishment liberal policies would have better epistemic outcomes than Sanders’ variant of socialism. So we need to be very careful when we make the claim that persons selected by sortition would be MORE representative (your emphasis) than those selected by election as descriptive representation is only one side of the representative coin.

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  42. *** Keith Sutherland writes that minipublics are representative « with respect to certain descriptive criteria (primarily socio-economic and diversity related) ». Why « primarily » ? At least with mandatory participation, they would be representative with respect to political sensitivities, political perspectives, personal life experiences, actually with respect to any parameter !
    *** The distinction with general public will occur only after deliberation, because the minipublics will be more enlightened. French criminal juries are (almost) representative and they may give sentences different sometimes from « public opinion », because during the trial they got more enlightened, after hearing testimonies, expert assessments, advocacies and after discussing. But when discrepancies occurred between sentences and « public opinion », or the media elite opinion, I saw few direct attacks against the jury system. Few people say openly « we must follow public opinion rather than jury decision ».
    *** Keith Sutherland says « The regular electoral model involves politicians making a claim to represent the beliefs and preferences of their fellow citizens and this requires no resemblance whatsoever between the persons making the representative claim and their potential constituents. ». There is no reason an elected President to be representative of the median preference of the dêmos after enlightenment as in a citizen jury. And it would be very rare if an elected President is representative of the median « crude » public opinion, as expressed in polls. Do Keith thinks that any of the US would be presidents (candidates in primaries) was representative of the median « crude » opinion in all basic topics – free trade, immigration, fire arms control, health care and insurance, police violence, infrastructures, tax system … ? The electoral system cannot guarantee that. It would be exceptional. And afterward anyway we will have « checks and balances » …

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  43. Andre, Terry’s claim was for voluntary minipublics, but I was arguing the general point (a la Pitkin) that there are other forms of representation other than the descriptive variant.

    >criminal juries are (almost) representative and they may give sentences different sometimes from « public opinion », because during the trial they got more enlightened, after hearing testimonies, expert assessments, advocacies and after discussing.

    I agree regarding the enlightening effect of testimonies, expert assessments and advocacies but argue that jury-room discussion a) diminishes ongoing descriptive representation and b) is unnecessary (see Goodin and Niemeyer’s paper on the Bloomfield Track citizen jury).

    >It would be very rare if an elected President is representative of the median « crude » public opinion, as expressed in polls

    I make no such claim (as electoral systems are essentially partisan), merely that to achieve a stable two-term majority in states like the UK and the US, partisan candidates have to tack in the direction of median public opinion as the support of partisans is insufficient. (This is the principal reason why the DNC backed Clinton rather than Sanders, rather than the Wall Street conspiracy theory.) The 2016 result would appear to be an outlier.

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  44. Keith is correct that I was arguing that a voluntary minipublic would STILL be more representative than any elected chamber.Keith prefers not having any long0term minipublics, while André (I and others) see an important role… such as coordinating policies among many short-term policy juries, developing rules of procedure for other minipublics, overseeing the executive, deliberating to refine proposals for policy juries, etc.. So the QUESTION is whether a non-mandatory service minipublic would indeed (as I suggest) be more representative in both descriptive and policy matters than an elected body. A non-mandatory randomly selected chamber of policy makers is clearly democratic (ALL Athenian democratic bodies – from whence we get the term – were voluntary), but the question is whether they would do a better job than an elected body in facilitating fulfillment of the will of the people. So André, since you favor at least some long-term ongoing political bodies, do you believe they would need to be mandatory (assuming other short-term decision-making bodies WERE mandatory)?

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  45. Terry:> A non-mandatory randomly selected chamber of policy makers is clearly democratic (ALL Athenian democratic bodies – from whence we get the term – were voluntary)

    Not so. The conditions for both direct participation and representation are entirely different in small ancient poleis and their modern (large, multicultural) equivalent. Andre’s proposal has no ancient provenance, and there is a danger of being misled by the common terminology. Besides which there were no Athenian policy-making bodies, the Council being an administrative secretariat.

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  46. Following Terry Bouricius comment.
    *** The Athenian juries were not mandatory, sure.
    *** Note that their non-mandatory character did not come from « libertarian » considerations. The citizens of 59 years were to become public arbitrators, it was mandatory (Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 53-5). For the Council it is not clear, probably to complete the Council there was some amount of local coercion (Hansen, The Athenian Democracy … p 249), which practically could be exercised on leisured or retired people. For elected magistracies magistrates could be elected without being candidates. The chosen citizens could decline by giving an excuse, as for contemporary French criminal juries, and Theophrastus (Characters 24,5) describes « the Arrogant man » : « When he is to be elected to office he excuses himself on oath, because, please you, he has not the time ». (transl. J.M. Edmonds ; the Greek word indicates election proper, not sortition)
    *** The non-mandatory aspect of Athenian juries was unavoidable, as their members had to go to the town, if they were countrymen, could be far if they were sailors, and very often had no choice for their work time (peasants with seasonal work, workers who worked on day to day jobs – few were salaried). Elected functions could be mandatory because they were usually assigned to leisured people.
    *** I favor at least some « long-term » ongoing political bodies, because it is necessary in a dynamic modern society where the dêmos has to choose policies and, afterward, the corresponding laws : not a three days task. One-decision juries deciding for instance, on the control of rents, and not on the housing policy, would give easily absurd results.
    *** Assuming a central jury, needed to harmonize and organize, and specific juries for specific fields, the work amount could be manageable.
    *** How long the « long-term » ? It depends on the field, I think.
    *** Even a two-years mandatory jury is possible, in a modern country, at least a developed one, considering two points
    *1- Physical central meeting is not always necessary, with the modern technology ; small local juries may form a big jury, with telecommunication for expert assessments, advices and advocacies
    *2- Most jurors could take some holidays when necessary, with good compensation and help. In some cases business could need excuses, and some could abuse, as the Theophrastus character, but it would be a limited drawback for representativity, whereas non-mandatory sortition would give very bad representativity, at least in the first generation of a modern dêmokratia.

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  47. Keith Sutherland writes «there were no Athenian policy-making bodies ». He must mean « long-term policy body ». Because when for instance the legislative jury, following Demosthenes advice, modified the law as to give money to war against Macedon, it was a policy choice. But this choice was clearly prepared by long popular discussions, and it was a very difficult but easily understood choice. Thus a day debate about the law was enough.
    For other subjects the one-day debate was maybe sometimes enough, even if the subject did not correspond to a highly popular concern. But it is not possible to decide in a one-day debate the energy policy, the immigration policy, the housing policy.
    We cannot bring the Athenian constitution to a dynamic and complex modern society.

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  48. Andre, thanks for the clarification, especially “following Demosthenes’ advice”. Demosthenes was not a randomly-selected member of the jury, he was (presumably) either the (self-appointed) prosecutor or elected by the Assembly to defend the existing law. The role of the jury was simply to vote up or down the policy proposal, albeit a modified one.

    The impression that I had of your proposal for permanent, subject-specific policy-making bodies was that policy would emerge from the internal deliberations of the randomly-selected body, and it would be inaccurate to refer to such a body as a jury. In my earlier comment I provided five reasons why such a body would not have a democratic mandate: https://equalitybylot.com/2018/02/23/richard-askwith-people-power/#comment-22448

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  49. Andre> “We cannot bring the Athenian constitution to a dynamic and complex modern society.”

    An important point. In this forum, it would save us reading through endless quabbles on what “the Athenians” exactly did or not, when it’s clear that things have progressed and that the Athenian system lost out to other systems millennia ago.

    We must design better democratic systems, not reconstruct failed ones.

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  50. André,

    wrote >”non-mandatory sortition would give very bad representativity, at least in the first generation of a modern dêmokratia.”

    Why do you think this? Even with strong inducements of pay, honor, and civic pride, etc?

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  51. André,
    Or more significantly “very bad representativity” compared to a partisan elected chamber?

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  52. Andre,

    > long-term policy body

    The central democratic body in the Athenian system, the allotted Boule, was such a body.

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  53. Yoram:> The central democratic body in the Athenian system, the allotted Boule, was [a long-term policy body]

    The view of most historians, however, is somewhat different:

    All the political debates we hear about in the historians and the orators take place in the Assembly, hardly ever in the Council.
    Thus the sources surely reflect reality, and testify that policy at Athens really was made by the Assembly rather than the Council. (Hansen, 1999, p. 140)

    The council was not, as we are apt to think, a dignified deliberative body, where men met together quietly in order to discuss and prepare schemes for the public welfare . . . It was not deliberative, but an executive body; it was concerned not with policy, but with business. (Headlam, 1891, p. 57)

    I don’t think that the Athenian Council [Boulè] should be viewed as a representative body. While sources identify the Assembly and “the people of Athens”, they do not identify the Boulè and the demos, thus underlining that the Council was not perceived as standing for the people. The Boulè was just a collegial magistracy. (Manin,
    Urbinati & Landemore, 2008)

    References:
    =========

    Hansen, M. H. (1999). The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes. Bristol: Bristol Academic Press.

    Headlam, J. W. (1891). Election by Lot at Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Manin, B., Urbinati, N., & Landemore, H. (2008). Is Representative Democracy Really Democratic? Books & Ideas.net. http://www.booksandideas.net/Is-representative-democracy-really-democratic

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  54. Sutherland,

    As always, secondary sources are of much less use than primary ones – this is essentially arguing from authority.

    That said, regarding your quotes above.

    The last quote is simply irrelevant. The question of whether the Boule was ideologically identified with the demos is completely separate from the question of whether the Boule initiated policy.

    As for Headlam, he, unfortunately, cannot be trusted. It is obvious to anyone who reads him that he systematically, and regardless of the evidence, promotes a pre-conceived anti-democratic view that average people cannot manage themselves and need an elite to do it for them.

    Hansen addresses the question of the power of the Assembly. He refutes those who claim that the Assembly was merely a rubber stamp for the council. But this is not the question at hand. Indeed the Assembly had up-or-down decision making power – in the same way that the Swiss have an up-or-down decision making power on popular initiatives. The question that is relevant to the design of long term policy, however, is where those initiatives come from. The Athenian Assembly, like any mass body, could not initiate policy. The initiators were either the Boule (the democratic element of the system) or the Orators (the oligarchical element of the system).

    Now, it is well established that in many important Assembly votes, the accepted policy proposal was that of the Boule. If the Boule did not initiate those proposals, where did they come from?

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  55. *** Terry Bouricius doubts that non-mandatory sortition would give very bad representativity, at least in the first generation of a modern dêmokratia. He asks : « Why do you think this? Even with strong inducements of pay, honor, and civic pride, etc? »
    *** In the last French presidential election, in a country very politicized and an election most politically attractive, with very different choices, for citizens earning less than 1500 by month the abstention rate was 31 %, whereas for citizens earning more than 3500 it was 13 % ; the correlation line abstention vs earning is almost linear. That seems linked to feelings of exteriority and powerlessness. Clearly « strong inducements of pay, honor, and civic pride » could change that. But let’s say in the first generation of a democracy-through-minipublics, and especially at the beginning, I am afraid that this kind of non-representativity of the « politically active » population will hold up at least partly. And this would be a strong drawback for a system, as the idea of mirroring the entire civic community is a powerful ideological force.
    *** At least for the first try, mandatory sortition seems the good way. Afterward, it would be possible to try non-mandatory sortition, experimentally for some juries, and look to the result.

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  56. Andre> for citizens earning less than 1500 by month the abstention rate was 31 %,

    Andre, I remark this is a problem (one of many) for traditional direct democracy but not for a demarchy.

    Explanation: When we do stratified sortition for a sample (mini-public) to determine the true General Will, we still have the 69% who do participate. That’s plenty, so no issue there.

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  57. Yoram:> If the Boule did not initiate those proposals, where did they come from?

    They came from individual Athenian citizens, via the intermediation of the assembly secretariat (the council). The advantage of the tribal basis of the sortition procedure was that most citizens would know someone on the council, very necessary in the age before email. This is why Manin refers to the council as an administrative body, rather than a proto-representative deliberative policy-making forum.

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  58. Andre,

    People can be forced to attend, but they cannot be forced to actually meaningfully participate. A body with a significant number of unwilling attendants could easily result in corrupt policy. Even a small number of unwilling attendants could result in disastrous perception of the decision making process.

    In addition, forced attendance introduces the possibility of deliberately setting the compensation for service at an insufficient level, as is the current practice with jury service, in order to undermine the system.

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  59. > They came from individual Athenian citizens

    So the members of the Boule, who had politics as their full time job for a year, were the puppets of random citizens making policy is their spare time?

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  60. “Puppets”, no; “random”, yes, as members of the council were also selected at random. If the council were a deliberative, rather than administrative body, then one would anticipate a similar literature as with the debates in the assembly and courts. Whilst you disparage secondary sources, I’m disposed to think that scholars who have devoted their life to the study of the topic are more likely to know what they are talking about than amateurs like ourselves.

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  61. My understanding is that the boule (among other roles) prepared or managed the assembly’s agenda. Framing the choice as between “deliberative” and “administrative” obscures the power of that agenda-setting function. In the US, Senate committees can prevent a bill from ever getting to the floor of the Senate, even though those committees can be described as administrative servants of the larger deliberative body. What went into the boule’s designing the agenda of the assembly we can only imagine, but I imagine there was some level of deliberation (as well as oratory, peer pressure, wheeling and dealing, late night exhaustion, and the other typical power-center dynamics). Am I misunderstanding the relationship of the boule to the assembly?

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  62. Tom, one of the problems is that there is very little literature on actual debates in the council and this leaves modern scholars and activists free to imagine whatever they like! Personally I can’t understand what a deliberative conversation between 500 people would sound like, so I’m sceptical regarding the attempt by modern deliberative democrats to use the Athenian council as a model for their own pet projects. My understanding of the maximum effective size of a deliberative group is 18-24. Oakeshott liked to describe the pre-second reform act UK Parliament as an example of government by conversation but Bagehot claimed that even during that pre-democratic era the Cabinet was the actual deliberative forum of the nation.

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  63. Keith, When I imagine a possible “citizens legislature”, I imagine randomly selected subgroups of them during their term taking on specific issues much like citizen juries but randomly selected from the pool of randomly selected legislators. They would be delegated the authority to develop or vet proposals on their topic for the larger legislature, much as congressional committees do in the US Congress, albeit without the seniority and power dynamics that distort the administration and deliberations of Congress. And they could be rotated (another innovation in the boule) to impede corruption. Dialogue and conference professionals typically consider whole-group/sub-group (plenary/breakout) dynamics as design options in their convenings and these would seem to be appropriate tools in the design toolbox for sortition-based deliberative institutions. I can imagine some version of that being practiced in the boule, but you rightly question any such assumptions, given the lack of contemporary commentary on it. On the other hand, the boule can provide overall inspiration without its mystery impeding our current innovation in the area.

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  64. > If the council were a deliberative, rather than administrative body, then one would anticipate a similar literature as with the debates in the assembly and courts.

    The opposite is true. If the council were no more than a channel for proposals from the public, then texts of proposals submitted to the council or speeches made to the council would likely survive (especially when the proposers or speakers would be well known citizens). Democratic discussions, without well known protagonists, make for less appealing material for the history writers.

    Putting that aside, and putting aside the fact that it makes no sense that average citizens (as opposed to orators) would spend their time making policy proposals while a body whose full time job is to handle politics would not, and putting aside the fact that your description is contradicted by the primary sources, the main problem with your description of the council (which, by the way, Hansen does not share) is that it does not present a coherent model of activity (which unsurprisingly does not in the least bit trouble you). If the council were just relaying policy proposals submitted to it there would usually, and certainly in all controversial issues, have to be multiple proposals presented by the council rather than an official proposal by the council.

    It is quite clear that, just like Headlam back in the 19th century, your incoherent claims are no more than rationalization of your preconceived anti-democratic ideology.

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  65. *** Did the Council of the Five Hundred had a real power to influence policy in the second Athenian Democracy?
    *** I would rather support Keith Sutherland position if it is reduced to the idea: the sovereign power was basically in the Assembly and the Juries.
    *** But it is possible that the Council had more power than it appeared, not formal sovereign power (it had never the last word) but influence. Because it was a permanent body, and a permanent body will have always some advantage, specially in specific occasions.
    *** Let’s see Aeschines complaining about Demosthenes’ tricks (Against Ctesiphon, 125-126):
    « Now when we had reported this decree to our senate, and then to the assembly, and when the people had approved our acts, and the whole city was ready to choose the righteous course, and when Demosthenes had spoken in opposition—he was earning his retaining-fee from Amphissa—and when I had clearly convicted him in your presence, thereupon the fellow, unable to frustrate the city by open means, goes into the senate chamber, expels all listeners, and from the secret session brings out a bill to the assembly, taking advantage of the inexperience of the man who made the motion. And he managed to have this same bill put to vote in the assembly and passed by the people, at the moment when the assembly was on the point of adjourning, when I had already left the place—for I would never have allowed it—and when most of the people had dispersed. » (translation by Charles Darwin Adams ; the « Senate » is the Council of Five Hundred). Well, I don’t know how much truth is here, but it gives an idea of what was possible, especially when there were confidential sessions of the Council about foreign policy or war; the mere secrecy gives a power.
    *** Yoram Gat says : « in many important Assembly votes, the accepted policy proposal was that of the Boule ». A study (that I have not here) gave around half Assembly votes conform to the Council proposal. That could be explained by mere approximative representativity, if the Council was an approximate representative of the same dêmos which was in the Assembly, with the same sensitivities. Likewise it is quite possible that the Council approval gave much weight to a proposal, but we cannot evaluate how much, therefore we cannot evaluate the influence of the Council.
    *** Personally I conclude that the Council had no part of the sovereign power, but could have influence on the policy, influence we cannot evaluate.
    *** We must consider that there was some representativity in the Council, but not a very good one. As I said before, in the Athenian situation a permanent allotted body was to be biased towards retired and leisured citizens, and therefore not well representative. For that reason the Athenians could not give part of sovereignty to an allotted permanent body. The bias was probably stronger in time of Demosthenes than in time of Cleisthenes, because in a more developed society the work of the Council was bigger, and therefore needed more time.
    *** I think that in a modern society the problem will be lesser, but notwithstanding will exist. When I favour some « long-term » juries, I think they must be only part-time juries, not full time juries.

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  66. Andre’s notion of the “influence” of the council strikes me as plausible. It’s interesting to note from the Against Ctesiphon story that the council was no more immune to the power of the orators than was the assembly. If only half of council proposals were passed by the assembly then it would appear that the council was an administrative body that set the agenda in the sense of communicating proposals that were made to it, rather than subjecting them to extensive deliberation. My only objection to Andre’s comment is smuggling in at the end the term “jury” — I’m still waiting for a rejoinder to my earlier claim that deliberative policy-generation assemblies have no classical precedent (and that these bodies would not be juries). It’s also worth pointing out that Adams’ translation of boule as “senate” is misleading.

    Tom:> Dialogue and conference professionals typically consider whole-group/sub-group (plenary/breakout) dynamics as design options in their convenings and these would seem to be appropriate tools in the design toolbox for sortition-based deliberative institutions.

    Not if the institution is to have statutory legislative rights as small groups lack the statistical representation mandate as it relies on the law of large numbers. Senate sub-committees benefit from the electoral mandate.

    Yoram:> If the council were no more than a channel for proposals from the public, then texts of proposals submitted to the council or speeches made to the council would likely survive (especially when the proposers or speakers would be well known citizens).

    If the council was primarily an administrative secretariat, then proposers would not need to make persuasive speeches. Who would want to record for posterity the agenda of a committee meeting?

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  67. Andre,

    Clearly, as the paragraph you quote shows, the Council had a lot of power in setting policy, not by making binding decisions but by writing the proposals on which the Assembly voted.

    As for having only part time long term juries. This would weaken the juries greatly compared to the political professionals and would therefore put a lot of power in the hands of those unrepresentative professionals.

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  68. >as the paragraph you quote shows, the Council had a lot of power in setting policy

    The paragraph indicated the power of an orator like Demosthenes to sway the council to his will.

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  69. Sutherland,

    > sway the council to his will

    If all the council did was pass on proposals submitted to it as you claimed above, then there would nothing to “sway”.

    As always, you shift your claims opportunistically, not even trying to present a consistent position.

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  70. Yes, that’s a fair criticism, that’s why I acknowledged Andre’s claim that the council had “influence” on the agenda (what you describe as “opportunism” is my willingness to be open to persuasion by other members of this forum — “consistency” is often a synonym for intransigence). But what that paragraph does refute is the notion that policy proposals emerged from the internal deliberations of the allotted members. The council would appear to be just as much open to manipulation by elite orators, and it’s hard to imagine how a group of 500 amateurs could operate in any other way.

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  71. So, if you are to be believed, after having claimed with great confidence and for many months, even years, that the Athenian Council had no political power, and having claimed to be reflecting “the view of most historians”, you read a comment and make a complete and unannounced turn around. You now implicitly admit that the council had considerable political power (but of course without frankly conceding that you were strenuously and consistently up to a few days ago, if not a few hours ago, arguing for for the opposite position), and pretend the issue all along was whether the council’s political power was open to manipulation by outside forces – a completely different issue.

    How can anyone accept this kind of intellectually dishonest and plainly ridiculous behavior?

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  72. >How can anyone accept this kind of intellectually dishonest and plainly ridiculous behavior?

    Because we are not all followers of the prophet Mani and accept that life is a continuum of an infinite number of shades of grey. The function of political institutions cannot be deduced from fundamental principles (democracy, oligarchy etc) and this is particularly problematic for the ancient world where records are largely absent. This is why we have historians, and their verdict is that the council was primarily an administrative magistracy. Naturally a permanent administrative body will have “influence” over the sovereign body in the same way that Whitehall mandarins have influence over the democratically-elected ministers that they serve. Contrast this with your claim, arrived at by pure logical deduction, that the council was the principal democratic policymaking forum (because it was allotted), which was then subverted by oligarchic forces dominating the assembly. This is the deductive methodology utilised by Marxist historians.

    PS it really is unseemly when the moderator of this forum jettisons arguments in favour of ad hominem attacks — I’ve grown accustomed to it, but other readers might be a little shocked.

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  73. > jettisons arguments in favour of ad hominem attacks

    A productive discussion requires engaging in the discussion in good faith. You are obviously utterly lacking in good faith. If you feel personally attacked when people point that out, you might want to consider changing your behavior.

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  74. Yoram, the only person who has accused me of bad faith is you.

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  75. That’s just another one of your easily refuted false claims.

    But in any case, this is not a matter of opinion: the proof of your bad faith is in the thread above for everyone to read (and of course in many other threads on this site).

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  76. Yoram,

    Given that you believe people always act in their own interests, why would I want to engage in intellectual dishonesty, as I’ve nothing to gain from doing so? I don’t view myself as a member of any kind of elite, have never aspired to political or academic office, and do not see myself as a activist. Although I’ve published a couple of books on sortition, neither has sold sufficiently well to cover its own costs. My day job is as a printer and I’ve been studying sortition for 15 years in my spare time (including an expensive unfunded PhD research project). What I do want is for the topic to advance (both in theory and practice) and this involves engaging with the arguments of other people and changing one’s own views accordingly. My second book, A People’s Parliament, was primarily dedicated to correcting the errors in the first, The Party’s Over, and once I’ve rewritten my thesis for a general audience, my third book will attempt to correct some of the errors in the second. Sortition is in the pre-paradigm state and it’s going to take many iterations to get it right.

    I admit my debating style is rather strident, but I do like to point out obvious errors and it gets a little frustrating when one’s intellectual opponents are so dogmatically wedded to their views as to be impervious to persuasion. I don’t see this has anything to do with bad faith, it’s what internet forums are meant for. For example Andre, Terry and myself sometimes agree with each other and sometimes differ, but we do listen to the arguments and update our own views accordingly.

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  77. > Keith: I admit my debating style is rather strident, but I do like to point out obvious errors and it gets a little frustrating when one’s intellectual opponents are so dogmatically wedded to their views as to be impervious to persuasion.

    Our culture is thoroughly wedded to debate (winning over an opponent and/or their arguments) rather than dialogue (exploring for broader understandings, hopefully mutual). In the first, diversity is a problem or a foil. In the second, diversity is a sign of something else to attend to, a piece of a potential bigger picture, a possibility of interaction towards new clarity and emergent framings. Given this cultural habit, it is natural to slide into attack mode, which invites further attack, at which point we enter what Gregory Bateson called “schismogenesis” – the mutual creation of division.

    From the outside, I appreciate your admission of stridency, Keith, while noting that people who “are so dogmatically wedded to their views as to be impervious to persuasion” may actually be engaged in their own version of stridency in a debate – sparring and defending rather than searching together. We actually don’t NEED to fight in order to generate higher truth. We just need to try to stay outside our own ideas and perspectives while contributing them while being committedly inside the exploration. This is, of course, easier said than done, I know. But I also know that when it is done it is intellectually DELICIOUS!

    I so enjoy when participants on this blog dance together toward ever greater understanding. I get a tremendous amount out of it!

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  78. I agree with Tom and I like reading your comments Keith (even if I disagree with most of them :). I find this blog uplifting. And even if we sometimes disagree (and I am not talking only about you Keith), the quality of the debate remains high and I therefore eagerly read the new comments.

    P.S: You are all welcome to comment my posts :)

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  79. I wish I could agree that the problem with Sutherland’s comments is his “strident style”. That would be bad enough (and surely there is a lot of that), but this is not the real problem. The real problem with Sutherland is that he is simply dishonest – both on an intellectual level (as demonstrated very well in the thread above) and on a personal level.

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  80. Tom:> I so enjoy when participants on this blog dance together toward ever greater understanding.

    #Metoo (forgive the slogan). Unfortunately it takes two to tango (ditto the cliche).

    On a more serious note, I’m also a fan of Gregory Bateson (we publish a lot of Bateson scholarship in our journal Cybernetics & Human Knowing), but that style of discourse cannot work for democratic politics (and not just for “cultural” reasons). If two people like Yoram and myself, who are passionately committed to sortition end up bad-mouthing each other then what hope is there for the entirely conflicting teloi of a modern multicultural society to dialogue together?

    >Our culture is thoroughly wedded to debate (winning over an opponent and/or their arguments) rather than dialogue (exploring for broader understandings, hopefully mutual)

    That’s a good example of the constructivist paradigm that dominates the social sciences, but we should always remember that the dialogical style is just a set of deliberative norms that are exceedingly hard to achieve — even Habermas acknowledges that ‘rational discourses have an improbable character and are like islands in the ocean of everyday practice’ (Habermas, 1996, p. 323). Given that democracy requires that the deliberations somehow represent the beliefs and preferences of the target population, a deliberative microcosm that follows dialogical principles will fail the democratic criterion (that’s why Habermas has shifted his focus to elite deliberation). This doesn’t bother most deliberative democrats because they are just not concerned with issues of democratic authority and perceived legitimacy.

    Evidence from evolutionary psychology would suggest that human reasoning didn’t evolve in order for us to dialogue, but to persuade others. The ‘argumentative theory of reasoning’ (conceptualized by Dan Sperber and developed with the evolutionary psychologist Hugo Mercier) hypothesizes that reasoning serves two distinct survival-related functions: a) convincing people and b) evaluating the arguments of others – ‘thereby allowing communication to proceed even when trust is limited’ (Landemore, 2013, p. 126). The theory was developed as an evolutionarily-plausible alternative to the classical (Cartesian) model of reasoning as a way of updating and correcting one’s own beliefs (through deliberation and dialogue). Given that the argumentative theory of reasoning suggests two distinct mechanisms this would also suggest two categories of persons in a deliberative context – proposers and disposers. The former category

    should only be concerned with . . . [arguments] that increase the plausibility of a conclusion one is trying to defend, or those that decrease the plausibility of a conclusion one is trying to rebut. Representations that have the opposite effect are of no direct value if one wants to convince one’s interlocutor. Reasoning should therefore be directed towards these valuable representations, and, as a result, it should display a strong confirmation bias (Mercier and Landemore, 2012, p. 241, emphasis in original)

    Yoram and myself would obviously fall into the category of persuaders and therefore use the confirmation bias to our own advantage. The confirmation bias, however, ‘mostly affects the production, and not the evaluation of arguments’ and can be ‘checked, compensated by the confirmation bias of individuals who defend another opinion’, hence the necessity for ‘the presence or expression of dissenting opinions in deliberative settings’ (ibid., pp. 251, 253, 254). The requisite cognitive tool for those whose task is to evaluate communicated information (i.e. disposers) is ‘epistemic vigilence’, the polar opposite of the confirmation bias (Mercier, 2013; Sperber et al., 2010). According to Gary Remer (1999) this would mean that the rhetorical style of both internet forums and democratic politics (which attempt to replace war-war with jaw-jaw) should be forensic rather than deliberative. “Dialogue” just doesn’t cut the mustard.

    References
    =========

    Habermas, J. (1996). Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Landemore, H. (2013). Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Mercier, H., & Landemore, H. (2012). Reasoning is for arguing: Understanding the successes and failures of deliberation. Political Psychology, 33(2), 243-258.

    Mercier, H. (2013). Our pigheaded core: How we became smarter to be influenced by other people. In K. Stereiny, R. Joyce & B. Calcott (Eds.), Cooperation and Its Evolution (pp. 373-398). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Remer, G. (1999). Political oratory and conversation: Cicero versus deliberative democracy. Political Theory, 27(1), 39-64.

    Sperber, D., Clement, F., Heintz, C., Mascaro, O., Mercier, H., Origgi, G., et al. (2010). Epistemic vigilance. Mind and Language, 25(359-393).

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  81. *** Discussions about the concept of democracy (its relation with the General Will etc) are interesting but I think there is risk of confusion. Owing to this risk I propose to give a specific name to the political model that Aristotle named “final democracy”, the paradigm of which is the Athenian democracy (the paradigm, actually, because we don’t know the others, but we know there were others).
    *** This model, as we see in Theseus speech in the “Suppliant Women”, the one theoretical set we are left with (all Protagoras works disappeared), has two pillars, “isêgoria”, equal free speech, and “isonomia”, radical civic equality including the sovereignty process. Therefore the last word about all important subjects must be given either to the whole citizenry or to allotted juries.
    *** Some name this model “direct democracy”, but others exclude juries from the idea of “direct democracy”. Therefore I propose a more “technical” name, the name “ortho-democracy” (from the Greek “orthos” which can mean “direct”, as in “orthos hodos”, direct way).
    *** When I said “We cannot bring the Athenian constitution to a dynamic and complex modern society.”, Hjhofkirchner agreed and concluded « We must design better democratic systems, not reconstruct failed ones. » But my idea (and not mine only in this blog!) is to build a modern « ortho-democracy », keeping the two basic principles of the ancient ortho-democracy ; whereas clearly Hjhofkirchner’s ideas are outside the ortho-democratic field.
    *** Hjhofkirchner said « the Athenian system lost out to other systems millennia ago» and speaks about the « failure » of this system. But there was no failure of the system. The final defeat was the result of military victory by bigger States (Macedon, later Rome) and which « failed » was the (small) Greek City-State. Oligarchic Thebes and « republican » Sparta did not resist either to Macedon. The Greek City-States could resist to the Persian Empire because it belonged to a « barbarian » world, less efficient than the Greek one for military power. But when big peripheral societies became parts of the Hellenizing world, the mere quantitative divide led to the end of the sovereign City-States, and of the ortho-democracy which, in Ancient Times, could exist only in a small society.
    *** Modern technology changed that, and China can become an ortho-democracy as well as Singapore.
    *** The epistemocratic ideas lead to systems out of the ortho-democracy : institutional power will not be distributed equally. I don’t say such ideas must be deemed absurd or shameful. But I think the resulting systems will have strong drawbacks, including a crucial one : they will not be able to gain « essential » legitimacy (they cannot have « traditional » legitimacy), I don’t think they can be accepted by the larger part of the citizenry because of their problematic relationship with civic equality.
    *** Epistemocratic-style institutions could be accepted to build specific bodies, as « permanent advising bodies », not for having the last word, not for sovereignty.

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  82. Andre:> [ortho-democracy] has two pillars, “isêgoria”, equal free speech, and “isonomia”, radical civic equality including the sovereignty process. Therefore the last word about all important subjects must be given either to the whole citizenry or to allotted juries.

    Agree 100% with your commentary. The only problem I have is when you depart from the original model by suggesting that the two pillars be combined in a single body (wrongly termed a jury). In the Athenian model the isegoria right was available to every citizen except in their role as juror. Clearly this is not feasible in large modern states, hence the need for representative isegoria, but this right should still be denied to jurors for the reasons that Terry has so clearly outlined. The notion of a policy jury is incoherent as policy generation is a function of (representative) isegoria. Whilst a long-term voluntary allotted policy panel is a coherent notion, this would be a form of oligarchy (kleristocracy).

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  83. >Epistemocratic-style institutions could be accepted to build specific bodies, as « permanent advising bodies », not for having the last word, not for sovereignty.

    Interestingly this is John Burnheim’s position outlined in his new book The Demarchy Manifesto. As far as he is concerned demarchic committees are now part of civil society and all they do is exert influence rather than having any sovereign right.

    PS has anyone read Askwith’s book? I’ve ordered a copy and look forward to reading it in due course. The founding editor of the Independent, Andreas Whittam-Smith, is keen on sortition.

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  84. Keith: “Interestingly this is John Burnheim’s position outlined in his new book The Demarchy Manifesto. As far as he is concerned demarchic committees are now part of civil society and all they do is exert influence rather than having any sovereign right.”

    I think John was lately getting too pessimistic about the chances of his idea, compared to his earlier “Is democracy possible”.

    Here in Austria we are actively working on getting citizen parliaments to convene, debate and decide before any future public referendum, initiated by a non-partisan institution.

    The committee decision would be announced and a list of pro/con arguments publicised, like “Abstimmungsbüchli” (voting book) in Switzerland, for the electorate (i.e. the sovereign) to consider.

    I give it a good chance that if we sortitionists keep doing that (maybe even in other countries) and if the electorate follows the deliberated stance to a certain degree, this may well produce a strong case for demanding a sovereign right, leading to “broadband democracy”.

    Andre: “But there was no failure of the system. The final defeat was the result of military victory by bigger States (Macedon, later Rome) and which « failed » was the (small) Greek City-State.”

    The way a democracy organises its military and foreign affairs is surely also in the domain of societal decision making, failure to arrange them successfully means the system produced wrong decisions (failing to achieve the elementary goal of survival). There are many small countries in the world, today and then, so it does not follow automatically that small states must get themselves into war and be defeated by bigger states. If we can accept the notion that the Athenian system failed by this definition, we can learn from its successes and its mistakes, but should not to do the same thing again and expect a different outcome.

    We can call the new, improved “direct” system using juries “ortho-democracy” for distinction, I agree. Here in Austria we decided for “Open Democracy” for being a more accessible term. But I would argue that this Open Democracy is absolutely in line with what you call the “two pillars” : it offers both, free speech and full radical civic equality. Plus, a third modern pillar: division of democratic labour, to harness the power of specialisation in the public realm, like we do so successfully in the economic realm.

    Andre> They will not be able to gain « essential » legitimacy (they cannot have « traditional » legitimacy), I don’t think they can be accepted by the larger part of the citizenry because of their problematic relationship with civic equality.

    The ultimate acceptance of Open Democracy and the passing of legislation to implement it as sovereign can be promoted by using deductive logic: After a period of verification, if the many citizen parliaments make decisions which are subsequently adopted as the General Will by referenda, i.e. the electorate as the currently defined sovereign institution, then at some stage it follows logically that we should cut out the slow and expensive bottleneck institution of direct democracy (not to mention representative democracy) for the vast majority of societal decisions, and only use direct democracy for matters of well-defined meta-level importance, e.g. constitutional changes.

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  85. Hubertus:> if the electorate follows the deliberated stance to a certain degree, this may well produce a strong case for demanding a sovereign right

    That’s also the new Burnheim view, but I’m sceptical. Given that rational ignorance is a consequence of numerical factors alone, then why should citizens take any more interest in the deliberations of the demarchic committees (John insists that they be published online) than an election manifesto? This is the problem raised by Lucy Parry https://equalitybylot.com/2018/02/13/when-is-a-democratic-innovation-not-a-democratic-innovation-the-populist-challenge-in-australia/ As for the claim that the public will be impressed by the long-term epistemic reliability of the demarchic guardians, I’m of the view that public memory is very short and that we are destined to repeat our mistakes when seduced by politicians who claim that we can have our cake and eat it and that the magic money tree will always come to our rescue. I also don’t believe deductive logic counts for much when it comes to public opinion.

    >Open Democracy . . . offers both, free speech and full radical civic equality.

    Presumably by this you mean that anyone can make a proposal (although 99.999999999% of citizens won’t) and everyone has the same (minimalistic) chance of being allotted. I don’t think the Athenians, who were accustomed to ruling and being ruled in turn, would view that as a form of equality worth having. Large modern states require representation for both isegoria and isonomia — and this is why we have elections. The argument from Andre, Terry and myself (following Dahl) is that isonomia would be better realised by an “attentive” minidemos rather than elected representatives, but this rules out voluntarism or an epistemic competence filter. As for isegoria the representative claim principle assumes the ongoing relevance of elections (along with citizen initiatives screened by a public votation threshold).

    PS in the UK Open Democracy is a media platform set up by a bunch of former Marxists, so you might need to find a new name if you want to go international!

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  86. *** Keith Sutherland says « Evidence from evolutionary psychology would suggest that human reasoning didn’t evolve in order for us to dialogue, but to persuade others. » I am not expert in evolutionary psychology, but I feel able to say that (outside of a theological theory of « intelligent design ») human mind did not evolve in order for us to be able to write. Ability to write is a civilization progress using mental functions which had among our ancestors different uses.
    *** Keith says « Given that the argumentative theory of reasoning suggests two distinct mechanisms this would also suggest two categories of persons in a deliberative context – proposers and disposers. » To me, it does not suggest two kinds of persons, it suggests two kinds of reasoning; and both kinds may be found in many persons, varying according the field, the time, the circumstances.
    *** I am sure that Habermas uses his mind to evaluate arguments in many occasions, but when he writes that Dahl’s minipopulus proposal is « somewhat utopian » , without clarification and explanation (“Between Facts and Norms”, chapter VII, part III), it is another use of his mind.
    *** Any debate will be a blend of dialogic discussion and rhetoric. If evolutionary psychology says us that the second is likely to dominate, that means only that the debate procedures must be closely established in order to control the rhetorical content.
    *** Such a debate will be different of the spontaneous debates, that does not mean it would be undemocratic, as suggests Keith. In (ortho-) democracy the sovereign body must mirror the entire civic body, that does not imply the debates must mirror the spontaneous debates.
    *** Clearly such procedures would be « artificial ». But (ortho-)democracy is artificial, civic equality of so different persons is artificial, the civic body is artificial – few reforms were so artificially-minded that the Cleisthenes ones.
    *** A good part of rhetoric will always be here. We must accept it. And actually it has advantages. Skilled rhetorics may disguise into pure dialog, and for some citizens of lower rhetorical skill spontaneous emotional rhetorics will lead other citizens to take into account their interests and sensitivities.

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  87. Keith: “Why should citizens take any more interest in the deliberations of the demarchic committees (John insists that they be published online) than an election manifesto?”

    I think there is a big difference between electing a party and voting in a referendum. In the first one, people are in war mode, forming Canetti’s primitive mob, a dangerous mass, in the second case, they are in problem solving mode, and more willing to use collective intelligence mode. In Greece, I saw a women break out in tears in front of the camera, when she was asked on how she would vote on the debt austerity referendum. She lamented: “I have no idea what I should vote, whom to believe. I do not know what will happen if I vote Yes, or No.” So I wonder: What if that lady had a demarchic decision? Would she have accepted it as a valid solution?

    My hypothesis is yes, and we should put it to test with a few real referenda, so it can be validated.

    Keith: “Anyone can make a proposal (although 99.999999999% of citizens won’t)” and “everyone has the same (minimalistic) chance of being allotted”

    Today’s slow pseudo-democracy creates its own reality, where these statistics may well look like you say. However, we must approach this question by constructing a complete, consistent future scenario. Today, there is extremely little bandwidth to process new laws, just one measly parliament It just does not make sense to come up with many proposals and be frustrated. In a sortition future, we will have an unlimited number of demarchic committees working in parallel, therefore a very high number of proposals can be dealt with. Since the system allows an unlimited number committees, we must multiply the small chance with the high number of parallel committees we have. In such a future, citizens’ willingness to dedicate time to a committee is what will limit the number of proposals to be evaluated and decided, not the other way round. Hence, the chance to be allotted is very high, who ever is willing to take part, will get a seat.

    In other words: In such a consistent future, Say’s Law will be at work, much like in the economy today: Supply (of jury members) will create its own demand (of proposals put forward for deliberation).

    Again, to see this at work, we must work to see it. Merely talking will get us nowhere.

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  88. Hubertus:> In a sortition future, we will have an unlimited number of demarchic committees working in parallel, therefore a very high number of proposals can be dealt with.

    Sounds pretty scary! Here’s an alternative perspective:

    In 403 the Athenians returned to the idea that the laws . . . must be stable, even if not wholly entrenched. Demosthenes in his speech against Timokrates tells admiringly the story of the Lokrians, who changed only one law in 200 years, because they had the marvellous custom that any proposal for a change of law must be made with a noose round the neck, and it the proposal was defeated the noose was drawn tight. (Hansen, 1999, p. 174)

    Although a modern “dynamic” society is very different from an ancient demokratia, my view of democracy is a system that empowers the informed judgment of the average Joe (or Jane) who generally don’t have a lot to say for themselves, but can use their own lived experience to judge the outcome of a debate between those who do have a lot to say (rather than empowering a small bunch of over-educated meddlers, activists and do-gooders even more than at present).

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  89. Andre,

    I agree that our social and political arrangements are (and always will be) artificial. But if they are going to work then they have to draw on our best understanding of human cognition, and this is the goal of evolutionary theorists. Most proponents of deliberative democracy and dialogue acknowledge that it is extremely difficult, many claiming that it DD is just a set of normative principles, rather than a description of actual social cognition. If so then surely it’s a fool’s errand — we would be better off working with the grain of human nature rather than an abstract ideal. Note that this is a general critique of political theory since the “ideal turn” occasioned by the publication of Rawls’s book in 1971. we need to go back to Aristotle and abstract our theory from political reality, rather than philosophers’ thought experiments. We shouldn’t forget that Rawls’s PhD thesis was a work of theology, and all that has happened since is the secularisation of religious ideals (Rawls was one of the original theorists of deliberative democracy).

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  90. Keith, I am starting to understand Yoram’s frustration.

    “In 403 the Athenians returned to the idea that the laws . . . must be stable” … Great, so they said that. And what next? Where are they now? Arguing a prescription without giving a rational reason which can be verified is cognitively worthless and a waste of time.

    Why should we care if “the” Athenians said this was so and so, or if “the” doctors say that this new oil regrows hair. The thing that needs to be shown is that in fact the hair starts growing, if there is no hair we can judge “the” doctors falsified. Or “the” Athenians for that matter.

    It is obvious, and you seem to agree, that modern world is increasingly more complex and specialised than at the times of the Athenians. We need rules in subject matters which did not even exist when the Athenians walked the earth. So, a demand for “one new law in 200 years” is mere folly.

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  91. Hubertus, I was only using the Lokrians to contrast with your “unlimited number of demarchic committees” and “very high number of proposals”. As a conservative I’m very aware of the potential for the unintended consequences of social action, and would argue that skill in past predictions does not make for oracular wisdom. I also believe societies evolve in their own haphazard manner and that your ultra-rationalist vision will fail for all the reasons that Oakeshott provided (he even criticised Hayek for his [rationalist] “plan to end all planning”). This naturally puts me at odds with “progressives”, activists (and former Marxists) that dominate the debate on this blog. I also feel the need to champion the regular Joes and Jills that sortition can enfranchise (and would be massively under-represented in voluntary demarchic committees, screened for competence).

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  92. Sorry if I repeat myself.
    *** Keith quotes Demosthenes who in his speech against Timocrates tells admiringly the story of the Lokrians, who changed only one law in 200 years, because they had the marvelous custom that any proposal for a change of law must be made with a noose round the neck, and it the proposal was defeated the noose was drawn tight.
    *** Demosthenes rehearsed here a story which, in an exaggerated form, corresponded to a principle valid in an ancient society. But which is not valid in a modern, dynamic, one. Many laws have to be changed because the society changes.
    *** Many things have changed since I was young. Internet could not be imagined, for instance. Some people in France said : « we have very good laws about press ; we have only to use them for the Web ». But it is not possible, the things are too different. Some others, in such cases, say « the Courts will adapt the law ». It means actually « the Courts will create the new law ». Even in a ortho-democracy where the last word would be given by citizen juries, including in the judicial branch, I would not like the idea. That destroys the « rule of law » and the legal safety, as, to know whether you are lawful, you have to wait and see if you are declared guilty by the judges!
    *** I conclude that Demosthenes, as a conservative in an ancient society, could consider that legislative activity had to be exceptional ; but that is not possible in a modern society.
    *** Note that Demosthenes pushed hard for the change of some laws ; because there was an external change, the surge of Macedonian imperialism. But nowadays we have to respond to many changes in our world, coming from exterior and from the technology.
    *** Keith says « As a conservative I’m very aware of the potential for the unintended consequences of social action » – he means political decision. But in an ever-changing world he should be very aware of the potential for the consequences of no-decision. Legal status quo is not conservative in a dynamic world.
    *** Considering ancient Athens is useful and necessary, because it is the one well known model of ortho-democracy, and we have practically no historical data out of it. We cannot overlook them. Maybe we will be able to think without these data – after half a century of effective modern ortho-democratic experiments.
    *** But we cannot forget the big differences between ancient societies and modern ones.
    *** Keith says « Hubertus, I was only using the Lokrians to contrast with your “unlimited number of demarchic committees” and “very high number of proposals”. » But the number of proposals in front of a policy issue does not imply a very high frequency of legal change.
    *** Establishing an ortho-democracy is by itself an activist-rationalist endeavor. But will an established ortho-democracy lead to an activist/rationalist frenzy of legislation ? We cannot give a general answer. Many useful social changes are in polyarchies blocked by lobbies, and these changes could prevail in an ortho-democracy through political decisions. But conversely ordinary citizens are not usually activists, and often will prefer changes in a careful and sensible way.
    *** As I said, establishing an ortho-democracy (or even an hybrid system) is by itself an activist-rationalist endeavor. Therefore Keith should not be surprised if the contributors of this blog are often with a general approach of this kind.

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  93. Andre:> ordinary citizens are not usually activists, and often will prefer changes in a careful and sensible way.

    Agreed. That’s why I insist that participation in a sortition-based system must be quasi-mandatory, otherwise activists will be privileged over “ordinary citizens” (who generally have no particular interest in politics). A voluntary system (as proposed by most demarchists) will not be representative of the demos.

    >Establishing an ortho-democracy (or even an hybrid system) is by itself an activist-rationalist endeavor.

    That’s true in the case of those who seek to replace our current arrangements (“electoralism”) with a wholly allotted form of representation, especially those who base their proposal on logical syllogisms as to how interests are represented. But that’s not the case with Askwith’s hybrid proposal, which is merely trying to replace an existing institution which serves no obvious representative function (the House of Lords) with a chamber of randomly-selected citizens. The argument for the latter is based on experience (both of 4th century Athens and the trial jury) not deduction from a set of rationalist principles, so it’s an example of bold reform based on empirical experience. In 2000 I compiled and edited a collection of essays entitled The Rape of the Constitution? which included a defence of the (hereditary) House of Lords by Peter Carrington, who was foreign secretary under Margaret Thatcher. Lord Carrington made the argument that the merit of the old House of Lords was its occupational diversity (compared to the superannuated political place-men in the reformed house). An allotted second chamber would fulfil the aspiration for diversity much better, so it’s an incremental reform, not a rationalist reconstruction, that should even appeal to an arch-conservative like Carrington.

    >Even in a ortho-democracy where the last word would be given by citizen juries, including in the judicial branch . . .

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree that the verdict of supreme courts should be decided by large randomly-selected juries with the justices acting purely as advocates. But how would this principle be applied to the oversight panels that you are proposing for other areas of governance? — who would act as prosecutor and defence? In the Athenian example it was other (competing) politicians, and I can see how that would work, but it would be good if you could put some flesh on your argument for randomly-selected policy and oversight committees.

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  94. Keith: Regular Joes and Jills … would be massively under-represented in voluntary demarchic committees, screened for competence.

    That’s wrong. Most Joes and Janes are quite good in some specialty. With Open Democracy’s broadband approach handling unlimited proposals any voluntary participant will have a chance at least in some committee. I bet that the Athenian participation rate of 50 to 60% will be reached, at a minimum.

    BTW: It is a terrible idea to force committee service on people, when we could just as well operate with liberty and free will, if citizens are provided with correct incentives and a psychology-compatible process.

    PS: How would you punish non-compliance? And what if they are pressed into service and then just do not care? In general, force is an abhorrent measure indicative of all revolutionaries with bad ideas. If they did make it to power, they always ended up killing massive numbers of people when their nature did not correspond to their ill-conceived ideas.

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  95. Hubertus:> any voluntary participant will have a chance at least in some committee. I bet that the Athenian participation rate of 50 to 60% will be reached, at a minimum.

    If so, then I find if truly alarming that we would have 30 million or so people all trying to change the law at the same time and, if they are volunteers, they would not represent the other half (sensible people who don’t want to spend their time meddling with other people’s lives). Have you read Constant’s essay on the liberty of the ancients and moderns?

    >How would you punish non-compliance?

    I would be content with the current arrangements for jury service but with greater incentives to ensure the participation of busy people. As for people not caring, in my proposal all they have to do is listen to the arguments and vote, and for a limited period of time (again equivalent to jury service). It’s not a lot to ask.

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  96. as I also mention in our proposal participation for the Jury is a ‘civic duty’ but of course it is useless to enforce this. As the Australian en James Fishkin experiments are showing, visiting the people who refuse to participate and a reasonable payment and even practical help can resolve most of those problems.

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  97. Paul, Askwith’s proposal is for a formal constitutional reform (allotted upper house of parliament) so very different from an experiment in deliberative polling, and ‘civic duty’ would take on an entirely different meaning. I’m sure that inducements would help but at the end of the day citizens are obliged to follow the law of the land (rather than just being encouraged to adopt civic republican social norms).

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  98. *** I said that « Establishing an ortho-democracy (or even an hybrid system) is by itself an activist-rationalist endeavor ». Including therefore Askwith’s hybrid proposal.
    *** Keith Sutherland is not convinced : it is only « an incremental reform », and it « would fulfill the aspiration for diversity ». OK, and that could help the proposal.
    *** But look to the basic principles involved. The House of Commons is constituted through electoral representation, the House of Lords mostly through nomination by powers derived from the first House ; with in both cases a strong effect of the principle of distinction. An allotted Chamber would be recruited by lot, following the opposite principle of no-distinction. Whatever the weight given to the new Chamber, it would be a very bold step.
    *** And this step will not correspond to an evolution, as could be seen before the widening of suffrage or the lessening of the Lords power. It will be a new thing, inspired by theoretical works and a memory of two-thousand years old Greek experiments ; a rationalist construction if there is one.
    *** It would be not the fruit of an evolution, and it is even difficult to find in the present or past of Western polyarchies some « germs ». I can actually see two germs : the public opinion poll, which has accustomed people to the idea of « representative sample » ; and the English tradition of jury (introduced into France, with the word itself, by the 1789 revolution) which implied the idea of ordinary citizens able to decide on very serious matters. Although these two institutions are far from central political power, ortho-democrats may evoke them to avoid the feeling of « pure constructionism ».

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  99. About Askwith’s proposal.
    Maybe it would be better not to cancel the House of Lords, but to create two High Chambers, the Lords and the Mirror Chamber, sitting alternately in the same surroundings. Thus three chambers, with different principles exemplified.

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  100. OK it’s a bit of a stretch from the House of Lords to the House of Lots but it wouldn’t be a rationalist reconstruction as it would be based on experience — historical (the second demokratia), legal (the law courts) and practical (Fishkin’s experiments in deliberative democracy). (By contrast, a plan to replace electoralism by ortho-democracy based purely on a deductive logical syllogism over the representation of interests would be a rationalist reconstruction). The legitimising principle for the hereditary house was certainly not expertise, it was just the recognition of actual power via the enfranchisement of one of the leading medieval estates (Lord Carrington merely argued that it was more diverse than the modern appointment-based house, stuffed full of superannuated politicians). The legitimacy of the current house is highly disputed, and it will become more so if it assumes, as is likely, a principal role in overturning the popular will regarding Brexit. Given the number of proposals for replacing the House of Lords (or Senate) with an allotted chamber then I believe we are pushing at an open door, but our case will not be advanced by siren calls for the replacement of electoralism with ortho-democracy. It’s better — if only for rhetorical purposes — to speak the language of reform rather than revolution. The subtitle of Anthony Barnett’s original proposal (The Athenian Option) was ‘Radical Reform for the House of Lords’. It’s worth remembering that the House of Lords (used to be) the highest court in the land and all we are seeking to do is introduce a jury.

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  101. About Askwith’s proposal:

    Askwith is only dabbling with a minor democratic issues.

    The real issue with representative democracy is that its structures, institutions (such as the Houses) i.e. their working capacity and bandwidth were designed at times of slow progress, in the society probably except military as its innovation is driven by the private sector. Todays enormous progress speed is amplifying the speed difference to explosive trust crisis levels. See Edelman report:
    https://www.edelman.com/trust2017/

    Further, psychology would lead to an exaltation mindset of these citizens, despite their random selection. Any longer-term post would change their thinking from personal normalcy to some sense of superiority.

    So it is twice unlikely we must multiply the low probabilities) that his solution would improve anything material in democracy.

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  102. Hubertus:> Further, psychology would lead to an exaltation mindset of these citizens, despite their random selection. Any longer-term post would change their thinking from personal normalcy to some sense of superiority.

    Yes that’s true, and Terry provided some research evidence from social psychology to support this. It strikes me as a knock-down argument against any form of long-term body selected by lot and in favour of short-term ad hoc juries. If a body selected by lot no longer represents its target population then what is the point of it?

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  103. Keith: “a knock-down argument against any form of long-term body”

    That’s correct. My personal sense is that for standing (general) bodies one year would be the maximum before this effect kicks in, so staggered rotation is advisable. But the majority of demarchic committees should be formed for one topic only.

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  104. I’ll add an observation in response to hjhofkirchner’s comment that
    >”if the many citizen parliaments make decisions which are subsequently adopted as the General Will by referenda, i.e. the electorate as the currently defined sovereign institution, then at some stage it follows logically that we should cut out the slow and expensive bottleneck institution of direct democracy…”

    The nature of proposals being generated can be deeply affected by the knowledge that a subsequent referendum (or my preference allotted jury) will get the final yes/no decision on them. If you dispose with the final approval step you may get very different products.

    It is also important to remember that the mere process of developing, refining and amending a proposal gives those people a biased relationship to their final product, and thus they lose the ability to be the best ultimate judges of their handiwork. This is why a separate allotted jury is needed for adoption.

    I favor voluntary selection (perhaps in randomly combined diverse groups?) for generating raw proposals, and more representative (perhaps one year terms) diverse minipublics for review and revision, and then fully representative short-duration juries for final decisions, as an optimal democratic design…However, it may be that some sort of epistemically superior middle step might be invented (some day an AI computer might examine all real world policies and outcomes and cobble together great draft legislation). But for now, there is compelling evidence that a diverse group of randomly selected (even non-mandatory) citizens would do a far better job than an elected chamber at crafting legislation to present to the sovereign (in the form of a quasi-mandatory minipublic).

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  105. Terry: >the mere process of developing, refining and amending a proposal gives those people a biased relationship to their final product, and thus they lose the ability to be the best ultimate judges of their handiwork.

    [a] body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time . . . Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail (Federalist, 10, ¶8).

    Note that by “parties” Madison was not referring to political parties but to (partial) interests in the general sense. So the principle of separating out advocacy and judgment goes back to the founding fathers (unfortunately the distinction never made it into practice).

    > there is compelling evidence that a diverse group of randomly selected (even non-mandatory) citizens would do a far better job than an elected chamber at crafting legislation.

    Can you share the evidence with us? And do you mean better in the epistemic sense (as per your hypothetical AI supercomputer) or better matched to the raw preferences of the demos?

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  106. Terry> If you dispose with the final approval step you may get very different products.
    Sure, agreed. And my theory is that such future proposals to the new deliberative and decentralised institution will be much more high quality than the all-too-often manipulative ones and oversimplifying ones which we get for today’s referenda.

    Terry> Developing, refining and amending a proposal gives those people a biased relationship to their final product.
    As you correctly say, the Open Democracy process strictly separates the prescriptive Citizen Parliament decision phase from the original creative Open Ideation phase. In fact, there is a third phase inbetween, the Open Survey phase, which is diagnostic and predictive.

    Terry> Some sort of epistemically superior middle step might be invented.
    I am sure there are. In Open Democracy proposal, the invention to be tested is overweighting better forecasters in a problem topic from the prognostic Open Survey phase, while strictly ensuring representativeness, in all other aspects.

    Hubertus

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  107. *** About legal change in a changing modern world : i found a text interesting.
    *** Following another US massacre, a British reader (Patsy Baxter) sent to TIME (6 november 2017) an interesting proposal taking into account the US constitutional right to bear arms : « surely a simple way to reduce the ensuing carnage would be to uphold that right, but with the proviso that only weapons available in the 18th century can be legally carried. No doubt there would be some idiot prepared to carry a canon up to his bedroom, but by and large the firepower would be greatly reduced »

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  108. *** Terry Bouricius writes it is « important to remember that the mere process of developing, refining and amending a proposal gives those people a biased relationship to their final product, and thus they lose the ability to be the best ultimate judges of their handiwork. This is why a separate allotted jury is needed for adoption. »
    *** This distinction was enforced – but with two electoral/representative chambers – during the First French Republic with the Constitution of the Year III (established in 1795). The Council of Five Hundred drafted the proposals of law, which the other Chamber, the Council of Ancients, could only accept or reject. Boissy d’Anglas, one of the fathers of the Constitution, said « The Five Hundred will be the imagination of the Republic ; the Ancients will be its reason ». (There were no differences between the electoral systems for the two chambers ; only the Ancients had to be more than 40 and to be married or widowed whereas the members of Five Hundred had only to be over thirty). I am sorry, I have not enough knowledge of this period, and I don’t know how well this process practically worked.
    *** But anyway I think we must not think of « legislative power » the old way. In a modern dynamic society the sovereign has to decide policies for a given field, with consecutive laws. The sovereign must choose a housing policy, an immigration policy, an energy policy, etc … And the choice cannot be « we adopt the policy proposed by another entity, or we reject it », because rejection does not give a policy. Unless the choice is « we adopt the proposed policy, or it will be the status-quo » But such a simplistic binary choice is not acceptable for the jurors of the decisive chamber, because in a modern dynamic society we must not favor the policy status-quo, which in a changing world can have very bad results.
    *** A two-chambers process would deserve to be considered if the first chamber is to produce all the reasonable policy proposals, with the second chamber deciding ; the first chamber being the place of modern isêgoria.

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  109. André,

    > we must not favor the policy status-quo, which in a changing world can have very bad results

    The status-quo could be very bad in a static world as well. Those who talk about limiting government, super-majorities and other anti-democratic devices like to present themselves as acting out of some noble principles, but are in reality simply surreptitiously peddling an conservative agenda which assumes that the status quo is pretty good and any deviation from it needs to be justified more strongly than keeping it. It is very clear who is served by such an agenda.

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  110. Andre:> the first chamber being the place of modern isêgoria.

    What is your justification for limiting isegoria to a tiny number of randomly-selected persons? In the case of the second chamber a good argument can be made that the decision of a large random sample would represent the considered judgment of the entire demos (given certain strict constraints), but this does not work for isegoria as the LLN does not pertain to individual speech acts (and there is no historical precedent for an allotted policymaking chamber).

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  111. André, >Maybe it would be better not to cancel the House of Lords, but to create two High Chambers, the Lords and the Mirror Chamber, sitting alternately in the same surroundings. Thus three chambers, with different principles exemplified.

    I read the entire comment thread today and just before I read your comment I came to the same conclusion. Maybe “replacing” the House of Lords (and in my case the Canadian Senate) is not the way to go. This is a life altering moment for me as I have been a committed supporter of replacing the Canadian Senate with an allotted assembly for the past 30 years. I need some time to put my currently racing thoughts together on this but I think the idea of an experimental “third chamber” is worth more discussion on this thread and elsewhere.

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  112. Simon (anon),

    What if the Senate and the House of Lots disagreed, which one would have the last word? If the latter, then what is the point of the former (and vive versa)? The binary structure of proposers and disposers is workable, but it’s hard to make sense of the Trinity in theology, let alone politics.

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  113. *** Yoram (if I understand well) thinks that people favoring legal status-quo are actually protecting the interests of the top of the society. Maybe often. But in France, nowadays, the legal changes, « reforms », are, in the economic field, under the flag of world competitiveness, against the bottom, or the median, classes, reducing workers rights gained through former social struggles. « Reform » is a word stridently repeated in the media linked to the money elite, or those where the money elitism and the culture elitism are uniting.
    *** When Rousseau favored legal stability in his dreamed more or less equalitarian republic, I don’t think he was consciously protecting the upper parts of the society.
    *** Yoram’s comments were, OK, often valid in the past.
    *** But in the 21st century it is more complex.
    *** In the Athenian democracy, a law could be« entrenched », even if it seems having been very rare. The dêmos could change them, but only after cancelling the entrenchment law, a process longer and slower, which actually favored the status-quo.
    *** Whatever the considerations about previous times, privileging the legal status-quo is no more acceptable in the ever-changing modern world, where the sovereign must adapt his policies and the consecutive laws.

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  114. Andre,

    My point was not that protecting the status quo on any issue is necessarily favoring the powerful. There are always particular aspects of the status quo that are unpleasant to the powerful and which they try to change.

    My point is that procedurally privileging the status quo necessarily means privileging the powerful.

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  115. Andre:> in France, nowadays, the legal changes, « reforms », are, in the economic field, under the flag of world competitiveness, against the bottom, or the median, classes, reducing workers rights gained through former social struggles.

    True, and that was also the case for the Thatcher reforms in the UK during the 1980s, which continued under the Blair and Brown Labour administrations (arguably even more so, given the effect of unprecedented levels of immigration on the wages of the poorest indigenous workers).

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  116. Andre> “When Rousseau favored legal stability in his dreamed more or less equalitarian republic, I don’t think he was consciously protecting the upper parts of the society.”

    In support of Andre’s evaluation, we can look at Art. 6 of the Declaration of Rights written in Rousseau’s spirit: “The law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to contribute personally, or through their representatives, to its formation. It must be the same for all, …”

    Considering carefully, my fellow sortitionists in this excellent group will undoubtedly notice that “contribute … through their representatives” is incompatible with elected representatives, because they will not ever be truly representative, or even if they are before being elected, they certainly will not be after the fact.

    Looking at this same sentence with the knowledge of Richard von Mises’s “Sample Space” theory of 1919 (the older brother of Ludwig von Mises, of the Austrian School of Economics) we know that only a sample can ever be representative.

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  117. Hubertus:> “contribute … through their representatives” is incompatible with elected representatives, because they will not ever be truly representative . . . only a sample can ever be representative.

    That’s (tautologically) true in the case of descriptive representation, but completely ignores the active representation of interests, where there is no inherent reason for representatives to resemble their constituents in any way. When you engage a lawyer to represent you in court, you don’t care whether she resembles you, you only want somebody to articulate your interests. This is the justificatory principle behind election (and is clearly what the authors of Article 6 had in mind).

    >even if they are [truly representative] before being elected, they certainly will not be after the fact.

    That’s the argument against long-term allotted representatives, whereas electoral candidates are pre-selected on the principle of distinction, which militates against descriptive representation, but not the active representation of interests.

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  118. Keith> “When you engage a lawyer to represent you in court, you don’t care whether she resembles you, you only want somebody to articulate your interests.”

    In Austria we say: “Nicht alles was hinkt ist ein Vergleich”:

    There are so many things wrong with this argument.

    The lawyer does NOT represent the client in the sense of deciding what his will is, or a General Will for that matter. The client still decides for himself, the lawyer may only advise. So this comparison is completely off to start with.

    Further, lawyers represent their own interest, in truth. Their goal is try to make as much in fees out of you as possible. Try it.

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  119. >The client still decides for himself, the lawyer may only advise.

    In the same way that the client chooses between the available options outlined by the lawyer (innocent, guilty, plea bargain, mitigating circumstances etc), voters choose between the policies offered by competing political parties. And the process is cybernetic, as parties are motivated to offer policies that are most likely to receive the support of a plurality of voters. Although it doesn’t always work out exactly like this in practice (nothing ever does), we should be aware that we are using the word “representation” in an idiosyncratic way that would make no sense at all to the overwhelming majority of people working in this field (including Rousseau and the authors of Article 6). If we are seeking to persuade others beyond the tiny community of sortitionists then we need to use words in the same way as everybody else rather than redefining them to meet our purposes. If you read Hanna Pitkin’s The Concept of Representation, the leading text in this field, you will see that your concern (descriptive representation) is the topic of one chapter out of a total of ten.

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  120. Keith> „descriptive representation) is the topic of one chapter out of a total of ten.“

    I see it as a virtue to be very specific about which different case of representation we are discussing, to make sure that our theories make sense. And descriptive representation certainly does not meet the requirements needed to make article 6 work.

    We must be as specific as we can be, irrespective of laymen’s sloppy use of language. Just like an airplane passenger will have no clue of the specialized language of those who construct airplanes.

    So if you want to understand my comment, I will express it in a different way: It is needful that such proper representatives should be able to decide on collective matters, in the best rational and informed way, so that the decision taken fulfills the ends of the general public, even if they lack the knowledge for the right decision themselves.

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  121. Hubertus,

    I think we need to go for neologisms rather than using general terms that have an accepted default meaning — political representation since the eighteenth century generally refers to the selection of persons and parties via preference election. Andre coined the term stochation for representation by large randomly-selected assemblies, and I imagine your system would be best described as demarchic representation.

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  122. Regardless of the language we use, it seems to me there is democratic value both in representatives BEING the kinds of “ordinary/common people” implied by the term “demos” (the democratic perspective that focuses on the equality of citizens) and representatives who represent the spectrum of diverse INTERESTS involved in the issues of the day (the democratic perspective that focuses on those effected having a role in making decisions that will effect them). (Being “interested”, the latter tend also to have greater knowledge of different dimensions of the issues than the former.) In my view these are two very important and very different dimensions of democracy. Which is why I like to explore not just traditional elected representation and sortition, but also the conscious engagement of stakeholders, and how all these can be usefully combined to help generate better outcomes.

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  123. Tom,

    I don’t see why direct representation by “ordinary/common people” (whatever that means) is more democratic than allowing the aforementioned to choose their representatives. However representation by stochation (statistical sampling) is an entirely different matter. It worries me that debates on this forum conflate the two. Whilst I agree that there is epistemic value (“better” outcomes) in the conscious engagement of stakeholders, democratic norms would suggest that their participation should be in the role of advocates (for the interests that they represent) rather than deciding the outcome of the debate. In my book A People’s Parliament I argue for the Lords to be replaced with a House of Advocates — who would represent the diverse interests of the nation, but would have no voting rights. One of the problems with deliberative democracy is that it conflates the distinction between advocacy and (democratic) judgment.

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  124. > the conscious engagement of stakeholders

    Sounds very broad minded, but who is to say who is “a stakeholder” on a particular issue? Seems like just another opportunity for elite manipulation of the decision making process.

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  125. Yoram> „who is to say who is “a stakeholder” on a particular issue“

    That one has eluded me, too, for quite a while.

    Turns out that the solution was quite simple.

    We first held a „general“ citizen parliament – demographically stratificatied – on a topic and asked them which groups would have different interests in the topic. Those groups were then recruited – internally stratified – as stakeholders, for the next citizen parliament.

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  126. Did the citizen parliament know they are ceding power to those whom they name? If they were not, or if this delegation of power is not revocable, then this is not a democratic arrangement.

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  127. Yoram, I was answering with a solution for your concern about elite manipulation?

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  128. Unless the delegation is known in advance and is revocable, then the process you describe is itself a form of elite manipulation.

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  129. Please explain, how this would be so?

    In our case, it was not known beforehand, but it became a obvious hypothesis after the first round, that this feature should yield a materially better second round decision, for the very arguments listed by Tom above, summarized: „the conscious engagement of stakeholders, and how all these can be usefully combined to help generate better outcomes.“

    I note that our goal in experimentation is producing the best possible decision for society. Obviously there speaks nothing against making our discovery explicit the next time we use it.

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  130. > best possible decision for society

    Best, as judged by whom?

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  131. Great to see so many insightful comments about various issues raised in my book, “People Power”. There are too many for me to answer them all, so here instead are six quick thoughts.

    > “Direct democracy” > An upper chamber chosen by sortition wouldn’t be direct democracy. It would be the opposite: a version of representative democracy chosen in order to dampen demand (currently growing) for direct democracy

    > “Bad members” > All systems, including election to the Commons and appointment to the Lords, throw up some bad members: expense fiddlers, gropers, bullies, cynical careerists, nutters, idiots, etc etc. A chamber chosen by sortition would be the same. There would be some bad members. They would serve their term (4 years, or whatever) and then go. I see no reason to believe that a randomly chosen sample would have more bad apples than a chamber based mainly on patronage and privilege.

    > “Members would be corrupted by power” > Yes, this might be a problem. It already is: in the Commons and in the Lords. I’m not saying that the system I propose would be perfect: just that it would be a huge and desperately needed improvement on the current Lords, because it would be seen as representing the whole electorate rather than representing just the establishment.

    > “Partiality” > Yes, there would be partiality in a chamber chosen by sortition. But it would be a more representative kind of partiality – closer to the totality of biases of the electorate – than the partiality of the current chamber, whose prejudices and biases are overwhelmingly those of the establishment. Some voters might well still feel that the chamber’s members were letting them down – but they wouldn’t think that this was happening because the members spoke only for an establishment of

    > “Drawing lots to see who shall play a violin piece by Mozart” – yes, I agree that this is a false analogy. Sortition wouldn’t be the optimum way of producing expertise. But expertise isn’t the most essential quality for a parliamentary chamber to have. The most important function of a chamber in a representative democracy is to represent. There are lots of brilliant and good people in the current Lords, but it is catastrophically lacking in democratic legitimacy. The point of democracy isn’t that it’s the wisest form of government but that it has the soundest foundations. It had the consent of governed and thus provides an enduring basis for action. I reckon huge boost to legitimacy gained from making Lords representative would offset slight loss of braininess – and in any case members chosen by sortition could always seek expert advice (from civil servants, outside experts & even members of the current Lords). On the other hand, the current lack of legitimacy threatens the future of the whole of parliament.

    > “We’re only just beginning to build up a head of steam.” > Yes, I totally agree. If the kind of reform that I’m advocating in “People Power” (and that Anthony Barnett and Keith Sutherland and Brett Henig and many others have advocated elsewhere) ever came to fruition, I imagine that the finished version would bear only a vague resemblance to the model I propose. I don’t claim to have the perfect recipe for reform. I’m just saying that reform is urgently needed; that sortition offers the fairest general approach; and that if the electorate agrees, they can, should and – I hope – will get behind the broad idea, refining it as a head of steam is built up. The suggestion of using a citizens’ assembly or assemblies to thrash out the details is, I think, a particularly good one.

    Sorry not to have time for more – but many thanks for all the comments.

    If you want to know more about where I stand on some of these issues, “People Power” (see: http://tinyurl.com/ya2qxg2v) doesn’t take long to read, & probably lays out my thoughts more coherently than I can here.

    Many thanks
    Richard Askwith

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  132. Yoram> “Best, as judged by whom?”

    We are getting closer to the core of the issue with this question.

    Indeed, by whom? We seem to have a paradox at hand: It is safe to assume that all of the following may judge differently:
    1. a House of Lords (representative democracy)
    2. a House of Lots (naive sortition democracy)
    3. a full Referendum by the participating population (direct democracy)
    4. a Citizen Jury e.g. used by New Democracy Foundation (a stochastic sample deliberating)
    5. a Citizen Parliament proposed by Open Democracy (deliberating stratified prognostic sample, equally weighed for stakeholders)

    The paradox can be solved with a simple excursion into the realm of polycontextural logic: we must expand our frame of reference.

    Fortunately, as laid out beautifully by Ludwig von Mises, we can do just this, by asking any of these judgement institutions to define and predict (in the present) the goals to be achieved by the means (policies) which they decide positively. As we step into the future, we can look back at what any of the 5 institution decided and compare their stated goals with the objectively achieved ones. Whichever does best we may judge as the best.

    This answers your question. If needed, i can illustrate this with a practical example, e.g. the failed rental limit policy in Austria. Or work it out yourself, assuming that the stakeholders are landlords and renters.

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  133. So presumably you suppose that once you run your experiments the people at large would be convinced that your favorite method produces the best results (as they judge things)?

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  134. Richard> “But expertise isn’t the most essential quality for a parliamentary chamber to have. The most important function of a chamber in a representative democracy is to represent.”

    Attention Richard: Neither of these is “the most essential” quality, but some of these and many more qualities are needed to secure the essential quality of parliament (if we like the definition by Rousseau and Lafayette): that it produces law for all which is the expression and codification of the general will.

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  135. @Yoram: “the people at large would be convinced that your favorite method produces the best results (as they judge things)?”

    That’s the plan. We will use the constitutional institution available for such convincing, the elections, by wrapping the Open Democracy process into a party campaign and demonstrating the results it gives for current issues.

    Our hypothesis is that this project will succeed as the people at large will prefer outcomes which achieve stated goals and avoid undesirable futures. They do not need to judge how to build an A-380 in order to see that they get a beautiful and safe flight once they step on it.

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  136. So, if the people are convinced that your method is the best way to reach decisions, then this conviction will be reflected by the course of action taken by an allotted chamber. Thus we can rely on a democratic, i.e, an allotted, chamber for decision making.

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  137. No. I will try to follow your sentence structure, and fill in the differences:

    Those people who can be convinced to elect the GILT party will see decisions with this method reflected in the debate contributions and the voting of GILT party representatives in the traditional parliament

    Remember that the Open Democracy process has to integrate and work within the legal framework of the given constitution.

    It is unrealistic that the remainder of the elected chamber (all the traditional party representatives) will suddenly decide according to this best general will rather than the will of their party bosses. My prediction is that more people at large will be convinced when observing this conflict in practice and when increasingly participating themselves.

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  138. I am not talking about the elected officials – I am talking about the voters. Supposedly you are going convince the people at large – those who today make up the electorate – that the best way to make decisions is through the method you propose.

    Again – if you manage to do that, then an allotted chamber would naturally use the system you propose and there is no need to impose delegation of power.

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  139. My apologies Yoram, I do not understand the second sentence, as there is no “allotted chamber” today.

    If you mean theoretically, i.e. “if there was an allotted chamber, would it use that specific process?” I do not think that it should.

    A new process (maybe ours) may well do a better better than representative democracy does and solve societal problems which we seem unable to tackle today (including global issues extending beyond sovereign walls). People will put it in power democratically, or not.

    However, soon we will start to notice other world problems which will need a further innovation in democratic process, think of Schumpeter’s (not Marxist) Creative Destruction. It follows that competition between democratic approaches is a necessary condition. If there was a constitutional rule to use just one process we’d get a static political environment which is hostile to further innovation.

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  140. My point is that whatever process you propose (or others propose in the future), it must be accepted by the average person as being a good tool for representing their values and interests. The only way to make sure this is the case is to have an allotted chamber (or multiple allotted chambers) permanently in charge – as the authority for making binding decisions for society.

    Once you have those bodies in place, they can come up with various designs for its their decision making process, experiment with them and change them over time. That process can include ideas like yours. But the crucial point is that at any point in time power remains in the hands of the allotted chambers and the political power of any other body or person depends at all times on the allotted bodies approving of it.

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  141. Yoram>„The only way to make sure this is the case is to have an allotted chamber (or multiple allotted chambers) permanently in charge.“

    There is at least one more way. If we use the elections to implement sortition, as I describe above, people could choose even between multiple sortition party approaches in parallel, depending on which one they personally believe is best.

    If you think about it you will realize perhaps that this second approach has a number of interesting advantages against one which you called the only one above.

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  142. Yoram:> whatever process you propose must be accepted by the average person as being a good tool for representing their values and interests. The only way to make sure this is the case is to have an allotted chamber (or multiple allotted chambers) permanently in charge.

    It should be remembered that Yoram has arrived at this conclusion by purely deductive methods — from a 3-part logical syllogism that he outlined several years ago — there is no historical precedent or supportive evidence from social psychology. My own view is that such a body would rapidly “go native” and that the distortions introduced by imbalances in the illocutionary force of the speech acts of the random (in the pejorative sense) participants would negate the aggregate representativity of the allotted chamber, so that stochation could only work for large ad-hoc quasi-mandatory juries. It should also be remembered that proposals for an allotted second chamber (by Barnett, Askwith and others) are for a body with veto power that would hold the elected chamber to account, so the notion of an all-powerful allotted chamber is nothing more than a utopian dream (or dystopian nightmare, when you consider how open it would be to corruption by sinister interests). It’s also an extreme example of what Oakeshott derided as “rationalism” in politics — I can think of no other example of constitutional design by logical syllogism, and would be astonished if anyone other than its author were to take it seriously.

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  143. Richard:> An upper chamber chosen by sortition wouldn’t be direct democracy. It would be the opposite: a version of representative democracy.

    Great to have the author of this proposal on board. I agree that the focus must be 100% on representativity. As the variant involved is descriptive/statistical/stochastic then we should focus on a) on how it can be optimised and b) whether descriptive representation is not just necessary but sufficient for a democratic state. If not (and I recommend Pitkin’s book as to why this could never be the case) then the focus should be on the optimum balance of elective and descriptive institutions — reform of the second chamber is the obvious place to look for the latter, especially as nobody knows what the Lords are meant to do in a demotic polis, so we are pushing at an open door. The view that sortition is a form of direct democracy explains the misunderstanding that a body comprised of ordinary people** would be inherently democratic, whereas the democratic mandate would require an accurate portrait in miniature of the informed preferences of the whole demos and that involves a lot more than filling a room with “ordinary” people and leaving them to get on with it.

    ** Note that persons selected by non-mandatory sortition (typically around 4% of those who receive the allotment call) would be anything other than ordinary, as they would be primarily activists, busybodies, axe-grinders and other forms of political headbanger.

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  144. I believe that our discussion here could be more productive and pleasant if we all allow for multiple ideas in parallel, discuss them on their merit, logic, and empirical evidence from practical experiments and cases, and focus a bit less on who’s idea it was. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, anyway.

    As people will elect (or not) themselves which flavour of sortition they want, we here have also a common goal: to bring about sortition as a mechanism to advance society.

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  145. Criteria and two proposals for the use of sortition in politics.
    (posted on the blog and received confirmation yesterday but I get ‘the page you requested is unavailable’?) But here it is anyway:

    Criteria:
    1 – Basic Criteria
    2 – Sampling System
    3 – Number of citizens appointed by sortition
    4 – Time the panel of citizens appointed by sortition is active
    5 – Right to Decide
    6 – Manipulation
    7 – Special applications
    8 – cost – used sampling system / type of representation – outcome

    – Proposition I – proportional system:
    As a transition arrangement to a fully valued democracy, the citizens decide on a balance of power between the ‘Legislative Citizens Jury’ selected by sortition and the ‘Elected Representatives’.
    At ‘free’ elections, the citizens can cast a vote for the ‘Legislative Citizen Jury selected by Sortition’ as well as for a ‘candidate’ or a ‘political party’.

    – Proposition II – two Chamber system:
    The possibility to install a ‘Second Chamber’, appointed by sortition, will be submitted for referendum to all the citizens of the European Union, or approval by representative institutions .
    This ‘Second Chamber’, appointed by sortition, is installed at European level next to the elected ‘European Parliament’. This second Chamber is called the ‘European Citizens’ Jury’.

    The ‘European Citizens’ Jury’ has, if summoned, a veto right for all the decisions of the ‘European Parliament’ which has to be motivated.
    http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/152217.pdf German
    http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/152218.pdf Français
    http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/152219.pdf Nederlands
    http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/152220.pdf
    English

    Both propositions are in compliance with our criteria. Of course, the second chamber proposition can be used at every level of government and both systems (proportional and second Chamber) can be mixed.

    And I agree with Keith in this (I think) , sortition is a form of representative representation. Anyway, it is more representative then direct elected representatives who are chosen as ‘the best’ (elected aristocracy) fot the job.

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  146. Hubertus,

    I agree that we should base our arguments on empirical evidence, rather than who came up with the proposal (and certainly not logical deduction).

    >we here have also a common goal: to bring about sortition as a mechanism to advance society.

    I’m not sure that I agree with that, especially as it’s not clear as to how operationalise what constitutes an “advance” (ref Zhou Enlai’s remark that it was too early to judge the significance of the French Revolution). Given that the title of this blog is “Equality by Lot”, I think the relevant topic is sortition as a democratic, rather than epistemic tool. The people’s verdict may be entirely wrong, but the key issue is to be wrong in an even-handed way (although there is some evidence that decision-making by an “attentive” minipublic would be less disastrous than our current arrangements).

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  147. Paul,

    I started editing your post and published it by mistake before finishing. I will publish it soon.

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  148. Hubertus,

    Having a high stakes mass politics event cannot be a valid way to decide upon a detailed government design. Such an event is not suitable for making such decisions. It can be a way to decide upon broad principles (e.g., the introduction of an allotted chamber).

    But in any case, if we accept your premise that you will be able to convince the people at large that your preferred method of decision making is the one that should be used, then an allotted chamber would naturally follow that method, so if you really believe that you would be able to convince people of the efficacy of your proposed system, then you should be happy with having decisions made by an allotted chamber. It seems that you are not really that sure that you can gain that support.

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  149. Yoram, are we talking about the same thing?

    Our approach definitely neither assumes nor demands that “the people at large” should be “convinced” of such a thing, nor do I personally believe that this would be a desirable thing. I already gave the reason above, and remark that such a goal would smell of hubris and tyranny, and not of democracy.

    The plan is to convince whomever we convince and leave it at that. The percentage of those who are convinced will give us weight in the constitutional chambers, and all those, who think that a right. wing or left wing party will do better, are free to believe so. It’s a free world.

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  150. So if a majority of the people do not support the “meritocratic” principle that you are offering, what is the justification for having a constitutional system employing it?

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  151. I also did not say that the majority of the people may not support knowledge weighted sortition. Maybe they will, maybe not. We will learn more about the merits and the acceptability of the proposed system once we start applying it.

    The justification of our current constitutional system is that people can elect which party or philosophy they follow, and that the elected parties can work solutions out in parliament.

    I suspect you are trying to find some absolute truth (there is none, but there certainly is a chance for step by step progress) or may be thinking of implementing something currently unconstitutional, or even of a revolution like Marxists.

    That’s all not necessary, our current constitution already gives sortitionists a reasonable framework for progress, step by step, once we decide to work within it.

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  152. It seems that either a majority supports your system (in which case an allotted chamber would follow it) or a majority does not (in case its use is unjustified).

    As for the way from here to there: The difficult part is gathering popular support for sortition. I don’t much worry about what should be done afterwards. I suppose that once significant popular support is mustered, a way for overcoming the inevitable elite resistance will be found.

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  153. Yoram> … if “a majority does not (in case its use is unjustified)”

    I disagree. Open Democracy seeks to produce the right decisions, there is nothing unjustifiable in that. Consider that there was a time when the majority of the people (educated or not) thought that the earth is disc and the center of the world. Calling the minority opinion of Galileo & Co. “unjustified” is unjustified because they were simply right.

    Yoram> “The difficult part is gathering popular support for sortition.”

    Yes it is. Last time we got 1%. Next time we intend to leverage the learnings from the last practical exercise and at a minimum, pass the hurdle, which is 4% in Austria.

    PS: I still do not know what “allotted chamber” you mean. There is none around, anywhere. And if there were, the proposed ones peddled here would not solve the dramatic situation we are in.

    Just changing to a “Hose of Lots” instead of a “House of Lords” is like putting an oxen in front of a cart instead of an ass: it maybe a slight improvement but there are already Tesla’s driving around. That system design is 200 years old (if not 2000) and completely outdated.

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  154. > right decisions

    This is the old Socratic fallacy: let’s have the expert flute players play the flute.

    The problem is that there is no agreement on who is the expert flute player. Earlier you asserted that you have a method for coming to such an agreement. Now you seem to have retreated from that to a more explicitly elitist position.

    I, of course, completely disagree that the problem with our system is that it is outdated or inefficient. The problem is that it is oligarchical – it serves the few at the expense of the many. It does this quite efficiently.

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  155. Socrates had a valid criticism. And still today after 2000 years there are no systematical experimentation results available about the improvement in decision quality when using higher expert levels in societal decision making. Without falsification it is premature to call it a fallacy.

    To my knowledge we are the first to test the theory that higher expertise will lead to better societal decisions. Our first results indicate that they do.

    Yoram> “you have a method for coming to such an agreement”
    We do and so far we use it with good results, by comparing citizens’ topical predictions with actual outcomes. Currently we experiment with up to 20 extra lots, in addition to the basic lot everybody gets. We will need an experiment series going from 0 extra lots (i.e. traditional sortition) to 0 basic lots, and vary the slope of the expertise influence.

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  156. Yoram:> This is the old Socratic fallacy: let’s have the expert flute players play the flute. The problem is that there is no agreement on who is the expert flute player.

    Aristotle’s take is better — expert playing can be identified objectively, but it’s up to the listeners to decide which tunes they want the flautists to play. Democratic decision-making is an example of the latter.

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  157. > Socrates had a valid criticism

    No, he didn’t, unless one adopts a radically elitist position.

    The fallacy is not that “experts make better decisions” (this may be true or false depending on the situation). The fallacy is the analogy between selecting a political decision maker and selecting a flutist. The analogy fails because the flute concert scenario assumes that the identity of the best flute player is already agreed upon by the audience.

    > Yoram> “you have a method for coming to such an agreement”
    > We do

    Again – if you do, then an allotted chamber (what you call “traditional sortition”) would naturally follow whatever advice your experts would offer it, so no need for your “extra lots”.

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  158. The fallacy is the analogy between selecting a political decision maker and selecting a flutist.

    That’s not what Socrates said (s. Xenophon, Memorabilia). Socrates said that you would not pick a random person out of the crowd to perform tasks which need specialisation. He named a flautist for a party, but we can safely assume he also could have named a plumber for the sewer pipes or a lawyer in a criminal defense case. He did not demand that it be the best flautist, or the best plumber.

    From today’s point of view, since science gave us stratified sampling, we can (and should, and in Austria, we did) devise ways to integrate topical knowledge while ensuring sociodemographic randomness.

    As long as you are aware that the expert weighted allotted citizen parliaments in Open Democracy are also alotted, i.e. the result of an improved form of stratified sampling, a traditional (traditional??) allotted chamber may well decide that they better follow a better allotted chamber.

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  159. > Socrates said that you would not pick a random person out of the crowd to perform tasks which need specialisation

    Again, the fallacy is that there is no agreement on who to pick. The allotted do not (necessarily) do the work themselves. They decide how to do the work. This could very well be by finding an expert who would do it.

    > a traditional (traditional??) allotted chamber may well decide that they better follow a better allotted chamber.

    They could, and indeed they would if you manage to convince them that the “better allotted chamber” is indeed generating good advice. Thus, there is no need to delegate power to that “better” chamber.

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  160. Yoram> “Thus, there is no need to delegate power to that “better” chamber.”

    Ah, now I get your point, thanks.

    A certain extent of rational influence of this kind is in fact our working assumption which we want to verify and measure in practice.

    If fact, this force of reason could not only convince a (somewhat theoretical) future allotted chamber, but also a traditional, very real parliament. Thus there may be no need to wait for an allotted chamber at all. It can all work within the current constitution.

    Even better: we hypothesise that such citizen parliaments could also inform a third institution, direct democracy referenda, such as in Switzerland. These are happening all the time, so to get the ball rolling mostly comes down to find funding for the demarchic exercises.

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  161. > If fact, this force of reason could not only convince a (somewhat theoretical) future allotted chamber, but also a traditional, very real parliament. Thus there may be no need to wait for an allotted chamber at all. It can all work within the current constitution.

    But since the elected chamber is focused on serving the interests of the elite, then they would adopt any proposed policy based on this criterion, rather than on depending on whether the policy serves the public interest.

    Again, this seems to me the real problem with the current system: it is not inefficient, it is simply geared to serve elite interests.

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  162. Yoram> “the elected chamber is focused on serving the interests of the elite”

    This elite serving appears to be the high level outcome of our current system (ignoring country variations). Let’s work with that.

    There are now two possibilities for elite focus:
    Type 1. This is an explicit focus of the single people in the elected chamber.
    Type 2. It is an inherent consequence of how the system is designed, practically independent from the actual representatives elected.

    If type 1 is correct than we will find no positive impact from our citizen parliament intervention.

    If it is type 2 there should be a measurable impact when the elected chamber can see what the public result is. They would know the predictions of the citizen parliament, the pro/con arguments they considered and how they valued all of this in the end when they made their decision.

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out, empirically.

    PS: We also plan on doing this in the context of public referenda (funds permitting). This institution would not suffer from a type 1 focus.

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  163. Yoram:> since the elected chamber is focused on serving the interests of the elite, then they would adopt any proposed policy based on this criterion, rather than on depending on whether the policy serves the public interest.

    It should be pointed out that this purely deductive argument assumes the existence of a single homogeneous “elite” (as distinguished from the equally homogeneous “masses”). The perspective results from the work of the ‘New Machiavellians’ (Burnham, 1943): Robert Michels’ Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (Michels, 1966 [1911]), Gaetano Mosca’s The Ruling Class (Mosca, 1939) and Vilfredo Pareto’s The Rise and Fall of Elites (Pareto, 1979 [1920]). (Note the dates of all these books.) Mosca outlined the ruling class thesis as follows:

    [T]he ruling class or, rather, those who hold and exercise the public power, will always be a minority, and below them we find a numerous class of persons who do never, in any real sense, participate in government but merely submit to it: these may be called the ruled class. (Mosca, 1925, p. 16, cited in Meisel 1962, pp. 32-3)

    These classic texts, which should be read in the context of the early twentieth-century dalliance with fascism and communism, were challenged by a new generation of economists and political scientists during and after the Second World War. According to Karl Mannheim’s Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction, the diffuse and mobile nature of modern society makes the formation of (hegemonic) elites enormously difficult – the elites end up cancelling each other out (Mannheim, 1940). Mannheim’s thesis was broadly confirmed by Robert Dahl’s study of power structures in New Haven, Connecticut, in which he argued that modern ‘democracies’ would be better described as a form of polyarchy rather than oligarchy. (Dahl, 1961)

    The advent of ‘populistic’ political parties supposedly transferred power from elites to voters – Anthony Downs’s (1957) exposition of Harold Hotelling’s ‘median voter theorem’ (demonstrated mathematically by Duncan Black), states that ‘two vote-seeking parties will both take the same position, at the centre of the distribution of voters’ most-preferred positions’ (Gilens & Page, 2014, p. 4 (m/s)).

    I guess if authors on this blog want to revert to an antediluvian form of political sociology that’s up to them, but it doesn’t help the sortition cause to completely ignore the work that has been done since the second world war or dismiss it as “electoralist dogma”, arguing that political scientists are just a bunch of establishment lickspittles in hoc to (or part of) this mythical elite. It would also help if the “elite” and its membership could be operationalised a little more accurately than “the few and the many”, “1%– 99%” and other such trite sloganising.

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  164. Keith> “a little more accurately than “the few and the many”, “1%– 99%” and other such trite sloganising.”

    I also find that the 99% slogan as used by Occupy Wallstreet is rather counterproductive and even inflammatory for society.

    That said, 99% as a number actually has two very interesting other meanings for better democracy design.

    1. For the Open Democracy movement in Austria “99%” signifies a “socio-demographically representative citizen sample ensuring a 99% confidence level” that deliberated decision by the sample will achieve at least a specified majority of the total universe of citizens, if they were to deliberate with the same thoroughness as the sample. (This is why we hold 99pct.org as an alternative URL for a future site.)

    2. Partido X in Spain uses “99%” to express the observation that only 1% of participating citizens will contribute actively to the creative and productive part of designing policies, while the remainder will take a merely passive role as observers. Good democracy design should consider this ratio carefully.

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  165. Hubertus,

    My objection is to the trite sloganising, so it’s good to hear about your Open Democracy usage of the number. It’s interesting to hear that Partido X claim only 1% of citizens will contribute actively (is this 1% of the 4% who take up the allotment invitation?). No doubt that’s the attraction of sortition for activists, as it gives them a (spurious) legitimacy. It’s good to put some flesh on my claim that the participatory minority will be so far removed from an accurate microcosm of the target population. Unfortunately this is the principal justification of sortition, hence my argument that, from the perspective of democratic equality (notwithstanding any possible epistemic benefits), it is only suitable for the selection of large decision-making juries, as in the original Athenian demokratia.

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  166. PS for those mathematically challenged, 1% of 4% would mean that 99.96% of the population would make no contribution whatsoever to policy generation. At least under the hated “electoralism” voters can choose between the various options on offer and political parties compete with each other to come up with proposals that they think will gain most support in the ballot box. It’s not perfect but better than excluding the 99.96% in favour of a tiny cabal of activists. What puzzles me is that anyone can have the effrontery to claim this has anything to do with democracy!

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  167. Nah, you are way to conservative there. Partido X numbers reference the totality of citizens:
    https://partidox.org/how-does-it-work/

    Our results indicate that you get quite similar results (lower replication errors by one dimension) when you work with voluntary committee members using methods or mechanisms which raise collective intelligence (i.e. not one-way surveys). So nothing forces us to use force.

    Also, recent data indicates that “tiny cabal of activists” which we see may be more a result of our frustrating system than an innate feature of the population. http://theconversation.com/the-myth-of-the-echo-chamber-92544

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  168. You quoted the 1% figure (from Partido); the 4% is taken from the BC Constitutional Convention:

    Of the original stratified sample of 23,034 only 1,715 opted to be selected, 964 (4% of the original sample) came to the selection meeting and 158 were randomly selected (Goodin, 2008, p. 14)

    So there is no way to tell the degree to which the final assembly was an accurate microcosm of the whole population (arguably citizens with a proactive interest in political and constitutional issues would be more likely to agree to participate), hence the attraction of non-mandatory sortition to political activists.

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  169. Call iit the House of Commoners.

    Liked by 1 person

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