Fintan O’Toole: If only Brexit had been run like Ireland’s referendum

Fintan O’Toole has a glowing account in the Guardian about Ireland’s constitutional referendum. It advertises the allotted chamber process as the antidote to what troubles the establishment with electoral politics.

As O’Toole’s sees things, the trouble with electoral politics is “tribalism and fake ‘facts’”. With some careful management, the public can come to see sense and vote accordingly.

In all the excitement of what happened in Ireland’s referendum on abortion, we should not lose sight of what did not happen. A vote on an emotive subject was not subverted. The tactics that have been so successful for the right and the far right in the UK, the US, Hungary and elsewhere did not work. A democracy navigated its way through some very rough terrain and came home not just alive but more alive than it was before. In the world we inhabit, these things are worth celebrating but also worth learning from. Political circumstances are never quite the same twice, but some of what happened and did not happen in Ireland surely contains more general lessons.

155 Responses

  1. Great piece – fantastic context to the story of public deliberation.

    It makes me think: Equality by Lot is a great blog – thanks Yoram, in particular, for all the dedication and hard work that you put into this.

    At the same time it is clearly vital to tell ordinary people’s stories – to always remember the human and to go beyond the sortition details that, if I might be so bold, some EBL posters get rather aggressively attached to.

    I fully acknowledge, at the same time, that is equally vital to protect the integrity and value of public deliberation, hence the need for near OCD-levels of attention to getting the real-life execution right and to be brutally honest when things go wrong.

    The two are possible, and in harmony.

    I can’t help but think that things are moving sortition’s way though. My hope is that we can speed the process without losing the vital essence.

    EBL plays an important part in that – I’ve learnt alot here.

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  2. If the Brexit referendum had been preceded by such a respectful, dignified and humble exercise in listening and thinking, it would surely have been a radically different experience.

    I argued the case for this in the Spectator (June 2013) https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/06/letters-285/ and Open Democracy (April 2016) https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/keith-sutherland/brexit-lottery. But nobody took any notice.

    The Irish parliament did listen – an all-party parliamentary committee essentially adopted the proposals of the Citizens’ Assembly. So did the government.

    This should encourage those of us who argue that sortition can become part of the political process (rather than seeking to overthrow “electoralism”). When it comes to controversial issues, we are pushing at an open door.

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  3. Although it is reason to champion the Irish use of sortition in order to spread awareness of the concept, I think the Ireland mixed body combining randomly selected citizens and elected politicians in a mixed body is a bad precedent. A key point is that I believe the Irish issues were unique cases where the potential harm of a mixed body was masked. This is because they were tackling CULTURAL issues, where many politicians did not already have entrenched positions they had promised their constituents to fight for, and the issues cut across class and partisan lines. SUCH issues CAN incorporate politicians with LESS harm, but still harm the advance of MEANINGFUL sortition (as opposed to politician “fig leaf” sortition), more than they help it.

    A mixed body is bad for both epistemic reasons and also for theoretical reasons.

    1. The mixed body will not invoke political equality. As in Animal Farm, some will be “more equal than others.”
    2. There is a danger that many randomly selected citizens will have a psychological tendency to defer to their “betters” who have higher status. Rather than genuinely uncovering the wisdom of crowds, we will get a distorted deliberation. This also engenders an intellectual “free rider” problem.
    3. If the issue has a significant partisan divide, many allotted members will prematurely “take sides” with their favored political party politicians who are participating.
    4. If the issue threatens the privilege or power of elected officials they will conspire to stop it, and they know how to “play that game” in a deliberative body.
    5. Unlike the Irish experience, if the minipublic advances a policy that many politicians in the body vote AGAINST, rather than having the politicians ADD to the credibility of the minipublic (them speaking favorably to the press, etc.), the politicians will use their INSIDE knowledge to belittle the process, question the legitimacy of the minipublic in order to attack the proposal (and there will always be anecdotes that can be found to make the allotted members seem stupid as a whole).
    6. An elected chamber has a (questionable) logic for its legitimacy (the principle of distinction,… voters selected the best agents to work on their behalf), and a randomly selected minipublic that closely matches the demographic mix of the population has a DIFFERENT logic for its legitimacy, which we know well. But a MIXED body has NO logical basis for legitimacy. It will NOT be a microcosm of the population (it will lean male, older and wealthier), nor will it be seen as the “best” agents for the people. By including politicians in the minipublic you destroy the logic for its legitimacy, and strongly suggest that average citizens are simply not up to the task (they lack competence, or something). So although politicians may repeat the process of a mixed body for later issues (either cultural ones, or ones where they want a protective fig leaf), and this gives sortition advocates the feeling or progress for sortition, Mixed bodies will enshrine the idea of never letting the people make any deliberative decisions without the politicians able to put their thumb on the scale. In short, I fear the irish experiment is a pyrrhic victory that APPEARS to advance sortition, but actually endangers it evolving in a powerful way.

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  4. Agree with Terry, and this is all the more reason for those of us with OCD-levels of attention to getting the real-life execution right (as Patrick put it) to point out the entirely different mandates of elected and allotted bodies and the danger of mixing the two. But the Irish experiment should also encourage us to be less hostile to sortition proposals from existing political elites — in the first instance they may well be only cultural issues that politicians view as an electoral liability, but every wedge has a thin end.

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  5. Those are great comments – I really appreciate them all. What I found interesting was the idea that the CA helped politicians move their positions – daring to go outside of the constrained boundaries they imagined they had to operate within.

    According to the exit polls – after people had had to cross their ballots – Irish people were way ahead of their politicians.

    I really value these points though and I hope this will be more than pyrrhic.

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  6. >Irish people were way ahead of their politicians.

    There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader. (Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin)

    Of course what constitutes “ahead” depends on where you stand on the issue in question. There is an assumption that sortition will lead to “progressive” outcomes on issues like abortion, Brexit and anti-Trumpism. In the Irish example this was the case (although we don’t know how the referendum would have panned out in the absence of the citizens’ assembly), but it would be unwise to assume that will generally be the case.

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  7. Terry,
    As you may remember, I personally favour a mixed system like the one proposed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and not even as a transitional step but as an endpoint. I posit that every citizen has an individual right to decide how she wants to be represented. She can either delegate and vote for a candidate, which -she thinks- represents her own views and interests as accurately as she herself would, or not delegate and try her chances at the lottery.
    Incidentally, I favour this not for ideological reasons but for purely practical ones. The threshold for implementation is much lower than convincing half or more of the citizens to relinquish all or part of their proportional share of sovereignty (Rousseau) to an allotted body. Instead, I am only asking that you do as you fancy with your own share and do not tell me what I must do with mine – a straightforward matter of individual freedom.
    Implicit in all this is the idea that both sources of legitimacy are perfectly equivalent: elected members will be representative as agents of those who preferred to vote and allotted members will be representative as a random sample of those who opted for the lottery. Each citizen will be represented with the same weight.
    With regard to the operational concerns that you raise, the arrangement I’ve suggested for the Congreso (in Spanish) acknowledges the fact that there will be two different kinds of members. There will be a separate political group, or caucus, called the Citizens’ Group, whose votes will always be secret.
    Now, being different is one thing and being subordinate, as you seem to imply, is a very different one. Learning and thinking about sortition has helped me in having a higher concept of any person I randomly meet. I’m convinced that if we fall again and again in the same tricks by the same politicians is simply because we are not paying enough attention, busy as we are living our lives. Give anyone an incentive to pay attention (in other words, overcome rational ignorance) and all the artful trickery of our callous-unemotional politicians gradually becomes more and more transparent.

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  8. Arturo:> I’m convinced that if we fall again and again in the same tricks by the same politicians is simply because we are not paying enough attention, busy as we are living our lives.

    One of the distinctive characteristics that leads to electoral success is having much better rhetorical skills than average citizens — many (most?) of who would be to shy to speak in an assembly of several hundred persons on a subject that they are not familiar with. This alone will provide elected members with a huge advantage, and is the principal reason for Terry’s argument against assemblies with a mixed mandate.

    >Each citizen will be represented with the same weight.

    That’s clearly not the case, for the above reason. And it also applies to listeners, who are likely to be persuaded by a good speaker with a claim to a mandate.

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  9. Keith,
    Oratorical art can hide the truth – to a point. Dig a little more, and truth emerges unscathed.
    Have you ever thought about how rational ignorance works all the time in real life? Soundbites and slogans are so powerful because people tend to hesitate (and I don’t blame them) before putting an effort and thinking for themselves unless what is at stake means a lot to them personally. And this is the main source of autoritas for most politicians: that we are simply too lazy or too distracted to stop for a second and question if what they are saying is true.
    If I hear in passing that a bank rescue is unavoidable because, if we don’t do it, the sky will fall on our heads, I may be tempted to believe it and pass to the next thing. But if I have the time and leisure to look at all arguments for and against, I will rapidly go beyond any simplistic explanation and start asking questions about economic causality or relevant historical precedents. I may very well end up not paying attention anymore to what politicians have to say on that or any other matter.
    An allotted member of the parliament will have only one job: not to take at face value what the politicians are saying.

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  10. Arturo,

    While I admire the internal logic, even elegance, of your transition plan, I am afraid the resulting body will not be a good one from a democracy perspective for very fundamental psychological reasons (those Keith noted, and many others). If you persist in promoting this approach, at the very least include these two features… 1. assign random representation also for all those citizens who do not cast a ballot at all (as they have not endorsed any of the elected candidates), and 2. make separate bodies for the elected representatives and the randomly allotted ones… don’t mix them in the same body.

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  11. Arturo:> But if I have the time and leisure to look at all arguments for and against, I will rapidly go beyond any simplistic explanation and start asking questions about economic causality or relevant historical precedents.

    That may be true for you (and other highly-educated politically-engaged people) I would be cautious about attributing this to a bunch of randomly-selected conscripts (remember that a voluntary sortition will not be representative). I think you also underestimate the tendency to deference amongst people who generally have no interest in politics.

    >unless what is at stake means a lot to them personally

    Many of the topics that will be considered by a legislative assembly will not affect the participants personally.

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  12. Arturo,

    Sutherland’s basic position is that most people are too stupid, easily-manipulated, selfish, and/or lazy to know what is good for themselves and therefore are better off managed by their betters. (By pure coincidence, Sutherland gets to decide who are to be those managers.)

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  13. Yoram,

    Just as you correctly object when Keith Sutherland (by creative interpolation) attributes opinions to you that you do not hold, and have not stated, I would also urge you not to do the same thing to him. While I share many of your criticisms of Keith’s sortition design preferences (such as allowing elected officials to have overwhelming influence over the agenda and form of proposals). However, putting words in his mouth (like “their betters”) isn’t fair.

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  14. Terry,

    The analogy you are drawing is false. Sutherland is simply a liar. Among his other lies, he regularly attributes to others ideas they never expressed (and sometimes ideas they explicitly rejected). If you ask him for evidence that the ideas he attributed to others were actually expressed by them he is unable to provide any such evidence (and feels himself under no obligation to do so).

    On the other hand, the ideas I attributed above to Sutherland are certainly his. My phrasing is, perhaps, a bit more explicit than Sutherland would use, for when phrased this way it is quite clear that those ideas are odious and they garner no support. However, even if instead of saying “their betters” Sutherland uses a more polite term such as “highly-educated” the essence of the ideas is the same. There is nothing unfair in stripping the essence of ideas from the rhetoric that clothes them and presenting it clearly for examination.

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  15. Keith,
    The main difference between your approach and mine is the importance each gives to the effect of rational ignorance. While you think that “people who generally have no interest in politics” (and rightly so, given the tiny influence they wield over the final outcome) broadly remain the same after being drawn at the lottery, I am convinced that they will be thoroughly transformed.
    The main lever of rational ignorance is lack of time: in the first place, time to gather, check and double-check information; then, and even more crucially, time to lay down for a while and just think hard, in the intimacy of our souls, about the pros and cons of any given proposal. Most people’s lives are just too busy to stop for a second and think about anything, especially if we are presented instead with an easy, ready-made answer.
    But let’s take one of these people and let’s tell her that her life is about to change. She will get a hefty salary for four years and a lifelong pension after that (hey, she just won the lottery!). More relevant to our analysis, she will now have both the opportunity (she will have only one daily job: not satisfy herself with ready-made answers and think hard instead) and the motive (the influence of her vote is now five orders of magnitude higher) to become, as you would put it, “interested in politics”.

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  16. Yoram,

    Given your general worldview that people always act in their own interest, then what would be my motive for lying? I have never been a member of a political party, or offered myself as an electoral candidate and have no intention of doing so at any time in the future. When it comes to making political choices I often act against my interests — for example I voted for Brexit, whereas most people of my background (highly educated) and income (business owner) voted Remain. I earn my living as a commercial printer and have no wish to pursue an academic career, so have no intellectual investment to protect. Do you think I’m in the pay of some sinister interest — in which case who might that be?

    In defence of my position I have been a passionate advocate of sortition for over 10 years and decided 7 years ago (at great expense and inconvenience) to do a PhD on the subject as I wanted my own prejudices on the topic to be challenged by my intellectual peers (and betters). I have refined and enlarged my position on sortition as a consequence, to the extent of viewing my first book on the subject (The Party’s Over) as a good candidate for burning. I hugely enjoy debating on this forum and have benefited enormously from the exchanges — especially with Andre and Terry. I do, however, get irritated when a prominent poster refuses to alter his basic position on the topic, and claims that it can be validated by logical syllogism. Most of us believe that the topic requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including history, social psychology and social-science experimentation — all grounded in careful philosophical analysis of what the word “democracy” means and what sorition can and cannot do to realise it in practice. But most importantly it involves listening to others in an open-minded and charitable manner — a key desideratum within the deliberative democracy movement.

    >instead of saying “their betters” Sutherland uses a more polite term such as “highly-educated”

    What I actually claimed was just a tautology — that highly-educated politically-engaged people are more likely to engage with political decision making than those less so. I don’t generally believe that high levels of education indicate merit (and have been persuaded to drop the minimal threshold of political competence testing that I suggested for the allotted assembly in my first book).

    Arturo,

    I agree with you regarding the necessity to overcome rational ignorance — that’s why my proposal is based around final legislative decisions being arrogated to a large randomly-selected jury (a position that I share with Andre and Terry). But I’m very doubtful that sortition will be able to fulfil the policy generation and advocacy role in a democratically acceptable manner, especially if this would require a 4-year term of service (during which time the allotted sample would cease to properly “describe” the target population). I guess this is largely an empirical matter as your claims could be tested in practice, but I think most social psychologists would dismiss them a priori as wishful thinking.

    PS If you want some evidence in support of this view, I recommend

    Pousadela, I. M. (2008). Participation vs. Representation? The Experience of the Neighborhood Assemblies of Buenos Aires, 2001-2003. In C. Raventós (Ed.), Democratic Innovation in the South: Participation and Representation in Asia, Africa and Latin America (pp. 71-122). Buenos Aires: Clacso.

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  17. *** Patrick Chalmers found interesting (May 31, 2 :59 pm) « the idea that the CA helped politicians move their positions – daring to go outside of the constrained boundaries they imagined they had to operate within ». The idea of allotted citizens used in an « exploratory » way is indeed interesting. The political elite of the Republic of Ireland may have thought that the decreasing influence of the traditional Christian Faith allowed for the legalization of abortion, but they might have been afraid of the electorate reaction after a deep debate. Several referenda have shown that ordinary opinion polls indicate the immediate reaction of the polled people, but not how these reactions might evolve when the debate is developed. If they did not want to take political risks with the referendum, it was a good idea to elaborate a mixed body with politicians and ordinary citizens, to see the virtual evolution of ordinary citizens (in an environment not equalitarian, but such are polyarchic debates).
    *** Such a body lacks deep legitimacy, says Bouricius (among other comments I agree wholeheartedly with). But its lack of legitimacy is an asset for its polyarchic organizers. Such a mixed body is useful as a social voice in Rosanvallon’s model, and likewise here as a tool for exploring the public opinion potential moves, but it is not a minipublic. A true minipublic, even auxiliary, consultative or whatever, is virtually a piece of (ortho-) democratic power, is virtually subversive. Establishing a minipublic is a step towards democracy-through-minipublics, or at least towards an hybrid model. It will be not easily accepted by parts of the political elite – except in the kind of dramatic circumstances where parts of the established elites are ready to consider a political mutation. I doubt it was the case in the Republic of Ireland.

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  18. Andre,

    What do you mean when you write “virtually”? Did you mean to write “essentially” or “inherently”?

    Also, when you refer to “a true minipublic”, what makes a body “a true minipublic”?

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  19. *** A true minipublic is an exact mirror of the public. A minipopulus in an exact mirror of the populus – with the same percent of women, of morons and of bald persons (to quote a sentence by an enemy of minipublics). A body made from a mix of allotted citizens and of selected ones cannot be a minipublic.
    *** Sorry, as you must have guessed, I am not good in English. I wrote « virtually », as French « virtuellement », which translates in English as « potentially ». The minipopulus of Dahl, although supposed to be only a « complement » to the established legislative bodies, was potentially subversive, which explains the harsh reaction of Habermas ; we can note likewise a tendency towards eliminating this « utopian element » from the comments about Dahl’s work, including in wikipedia. Dahl wrote (Democracy and its critics, 1989, p 340). : « The judgment of a minipopulus wouId “represent” the judgment of the demos. Its verdict would be the verdict of the demos itself, if the demos were able to advantage of the best available knowledge to decide what policies were most likely to achieve the ends it sought. The judgments of the minipopulus wouId thus derive their authority from the legitimacy of democracy. » Such a sentence is potentially subversive of polyarchy.

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  20. I see.

    But then the ability of an allotted body to represent the people depends many parameters. If, for example, its term of service is short, or if its agenda is restricted, or if its sources of information are controlled by outside forces, then it can be controlled and its subversive potential is eliminated.

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  21. Yoram,
    But there is the dilemma… if their term is short, you fear they will not master their craft (perhaps), and fail to live up to their potential… but if their terms are long, they will cease to be a mirror of the population, as they will undergo psychological changes through the extended exercise of power (not to mention other risks of corruption). This is why I advocate separate minipublic bodies… those serving longer terms craft final proposals from the input from anywhere in society, but without ultimate power, and short duration minipublics that have final say about adoption.

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  22. Terry,

    Naturally, there is a trade-off representativity and competence. As we have discussed before, distributing power between multiple bodies has both advantages and disadvantages. It is by no means a magic bullet and, depending on the particulars of the arrangement, may cause more harm than good.

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  23. Yoram:> distributing power between multiple [allotted] bodies . . . may cause more harm than good.

    Agreed. But then the trade-off needs to be between elected and short-term allotted bodies, corresponding to the two principal forms of political representation: active and descriptive. As Pitkin put it, it’s not at all clear what a descriptively-representative body can do other than vote (as a proxy for what everybody would do under similar conditions).

    >It is by no means a magic bullet

    Correct.

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  24. Of course the devil is in the details, and a sortition system can be designed badly such that it is a miserable failure. But here are the considerations that convince me a multi-minipublic design is optimal.
    1. It is undesirable and undemocratic to leave the active deliberation and crafting of a final proposal to an elite group (especially not to elected partisans). elected partisans have no interest and are largely incapable of genuine deliberation in search of common ground. They are motivated to maximize power and defeat the others.
    2. Active deliberation and crafting of final proposals is best done by a highly diverse group with no overriding sets of hidden agendas (as politicians have). A minipublic is ideal for this task. To gain adequate knowledge and understanding they will have to serve for a “long” term (probably more than a year, or several years). However this process will make then unrepresentative of the general population… both because too many ordinary citizens will be likely to decline to serve (making the random sample less random due to self-selection bias), and creeping feelings of power will tend to corrupt or alter them psychologically.
    3. In addition, a long-serving body capable of crafting legislation (whether elected or a minipublic) becomes ill-suited for judging their own handiwork… the author is not a good judge of what they have produced.
    4. A short duration minipublic that makes the final yes/no decision on a bill after pro and con presentations, will be a more accurate reflection of the population, both because it is feasible to quasi-mandate service with fewer decliners, and they will be less prone to psychological deviation from the general public. It is also easier to shield them from bribery or corruption, as with laws against jury tampering.

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  25. Terry,

    Of course, I completely agree on the matter of elected politicians. Elected politicians an anti-democratic force, no matter what their powers are. We are dealing with the question of to what extent division of power between multiple allotted bodies is a good idea.

    Regarding the representativity of a long serving body: if this body is non-representative then it is not democratic, it should not be given any powers. Instead of granting power to a non-democratic body, the long-serving body should be designed so that it is representative, by (1) making sure that incentives are accommodations are given to motivate and allow all the allotted to participate, (2) having society and the political system set up to insure that the allotted body is not prone to aggrandization.

    Regarding being unable to judge one’s handiwork: I tend to disagree. In general terms, it takes an expert to evaluate an expert’s work. In the absence of a personal profit motive, a long serving body would be much better able to judge their own work than any short term body would be able to.

    Finally, knowing that one’s long hard work could be thrown down the drain at the whim of a poorly informed body is a sure way to demotivate the members of the long-term body and thus reduce the commitment of the members and the quality of their work and in this way delegitimate the system.

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  26. Yoram:> having society and the political system set up to insure that the allotted body is not prone to aggrandization.

    Well that sounds like a walk in the park! Note the assumption that only social and political factors have to be “set up” appropriately, psychology (let alone human nature) clearly having no role to play in the Gat worldview. This shouldn’t surprise us as Marx rejected the notion of human nature in favour of species being — formed by the totality of social relations. So if the latter are set up in the correct way then the persons selected by lot will naturally attune their individual nature to the general good and the issue of who and how many are selected, along with the length of service is irrelevant.

    Of course from the perspective of individual and group psychology this is just bonkers.

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  27. Terry:> elected partisans . . . are motivated to maximize power and defeat the others

    A more charitable interpretation would be that politicians are motivated to seek re-election and this requires (inter alia) keeping their constituents happy. We all agree on the principle of ho boulomenos (except Yoram, who wants to restrict policy initiative rights to persons selected at random), the question is how this might be possible in large states. My hunch is that most citizens would prefer to choose for themselves what proposals should be the subject of deliberation and this presupposes election and/or votation. I don’t think there’s any chance that citizens in a democratic era would opt to completely disenfranchise themselves (as required by your multi-body sortition model).

    >genuine deliberation in search of common ground

    Where is the evidence that a voluntary sortition body would exhibit these characteristics? It’s just as likely to be dominated by those with a strong interest in political life, including activists and partisans. And such small long-serving bodies would be wide open to pressure from lobby groups and others seeking to dominate the political process (bear in mind Andre’s earlier comments regarding corruption in the Athenian council).

    PS It’s worth noting that your bicameral proposal (for proposers and disposers) closely matches Harrington’s Senate and Prerogative Tribe, the only difference being that the former was elected by universal suffrage. This is ironic, given that Harrington (a former courtier to Charles I) published his proposal in 1656.

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  28. *** Yoram Gat said (June 8): « the ability of an allotted body to represent the people depends many parameters. If, for example, its term of service is short, or if its agenda is restricted, or if its sources of information are controlled by outside forces, then it can be controlled and its subversive potential is eliminated. »
    *** A body is a minipopulus if through allotment it is the exact mirror of the populus.
    *** The dêmokratia implies that any organization of the minipopulus system (including time of service, agenda, information etc.) is decided by a minipopulus, the concerned one or another one.
    *** Thus a minipopulus may exist, without democratic sovereignty, if its agenda, information etc. are decided outside of the minipopulus system.
    *** That said, the idea of minipopulus is inherently subversive. The 1789 French deputies, using the representative-electoral idea, said « we are the French People », and the King’s legitimacy – the king mystically embodying the People of the kingdom– was subverted. A minipopulus could always say « We are the People », or be seen as able to say it. It would be dangerous for a polyarchic establishment to set a true minipopulus, even controlling it , and therefore, outside exceptional circumstances the established polyarchic elites will be reluctant to establish a minipopulus, even controlling it. If they want to use allotment, along the « polyphonic » idea or as an opinion exploratory device, they will build bodies, for instance mixed ones, or with a volunteer recruitment with low representativity, or both.
    *** Maybe the device “true minipopulus but under control” will be more easily used in an autocratic regime, as Continental China, which has a pragmatic legitimacy – a legitimacy of another kind, without direct competition.

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  29. Andre> [1] A body is a minipopulus if through allotment it is the exact mirror of the populus.

    [2] The dêmokratia implies that any organization of the minipopulus system (including time of service, agenda, information etc.) is decided by a minipopulus

    What if the decisions result in a minipopulus that is no longer the exact mirror of the populus, an obvious example being length of service (for the reasons that Terry has provided)? Allotment is a necessary but not sufficient condition for ongoing representativity.

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  30. Andre,

    To put my point more clearly, political decisions (war and peace, tax on bread, women’s reproductive rights) are a matter of judgment, beliefs, preferences and interests. However ensuring that a minipopulus is (and more importantly, remains) an exact mirror of the populus is a matter of fact, that can be demonstrated by social science experiment. As such the people to make such decisions would be statisticians, psychologists, political scientists, political theorists and those with hands-on experience of group behaviour, especially that of legislatures. The views of a randomly-selected group of citizens are of no relevance.

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  31. Andre,

    > A minipopulus could always say « We are the People »

    I think this is unrealistically optimistic. An allotted body that is heavily controlled by the establishment would be no more able to find the voice to say “we are the people” than the population at large can.

    This, for example, is the case with juries. Of course in the first place their decisions are highly manipulated by the professional elites that control the courthouse – the prosecution, the lawyers, the judges. But even after they reach their decision, it can be over-ridden in various routine ways – the most frequent one, I believe, being an appeal to higher courts where there are no juries. Yet, I have never seen a credible challenge (either by the jury itself or by any other force) to this elitist system that uses juries to legitimate its actions but which is able to ignore them at will.

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  32. ➢ Yoram
    *** It is difficult to consider a Western contemporary judicial jury as a good example of minipopulus given its small size, which creates a high degree of randomness, and the availability of rejection and its extended use by prosecution and defense, which amount to selection.
    *** Conflicts between judicial juries and the global polyarchic system will be rare given the control of the system upon the juries ; but if they occur, they will not be usually conspicuous, because they can be explained away by reference to the specific case. A conflict of legitimacies would be more easily conspicuous if high political crimes (treason, corruption ..) would be judged by a national allotted jury. That was proposed by Pierre Leroux during the 1848 revolution (in Projet de constitution démocratique et sociale, Paris, 1848) but I don’t know polyarchies where it is established – clearly the Establishment generally does not trust its control on the juries.
    *** The Western contemporary judicial jury is not a true minipopulus, but it is somewhat akin to a minipopulus, and I think it may explain that the Western jury is in 21st century an endangered species. In the USA a very small percent of crimes are heard by juries – see « Twelve absent men » by Albert W. Dzur (Boston Review, July 22, 2013). For instance « In 2005 the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that juries heard 4 percent of all alleged criminal offenses brought before federal courts ». In France many crimes which should legally be heard by a “Cour d’Assises”, with jurors, are practically given to professional magistrates (« correctionnalisation »), and it will be legalized through a bill prepared by the new President.
    *** The reasons given are pragmatic ones : less costly, more efficient. But I suspect that the ghost of dêmokratia is at least partly behind this drift. Any institution which looks too much like a minipopulus is not likeable.

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  33. Andre,

    > A conflict of legitimacies would be more easily conspicuous if high political crimes (treason, corruption ..) would be judged by a national allotted jury. That was proposed by Pierre Leroux during the 1848 revolution

    Monitoring elected politicians for corruption is an excellent first objective for sorititionism, in my opinion. Do you have a specific source for the proposal in Leroux’s writings?

    > less costly, more efficient

    Yes – getting the “correct” result in the first place is less costly and more efficient than having to resort to appeals in order to reverse “wrong” decisions.

    But, again, I think that short term allotted bodies (which necessarily implies an externally determined agenda) have very limited potential subversive potential even if they are fully and fairly allotted with high levels of participation.

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  34. Toram wrote
    >”Yet, I have never seen a credible challenge (either by the jury itself or by any other force) to this elitist system that uses juries to legitimate its actions but which is able to ignore them at will.”

    Jury nullification does happen in the U.S occasionally. This is when a jury rejects the directions of the judge and either decides a law is unjust, or there are countervailing considerations and declares a defendant who is unquestionably LEGALLY guilty, to be “not guilty.” In those cases the defendant is freed and there is no option for appeal by the prosecution. Jury nullification is highly controversial, but does persist.

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  35. Terry,

    Even in the rare cases when it does happen, jury nullification remains a localized decision without a subversive impact on society. I believe that it is this wider subversive impact – challenging the system rather than challenging one specific decision – that Andre attributes to allotted bodies.

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  36. Yoram:> Monitoring elected politicians for corruption is an excellent first objective for sorititionism

    Such a body would need to be a) long-serving and b) embedded — in the sense of having knowledge of the offices and familiarity with their occupants (that’s why parliamentary select committees are reasonably effective in holding the executive to account). As such your proposed allotted body would be an immediate target for lobbying and corruption. So who would guard the guardians? Bear in mind also that in antiquity accusations of corruption mostly originated with ambitious elite members who were in competition with those they were accusing; the modern (representative) equivalent would be political parties and the mass media, institutions that you dismiss as oligarchic.

    Needless to say I have no problem at all with the trial of a politician for corruption being judged by a large jury, selected at random. But that is not what you are proposing as it would have no “subversive impact on society” (an eccentric role for a trial jury).

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  37. *** Keith Sutherland thinks strange that a trial jury could be subversive. I don’t know well British and US history, but I believed that some cases could be seen like that. Anyway let’s imagine a US-like constitution where the president could be indicted by a House elected proportionally (the more democratic method, some say) and judged by an allotted National Jury. If the President is indicted by 70 % of the elected representatives and acquitted by 70 % of the allotted jurors, everybody will think : which body is representative ?
    *** Therefore I think usually polyarchies will avoid such a situation of « clash of legitimacies ».
    *** But even the mere idea of an allotted jury is becoming dangerous, now that « political sortition » came out of the Limbo.

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  38. About the Projet de constitution démocratique et sociale, Paris, 1848, by Pierre Leroux, wich included (pp 57-58) an allotted Jury National.
    *** The text can be found in Internet (gallica.bnf.fr)
    *** Leroux did not propose use of sortition for legislative power, but only for high criminal judicial power. His draft of constitution would have established an allotted court to judge the representatives accused for their political functions (corruption, treason, …). This “jury national” was to be formed by 3 allotted citizens by department, therefore 258 jurors; and 42 jurors from the colonies (the “old” colonies which are now French “overseas departments” and where the 1848 revolution converted slaves into citizens); thus 300 jurors.
    *** Leroux was one of the “romantic socialists”, blending social philosophy, humanitarian feelings, religious ideas (and sometimes some ambiguous judeophobia). After 1848 their ideas went out of the intellectual landscape. And Leroux, who maybe was eccentric among them, was forgotten, except as the supposed creator of the word “socialism”.

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  39. *** Keith Sutherland wrote (July 11, 2/22 pm) :« ensuring that a minipopulus is (and more importantly, remains) an exact mirror of the populus is a matter of fact, that can be demonstrated by social science experiment. As such the people to make such decisions would be statisticians, psychologists, political scientists, political theorists and those with hands-on experience of group behaviour, especially that of legislatures. The views of a randomly-selected group of citizens are of no relevance ».
    *** Here Keith is confusing decision and expertise. Let’s consider a simple case. Minipopulus A , in charge of institutional organization, drafts a minipopulus B, which will be in charge of fire arms control, or food safety, or .. The size of minipopulus B is to be decided. Before deciding, the minipopulus A will have to know the risks of deviation from perfect mirror linked to the various sizes, and he will ask statisticians for that. But minipopulus A will decide the size , knowing the associated risk. Likewise if I have to decide whether I undergo surgery, I will ask medical experts to know the associated risk, but I will decide.

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  40. Andre,

    In your example, the indictment (prosecution) was by an elected body and the verdict by an allotted jury, so the latter rules. This is standard juridical practice, rather than subversion. Polyarchies are likely to promote such a procedure only for controversial topics with no clear electoral benefit (abortion, Brexit, voluntary euthanasia, legalisation of drugs), and I agree that once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be shut back in. But the (belated) calls from academic and journalistic elites for an allotted solution to Brexit show that this would be preferred to referenda, so don’t rule out the potential attraction of sortition to polyarchies.

    >Keith is confusing decision and expertise

    Fire arms control and food safety are domains of belief and preference and involve trade-offs between competing values; this is not the case with assembly size and terms of service,* where allotted members won’t even know which experts to ask. If it is to be decided by committee, then the members should be appointed by the relevant professional bodies. Given the clear brief — to design an allotment system that is, and remains for its duration, an “exact mirror of the populus” (your phrase), and is immune to corrupting influence, there is no reason for such a committee not to return an informed design consensus. Constitutions evolve over time, so if the design is flawed — with different allotted bodies returning different judgments — then the design will have to be tweaked. There is nothing political about such design decisions, so there is no need to arrogate them to allotted committees.

    * the only trade-offs are between representative fidelity and rational ignorance and even that can be accommodated technically (by decision threshold).

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  41. *** When I say that a true minipopulus is an exact mirror of the civic body, I mean that it is a sample extracted without any bias. Clearly, it will never be a « perfect » mirror. First, it should be as big as the populus itself – I remember the story, by Borges I think, of the Emperor who asked for a perfect map of the Empire, at the end the map was as large as the Empire, which was covered with it. Second, as the moment a citizen is allotted for a power position, he is mentally changed, even without oath.
    *** When we lessen the size and extend the time, the minipopulus will be less perfect. But a big size will be expensive and prone to rational ignorance; and in a complex and dynamic society one-day deliberations would be often prone to irrational ignorance, by lack of time for information and deliberation. We cannot avoid trade-offs; we cannot avoid political decisions.
    *** Thus a minipopulus A, in charge of organization, must decide; the decisions may be different for size and time assigned to minipopulus B and minipopulus C, in charge of different issues. These decisions may be enlightened by scientific consensus (maybe got more easily from statistics than from social psychology) but in the end it will be a decision involving a trade off.
    *** Keith says that the trade off about size can be accommodated technically by decision threshold. Nothing purely technical here ! Personally I would maybe accept a « final » threshold in some cases, as for a minipopulus acting as criminal court ; but not in most cases, as it would establish a supermajority rule I am against for reasons I have explained – and others kleroterians too. When the vote is under the threshold, I would favor more deliberation, or convening a bigger minipopulus. Minipopulus A would have to decide the rules. The choice of the threshold and the associated risk is anyway a political decision. We cannot avoid political decisions in the organization of the minipopulus system.

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  42. Andre:> We cannot avoid trade-offs; we cannot avoid political decisions.

    The former does not imply the latter, as the requirement for supermajorities is on account of statistical confidence in the representativity of the sample, not the wish to privilege the status quo on constitutional and other matters. Bearing in mind the overriding consideration, from a democratic perspective, is the ongoing representativity of the sample, the size and terms of service of a minipublic can be deduced from purely statistical factors (leavened by robust experimental findings in social psychology).

    Two factors need to be considered when it comes to calculating the necessary sample size and decision threshold for a proportionately representative body. A ‘confidence interval’ (margin of error) is a range of values that is likely to contain an unknown population parameter. If you draw a random sample many times, a certain percentage of the confidence intervals will contain the population mean. This percentage is the confidence level. For example, suppose all possible samples were selected from the same population, and a confidence interval were computed for each sample, a 95% confidence level implies that 95% of the confidence intervals would include the population parameter.

    Given that it would be essential for a legislative minidemos to be an accurate portrait-in-miniature of the target population, the most demanding confidence level of 99.9% is assumed in the following calculations of sample size and decision threshold for a target population the size of the UK electorate (37,831,600) or US electorate (235,248,000):

    Margin of error Decision threshold Sample size
    2% 52/48 6,766
    5% 55/45 1,083
    10% 60/40 271

    A minor bill would only require a sample of several hundred, but if the resultant vote fell outside the margin of error for that jury size (10%), a ‘retrial’ would be necessary in front of a larger jury. The Brexit result (52/48) would suggest that a jury of well over 6,000 would have been necessary for accurate representation, possibly divided between a number of parallel sittings. If (say) eight or ten juries of 1,000 had listened to identical balanced briefings from the advocates of the Remain and Leave campaigns and then voted, the aggregate vote could well be taken to indicate the considered will of the whole electorate. If the outcome were closer than 52/48 this would trigger a full public referendum.

    Regarding your preference for “more deliberation” to resolve a decision that fell outside the requisite decision threshold, my hunch is that any “Habermasian” (person-to-person) deliberation will introduced variance in the decision output of the sample and will be democratically illegitimate. But this hypothesis can easily be put to the test.

    In sum, all of the factors determining the design of a representative minipublic can be resolved by the relevant experts — such a matter is simply not suitable for decision by randomly-selected persons, however distasteful that may be to deliberative democrats, critical theorists and others seeking to overturn polyarchy/liberal democracy (choose your own pejorative). Like Dahl, I’m in favour of reforming, rather than abolishing polyarchy.

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  43. For convenience, Leroux’s proposal, “Du Jury National”, is available here.

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  44. >Keith
    *** I agree with your numbers, at least approximately (maybe I use a different approximation).
    *** You write « for a target population the size of the UK electorate (37,831,600) or US electorate (235,248,000) ». Actually the numbers are practically the same for Slovenia or China.
    *** You choose a confidence level of 99,9 %. It is a reasonable choice for « basic » decisions, but it is a choice – others may prefer 99% or 99.99%. You cannot avoid such choices, statistics are a science, not a political philosophy.
    *** A basic disagreement between you and me seems the following : you think that the confidence level must be always 99% ; I think that the organizing minipopulus may allow a lower confidence level for specific minipopuli (or sometimes a dissymmetric rule, for instance favoring innocence for the accused). More generally, I think the organizing minipopulus must be entitled to allow a higher level of randomness (without bias).

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  45. Andre:> A basic disagreement between you and me seems the following : you think that the confidence level must be always 99%.

    My overriding concern is that different samples of the same population should return the same “verdict”. Without this (and it is eminently testable), the principal justification for sortition (statistical sampling) is null and void. If two different samples come to different “verdicts” then there is no way of knowing which one is the representative one. The decision as to the size of the jury and decision threshold is determined by statistical theory, there is no need for a sovereign minidemos to rule on purely technical matters.

    The reason I use scare quotes for “verdict” is the difference between trial and legislative juries — the first are charged with uncovering the facts of the matter, whereas the latter are charged with representing what the majority of the target population would think under well-informed conditions.

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  46. Andre,

    The considerations regarding the size an allotted decision making body are so much more complex than the matter of the random variation in sampling.

    And moreover, the parameters that need to be set when constituting a decision making body are so much more complex than just determining its size.

    Whoever sets those parameters has a huge impact over the way the body functions and thus over its decisions. Therefore, any body setting those parameters has significant political power, and thus must be democratic – and thus in particular must be allotted.

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  47. Yoram:> Therefore, any body setting those parameters has significant political power, and thus must be democratic – and thus in particular must be allotted.

    And what if the design decisions of the parameter-setting assembly resulted in a decision-making body that was not democratic (as it failed to retain its statistical representativity over the course of its term of office)? This is highly likely if the parameter-setting body is composed of persons with no expertise in statistics or social psychology. There is a fundamental difference between a legislative assembly and a body with a purely technical remit.

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  48. > parameter-setting assembly

    This should not be a one time assembly, it should be an ongoing process undertaken by a permanent body.

    > not democratic

    Not democratic according to whom? Only an allotted body could have the legitimacy to have make such a determination.

    Yes, an allotted body could be non-democratic, but a non-allotted body cannot be democratic and so it cannot be entrusted with any political power in a democratic system.

    > technical remit

    Again, whoever sets the parameters has a lot of power and can use that power to influence decisions. Therefore only a democratic body can have the legitimacy to carry out this function.

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  49. Yoram:> Only an allotted body could have the legitimacy to [determine what is democratic] . . . a non-allotted body cannot be democratic.

    The reason we constantly talk past each other is on account of radically different methodologies. You define democracy as the decision output of a deliberative minipublic (a definition that you have arrived at via a 3-stage logical syllogism). As a consequence anything else is non-democratic (by definition). My approach is to start with a careful analysis of the concept of democracy — the considered will of the demos — but then to take an open-minded and multi-disciplinary approach as to how the concept can be realised in practice. Large modern states mean that representation is inevitable but what form that should take can only be arrived at by experiment. My hunch is that democracy (or Polyarchy III) will involve a deliberative exchange between competing elites, with the outcome determined by a large randomly-selected minidemos. The hypothesis can be tested by carefully designed social science experiments — Fishkin has been doing this for two decades but has yet to focus on obtaining a consistent decision outcome between different samples, a vital requirement for any system that seeks to represent the considered will of the population that is being sampled. Of course this doesn’t matter to you, as you have defined democracy as whatever a deliberative minipublic chooses to do. My reductio of your argument is to point out that an allotted parameter-setting assembly could very well come up with a design for a deliberative minipublic that was radically undemocratic.

    I guess I’m taking a rather old-fashioned and quasi-Platonic approach to a concept like democracy, as I do believe that there is an ideal type that we are seeking to approximate, rather than just claiming that democracy is whatever a tiny group of randomly-selected persons decide it to be. If I’m right, then the adherence to the ideal form can be measured by objective standards, rather than resorting to the radical nominalism and subjectivism that you appear to champion.

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  50. > The reason we constantly talk past each other is on account of radically different methodologies

    Right – your “methodology” of discourse is built entirely around complete carelessness about the truth. You latest comment is no exception. If you are able to provide evidence for your claim about my “definition of democracy”, we can go ahead. Otherwise, there is really no point to continue. There is no point in trying to have a discussion with an unrepentant liar.

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  51. Yoram, I’m really trying to engage with you in a constructive way and I’m disappointed that you feel unable to reciprocate. Your consistent position on this forum has been the operational definition of democracy in terms of the decision output of randomly-selected deliberative groups and this you claim to be equally true of both ancient and modern demokratia. Pretty well everything you have said on this forum is consistent with this perspective. How would you (operationally) define democracy if not so?

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  52. Just to clarify, I acknowledge that your theoretical (and controversial) definition of democracy is a system of government that acts in the interests of the masses, my earlier comment was on your operational definition and the (deductive) means by which you have arrived at it.

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  53. So within 3 comments you have managed to start with a confident and completely false assertion about my position and then revise it twice, but still haven’t managed to get things quite right. Sorry, you just can’t be taken seriously.

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  54. Yoram:> still haven’t managed to get things quite right.

    Glad to see from the qualifier (“quite”) that I’m getting warmer. Can you let me know in what respect I’ve mis-represented you and whether it is regarding your theoretical or operational definition of democracy. I’m keen to ensure that we no longer talk past each other, and it strikes me that this is down to a fundamental disagreement regarding methodology in the social sciences.

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  55. Yes – it is fantastic to see that if you put your mind to it you can make progress toward understanding other people. It is a shame you so rarely try.

    As for what’s still wrong: a democratic government promotes everyone’s interests and values equally, balancing competing interests and values proportionally to the number of people behind them.

    Thus, no one is excluded from this equality of political power. In a democracy everyone has equal power, not only “the masses”. Moreover, there is no assumption that there even exists some coherent group that can be called “the masses” whose members have identical interests and values.

    Of course, to the extent that certain values or interests are widely shared, those should be promoted by a democratic government.

    As for operationalization, you can refer to this as a starting point. Please avoid rehashing points that were already well covered in that discussion.

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  56. Yoram,

    Thank you for the clarification of your theoretical definition of democracy — I’m relieved to hear that your focus is on the demos, rather than the “masses”.

    Regarding the operational definition, I note that you accept both survey and “objective” measures to assess the degree to which the democratic ideal has been realised in institutional form. But my query was not how to test the democratic credentials of electoralism (or any other political system, including a benign dictatorship), it was how to get from a) to b) — how to put democratic theory into practice. The relevant post (I’m sure you have it indexed somewhere) is your three-part logical syllogism on each person being the best judge of her own interests, building up through small groups to the representation of the interests of the demos. If I recall correctly your methodology was entirely deductive.

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  57. I presume you refer to this: https://equalitybylot.com/2013/09/29/a-theory-of-sortition-part-2-of-2. Yes, this is a theoretical analysis. As the article itself mentions, however, the theory can be tested empirically.

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  58. The validity of the extension argument can be tested empirically. If the system is working as the argument describes, most citizens would feel, upon examination of the workings and decisions of the decision-making body, that the policies enacted represent their interests. To measure whether this is the case, a separate body, also made up by sortition, can be put in charge of monitoring the decision-making body.

    The question being begged is whether the vast majority of citizens disenfranchised by the new orthodemocracy would agree. My hunch is that they wouldn’t — that it would be necessary to demonstrate by experiment that different samples, deliberating in parallel, would come up with and approve the same policy proposals — it making no difference which empirical individuals were included. My (testable) hunch is that serious constraints would need to be placed on the deliberative mandate of the decision-making body in order to generate the necessary consistency.

    Extending your scenario, what would happen if you had two decision-making bodies on the same legislative subdomain (say the legalisation of drugs or voluntary euthanasia) each with their own monitoring body? If each body came up with different conclusions, which would be the representative one? In my competing proposal, each body would listen in silence to the same competing advocates before voting in secret, so there is a strong likelihood of agreement. Not so with a full-mandate sortition body, where each sample chooses advocates according to its own whims (or, more likely, the whims of a vocal minority of its members).

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  59. > The question being begged is whether the vast majority of citizens disenfranchised by the new orthodemocracy would agree

    Putting aside your tendentious use of the term “disenfranchised”, you are, again, very careless with your relationship to the truth. The question is not begged at all. As I explicitly wrote, this is a matter that can and should be empirically verified. (It is interesting and revealing, by the way, to note that the current system makes no official attempt to measure the its own perceived legitimacy. Of course, the results would be quite embarrassing if an attempt were made.)

    > what would happen if you had two decision-making bodies

    Any system has to have a way to decide competing claims of authority. I don’t see why this is inherently more of a problem for a democratic, or a sortition-based system than any other system.

    > In my competing proposal

    Your proposal is anti-democratic so it is of no interest to anyone whose objective is to democratize our societies. (Also, the question of whether a system – democratic or not – fulfills some arbitrary criterion you have concocted is of no interest.)

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  60. > The question is not begged at all. As I explicitly wrote, this is a matter that can and should be empirically verified.

    Unfortunately your verification procedure is entirely circular — what is at issue is the representativity of the decisions of an allotted sample vis-a-vis its target population, and you are testing this via . . . the decisions of another allotted sample. This is only democratic in theory (according to your syllogism), your empirical test is a prime example of trying to pull yourself up with your own bootstraps.

    > Any system has to have a way to decide competing claims of authority. I don’t see why this is inherently more of a problem for a democratic, or a sortition-based system than any other system.

    The competing claims of bicameral systems are easy to adjudicate — in democracies the elected house trumps the objections of the hereditary/appointed house. But the only justification of a sortition-based system is its representativity (there are no independent criteria), so if one sample decides a) and the other b) then there is no way of choosing between them (other than flipping a coin, and I don’t think that’s the sort of randomisation we are trying to promote).

    > Your proposal is anti-democratic

    As defined by your logical syllogism. If we are going to make progress in the real world we need to move beyond definitions and start to utilise standard social science methodologies. How to represent considered public opinion in large multicultural states is a deeply complex problem which cannot be solved purely with the tools of deductive logic.

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  61. > what is at issue is the representativity of the decisions of an allotted sample vis-a-vis its target population, and you are testing this via . . . the decisions of another allotted sample

    First, a decision making body is not at all the same as a monitoring body, so this is not at all a circular criterion.

    Second, I presented multiple criteria, many of which have little to do with allotted bodies. In general I expect citizens to have faith in a democratic system. A situation in which an allotted monitoring body declares a system to be democratic while the average person on the street disagrees would be problematic and would certainly indicate some sort of a problem with the system. Whether in such case the system should be considered democratic or not is less important than the fact that such a system needs significant reform to gain the trust of the citizens.

    Finally, you may be unhappy with the criteria I present – that’s fine. But pretending that I have not presented empirical criteria is simply a lie.

    You can present your own criteria and we can evaluate them. (But if your criterion is something about different bodies arriving at the same decision, you can save you breath. As I have pointed out in the past (and as is completely obvious) this a completely useless criterion. It is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for democracy.)

    > The competing claims of bicameral systems are easy to adjudicate

    This is nonsense. There are many systems with two elected chambers. In addition, any system has many, many decision making bodies. There is always need for various mechanisms for deciding competing claims for authority. Again, I don’t see any reason to assume that this issue is going to be any more problematic in a democratic system than in other systems.

    > As defined by your logical syllogism

    Sigh. Ok, this is probably going to be a huge boring waste of time, but I’ll humor you. What is your definition for democracy according to which your proposed system is democratic?

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  62. > a decision making body is not at all the same as a monitoring body

    What if two different examples of the latter came to different views regarding the performance of the former — which one would be representative? At the end of the day any collective with political power has to come to a decision (generally via voting), so monitoring bodies are decision making as well.

    > I expect citizens to have faith in a democratic system

    Your expectations are neither here nor there (especially when it’s you that has defined the system as democratic). Your expectation needs to be tested empirically, and your proposed testing procedure (the verdict of another allotted body) is entirely circular.

    > different bodies arriving at the same decision . . . [is] a completely useless criterion

    This is bog-standard sampling theory. If a poll generates conflicting results from different samples of the same population then the pollsters have to amend their sampling criteria.

    > There is always need for various mechanisms for deciding competing claims for authority.

    But when the selection criterion (statistical representativity) is identical, then there is no way of resolving the claim.

    > What is your definition for democracy according to which your proposed system is democratic?

    A system that reflects the informed preferences/beliefs of the majority of citizens. Note two riders:

    1) The word “informed” is an improvement on the standard definition of democracy.

    2) My preference is for a mixed constitution (politeia), rather than democracy or any other pure system of government. This reflects a) my (Burkeian) view that government should be a compact between the past, the present and the future, b) the need to protect the rights and interests of minorities and c) the need for stable, competent and accountable public administration.

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  63. > What if two different examples of the latter came to different views regarding the performance of the former … tested empirically …

    This is rather boring. Writing the same thing over and over is not a discussion.

    >A system that reflects the informed preferences/beliefs of the majority of citizens.

    This is very much the same definition I used above, but…

    > My preference is for a mixed constitution (politeia), rather than democracy

    Yes, I know. This is the essential point here. So when you write “informed” you mean “informed by their betters” while for a democrat it means “informed as they see fit”.

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  64. > This is rather boring. Writing the same thing over and over is not a discussion.

    That’s because you refuse to answer the question, dismissing it as irrelevant and/or arbitrary. We both claim that sortition is a form of statistical sampling, yet you refuse to accept the methodological constraints that go with statistical sampling.

    > when you write “informed” you mean “informed by their betters”

    Not so, I merely argue that citizens should be able to choose the representative claims that best approximate their own beliefs, preferences and interests. I doubt whether many of the people who voted for Trump did so because they viewed him as their “better”; however his speech acts and rhetoric suggested (rightly or wrongly) that he was standing up for people like them.

    > to a democrat it means “informed as they see fit”

    “They” in this case being the tiny number of citizens selected by lot. Your assumption that a randomly-selected body that looks like America will automatically act like America (or at least the majority of Americans) is merely an act of faith. I don’t think the disenfranchised** majority would agree. As Pitkin has pointed out, the descriptive mandate only applies to collective actions (i.e. voting); speech acts, however, pertain to individuals and the law of large numbers does not apply. How to combine the decision right of a representative sample with active political functions (information and advocacy) is a seriously challenging problem that cannot be resolved by definitional fiat.

    ** I know you find “disenfranchised” a disagreeable term, but it accurately describes losing the vote and having no involvement at all in the political process. You may view the popular vote as effectively worthless, not so the millions of people who participate in elections.

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  65. The choice of Trump or any other person by elections is itself uninformed, and cannot be informed, because to be informed it would require the comparison of millions of potential representatives based on substantive criteria. Thus, by the agreed criterion of “representing informed preferences” elections are not and cannot be democratic.

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  66. The informed preferences come in at the second stage (the aggregate vote of the representative sample) isonomia in Greek terminology. How to achieve representative isegoria in large modern states is a difficult question. Speech acts are by their nature partisan and the appropriate rhetorical style is forensic, not deliberative, as the goal of the adviser is to win votes. The general public will — in elections and votations — register an uninformed preference which is then subject to the deliberative judgment of a statistically-representative microcosm. This is a direct analogue of 4th century Athenian practice, who would have been horrified by your proposal for the abolition of mass democracy (even though they were satisfied for the final judgment to be in the hands of a large representative jury).

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  67. > The informed preferences come in at the second stage

    But then those “informed preferences” are preferences among a set of options created by a set of oligarchs. By that point, the “informed preferences” are merely a formality. Coke or Pepsi?

    But then again, this is exactly what your “mixed system” aims at.

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  68. Yes and no. Yes, in that I do believe it helps if the people who speak know what they are talking about; No, in that the competition between elites will mean that the successful rhetor is the one who best aligns his advice to popular preferences (Trump’s winning strategy). In 5th and 4th century Athens most of the advisers were elite members, yet the Athenian political system is generally described as a democracy, not an oligarchy. My model for the modern equivalent is based on Dahl’s sketchy draft for Polyarchy III, and he would have denied that this was an oligarchic system.

    PS would you describe May and Corbyn as Coke or Pepsi? And what if it had been Trump and Sanders?

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  69. > I do believe it helps if the people who speak know what they are talking about;

    Indeed, that is what is at the bottom of all of your proposals. The average people should be guided by their betters, who unlike the average person, know what they are talking about, even though, as you admitted, those “guides” have been chosen in an irrational manner, i.e., based solely on their status in society.

    > May and Corbyn as Coke or Pepsi? And what if it had been Trump and Sanders?

    Occasionally even a junk food outlet will serve you a salad. One judges a system based on its typical or average effects, not based on some unusual events that may or may not happen once in a few decades.

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  70. I would prefer “knowledgeable” to “better” as the latter has moral and social connotations. Whilst perceived status is a factor we no longer live in an age of deference. In modern democracies anyone can make a representative claim and it is judged by the audience partly on its intrinsic merits. The crucial element is the competition between elites and the ease with which claims can be made (my model includes citizen initiatives alongside election). Bear in mind also my House of Advocacy which is staffed by expert delegates from a wide range of civil society and professional organisations corresponding with the issues likely to be covered by legislation.

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  71. > I would prefer “knowledgeable” to “better” as the latter has moral and social connotations.

    What you would prefer is neither here nor there. Every elitist likes to justify their elitism by appeal to some “intrinsic merit” of their preferred class of people (which would not make them any less of an elitist anyway even if such intrinsic merit did exist).

    However, we have already established that there is no rational basis for electoral choices, thus the elected are not selected for being knowledgeable. They are in fact selected essentially solely on the basis of their social position – being well connected, rich, famous, etc. Thus a system, such as the one you propose, that has the elected manage the allotted is quite literally one where average people are managed by their betters, even if we narrow the meaning the latter term to mean “having privileged social position”.

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  72. > Every elitist likes to justify their elitism by appeal to some “intrinsic merit” of their preferred class of people

    If being knowledgeable is an intrinsic merit (although in modern societies knowledge can be attained by anybody) then I guess I must plead guilty as charged.

    > Thus a system, such as the one you propose, that has the elected manage the allotted

    In Harrington’s proposal (which I follow closely) it’s the other way round, as the elected are doubly constrained — they have to come up with proposals that a) win the election and b) pass the scrutiny of the sovereign allotted body. And in my modern version any citizen may make an initiative/petition, whereas you would limit it to the handful of citizens selected by lot.

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  73. You seem to be unable to understand one of the conclusions of the discussion:

    By your own standards, the elected have essentially no qualification other their social status. There is no reason to assume that they are more knowledgeable than the average person, or that they possess any other qualifying characteristic. Entrusting political power of any kind in their hands thus can only be justified by an inherent belief in rule by the “betters”.

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  74. According to Manin’s principle of distinction, the choice of attributes is entirely in the hands of the electors (I reject the term “betters” on account of its moral and social connotations). If they want to elect an ignoramus with weird orange hair that’s entirely up to them (or, in the UK example, a superannuated student revolutionary who hasn’t changed his views since the 1970s). Note that my proposal is that election should be one of several methods of establishing representative isegoria. It’s messy, complicated and empirical and cannot be resolved by definitional fiat. Note also that the reference is to advisers — rule, in the sovereign sense, is the prerogative of the allotted assembly (aka Harringtons’ “Prerogative Tribe”). Advisers can let off as much hot air as they like, as voting rights are restricted to a statistically-representative assembly (as in 4th century Athens, the principal example of democracy by lot). The Athenians would have been horrified by your proposal to arrogate law-making powers to the random choices of a tiny group of citizens. You would have been an immediate candidate for ostracism, had it not been abolished. I seem to remember that one historian claimed that election was the modern equivalent of ostracism, but I can’t remember who it was.

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  75. I’ll take this little eclectic essay as an admission that you are unable to resolve the contradiction in your position and as a note of thanks for having been given an opportunity to re-examine your ideas. You’re welcome.

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  76. Darwinian evolution provides a better paradigm for understanding the messy contradictions of the natural world than intelligent design. A similar principle applies when seeking to comprehend the crooked timbers of mankind and the resultant social and political arrangements — even though this may generate some apparent contradictions. We should resist the temptation to think that we can start from scratch with a blank sheet of paper, a thought experiment and a set of logical principles.

    Thank you for carrying on this conversation in a civil manner.

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  77. So what you are saying is that you do not feel you should be bound by logic. Having previously declared that you do not feel that you should be bound by facts, this is hardly surprising.

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  78. > So what you are saying is that you do not feel you should be bound by logic.

    What I’m saying is:

    a) is that political systems cannot be designed by logical calculus,** and then tested by a procedure that presupposes the truth of the hypothesis being tested (the ongoing representativity of an allotted sample.

    b) political systems evolve in an incremental manner that is not entirely dissimilar to organic systems. Attempts to start over with a blank slate, based on armchair thought experiments, always end in tears.

    ** Some things (like quantitative easing) work in practice but not in theory.

    PS when did I say that I don’t feel I should be bound by facts?

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  79. “Armchair thought experiments” (a.k.a. theoretical analysis) is what you deal with all the time. You only object to this methodology when the self-contradictions in your proposals are exposed.

    > when did I say that I don’t feel I should be bound by facts?

    Repeatedly. This thread provides a typical example.

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  80. My approach to political theory is Aristotelian/Oakeshottian — i.e. “adumbrating from experience” as Moses Finley puts it. I’m probably the only theorist who hasn’t (on principle) read John Rawls — the grand master of deriving normative conclusions from armchair thought experiments. I agree with Jeremy Waldron that political theory needs to refocus from “57 varieties of luck egalitarianism” to the study of representation, democracy, bicameralism and constitutionalism (no thought experiments required).

    > Repeatedly. This thread provides a typical example.

    The thread appears to be a typical example of ad hominem attacks — few, if any, facts being referenced. I’m glad that in this current exchange you’ve dropped the name calling habit.

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  81. > My approach to political theory is Aristotelian/Oakeshottian…

    The amount of verbal gymnastics you contort yourself through in order to rationalize your prejudices is rather impressive.

    > ad hominem

    As I stated before: if you are unhappy about people pointing your permissive relationship with the facts, you should change your behavior. If you repeatedly make false statements someone will call you a liar on occasion.

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  82. > verbal gymnastics

    The point I’m making is there are two different ways of doing political theory. The “ideal” approach is to dream up an armchair thought experiment and then design political institutions deductively to reflect the relevant norm (equality — in both the Rawlsian and Gatian version). The Aristotelian/Oakeshottian approach is to derive abstract models from the way that concrete institutions (both past and present) function, and then come up with proposals to improve the functioning, in both the epistemic and egalitarian sense. The two approaches have nothing in common — and that’s why we constantly talk past each other.

    I can understand that to the non-specialist this all sounds arcane, but the same would be true of your own academic speciality.

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  83. > sounds arcane

    No, it sounds like the pretentious nonsense that it is. Anyone can make arbitrary claims and justify them by appealing to “specialized” knowledge that is unreachable to “non-specialists”. As I wrote, a simple logical analysis shows that your arguments are self-contradictory, so you are now asserting that you are not bound by logic. You can come up with any labels that you want for this incoherence.

    In fact, your claim now to possess knowledge that is unreachable for the uninitiated is the classic Socratic-Platonic guardianist claim, so it all fits quite nicely together with your anti-democratic proposals. The masses should defer to you “specialists” and limit themselves to selecting from the options you choose to provide, based on the information you choose to provide. Again, the rest is at best mere rationalization, possibly no more than deceit.

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  84. > knowledge that is unreachable for the uninitiated

    All I said was “sounds arcane”. I can’t help it if you don’t understand the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning and wrongly conclude that my approach is also based on an armchair thought experiment.

    > your arguments are self-contradictory

    My claim is that the problem (political representation in large multicultural societies) cannot be resolved deductively. It’s inherently messy and complicated, and the attempt to forge a magic bullet by way of a simple thought experiment owes more to alchemy than political science.

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  85. > I can’t help it if you don’t understand the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning

    Yes – and you and the rest of the specialized elite cannot help it if the masses cannot understand what is good for themselves and need to be guided for their own good by those who can (i.e., their betters).

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  86. Sorry, I thought you were no longer going to refer to the elite and the masses. The distinction between inductive and deductive is an important one and you know exactly what I’m referring to (if not, then I’ll spell it out once again).

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  87. > I thought you were no longer going to refer to the elite and the masses

    The essential distinction between the “specialists” in the elites and the ignorant masses is part of your own political theory, not mine. Democrats are all in favor of eliminating such distinctions (which, of course, does not mean that those groups do not exist as political entities in today’s oligarchical society).

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  88. >The essential distinction between the “specialists” in the elites and the ignorant masses is part of your own political theory

    I do believe that advisers to the demos should know what they are talking about, but I’ve never made any reference to the masses (other than pointing out that the word, which might have made sense in the nineteenth century, is now obsolete). But this is orthogonal to our current dispute on methodology in the social sciences — deductive in your case, inductive in my own.

    > Democrats are all in favor of eliminating such distinctions

    A fruitless task (and, given the record of 20th century history, more likely to lead to malign outcomes). And eliminating a distinction will not eliminate a social fact — the elites will just go underground and channel their influence in an unregulated way. Realistically-minded democrats will foster the competition between elites, with the (mini)demos determining the outcome, as in 4th century Athens. Open competition between elite advisers is an important element of representative isegoria, a sine qua non of democracy in large multicultural states. In a direct democracy there is no reason for advisers to be drawn from elites (although the Athenian demos never selected advisers from their own ranks), but in a modern democracy it is essential — the principle of distinction is a way of reducing the cacophony of potential voices to a manageable number, with the selection being made by voters, using their own preferred criteria. That’s why Manin claims the principle is an essential aspect of representative democracy.

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  89. So the elite-masses distinction is at the same time an obsolete concept and an unalterable social fact.

    Sutherland, your war on logic is truly a wonder. Again, I just can’t figure out why anyone would be willing to take you seriously.

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  90. My objection is to your choice of terms (elite/masses), the distinction that I make is between advisers and demos. Specialists can, in principle, be drawn from any social and economic class. The social fact that I referred to is that only a tiny minority of citizens will wish to advise the demos, as was the case with the only historical example we have of this form of democracy. I’m disappointed that you still want to conduct the debate using sociological categories that are well past their sell-by date, especially as you specifically renounced these terms in your earlier definition of democracy.

    But none of this has any relevance to the topic of our exchange — deductive vs inductive approaches to constitutional reform. This is a distinction that you well understand but are reluctant to pursue.

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  91. > a distinction that you well understand

    How can I when you wrote just a few comments before,

    > to the non-specialist this all sounds arcane.

    Your awesome ability to contort yourself into obvious self-contradictions is matched by the ineffectiveness of your effort in hiding your authoritarian mindset.

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  92. Arcane: yes, but also comprehensible by an educated person who is motivated to understand the distinction. If that doesn’t include you, this is because you don’t want to, as your deductive methodology doesn’t apply to the social sciences and this undermines your whole approach to the understanding of sortition. If you want to understand the distinction then I’ll go over it again, even though you could just look it up on wikipedia or the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. I should mention, by the way, that I have had no training in philosophy, other than a module on the philosophy of science as part of my undergraduate sociology course. So if I can understand it, then so can you — you just don’t want to.

    The whole point of a deliberative exchange is to better understand each other and modify our own perspective in the light of comments and criticisms from others and I was encouraged in this respect by our initial exchanges. But you’ve reverted to form and have adopted the rhetoric of Prime Minister’s Question Time — scoring points and name-calling — so there’s not much point continuing, especially as nobody else is listening, viewing it as just another case of Yoram and Keith slagging each other off.

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  93. > name-calling

    Again, if you are unhappy with people pointing bad behavior on your part, it is better to avoid engaging in it.

    This exchange once again demonstrated that you are only bound by commitment to your pre-conceived authoritarian ideas. Any allegiance to facts or logic are subservient to this primary consideration.

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  94. At the beginning of this exchange I examined the reasons we were talking past each other, but clearly to no avail. If you feel you must explain my views in terms of moral failings (a common leftist strategy), authoritarian personality syndrome or whatever, I guess that’s your call, but I’m certainly not going to respond in kind, so there’s really no point continuing the debate. For anyone with faith in “deliberative” democracy our exchange must be something of a wake-up call.

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  95. > moral failings

    Yes. Contrary to the Socratic (and in general to elitist) claims, moral failings are a much more likely cause for disagreements than intellectual failings.

    Upton Sinclair famously put it this way: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” But even when there is no direct material gain or loss at stake, positions regarding matters of facts and logic are much more strongly dependent on personal interests and prejudices than is commonly acknowledged in elite ideology.

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  96. (That said, BTW, at a personal level your own willingness to bend facts and logic to your prejudices is quite exceptional, I think.)

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  97. > personal interests and prejudices

    I think it’s also the case that once one has taken a stance (in speech or writing) on an issue it’s quite hard to alter one’s position radically, and this is made plausible by the argumentative theory of reasoning. Mercier and Sperber (2017) report laboratory studies indicating that we are better able to find the flaws in our own reasons when we believe those reasons to have been produced by someone else. To extend Forster’s dictum: “How can I change what I think when I’ve heard/read what I believe” — once you’ve nailed your colours to the mast then changing your views is a form of apostasy. This is one of the reasons for my proposal for the radical separation of isegoria (advocacy) and isonomia (judgment) in democratic politics.

    I like to think (and my published track record lends support to this) that my own position on sortition has changed radically over the last 10 years or so, partly as a result of the conversations on this forum, partly through extended reading, and partly through submitting to the rigours of academic supervision on my PhD. I’m afraid I haven’t noticed much change on your side, in fact you tend to frown on it, as it undermines your sense of logical consistency.

    > your own willingness to bend facts and logic to your prejudices

    I prefer to think that logic is a tool to help enable us to understand a highly complex empirical reality rather than enabling us to come up with solutions by pure deduction. As for the bending of “facts” you have still to tell me what you are referring to.

    Ref
    ===
    Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2017). The Enigma of Reason: A new theory of human understanding. London: Allen Lane.

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  98. > my own position on sortition has changed radically over the last 10 years or so

    Your rationalizations do tend to change, but your authoritarian conclusions remain fixed – everything else revolves around that. You have never made any proposal under which an allotted body, or a set of allotted bodies, is to have powers that resemble those that an elected parliament has today. Such a situation – in which ordinary people can make policy without “guidance” (i.e., control) by their betters – is abhorrent to you.

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  99. > a situation – in which ordinary people can make policy without “guidance” (i.e., control) by their betters – is abhorrent to you.

    Abhorrent yes, but because I’m a democrat, not an “authoritarian”. I’ve spent a lot of time (pointlessly) explaining why democracy in large multicultural states presupposes competition between policy advocacy elites. I know you don’t like paradoxes, but it remains the case that inter-elite competition is a prerequisite for democracy under such conditions. Your competing proposal, in which policies emerge from the face to face deliberation of a tiny group of persons selected by lot is a form of oligarchy (which I do find abhorrent). The fact that the small group will comprise (mostly) “ordinary” people is neither here nor there, it’s still oligarchic (as it involves the rule of the few) and presupposes that the vast majority of citizens have no involvement whatsoever in the political process — a process generally known as disenfranchisement.

    PS I do wish you would stop referring to “their betters”, given that Terry pointed out to you recently that this in not my view. The principle of distinction does not presuppose any intrinsic superiority — moral or otherwise — of those making a representative claim.

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  100. > The fact that the small group will comprise (mostly) “ordinary” people is neither here nor there, it’s still oligarchic

    No – the question of how many people raise their hands at decision time is a superficiality. By your own definition, “a system that reflects the informed preferences/beliefs of the majority of citizens” is democratic. (It is a testimony to your nonchalant relationship with facts and logic that I have to remind you of your own definitions of terms.)

    > their betters

    You may find the term inconvenient, but it certainly reflects your position.

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  101. > “a system that reflects the informed preferences/beliefs of the majority of citizens” is democratic.

    Well, of course, that’s just a tautology — it’s what the word means! But it’s an open question as to whether a small group of people selected by random and possessed of a full deliberative mandate over a long period of time would function in such a manner. It’s open to empirical verification, but my strong hunch is that it wouldn’t, as the LLN does not apply to individual speech acts. I’m surprised (and disappointed) that I need to keep repeating this obvious objection.

    > You may find the term [betters] inconvenient

    To repeat my earlier remark, many people (including a substantial number of conservative evangelical Christians) voted for Trump not because they considered him their “better”, but because his rhetoric suggested that his policies aligned with their own beliefs and preferences more than the competition.

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  102. > the question of how many people raise their hands at decision time is a superficiality.

    If by this you mean that voting is superficial (even after a deliberative exchange), what decision rule do you prefer?

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  103. Just one comment ago,

    > policies emerg[ing] from the face to face deliberation of a tiny group of persons selected […] is a form of oligarchy

    but now

    > it’s an open question

    Again, you are living in a logic-free world.

    > voted for Trump not because they considered him their “better”

    The question is not why people voted for Trump over Clinton. The question is why you feel that people need to vote anyone – why there need to be “betters” – i.e., socially distinguished people – in power at all.

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  104. My view is that it’s oligarchic — in the sense that speech acts introduce randomness (in the pejorative sense) so that the minipublic fails to automatically reflect the considered preferences of the target population. But my belief needs to be confirmed or refuted by experiment — until that time it remains an open question.

    > why you feel that people need to vote anyone – why there need to be “betters” – i.e., socially distinguished people – in power at all.

    It’s up to voters to choose the relevant criteria — I doubt that many people considered Trump “socially distinguished”, they just thought that his policies (or at least as suggested by his rhetoric) more in line with their beliefs, preferences and interests than the other candidates. Of course it’s true that personal charisma helps win elections, but raw policy preferences can suffice (just think of the 1945 UK general election in which Attlee’s Labour Party won convincingly despite Churchill’s joke that “an empty taxi drew up at 10 Downing Street, and when the door opened Attlee got out”.) Attlee just happened to be the leader of the Labour Party.

    As to the need for voting, this is because in large multicultural states isegoria has to be representative and voting is one mechanism (amongst many others). Whether voters are attracted by policies or the candidate’s skill on the saxophone is entirely up to them.

    I’d still like to know what you mean by “the question of how many people raise their hands at decision time is a superficiality.”

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  105. So when you say “is” you mean :”it is an open question”. That’s a creative way to use the word.

    > I doubt that many people considered Trump “socially distinguished”

    Again, the question is not why people voted for Trump. Trump or Clinton, May or Corbyn, Voting is always for socially distinguished people since normal people are never known to enough people to become credible candidates. So, again, the question is not why vote for this candidate or that, but why vote at all. Again, elections, inherently, irrespective of any choice made by the voters, is a process that installs “betters” – socially distinguished people – in power. Electoralism is a form of “rule by the betters”.

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  106. I’m puzzled by your preference for the language of the pulpit — my “bad behaviour” is on account of my moral turpitude and voters choose representatives who are “socially distinguished” and “better” than them. Madison did believe that his “republican” system would lead to the choice of “wise and virtuous” representatives, but Manin claims that this variant of the principle of distinction only applies to the “parliamentary” phase of representative democracy that ended with the first reform act (1832). During the second phase (“party democracy”), which ended with the Attlee government of 1945, voters selected representatives on the basis of their policy proposals, whereas during the third phase (“audience democracy”), the principal of distinction refers more to personal charisma (Kennedy beat Nixon in 1960 because he had a better suntan). Being “socially distinguished” is, if anything, a barrier to election, hence the mission of modern conservative parties to find candidates from “ordinary” backgrounds.

    We both agree that large polities require that isegoria assume a representative form, all we differ on is how to achieve this. My preferred option (based on Mike Saward’s “representative claim” model) assumes that isegoria will take a wide variety of forms, one of which is election. (This process is messy, complicated and imprecise, but at least it has a track record.) You claim however, that the only way of achieving equal representation is via small randomly-selected deliberative minipublics. Whilst I agree that this is the ideal model for representative isonomia, I’m extremely sceptical about its role in representative isegoria, for reasons that I have already provided. The only support you offer for your claim is a thought experiment which you then propose to verify via a procedure that presupposes the truth of the proposition being tested.

    I’m still waiting (3rd request) for you to explain what you mean by “the question of how many people raise their hands at decision time is a superficiality.”

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  107. Elections is antithetical to isegoria, as it is to all forms of equality (substantive as opposed to formal). You, of course, understand this very well since it is a completely obvious empirical fact. For most people this creates a problem since they really wish for equality but are emotionally tied to elections. For you, this is not a problem since you are opposed to equality.

    > “the question of how many people raise their hands at decision time is a superficiality.”

    This means exactly what it says – a group of 200 people making decision may very well be an oligarchy or it may very well be a democracy. The number 200 means very little.

    And indeed your own definition of democracy (“a system that reflects the informed preferences/beliefs of the majority of citizens”) does not refer to the number of people in the decision making body. It is only when you have to come up with excuses why, if we are looking for equal representation of preferences and beliefs, we should not employ an allotted parliament, that you have to resort to asserting that decision making by “a tiny group”, regardless of the context, is oligarchy “as it involves the rule of the few”.

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  108. In large states it isn’t feasible for ho boulomenos to speak, hence the need for representation. Electoral choice is one way (voters selecting the representative claim that best matches their beliefs and preferences), statistical representation is another. Unfortunately there is no reason to believe that the speech acts of a vocal minority of a tiny group selected by lot will match the beliefs and preferences of the target population (needless to say this would be possible to test empirically), hence my preference for the representative claim, election being one way of implementing it. Your claim that democrats are only bound to elections for emotional reasons is patronising (ditto your view regarding my opposition to equality). Equality in large states is a complex problem that requires a complex solution, rather than a magic bullet.

    Thank you for your clarification of the number of people raising their hands. I thought you were referring to the irrelevance of counting votes (the view of demarchists and discursive democrats).

    >your own definition of democracy . . . does not refer to the number of people in the decision making body

    I go into it in detail in my thesis. The jury size would be between 300 and 6,000 depending on the importance of the issue and the decision threshold. Even the lower amount is an order of magnitude greater than the maximum size for a “deliberative” body. Note also the underlying independence assumption, which limits the mandate of the jury to listening to competing advocacy claims and then determining the outcome via a secret vote.

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  109. > Electoral choice is one way

    Again, electoral choice guarantees that “the betters” get a privileged position. That is the opposite of equality. Again, you know that very well since it is completely obvious. Again, the only reason you pretend not to understand that is that it suits your oligarchical leanings.

    > a vocal minority of a tiny group

    So, again, the underlying assumption is that average people are too stupid to figure out what’s going on and therefore they can be easily manipulated. And so, the only thing that is of importance is to make sure that the manipulators are “the betters” rather than mere commoners.

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  110. It is often noted that direct democracy, in which all citizens vote on all issues can’t scale up from a tiny democracy to a society of millions. What isn’t so often noted is that elections are ALSO problematic in terms of scaling up. If all voters do not have personal knowledge of the candidates, they cannot fairly select representatives and become subject to manipulation and effective control by elites. Mass elections are simply not suitable for democracy. As was understood for millenia (from Aristotle through to Rousseau and Montesquieu) elections are only suitable for oligarchy and aristocracy… not democracy. Keith favors a mixed constitution that has elements of democracy (sortition) and also elements of aristocracy (elections). Some compromise during transition is inevitable, but those who prefer democracy should seek to phase out elections.

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  111. Terry,

    All three of us agree on the (conecptual) democratic diarchy and that isonomia (deliberative judgment) in large states should be the prerogative of large randomly-selected minipublics — the arguments for this are straightforward and hard to refute. But the problem of isegoria (advocacy) is the source of continuing wrangling as summarised below:

    1. Yoram argues that equal speech is best implemented by the same mechanism as isonomia, but I think we both object to this on epistemic and egalitarian grounds as it drastically limits the initiative right and there is no good reason to believe that the speech acts of a tiny number of randomly-selected persons will automatically (and proportionately) reflect the informed beliefs and preferences of the target population. As such it would be unlikely to be accepted by the vast majority of citizens disenfranchised by the aleatory turn in democratic politics.

    2. You and I believe that the principle of ho boulomenos should be taken literally, but disagree on the process for winnowing down the inevitable deluge of proposals, information and advice. Your preference is for a hierarchy of allotted committees, but I argue that this gives too prominent a role to activists and those with an interest in political affairs. As such the committees would be unrepresentative (in the statistical sense), open to corruption by sinister interests and unlikely to be accepted by the vast majority of citizens who would have no involvement at all in the political process.

    3. I argue the case for “representative isegoria” which would involve a complex mix of election, direct initiative (+ votational filter), competitive media and other civil society institutions. I accept, of course, that elites will have a key role to play in this process, but believe that (given adequate competition) the free choice of voters will counteract the oligarchic and aristocratic forces seeking to usurp the democratic process. I accept that this stage of the process is subject to rational ignorance and open to elite manipulation, but it will be subject to the intense light of publicity (hence the vital role of the fourth estate), and the various economic, cultural and political elites are in open competition with each other. As for voters’ lack of personal knowledge of the (electoral) candidates, remember that in my proposal candidates are advisers, without sovereign or executive powers. As to whether or not their advice is epistemically valuable, each adviser (and the political party that they represent) would be judged on its own track record (and the media would be quick to shine a light on their personal qualities).

    Out of the three choices, I believe (of course) that the last is the easiest to defend from both the perspective of democratic equality and practicality. It’s unlikely to work perfectly, but it is based on a existing practice, rather than armchair speculation. As for Aristotle, Montesquieu etc, they were commenting on practices in the ancient world, whereas Rousseau was extremely gloomy about the possibility of the republican governance of large modern states. Given his radical separation of sovereignty and government, his requirement was that all should participate in the former, whereas the larger the state, the less suitable for democratic governance (a system suited more to angels than men).

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  112. Yoram,

    > electoral choice guarantees that “the betters” get a privileged position

    See para 3. in my response to Terry

    > average people are too stupid to figure out what’s going on and therefore they can be easily manipulated.

    No, I’m simply pointing out the huge variation in the illocutionary force of the speech acts of different individuals (none of whom would be selected on the basis of their rhetorical abilities). This will generate considerable randomness (in the pejorative sense), that will nullify the statistical representativity of the microcosm. I’m sorry to keep repeating this, but you continue to misrepresent my arguments (and my motives for making them), using words like “stupidity”, “socially distinguished” and “their betters” that have moral associations that do not reflect my position.

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  113. > socially distinguished, moral associations

    Again, in mass elections all the candidates must be socially distinguished (in the sense that they are known to millions while the normal person is never known to so many people). This is just a fact.

    If you find this fact to be morally problematic (as I do, but of course you don’t), the required conclusion is to avoid using elections. But whether you do or you don’t, denying this fact is just another example of your renunciation of facts.

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  114. I think something is being lost in translation here — in (UK) English “socially distinguished” has aristocratic connotations, whereas I think what you mean is simply that they stand out from the crowd (according to the principle of distinction). (Using words like “their betters” and “too stupid” reinforces this aristocratic association). Manin is clear that it’s entirely down to voters as to what characteristics they want to focus on. Obviously this is an indisputable fact, but I don’t share your conclusions, in that a) voters choose which candidates (appear to) best match their own beliefs, preferences and interests, b) given a competitive electoral ecosystem successful candidates will need to shape their policies/presentation to best match the wishes of the electorate, and c) the fact that an electoral candidate does not resemble her constituents in any significant respect does not rule out her ability to successfully promote their beliefs, interests and preferences.

    Could I implore you once more to be a little more charitable in your interpretation of the views (and motives) of people that you disagree with.

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  115. > stand out from the crowd
    > voters choose which candidates (appear to) best match their own beliefs

    So, at best, in a situation of perfect information, voters choose the best candidates among the set filtered by the requirement of being social distinguished. What if all those candidates are promoting an agenda which is against the interests of the average voter?

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  116. > What if all those candidates are promoting an agenda which is against the interests of the average voter?

    Then, assuming relatively modest entry costs other candidates will make themselves known. The examples will not appeal to you, but Trump, UKIP and Macron come to mind, along with a host of right-wing xenophobic parties that have appeared out of nowhere in Central and Eastern Europe. The system is more adaptable to changing public preferences than you imagine (unless you are assuming that average voters are not fully aware of their interests, as a result of false consciousness/indoctrination).

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  117. > other candidates will make themselves known

    But those other candidates, necessarily, will also be socially distinguished – meaning they also share the same values, interests and agendas.

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  118. The latter does not follow from the former — it’s perfectly possible for a candidate to be “socially distinguished” and yet to have entirely different values and agendas. Such persons are normally described as class traitors — The Rt. Hon. Anthony Wedgewood-Benn being a prime UK example.

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  119. Yes – such people exist, but they are exceptions.

    So your idea of good government is to put political power in the hands of members of a group of people who have values and interests that are unaligned with those of the average citizen, and then hope that all goes well because there is a small minority within that class who are good enough to serve the public at large rather than the values and interests that are typical to their group and because the voters would be able to spot those exceptions and vote for them.

    This is really what you are arguing for?

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  120. Keith,
    First let me acknowledge that my distrust of the electoral element of your design id based on existing elections experience (who are the sort of people who will seek election), and that in your scheme, where they have no final authority, it is POSSIBLE that the raft of narcissistic egomaniacs could conceivably be replaced by policy wonks. However, I suspect that if elected “advisors” continue to have real impact on outcomes (less directly) and are treated as community “leaders” we will still see the same sorts of elites filling those positions.

    As for your point that “there is no good reason to believe that the speech acts of a tiny number of randomly-selected persons will automatically (and proportionately) reflect the informed beliefs and preferences of the target population.” … It seems to be a virtual statistical certainty that a large group of randomly selected citizens will far more closely “(proportionately) reflect the informed belief and preferences of the target population” than an elected group ever will. Yes, there could be differences between multiple randomly selected groups… but these would: 1. pale in comparison to the wild fluctuations between different elected bodies; and 2. These variations will vary around the mean, and will tend to average out over time to the popular will.

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  121. *** I proposed to name « ortho-democracy » the political model following the principles of the ancient Athenian dêmokratia. In this model the last word in any important subject belongs either to the vote of the whole dêmos, or to the vote of a minidêmos (allotted jury).
    *** In Periclean Athens, the vote by the whole dêmos was dominating ; in the time of Demosthenes, the vote by the whole dêmos was dominating in matters of external relations, peace and war, and the vote by minidêmos was dominating in other matters. I think that in a modern complex society, the vote by minidêmos must be dominating (the inverse of Periclean situation), without excluding cases of general vote.
    *** I think that in modern societies, or most of them, the ortho-democratic model would be better than the alternatives – polyarchic, authoritarian and totalitarian models (I don’t think that for instance the feudal model or the traditional absolute monarchy model are viable in modern surroundings). I think that the ortho-democratic model would be better than hybrid ones, even if an hybrid could be chosen as transition.
    *** it seems that most kleroterians either favor ortho-democracy, or hybrid models. The weight of the reasons may be different according to the persons.
    *** Many may favor ortho-democracy because it is nearer to the « democratic ideal ». The philosophical debate is interesting, but we cannot reduce the choice to this debate. Even if it could be demonstrated that a modern ortho-democracy is far enough from the « democratic ideal », it could be chosen as better than the alternatives, for various reasons.

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  122. There is in any political model a level of randomness. For an ortho-democratic minidêmos there will be a factor of size – and the corresponding randomness may be calculated. For other factors, as acts of speech effects, we must wait for experiments. But note that the randomness weight may be different in a beginning ortho-democracy, in an established ortho-democracy, in an hybrid system, or in experiments in anti-democratic systems, as Fishkin’s in US polyarchic system or authoritarian Continental Chinese system. The effects of factionalism inculcated by the established system, of civic training, of deference to the betters, of political power consciousness among the ordinary citizens, of variety among the medias etc may be very different according to the political system.

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  123. > there is no good reason to believe that the speech acts of a tiny number of randomly-selected persons will automatically (and proportionately) reflect the informed beliefs and preferences of the target population

    There certainly is. (Of course, other than the “automatic” part – it would take hard work and good management.)

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  124. I agree with Keith that modern isêgoria must be implemented through a complex system – the aim being that any reasonable option is offered to the minidêmos in charge. But I think Keith’s discourse is excessive. Procedures are necessary to filter the proposals for instance but when Keith speaks of a “deluge of proposals” it is exaggerated: there will be usually a variety of reasonable proposals, but not deluges. And I am afraid that Keith leans to consider the democratic process as choice by the dêmos between competing elements of various elites, which must be only a part of the reality. The modern isêgoria procedures must offer to the minidêmos in charge any reasonable option, including one which would not comply with the dominant ideology of any of the main elites.

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  125. > there will be usually a variety of reasonable proposals, but not deluges

    Simple arithmetic shows that for this to be true we need the very large majority of citizens to not make a single “reasonable proposal” in their entire lives. Thus, unless we believe most citizens will never generate reasonable proposals under any condition, the number of reasonable proposals up for discussion would depend completely on the procedures set up for putting up proposals. Thus there will be a filtering mechanism and the only question is what mechanism is to be used if the procedure is to be democratic.

    And, again, as often is the case, the answer is sortition. Putting aside oligarchical (or crypto-oligarchical) objections, I don’t see why an allotted chamber should not be able to generate its own proposals. Why is this OK for current elected parliaments and not OK for allotted ones?

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  126. Yoram> Yes – such people exist, but they are exceptions.

    That’s the genius of election (under a presidential system, and “parliamentary” democracies are becoming increasingly presidential), as it only needs one class traitor to enable the will of the demos to prevail. Leaving aside whether or not Trump actually does stand for the beliefs and interests of the ordinary guy, the fact is that he won the election even though the majority of the political class, the liberal media and the GOP party machine were opposed to him. Recent remarks you made about Sanders and Corbyn suggest that you would have been perfectly happy with electoralism if they had won.

    > the voters would be able to spot those exceptions and vote for them.

    Sure. You’re convinced there is no such thing as voter stupidity or even rational ignorance, only the wrong candidates. Give the public the right candidates and then they will vote for them — so what’s the problem?

    > there will be a filtering mechanism . . . I don’t see why an allotted chamber should not be able to generate its own proposals

    Yoram needs to be very clear as to whether he is seeking to filter (winnow down) the proposals from ho boulomenos, or arrogating the proposal function to a tiny group of persons selected by lot.

    Terry:> a large group of randomly selected citizens will far more closely “(proportionately) reflect the informed belief and preferences of the target population”

    Sure, that’s why I believe (along with you) in isonomic decision making by large randomly-selected juries. But my reference here is to speech acts — most people are not very good speakers, many are shy and (in my experience) the wisest ones tend to keep their mouths firmly shut, so we’re unlikely to hear what their beliefs and preferences are, all we’ll get is the loudmouths (“narcissistic egomaniacs” in your parlance), the problem being that nobody chose them to speak on their behalf.

    Andre:> For other factors, as acts of speech effects, we must wait for experiments.

    Agreed. But until that time, familiarity with the social psychological literature would help dispel the illusion that there is anything democratic about a deliberative body chosen by random wrt to its representativity (something that “deliberative democrats” are not even interested in).

    > The modern isêgoria procedures must offer to the minidêmos in charge any reasonable option.

    How? And who gets to decide what is “reasonable”?

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  127. > That’s the genius of election (under a presidential system, and “parliamentary” democracies are becoming increasingly presidential), as it only needs one class traitor to enable the will of the demos to prevail.

    Oh, really… You are now scraping the bottom of a very deep barrel. Indeed, a single person serving the interests of the people will be able impose his will on a system full of people serving elite interests. This goes beyond genius – this is magic!

    > You’re convinced there is no such thing as voter stupidity or even rational ignorance

    So if voters are not stupid or rationally ignorant, they would see into the heart of every candidate, and would foresee exactly what each candidate will do once in power. Again – the magic of elections is powerful indeed.

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  128. Yoram wrote
    >”I don’t see why an allotted chamber should not be able to generate its own proposals. Why is this OK for current elected parliaments and not OK for allotted ones?”

    I subscribe to the dictum that the author of a proposal is automatically ill-suited to then judge the value of their handiwork. Whether we think of the problem as “pride of authorship” or “confirmation bias” or “corrupt manipulation,” those who draft the proposal must be forbidden from enacting it. This is problem is theoretically slightly mitigated in some elected chambers through bicameralism, (a second set of eyes evaluate the bill) though party loyalty generally defeats that independence, so that the need for independent judging is defeated. This is why I advocate separate short-duration minipublics to give a final yes/no vote on the products of longer duration minipublics that have intensely focused on an issue for a while.

    As for allowing universal ability to offer proposals and commentary… The idea is that everyone has a right to submit ideas with a fair chance for consideration (not that everyone’s proposal will be voted on by the minipublic) This can be reasonably achieved with a variety of filtering methods. These filters might involve distributing proposals to a few members of a minipulbic randomly (so that each member gets only a few raw proposals), and letting them advance or reject the raw material, or some sort of crowdsourcing Internet evaluation (with algorithms that assure that proposals can’t be black balled, and that even minority proposals with strong minority support will advance to the next review stage) etc. A filter can be developed that assures no elite will dominate it, while nonsensical proposals will quickly die, if carefully designed.

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  129. Terry:> some sort of crowdsourcing Internet evaluation (with algorithms that assure that proposals can’t be black balled, and that even minority proposals with strong minority support will advance to the next review stage) etc. A filter can be developed that assures no elite will dominate it

    Andre:> The modern isêgoria procedures must offer to the minidêmos in charge any reasonable option, including one which would not comply with the dominant ideology of any of the main elites.

    I can understand the emulation of Mao’s wish to let 1,000 flowers bloom, but they both breach Dahl’s requirement that the demos must have exclusive control of the agenda. It’s hard to believe that by “demos” Dahl was not referring to some kind of majoritarian principle (or at least statistically significant minorities). It’s also hard to see how it is possible to privilege minorities but at the same time preclude the domination of elites, as the latter are, by definition, minority factions. For example, the campaign for parity between the English and Welsh languages (operationalised as dual-language signposting) is very much an elite preoccupation, as is the drive for equal rights for LGBTQIA “communities” (even communiatrianism is an element of elite political theorists). It strikes me that the word “elite” is being used on this forum in it’s old-fashioned Marxist form of socio-economic elite.

    If you want to include minority and left-of-field proposals without contravening Dahl’s stricture, then the ideal compromise would be to include citizen initiatives that exceeded a certain threshold of public support (say 100,000 online votes) and then succeeded in a public votation. Yes, I know this will mean proposals that have media backing are more likely to be successful, but at least the MSM have to garner the support of their readers/viewers so this is in fact a democratic filter to check the advantage of cultural elites, whose power is (arguably) greater than the old socio-economic elite. Failing that, minority rights will need to be secured by extra-democratic (constitutional) safeguards.

    Yoram:> You are now scraping the bottom of a very deep barrel . . .

    I was merely offering a reductio of your anti-elite rhetoric (and an observation on its partiality). As you know election is merely one (essential) element in my toolbox to operationalise democratic freedom.

    >voters . . . would see into the heart of every candidate, and would foresee exactly what each candidate will do once in power.

    As you know, in my model elected politicians only have the right to introduce manifesto proposals for consideration by the sovereign minidemos. If they behaved differently once “in power”, the proposals would be attacked by the media and thrown out by the allotted assembly. The system is replete with democratic checks and balances to ensure that political elites behave themselves.

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  130. Yoram:> [in response to my “there is no good reason to believe that the speech acts of a tiny number of randomly-selected persons will automatically (and proportionately) reflect the informed beliefs and preferences of the target population”]

    > There certainly is [link provided to an earlier post]

    The “extension-of-self-representation argument” provided in the link is, as always, purely deductive and doesn’t reference any empirical literature on group behaviour. Perhaps rather than “reason to believe” I should have said “evidence that would suggest”. Note also that your focus on “small groups” (presumably with the maximum size for a deliberative exchange) would not meet any statistical target for representativity.

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  131. Yoram:> I don’t see why an allotted chamber should not be able to generate its own proposals. Why is this OK for current elected parliaments and not OK for allotted ones?

    That’s easy. In the former case the representatives are elected (on the basis of ideology, manifesto commitments, confidence etc), so the proposals will match these factors (or else the rascals will be ejected at the next election). In the latter case the relationship between the proposals and the beliefs and preferences of the target population will be random, as the LLN does not apply to the speech acts of small groups.

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  132. Terry,

    > The idea is that everyone has a right to submit ideas with a fair chance for consideration

    This cannot be the case – there are simply potentially too many proposals for all of them to be handled substantively. Furthermore, it is unnecessary. Contrary to the elitist notion of ideas originating from uniquely-qualified or uniquely-inspired geniuses, most good ideas (like sortition, for example) are a social creation. The allotted themselves can be depended upon to gather ideas and promote them as they see fit, and thus in a representative way.

    > A filter can be developed that assures no elite will dominate it, while nonsensical proposals will quickly die, if carefully designed.

    I doubt it. Of course, freeing any system from elite domination is not an easy thing. In the context of a system that is supposed to handle a high volume of proposals, this seems rather doubtful. Furthermore, any notion of “nonsense” is convention-determined and thus must involve decision making by an allotted body if it is to be democratic.

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  133. Terry,

    > I subscribe to the dictum that the author of a proposal is automatically ill-suited to then judge the value of their handiwork.

    In the current context, the only reason to doubt the judgement of the drafters is suspicion of corruption. This should be addressed specifically by the courts and by an anti-corruption body. Expecting a short-term body to be able to competently judge a proposal that was prepared over a much longer period is unrealistic. Introduces such an a-rational factor into the system is detrimental for three reasons:

    1. The direct impact of potentially blocking good bills,

    2. A-rationality is fertile ground for elite manipulation,

    3. Knowing that all their effort may be rejected on a whim would demotivate the drafting body and thus reduce the quality of drafts being submitted.

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  134. >In the current context, the only reason to doubt the judgement of the drafters is suspicion of corruption

    What are the logical steps that lead you to deduce this conclusion, and why are Terry’s “pride of authorship” and “confirmation bias” not applicable? This earlier comment from you would suggest that this is purely a definitional issue:

    any notion of “nonsense” is convention-determined and thus must involve decision making by an allotted body if it is to be democratic.

    This is taking metaphysical nominalism into Buzz Lightyear territory (“To Infinity and Beyond!”)

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  135. Yoram,
    you wrote about my plan to have a separate minipublic vote on the product of an issues-based minipublic, rather than one body both draft and adopt a law:
    >”3. Knowing that all their effort may be rejected on a whim would demotivate the drafting body and thus reduce the quality of drafts being submitted.”
    Or… knowing that if they insert any self-serving or corrupt provisions (as is common with elected bodies), their work will be rejected through the careful review and consideration of another, even more accurately representative short-duration minipublic. They have an incentive to write the best possible law that can stand up to all the arguments against it that the other minipublic will hear. The key is that “whims” are not promoted in my design.

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  136. > self-serving or corrupt provisions

    As I wrote, corruption should be dealt with specifically. It should also lead to consequences for the corrupt that go beyond mere rejection of the proposal. Rejecting a proposal because it is judged to promote the narrow interests of the drafters is a completely different thing from rejecting it because a few days’ study leads to a different conclusion than a prolonged months long study.

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  137. BTW, to clarify what I mean by “whim” – when a proposal that was carefully and painstakingly drafted over months is rejected following a study of a few days this will inevitably appear whimsical to the drafters.

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  138. Yoram:> Rejecting a proposal because it is judged to promote the narrow interests of the drafters

    Given that the drafters would be a randomly-selected microcosm of the demos (rather than a socio-economic class or other faction), presumably you are referring to overt bribery? If so, how would this be uncovered by another randomly-selected microcosm which lacked the forensic skills and resources of the police? My impression is that Terry is referring more to “pride of authorship” and “confirmation bias”, which you have ruled out a priori (but not explained why).

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  139. Yoram,

    The word “corrupt” is not quite right for some sorts of “distorted” policy making I am talking about. An example: It is common for lawmakers to offer amendments to a “must pass” bill that waste public funds on a pet project within their district, and to make deals with other lawmakers to also include pet projects that they want. This vote swapping is “corrupt'” but seen as normal and even necessary political competence. None of these projects would pass muster by an independent jury, but the AUTHORS wink and nod and insist the bill is perfect — because they both crafted the deal and got to give it final approval. This behavior is STANDARD in elected legislatures, and would very likely be re-invented in any all-purpose allotted chamber. The “distortion” might not be for pet projects within a geographic district, but all sorts of other corrupt deals would certainly be made by members. Authors are not competent to judge their handiwork.

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  140. Terry,

    Whether such practices are corrupt or legitimate should be judged separately from the merits of individual bills. Putting such a bill as a take-it-or-leave package in front of a short-term body and assuming that a “yes” vote legitimates those practices seems like a very bad idea. Again, if a court decides this is illegitimate, whoever engages in such dealings should be held responsible.

    (Of course the fact that these practices are common in elected bodies does not mean they will be common in allotted bodies.)

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  141. Yoram:> the fact that these practices are common in elected bodies does not mean they will be common in allotted bodies

    This strikes me as wishful thinking. We all have our own fixations, priorities and “pet projects” — if anything constituents (and party discipline) can help constrain an elected representative from “going off on one”. This sort of corruption is not normally seen as a suitable topic for the law courts (“whoever engages in such dealings should be held responsible”). It’s more a case of ensuring the initiatives under consideration reflect the priorities of the public, and this requires that isegoria should be representative, rather than having deviants “dealt with” by a kangaroo court.

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  142. > It’s more a case of ensuring the initiatives under consideration reflect the priorities of the public

    Public policy that is designed to promote narrow interests rather than reflect the priorities of the public is, by definition, corruption. In any case, for the considerations the I enumerated above, giving veto power over legislation to a short-term body is just a poor idea which will likely not result in less pork but in lower quality legislation and more elite control over public policy, i.e., less democracy.

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  143. > Public policy that is designed to promote narrow interests rather than reflect the priorities of the public is, by definition, corruption.

    Even if we accept that definition of corruption, the principal reason why policy choices are between Coke and Pepsi (as you put it) is the need to appeal to the median voter. If that were not the case, then a single candidate/party that bucked the oligarchic trend would receive overwhelming public support. As I’ve said before, the principal currency of electoral politics is votes, not dollars.

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  144. Your inability to stay on topic is another one of your many wonders, Sutherland. It goes well with your ability to always start each discussion from square one, as if no arguments have been presented before and no conclusions have been reached. Feel free to re-read the comments above discussing the Coke-or-Pepsi phenomenon to recall the context of that discussion.

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  145. Your point has consistently been that as all the choices are determined by elite interests, then the difference between policies is no more than coke vs pepsi. My point is that manufacturers of soft drinks are obliged to pander to public tastes if they don’t want to go bankrupt. If the public genuinely didn’t like coke/pepsi then someone (Dr. Pepper?) would spot the gap in the market and come up with an alternative.

    The same principle applies to electoral politics in a liberal democracy.

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  146. You have already presented this (standard and transparently false) argument and I have already refuted it. Again, have a look at the comments above, if you can trouble yourself to do so. (And yes, funnily enough, Dr. Pepper is indeed the relevant metaphor here.)

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  147. I’m not sure what you’re referring to, this?

    >> May and Corbyn as Coke or Pepsi? And what if it had been Trump and Sanders?

    > Occasionally even a junk food outlet will serve you a salad.

    In what sense have you refuted my “standard and transparently false” argument. All I can see is partisanship (Corbyn is a vegetarian and Trump lives off hamburgers). If (as is entirely possible) May’s government falls over Brexit and is replaced by Corbyn’s Labour, would this be an example of the public’s preferences being realized? (ditto if Sanders had won the Democratic primary and was elected president).
    If so that would be bizarre (as well as partisan) as Blair, Brown and Mandelson only created “New” Labour as the old version was unelectable (Gould’s job was to uncover public preferences via focus groups and then come up with manifesto policies that reflected these preferences. Their role model for this tactic was arch-triangulator Bill Clinton.

    Ref
    ==

    Philip Gould, The Unfinished Revolution: How the modernisers saved the Labour Party, London, Little Brown & Co., 1998.

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  148. Heh. No, although the salad/hamburger analogy is rather amusing, this is not the relevant comment.

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  149. Then what is? I’m genuinely baffled.

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  150. If you cannot find the point where you have made the exact same point and had it answered, what is really the point of having an exchange? With you one always starts afresh, with all previous argumentation forgotten and your preconceived notions intact.

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  151. That’s a real achievement (seriously) to have three meanings of the word “point” in the same short sentence, but I agree that it’s pointless continuing this exchange (on account of your pointed remarks).

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rhg2r

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  152. Expecting to start from square one sometime soon.

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  153. This deep into your back and forth in the comments, I expect I am only speaking to the two of you, which is my intent. My impression is that your discussion is inevitably fruiless…. Yoram’s actual intent is to show (expose) that Keith is a dishonest elitist and Keith’s intent is to always have the last word. This style of participation (both of yours) on this Blog is actually harmful.

    Keith, you post an order of magnitude more comments than the rest of the commenters, perhaps reflecting an inflated view of the value of your wisdom. I would urge you to limit your sheer number of comments so that this isn’t the Sutherland show. Perhaps a maximum of 20% of comments, except when personally questioned would be a good guiding goal.

    Yoram, your efforts to expose Keith mainly come off as snarky and mean to other readers, I believe, and make Keith appear more sincere and reasonable… the opposite of your intent. Yoram refrained from reading (and thus responding to) Keith’s posts for almost a year…. but Keith kept on dominating the comments section in a way that some would view as narcissistic. Again… my request is that Yoram again ignore Keith and Keith dramatically reduce his commenting. Thanks for considering my suggestions.

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  154. Dear Anonymous,

    I agree that the exchanges between Yoram and myself are fruitless. As for my motivation (“always have the last word”), I believe passionately in the value of sortition (unusual for a “dishonest elitist”), but genuinely think that Yoram’s anti-election polemic is harming our cause. If you look at my exchanges with Terry and Andre, I think you’ll find that they follow a very different trajectory — I think all three of us have learned from each other. As for the number of comments, sortition has been my sole focus for the last 7 years (during my PhD) and this blog has been my research community (when I started the PhD, most of the people in my department didn’t even know what sortition meant). Happy to abstain from jousting with Yoram, but the best way to change the balance of posts is for others to pitch in more (even those who like to hide behind a cloak of anonymity).

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  155. Regarding my moral turpitude:

    The default assumption on the left is that its opponents are not merely misguided, but immoral. By conceit, conservatives are heartless, selfish, bigoted, cruel, greedy, unimaginative, poisonously nostalgic for a past that never existed in the first place, exclusively interested in consolidating their own power, rich through the aegis of injustice or cheating, and stupid. These aren’t ideological but deeply personal qualities. . . . [however] for the purposes of public conversation (which we no longer conduct), we’ve lost touch with the fact that ‘ad hominem attack’ is a logical fallacy. Slandering an advocate of an idea does not defeat it. In argument, you can’t win by shooting the messenger.

    Lionel Shriver, Spectator
    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/07/you-dont-win-an-argument-by-getting-personal/

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