Samarajiva: Sortition, How Could It Be Worse?

Indi Samarajiva, a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka, writes:

Abolish Politicians — Why We Should Just Put Random People In Office

Even the Athenians had elections for certain positions, like generals, jobs requiring expertise. Then the question is, doesn’t being a modern legislator require expertise? Look, it certainly wouldn’t hurt, but look around. Are we ruled by experts? This hypothetical is really not how things have worked out, and we’ve tried it for decades.

Today we elect the children of past rulers, which is straight feudal, and the people that scream the loudest, which is straight demagoguery, and people who simple have enough money to run, which is straight oligarchy. The only people that get there by pure merit are hard-working criminals and a few excellent speakers and true leaders. We act like the latter is the rule, when in fact it is the exception. We’re literally sending our worst.

The arguments against sortition are that we need educated, experienced people in Parliament, but these are fundamentally classist notions.

The whole idea of ‘education’ or qualification is based on the idea that a third-generation Harvard fuckboi is a better person than a plumber. It’s based on the idea that rich criminals must be doing something right, so why not run for office? It’s the idea that stay-at-home moms are dumber than lawyers, or that a poor person cannot possibly contribute to our democracy. The ancients would say yes to a lot of this, but they would do it at the citizenship level. Because they weren’t hypocrites. We need to drop the hypocrisy and look at our actual values, and if we’re living up to them.

Either every citizen is equal or they’re not. If you don’t think a high-school dropout is educated enough to be a Senator, how are they educated enough to choose one? If you don’t think a bartender is ‘qualified’ to be a representative, then why are they even qualified to vote? Either we’re all equals in a democracy, or we’re not in a democracy at all. Call it what it is.

This is why I call for abolishing politicians. Gradually, at the local and provincial governance level and then, if it doesn’t break everything, up the Parliamentary level. Up to actual self-rule, by our actual selves. It might sound crazy, but ask yourself this. How could it be worse?

2 Responses

  1. Love a good polemic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A good short read, with some good thoughts.

    I don’t agree that simply changing the selection method of the existing municipal councils and federal legislatures to lottery is a good fix.

    I do think there is a role for selected/elected officials in governance, but chosen by jury, not by popular election (which is a very oligarchic and poorly informed way to choose public officials), and with the final say on laws residing with legislative juries. I don’t support long terms of service for allotted bodies, but rather prefer something more like the Athenian approach of juries serving for short periods of time (though perhaps longer than the one day trials of Athenian jury-courts, and than the one day trials of legislative juries if in fact the Athenians had legislative juries).

    Officials chosen by jury are I think good for proposing laws to legislative juries (including superminorities of them to use Alex and Keith’s excellent term), but should not have the power to legislate.

    Liked by 1 person

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