Okazaki: Appointment and Sortition

Seiki Okazaki, Professor of political theory and comparative politics at Kyushu University, Japan, has written to share a summary of his new article, “Appointment and Sortition,” pubilshed in Law and Philosophy journal, No. 7, pp. 31–56.

I have recently published an article titled “Appointment and Sortition” in Japanese. It is one of the five contributions to Law and Philosophy, No. 7 (June 2021), which discuss ‘Just Lotteries’. Here I will summarize the arguments of my article.

As is well known, sortition has been generally discussed within the framework of ‘election and/or sortition.’ While I agree that the framework is still relevant, I am concerned that it limits the potential of sortition: Sortition tends to be applied mainly to the legislature and is mainly evaluated in terms of its contribution to democracy. If we liberate the concept of sortition from the framework, we can recognize two potentialities of sortition. First, the field of application is not limited to legislature: Sortition can be applied to administration and to the judiciary. Second, we will see that it has a liberal potential as well as a democratic potential: Sortition can contribute not only to citizen participation in power, but also to the restriction of political power (Oliver Dowlen’s book is important in this respect).
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Global Democracy

In a Democracy it is important that the decision on any public issue, be made by a community at the appropriate level. For example; local, regional, national, continental or global. It is imperative that at each level decision on a particular matter should be decided on the specific considerations that are relevant to each, not on the basis of power games.

The all-embracing range of nation-states is a very undesirable concentration of power. The concerns of each nation-state are all framed and public policy is evaluated in terms of their community, with only the slightest concern for other communities. In an era where almost all our most urgent problems can be understood and resolved only on a global scale, we have to look to decision making bodies on each matter in terms of its own nature. Some of those urgent problems are international but most of them are not a matter that is of national communities, but must be approached on a global perspective – global change, overpopulation, the world ecology, and many other matters effect us not as citizens of the state, but as citizens of the world. Nation states used to be self-sufficient and nobody worried about the earth as global. That is no longer the case.

It would be very dangerous to think we can treat this new situation simply on the federal model in which states hand over some matters to a superior body that met their common needs, by concentrating all the power for dealing with those problems in a single government. Federal powers are inevitably repressive of their constituents in many respects. People rightly fear the likely effects on a world state.

An alternative model – a central departure – from current assumptions, is to abandon the idea that everybody in a community should have an equal say on every matter of public concern. Certainly there are many matters in which there is solid ground for strict equality, but what is more often the case is that some important matters can be dealt with best by the those who are most affected either favourably or unfavourably by the activity in question.
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