Presentation at Democracy Without Elections meeting

On Sunday I presented the presentation above at a meeting of Democracy Without Elections. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion. There was some interest in the “call to action” I make in the next-to-last slide (namely, resisting the oppressive convention of calling countries where the political system is elections-based “democracies”). A proposal was made that we – sortition activists – draw up a list of possible actions that we could engage in, as individuals or in groups, to promote sortition. I had to admit that I have made no such list, and that as far as I know no such list exists. I’ll draw up a list of ideas I have (it may unfortunately be a rather short one) and share it in a future post, and we could collectively extend and improve it.

It was great to meet this group of enthusiastic sortition activists. I thank those who participated and in particular Owen Shaffer for inviting me, and I warmly congratulate all those involved. It is great to see such activity which I think was unimaginable on a decade ago.

9 Responses

  1. There are NO democracies, only oligarchies!

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  2. Currently there exist no democracies. But democracies could be created by constituting the political system differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good work Yoram. I like your framing, “election-based system,” as it does not concede either the word “democratic” or “representative” to the current outdated, 18th century-based oligarchy. Even “polyarchy” was a distraction from the nature of the dominant model that polittical “scientists” euphemisticaly call “representive” blahblah…

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  4. Shall we call those countries “elective aristocracies”, following Rousseau’s typology?

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  5. Rousseau wrote his book well before the age of universal suffrage. Most modern political theorists conclude (with Bernard Manin) that electoral regimes are a combination of aristocratic and democratic functions.

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  6. The theft of the word “democracy” was committed in the third decade of the 19th century, thus well before the age of universal suffrage. I fail to see any value in your argument.
    And, frankly, if I have to decide whether I get my definitions either from Plato, Aristotle, Montesquieu and Rousseau or from “modern political theorists”, I guess I’ll stick to the former.

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  7. The good thing about “elections-based” is that it is non-controversial. Once such a neutral term is adopted, the question of whether elections are a democratic or an oligarchical mechanism can be discussed in a way that is not biased a-priori.

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  8. Arturo,

    Texts need to be read in their historical context, and the conditions of modernity are entirely different from the ancient and early-modern world. Irrespective of the intentions of the 18th century founders, how to institute democracy in large multicultural states is a genuine challenge. Using scare quotes to reference modern political theorists is a good example of the tendency of sortition advocates to disparage scholarly expertise that I was deploring in my latest post — if we do this then we will continue to languish on page 9 of Google searches for sortition.

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  9. […] the discussion following my presentation in the January DWE meeting, one of the participants suggested that a list of actions and activities […]

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