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!


  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“election-based system,” as it does not concede either the word “democratic” or “representative” to the current outdated, 18th century-based oligarchy.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…

    Liked by 2 people

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


  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.


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.


  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.


  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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