A graphic novel advocating sortition

A new short illustrated fictional work set 5 years into the future follows Tom, an Architecture student in Marseille, who is allotted to sit on the French National Assembly. The work, written (in French) by Béatrice and Salomé Mabilon, is entitled Nous ne sommes pas en démocratie: Plaidoyer pour le tirage au sort (We are not living in a democracy: a plea for sortition) and is available both in print and as an e-book. Béatrice Mabilon is a professor of education and has written in the past in favor of sortition.

Excerpt (my translation):

Julien [Tom’s assistant, who is also a former allotted representative]: “At the beginning when I was allotted it was like a blank page, I felt like anything is possible. But we had a long way to go. In the previous system, power was arrogated by an oligarchy that formed a closed circle. The representative system was in crisis…”

Tom: “Yes, people did not believe in politics anymore and above all in the professionals of politics. Non-voting rates were running high. Even researchers were wrong about that… The argument they usually offered was political indifference and also that the citizens felt incompetent. Moreover, they pointed at a correlation between lack of education and not voting.”

Julien: “Yes, but mainly the feeling of the uselessness of voting…”

Tom: “Some went farther and saw that not voting was a form of protest that expressed citizens’ anger, much more than ‘discontent'”. Not voting was a warning… And event those who felt competent, educated or not, did not vote. This analysis did not capture that! The mechanics of elections made people consent to being dominated! We decided to reject that.”

Tom: “But you said, ‘at the beginning I felt like anything is possible’. Why ‘at the beginning’?”

Julien wanted to explain his experience about the power struggles between the assistants as well as with the allotment system’s employees. But he did not have the time. They arrived at the parliament building.

5 Responses

  1. Sounds tasty. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too cumbersome for me to read French. I’d quite like to see it appear in Spanish or English.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll have a look – maybe I’ll translate some of the tastier bits.


  3. I have read the novel (in fact, a novelette – about 70 short pages). It is a pretty charming mixture of educational material (which is probably not new to readers of EbL, but may be useful to others) and political action. I recommend it to all those who are interested in sortition or are dissatisfied with the electoralist status quo and are curious about possible alternatives.

    Here is another translation of a brief extract. The background is that the allotted have to decide whether to keep the existing practice where allotment is among volunteers only, or to change the procedure so allotment is among all citizens.

    Tom’s phone rang. When he answered, he was surprised to hear the voice of Charles Grosjean. Tom was curious to hear what it was that this A.R. (Allotted Representative) wanted of him.

    Tom had nothing in common with this pompous blowhard. In the previous political system, Grosjean was a politician. He amassed political functions and developed the instincts of an insider. The conversation lasted a good quarter of an hour.

    Tom kept quiet and tried to see where Grosjean was aiming. After a while Grosjean advanced his pawns. “We should not have decisions made by representatives without culture, without education, without experience”…

    He didn’t quite say “without teeth”, but he certainly was thinking it. Grosjean did not want to reform the allotment. For him, only volunteers should be decision makers! As he liked to put it: that “limited the damage a bit”.

    Tom was not surprised. It would take some decades for the new system to be accepted, and there would be attempts to overturn it.


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