Maurice Pope’s The Keys to Democracy is now available

Hugh Pope writes:

I’m writing to share details about the publication of the book that has been my special project over the past 18 months: The Keys to Democracy: Sortition as a New Model for Citizen Power, by my late father, the classicist Maurice Pope.

The back story: my dad wrote the book in the 1980s, but, perhaps because it was ahead of its time, his usual publishers wouldn’t take it. We had thought the work was lost well before he passed away in 2019. But two years ago, while sorting through his library, my mother found the typescript.

As my brother Quentin and I edited the text, we consulted several experts and were urged on by messages back telling us that the book was “masterful”, “bold”, “visionary” and more (you can see all their endorsements here). Dr. Hélène Landemore of Yale University and Cambridge classicist Dr. Paul Cartledge generously wrote a preface and an introduction. With many such helping hands, we found a publisher at UK philosophy specialists Imprint Academic. The book went on sale on 7 March.

Back in the 1980s, few others proposed that randomly selected citizens could, after proper information and deliberation, reach better decisions than elected politicians. This open field is perhaps one reason for the book’s unique and accessible combination of the history, mathematics, philosophy and future of sortition. My dad’s ideal – in which random selection could be the decision-making heart of all branches of government – also makes him more radical than most other thinkers writing today.

In the UK, we’re launching the book with an in-person-only debate on 18 March at Wadham College, Oxford. DemocracyNext, where I’m on the Advisory Board, has organised an online panel on 21 March where I’ll be joining DemNext’s Claudia Chwalisz, James Harding of Tortoise Media and sortition historian Dr. Yves Sintomer. Other events are pending and there’s a first podcast interview too.

The Keys to Democracy is available direct from Imprint Academic (where for a limited period the publisher is offering a 30% discount on the lovely hardback with code CAT23, but beware of Brexit charges if ordering to Europe!). Globally it’s on Amazon (e.g. US, UK, DE) as a hardback and as an ebook on Kindle. The publisher also posted my dad’s preface online here.

Please feel free to share news of the book with anyone you think might be interested in the topic. If you take a closer look at what it proposes, I hope it will give you new ideas and hope for a better-run future. It has certainly done that for me.

With best wishes,


2 Responses

  1. Would someone like to review it on EbL? If so let me know and I’ll send you a copy.


  2. I’ll definitely read and post my impressions. The preface seems very promising. A statement like

    Universal franchise has little or nothing to do with democracy. It can at best yield government by consent. It is the friend of a ruling class,

    fully justifies Hugh’s assertion that Maurice was “more radical than most other thinkers writing today”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: