A Niftier Neologism: “Citocracy”

I’ve just come up with a better name for a system of government that employs sortition: “Citocracy.” I defend it in my latest comment in my thread, “Demiocracy—a Nifty Neologism,” at https://equalitybylot.com/2018/10/17/demiocracy-a-nifty-neologism/#comment-24489. Here is its first 20%:

In response to the criticism above, I withdraw “demi-ocracy” and “randemocracy.” In their place I submit “CITOCRACY,” my best and final offer. It means “Power to, and in, the Citizens.” This meaning is broadly the same as democracy’s meaning, “Power to (and in) the People.”

But it’s not a mere redundancy, because It implies that that power will be exercised significantly by persons who have not been elected—i.e., by ordinary citizens—and not, or not only, by elected intermediary professional politicians. And also not exercised by such unavoidably accompanying afflictions of mass democracy as political parties, propagandists, pressure groups, the press (aka the middleman media), and pelf-possessors, whose character and interest notably differ from citizens’—for the worse. 

I hereby dub our current system “POLOCRACY”—“power to and in the politicians (“pols” and the “political class”).” It is a neatly orthogonal term that covers the remainder of “the people”—i.e., elected citizens and their minions.

(Perhaps, for clarity until familiarity has been achieved, the terms might be hyphenated, thus: “cit-ocracy” and “pol-ocracy.”)

“Citocracy” is ordinary English and doesn’t suggest anything off-puttingly foreign, archaic, esoteric, academic, or radical. (And yet it has a satisfying hint of radicalism in its allusion to the French Revolution’s battle-cry appeal to “citoyens!”) So, persons hearing the word might be willing to hear more about it. At which point a proponent could say:

  1. Citocracy implies a system in which “citizens panels” (advisory) and/or “citizens juries” (proposal-evaluators and/or legislator-electors) and/or “citizens assemblies” (legislators) would play a major role. (The “cit” prefix in “citocracy” builds naturally upon those three commonly used terms.)
  2. Citocracy implies the elimination or curtailment of the six above-listed Pernicious P’s (which a proponent could describe and denigrate), starting with professional party-system politicians, who reign under “polocracy”—a system that our Founders didn’t intend. They had in mind instead a system of amateur citizen legislators—though “notables,” to be sure—i.e., a citocracy.

Demarchy—small, sample electorates electing officials

From Cornucopia of Ideas, Social Inventions Journal for 2001, by Roger Knights, “Demarchy—small, sample electorates electing officials,” pages 237–44

[SIJ editor’s comment:] Sumarized from a longer paper by Roger Knights entitled ’Nec Pluribus Impar’ which can be read in full on the web (at www.globalideasbank.org/demarchy.html)

(Alas, it’s no longer available online because the Global Ideas Bank was hacked and destroyed. My own copy was lost due to one of Microsoft’s black screens of death.—Roger Knights)

I contend that if the power of electing officials were transferred to small, sample electorates, government would be more accountable to common sense. 

What’s wrong with current democracy is that it is too influenced by interest groups and crusading moralists. And where those two forces are in abeyance, it lacks common sense.

The theory of democracy is that the government should be accountable to the common sense of the community. Now, common sense is a quality, not a quantity; it is present to the same degree in a small sample of the electorate as it is in the whole body. This system of demarchy that I propose would make democracy more real.
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Social Inventions Journal Extracts on Sortition

Here, for the sake of bibliographic completeness, are proposals for forms of sortition published in the Social Inventions Journal’s (SIJ), annual compilations from the Institute for Social Inventions, up until 2002, when it ceased publication.

Additional suggestions were posted to its website for several more years, until it was hacked and disabled, making it impossible for me to look through it. Its backup versions on the Wayback Machine do not allow one to see more than the first 25 or so entries under its “Politics” category. (I wish some charitable foundation would fund its restoration to archive status, at a minimum.)

From Re-Inventing Society, 1994, “Random selection of Lords,” by T.M. Arting Stoll, page 190

How about random selection from the population of people to serve one year in a Senate replacing the Lords?

From Best Ideas, 1995, “Voter juries, vetoes and feedback,” by Geof Mulgan and Andrew Adonis, page 245

[SIJ Editor’s note:] Adapted extract from an article by Geof Mulgan and Andrew Adonis in Lean Democracy, issue No. 3, £5, of a journal from the think tank Demos, 9 Bridewell Place, London EC4V 6AP (tel. 0171 353 4479, fax 0171 3534481; e-mail Demos@Demon.Co.UK>).

If democracy means self-government, it is doubtful whether Britain and other western countries should be called full democracies.

A critical democratic dimension, the personal involvement of citizens in government, has gone almost entirely neglected.

We have three moderate, specific proposals for change:

Voter juries [good term—RK]: the piloting, at the national and local level, of voter juries to assess the pros and cons of contested policy proposals. They would be established on a similar basis to judicial juries, but without formal constitutional authority.

Voter vetoes: The introduction of voter vetoes, giving citizens at national and local level the right to call consultive referenda on strongly contested legislation or council decisions. At national level one million citizens would need to sign a petition for a referendum to take place.

Voter feedback: Local experiments to engage people in deliberation on local issues of controversy using the combined television and telephone networks being built by cable companies in conurbations, in collaboration with local authorities and other local institutions.

From Creative Speculations, 1997, “Citizen juries for considering policy options,” by the Institute for Public Policy Research, pages 234–36
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“Demiocracy”—a Nifty Neologism

We need a term that parallels “democracy”: one that names a system of government in one word. Demiocracy and its cognates (Demiocrat & Demiocratic) do this.

Moreover, Demiocracy is not an unduly puzzling new word: it immediately communicates:

1) That it’s a variant of democracy (only an “i” has been added), and

2) That it’s something small (a “demi-democracy”), from the prefix “demi,” whose dictionary definition is “half, semi, partial.” (The last item, “partial,” fits Demiocracy best.) (Demiocracy and its cognates should always be capitalized, so readers realize it’s not the word “democracy” (which is ordinarily lower-cased).)

Terms like “citizens jury” and “citizens assembly” are useful in places, but: 1) They lack cognates. 2) They are more descriptive than “Demiocracy,” but they aren’t adequately descriptive. A person encountering those terms might wonder, “Don’t we already have juries made up of citizens?” or “Don’t we already have town meetings?” Most importantly, 3) they fail to suggest the vital ingredient of diminution (via sampling), which “demi” does.

  1. Other terms lacking cognates are allotment and demarchy, although they can be used where appropriate.
  2. These terms do have cognates, but are obvious non-starters: lottocracy, stochocracy, and klerocracy.
  3. Sortition has cognates in sortitionism and sortitionistic, but those words lack the common touch. They’re my second choice—or maybe my third, after juristocracy. (I like “Sortinista” for a proponent of sortitionism.) It’s not perfect—but what is? It’s better than the alternatives, all things considered.

Here are other terms that can usefully employ the “demi” prefix and thereby mesh with Demiocracy:

Demi-public and Demi-jury: A citizens jury of one of the three types below; a body of lot-winners (regardless off the details of the lottery), used in place of Dahl’s term, “mini-public.”

  1. Demi-advisory panel: A Demi-public with advisory powers only. (Abbreviated as “Demi-AP”.)
  2. Demi-electorate: A Demi-public with electoral powers—i.e.,  to elect one or more office-holders. It might also have advisory powers.
  3. Demi-assembly (or Demi-Conclave): A Demi-public with the power to pass legislation—though perhaps only on to another legislative chamber, or on a specific topic or resolution. It might also have advisory and/or electoral powers.

Members of the above bodies would be called Demi-jurors, Demi-advisors, Demi-electors, and Demi-assemblymen / Demi-assemblywomen.

Demi-dubbing: The process of selecting a citizen to serve on a Demi-jury by some randomization process. The person so selected has been “dubbed” and he/she is a Demi-winner or Dubbee (i.e., dubbed by “the fickle finger of fate”).

Sortinista Experts: Be a Guest on Talk Radio

To spread our “mini,” or “demi,” message, I urge notable advocates of citizen juries to appear on one or more of America’s numerous talk-radio shows. (These are probably rarer in other countries.)

I Googled for “talk radio guest application” and dozens of places or ways to apply came up; if you Google for that phrase, you will get them too. (I wasn’t able to capture the results-page’s URL and post it here for you to click.)

A four-hour show that usually gives guests a two-hour segment (40 minutes per hour—the rest is news and ads) is “Coast to Coast AM.” It has a large audience—about three million. It often has guests from the UK and Australia. It specializes in heterodox topics (including a fair amount of “woo”). Its downside is its late-night hours: 1 to 5 AM in the East; 10PM to 2AM on the Pacific coast. Here’s its website: https://www.coasttocoastam.com. Here’s its request for guests, on its “Contact” thread:

Be Our Guest

Have you ever wondered how to become a guest on Coast to Coast AM? It’s easy. Just send an e-mail to the Producer stating your name, phone number, the area of your expertise or the nature of your experience. If it sounds like something worth talking about on Coast to Coast AM, the producer will call you. It’s that easy. Write to: CoastProducer@aol.com

The most desirable guests on any show, I suspect, would have one or more of these qualifications, among others: An academic post; a publishing record; a speaking-to-audiences record; a good speaking voice and a smooth presentation; a “common touch,” a lengthy period in the field, … I think it would be best if two or even three guests appeared, for the sake of variety and balance, so maybe you should have a name or two to suggest as your sparring partner.
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Book: The Power of Scale by John H. Bodley

Here’s an intriguing book: The Power of Scale: A Global History Approach (2002), Routlledge, by John H. Bodley. Its price varies depending on format but is generally over $30. It seems to have been overlooked—it has only one Amazon review. But it could be mined for some good Kleroterian ammo; here’s its blurb:

“Throughout history, the natural human inclination to accumulate social power has led to growth and scale increases that benefit the few at the expense of the many. John Bodley looks at global history through the lens of power and scale theory, and draws on history, economics, anthropology, and sociology to demonstrate how individuals have been the agents of social change, not social classes. Filled with tables and data to support his argument, this book considers how increases in scale necessarily lead to an increasingly small elite gaining disproportionate power, making democratic control more difficult to achieve and maintain.”

Its shorty link in the American Amazon site is: https://goo.gl/sxP81t Its link in the UK Amazon site is: https://goo.gl/2nofcS 

Speaking of “scale,” here’s some lagniappe that also might be useful ammo: two quotes on scale’s effect on elections:

”The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.”

—H.L. Mencken, “Bayard vs. Lionheart,” July 26, 1920, in H.L. Mencken on Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe (1960), page 21. 

(On U.S. Amazon it’s atop a list of other H.L. Mencken books at this shorty link: https://goo.gl/tvnDs5 On UK Amazon it’s at https://goo.gl/LVAEkX, but thrice as expensive.)

“Something like republicanism or ‘democracy’ will work after a fashion in a village or even a township, where everybody knows everybody and keeps an eye on what goes on. Why not, then, in a county, a state, a nation? Simply because the law of diminishing returns is against it.”

—A.J. Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943), page 134. (Available in the U.S. in a $3 Kindle edition at: https://goo.gl/6HGHoM, or in the UK more expensively in paper at; https://goo.gl/Zi7xs7) 

25 Books under “Sortition” on Amazon

Sortition fans can type “sortition” into the Amazon search box (with the setting set to Books) and bring up a list of about 25 books on sortition. (You might also try “demarchy” or “election by lot”.) About one-third of the Kindle versions are under $5.

Americans can get to that page merely by clicking the shorty link https://goo.gl/Jw8Xfg 

Britons can do likewise at https://goo.gl/6RN8R7

Burnheim’s book, Is Democracy Possible? isn’t among the 25, probably because the word “sortition” isn’t in its text (I assume), but its Kindle version can be had in the U.S. for $3 at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IMOCMLG/ref=pe_385040_118058080_TE_M1DP 

Probably its UK version is likewise inexpensive, but you’ll have to type in the title to get to it.