Meeting March 24th – International Network of Sortition Advocates

The International Network of Sortition Advocates (INSA) will have its next meeting Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 19:00 GMT [20:00 Europe, 21:00 Israel, 14:00 EST (2:00 PM), 6:00 AEDT].

Google Meets Link: meet.google.com/xek-kpwx-ofr

Agenda items include:

  • Update on Google Works account
  • Configuring Discord app
  • Regular dates and times for monthly meetings
  • Shared management and facilitation of the INSA project
  • Ideas for future projects

*Please note our desire to keep the meetings to 1-hour in length. 

Meeting February 24th – International Network of Sortition Advocates (INSA)

The International Network of Sortition Advocates (INSA) will have its next meeting Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 19:00 GMT [20:00 Europe, 21:00 Israel, 14:00 EST (2:00 PM), 6:00 AEDT].

Google Meets Link: meet.google.com/oiu-wfxi-vdy.

To make our time together more productive and to limit the amount of work done outside of meetings, there will be a new format for our regular monthly meetings. Beginning this month, instead of a meeting primarily to discuss issues and then dividing up work to complete on our own time, we will use the hour together to actually complete the work that needs to be done. We’re hoping that this new format, requiring only an hour a month commitment, will attract greater numbers of interested people. Future agendas will be set by meeting participants.

Meeting Agenda – February 24, 2022 – Research and select an online platform to facilitate an exchange of information and ideas.

Please let us know if you plan to attend. We welcome your active participation and look forward to seeing you at the February 24th meeting! For more information contact:

Benny Nissen at benny@sortition.dk or Rich Brown at rbrowncmt@yahoo.com


Our Mission: To advocate for the use of Sortition, across the globe, as a better way to make political decisions by:

  • Creating an international collaborative platform for groups advocating for the use of sortition to share successes, resources, and inspiration to impel a shared global narrative.
  • Helping to establish and nurture groups to further spread the word about sortition in their local and national context.

Action: Reject the “this is a democratic country!” mental habit

In a previous post I listed some proposals for actions that activists can take to promote the idea of sortition. In this post and future ones I’d like to expand a bit on some of those ideas and open them for discussion.

From birth, citizens of Western countries are indoctrinated into thinking about their countries as being democracies. As they grow, citizens have to face a never-ending stream of pieces of evidence which falsify this idea. And indeed, they tend to become more and more disillusioned and cynical about the political systems of the societies in which they live.

And yet, it seems it is incredibly hard for Western citizens to break the habit of thinking of their societies as being essentially democratic, even if severely flawed ones. Each one of those flaws is perceived as a point in which the system does not function as it should, as it is expected, often as it has previously did.

The simple and stark fact that the Western system is not democratic and was never designed to be democratic – in fact, designed explicitly to be not democratic – is somehow almost never internalized. As they read or hear about another outrage of government, citizens keep repeating in frustration and indignation: “This shouldn’t happen! This is a democratic country!”.
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Action ideas

In the discussion following my presentation in the January DWE meeting, one of the participants suggested that a list of actions and activities that sortition activists can engage in in order to promote idea of sortition would be useful. Here is my attempt at a first draft. The possible actions and activities are categorized by the circle of action (internal, personal circle, wider circles). In addition there is a category of activities that are suitable for coordinated action. In some cases it may be worth expanding on the bullet items and giving some details, but I wanted to keep the list brief and manageable, so I intend to do this separately.

Please contribute your ideas in the comments. Hopefully we can create an improved, richer list in future versions.

Changing personal habits of thought and expression

  • Breaking the habit of thinking and referring to countries with elections-based political systems as “democratic” (e.g., “the Western democracies”)
  • Awareness of the oppressive outcomes of the elections-based system
  • Thinking and talking about those outcomes as inherent to the elections-based system, rather than aberrations
  • Rejecting the standard electoralist “fixes” (campaign finance reforms, term limits, the popular initiative process, proportional representation, etc.)

Action within the personal circle
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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.

Mock Citizens’ Assembly

Want to experience a Citizens’ Assembly from the inside? Democracy Without Elections has teamed with Healthy Democracy and the Building a New Reality Foundation to put you in the middle of one!

Healthy Democracy will run a Mock Citizens’ Assembly that will be very close to the real thing. You can experience every part of a Citizens’ Assembly except that there would be no democratic lottery (sortition) to choose participants, a final report would not be written and the experience will be more compressed. There is no lottery as folks are self-selected because they want to experience a Citizens’ Assembly from the inside.

A Citizens’ Assembly must have an issue to settle, and ours will identify the best direction for our movement. Assuming only one direction could be supported at this time, should we focus on

  • using citizens’ assemblies to make recommendations to elected bodies, or
  • replacing legislators with citizens chosen by lottery

The cost for this experience is set at 3 self-selected levels: US$49, $89, $119. Pay what you can afford. If $49 is too much, contact us and we will work something out. Precocious 13 – 18 year olds are free with a paying adult.

Wonder what it would be like to be a facilitator at a Citizens’ Assembly (CA)? You can try it out as well! While it does not prepare you to be a professional facilitator, a special training session will happen prior to the Mock CA. A facilitator focuses on the meeting process and how the group is working, but does not contribute to the actual discussion. Participants in that training session will serve as novice facilitators during the Mock CA. Depending on the numbers, you would be a facilitator at times and a participant in the Mock CA. The cost for both the facilitator training and the Mock CA is, again, at 3 self-selected levels: US$99, $179, $229.

It all starts in February, and will be on Zoom on these dates:

  • February 19 (facilitator ‘training’)
  • February 26 and March 5 (Mock CA)

The times for each Saturday session are are set to include interested people in Europe, Africa, and across North and South America. All times are pegged to the United States Pacific Standard Time, so please verify the time in your own area.

  • Hawaii time: 7 – 9am, 10 – 12pm
  • Pacific US time: 9 – 11am, 12 – 2pm
  • Eastern US time: 12 – 2pm, 3 – 5pm
  • United Kingdom, Portugal, Ghana: 5 – 7pm, 8 – 10pm
  • Central Europe, Tunisia: 6 – 8pm, 9 – 11pm

There are limited spaces; click here to sign up! Contact me if you have questions.

Owen Shaffer

01shaffer@gmail.com

Democracy Without Elections

Democracy Without Elections is a U.S. 501(c)3 registered nonprofit organization.

Sortition on Reddit

Reddit user subheight640 is a sortition advocate. He (or she) has been posting about sortition on multiple Reddit forums. His posts – such as this one – have garnered approvals from hundreds of users and has engaged a great number of people in discussions on this topic. This seems like a fairly effective way to get sortition more widely known and considered.

A Call to Arms

Dear Fellow Sortitionist: I urge you to join me in a letter writing campaign intended to raise public awareness here in the U.S.

I’ve written to the director of the Metropolitan Museum (in New York), requesting that the Greek wing host an exhibition on the subject of Athenian democracy. The letter is heartfelt but I am an unknown individual possessing no social or institutional connections – neither a donor, a scholar, or a socialite – I doubt very much that my missive will ever even make it past his secretary. But what if the director were to receive a dozen (or a hundred) similar letters? I think then his assistant would undoubtedly take notice and the director would most certainly give the idea serious consideration. Hence, my plea to the sortition community for a joint assault on the director’s inbox

To directly challenge someone’s mainstream political views (as sortitionists are wont to do) is usually an exercise in futility. But to question them indirectly, by contemplating the example of an exotic, ancient system of government, may just leave some wiggle room for the adjustment of hard held habitual beliefs. That’s the hope anyhow. The museum patron enters the exhibit as a die hard supporter of the 21’st Century “Democratic” status quo and exits harboring some well informed doubts. A sortition partisan in the making… This is what I would hope for anyhow, and so long as sortition remains unknown here in the U.S. activist projects such as this will remain the main focus of my energy.
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Association Pour la Rotation Et la Sortition (L’APRES)

This post was written by NemoNihilis one of the co-founder of l’APRES (not my pseudonym). Come and visit our website https://sortition.fr

The goal of this association is to turn debates into discussions. Our objective is meta-political, that is to say we discuss the politic of how to do politic in order to promote diversity. We aim to provide tools for people fed up by a discourse monopolized by those who speak the loudest, or absent of the voices of those with less self assurance and crucially. We offer two solutions to these problems.

I. Rotating moderation

The moderator gives the floor to people asking to speak, or request to hear someone’s opinion. However, their work doesn’t end there and they can also choose to keep or change the topic(s) of discussion.

Traditionally, a group would elects a single moderator for the entire meeting, but our association proceeds differently. We rotate the role every X (often 20) minutes or less because the moderator can choose to end their mandate anytime even before it begins. It is then the turn of the person to their left to take over this role.

What about sortition in all of this? Continue reading

Sortition in Government Series

Terry Bouricius will be leading a series of presentations on applying sortition to government at the next several monthly meetings of Democracy Without Elections, formerly the United States Chapter of the Sortition Foundation. The next monthly meeting will be held online on Tuesday 15 December at 9pm Eastern, 6 Pacific (US time). Terry’s topic is “Underlying legitimacy of election vs. sortition,” and further described as…

“Both election and sortition claim to be representative forms of democracy, but they have very different historic roots and very different bases for legitimacy. The different methods are likely to deliver very different policy outcomes as well. Law making using sortition dates back thousands of years, and is recently undergoing a resurgence.”

The meeting includes reports from Interest Groups and from our new Board of Directors. Contact Owen for access to the meeting.

Future online meeting presentations in this series will include discussions on

  • Why elections are a bad tool for running a democracy
  • Sortition representation and accountability
  • Why having one chamber elected and one chamber by sortition is problematic
  • How to organize law-making with sortition
  • Aspects of Sortition: impartiality, anti-corruption, representativeness, diversity benefits
  • Sortition role in the executive branch
  • Transition strategies to sortition democracy