“Down with Elections!” A Pure Sortition Proposal, Part 1

This is my latest thinking on the subject, and rather long-winded, I’m afraid, so I’m posting it in six parts.

Some of it is reheated leftovers, my apologies, but my mind works slowly, I have to save it labour if I can. For the same reason, the title has been pressed into service again.

It’s written for the general public, not the erudite intellectuals of this forum, but I’d like to know if there are any errors of fact, in fact any suggestions would be welcome.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6




How could anyone except a would-be dictator be so stupid, so irresponsible, or so perverse as to wish to see the end of elections?

In the developed and supposedly democratic world, we are accustomed to think that freedom and democracy, if not quite synonymous, go hand in hand; that one is not possible without the other. We assume, usually without giving the matter much thought, that elections are necessary for democracy and that they guarantee freedom.

It is easy enough to see why this assumption is so common.
Continue reading

Early advocate of sortition in government Robert Dahl has died

Robert Dahl was a prominent political scientist and an early advocate of using sortition in government. He proposed advisory allotted bodies in his 1970 book After the Revolution and made a similar proposal (“mini-populi”) in his 1989 book Democracy and Its Critics.

Democracy and Its Critics presents, among other ideas, a careful and coherent critique of the power of “guardian” bodies like the supreme court. In general, Dahl was noted for being unusually clear in his argumentation in a field whose main occupation is a struggle to explain the advantages of a government system in terms of an ideology which is in plain conflict with it. As an illustration, here is a striking passage from Dahl’s A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956):

The absence of specific meaning for terms like “majority tyranny” and “faction” coupled with the central importance of these concepts in the Madisonian style of thinking has led to a rather tortuous political theory that is explicable genetically rather than logically. Continue reading