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.

Should we talk about “mini-publics” instead of sortition?

I’ve had many conversations with people about sortition over the last several years, and I’ve never been happy with the term “sortition.” However, I’ve never found a satisfactory alternative. I suspect other people on this blog have also struggled with this problem.

I know of four terms, in English, to describe the selection process we’re talking about. Here are the problems I’ve encountered with each one:

Sortition – doesn’t have an immediate association with anything that people know about (for example, it’s not clearly related to the verb “to sort,” or to the noun “sort”). Also, it sounds like the word “sordid.”

Random selection – the people I’ve talked to intuitively dislike the idea of “random” anything (except random sampling in statistics) – let alone anything “random” connected to democracy (although, ironically, they do like random selection of jurors).

Selection by lot – sounds archaic, even Biblical.

Lottery (and related terms like Alex Guerrero’s “lottocracy”) – has negative connotations because it’s associated with gambling, and (in the United States) with educational lotteries (a few lucky families win, most lose).

What would be a better alternative? At the moment, I think it would be helpful to talk about “mini-publics.”
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