[FoRK] occupy - deliberative democracy

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Mon Aug 13 23:05:23 PDT 2012

On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM, Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
<drernie at radicalcentrism.org> wrote:
> On Aug 10, 2012, at 12:08, Damien Morton <dmorton at bitfurnace.com> wrote:

>> Randomly selected into a pool, then randomly selected into
>> working-groups  AND sequestered, such bodies would be essentially
>> incorruptible.
> Exactly! Basically it uses statistical methods to scale up the random citizen bal-lot used in ancient Greece!
> If we can make this work, it would revolutionize democracy as we know it.

For it to acquire moral force, the powers that be would have to
acknowledge the statistical validity of the technique. This is where
delegable voting shines, in that it lazily quantifies actual voting
power, rather than creating a statistical synopsis of it.

Here's a great document on deliberative bodies - he gives them the
name demarchy,


"Democracy does not exist in practice. At best we have what the
ancients would have called elective oligarchies with strong
monarchical elements. Most contemporary discussions of democracy
assume that the task of democratic theory is to provide either some
justification for these regimes or some normative guidance for their
improvement. It is assumed that the state is a necessity of social
life. The question is whether it can be made more democratic. One of
my aims is to disprove this assumption by showing how a polity might
function without the centralization of government that constitutes the

"The main practical problem about democracy is easily stated: in any
full-blooded sense “government of the people, by the people, for the
people” seems impossible in any but the narrowest range of
circumstances. For government by the people to occur the people must
make the decisions that constitute the content of government. But
there is no way in which they can make these decisions, much less make
them on a sound basis, when the decisions involve so many people in so
many different ways as do the decisions involved in legislating and
administering in a modern state. This is not a matter of technical
difficulties of communication. Today we can organize and address
assemblies hundreds of times as big as the Greeks could. It would be
possible to provide everybody with the means of listening to debates
on any topic and recording a vote on every issue without their leaving
their armchairs. But people would be reduced to accepting or rejecting
proposals. There is no way in which any significant proportion could
participate in framing them. Aristotle and other ancient critics of
democracy argued that it inevitably degenerated into rule by the
orators and ultimately into tyranny. The bigger and more passive the
audience the more that is likely to happen.|"

"This brings me to the second and more outrageous element of my
strategy. In order to have democracy we must abandon elections, and in
most cases referendums, and revert to the ancient principle of
choosing by lot those who are to hold various public offices.2
Decision-making bodies should be statistically representative of those
affected by their decisions. The illusory control exercised by voting
for representatives has to be replaced by the chance of nominating and
being selected as an active participant in the formulation of
decisions. Elections, I shall argue, inherently breed oligarchies.
Democracy is possible only if the decision-makers are a representative
sample of the people concerned. I shall call a polity based on this
principle a demarchy,3 using “democracy” to cover both electoral
democracy and demarchy. How and under what conditions this procedure
might work I shall discuss in detail later. For the moment I shall say
just a little about the philosophical consequences of adopting it."

"Demarchy, as I shall present it, is utopian, at least in the sense
that no model for it exists, and it is not based on a projection of
present trends or causes. It can be brought about, if at all, only by
convincing enough people that it should be tried. Obviously the
chances of doing that are small. So it is all the more important to
emphasize that in other respects it is not utopian at all. In
particular, I shall argue that it does not presuppose that people
perform substantially better either morally or intellectually than
they do at present. My hope is that it could create conditions that
would lead to improvements in the level of moral and scientific
self-awareness in the community through a self-reinforcing process,
but there are good grounds for embracing it without putting any store
by such hopes. It is offered primarily as a solution to present
problems, a way of averting very great evils, starting with small
practical steps"

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