Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sortition = Equality by Lot

The kleroterion (Ancient Greek: κληρωτήριον) is a randomization device used by the Athenian polis during the period of democracy to select citizens to the boule, to most state offices, to the Nomothetai, and to court juries. The kleroterion was a slab of stone incised with rows of slots and with an attached tube. Citizens' tokens—pinakia—were placed in the slots and the tube was filled with different-colored dice. The dice were released one by one, each die corresponding to a row of pinakia. The color of each die determined whether the owners of the pinakia in the corresponding row were selected to hold office or to become jurists.

In essence, equality by lot is the only true democracy whereby citizens of a given state are chosen by lot to fulfil a designated position in government, something radical, disruptive and wise, with a bit of luck thrown in, originating in Athens around 486 BC.

Sortition,  election by lot, a method of choosing public officials in some ancient Greek city-states. It was used especially in the Athenian democracy, from which most information about the practice is derived. With few exceptions, all magistrates were chosen by lot, beginning with the archons in 487–486 bc; likewise the Boule (council) of 500 and the juries of the law courts were chosen by lot. The practice of sortition obviated electoral races and provided for the regular turnover of officeholders. The operations of government were thus not in the hands of experts, but, through the system of sortition, the Athenian democracy provided at least some practical political education for its citizens.

The rationale of sortition was the equality of all citizens. 

Or, in a really interesting piece titled Early Elections, Bush or Clinton, one sees this.

ME. On the contrary. True democracy existed long ago and only briefly. In the Athens of old, public offices were drawn by lottery among those who qualified – in the instance, the heads of a household. Names were mixed in an urn and a boy with a scarf on his eyes drew the names. The process was called ‘sortition’, that is, the selection of officers from a larger pool of candidates.
Aristotle clearly stated the argument, “Democracy arose from the idea that those who are equal in any respect are equal absolutely. All are alike free, therefore they claim that all are free absolutely… The next is when the democrats, on the grounds that they are all equal, claim equal participation in everything.”

And he was even more categorical on elections, “It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.”

There you have it. Sortition is the only and true democracy. At elections time, there is a lottery. Your next door neighbor can be President, the postman Minister of Defense, the milkman Minister of Agriculture and so on till the last public office.

True democracy is a lottery. Every other political structure, including voting-based government is camouflaged aristocracy, though given the times, even aristocracy is a misnomer. The Greek word “aristo” means “best”, hence government by the best. A closer definition, to borrow again from the Greek, would be “coprocracy”, or government by the shittiest.

Kind of says it all regarding the current state of America doesn't it?

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