Saturday, 17 February 2018

Sortition - It's Up to Us

Evening - let's stick with these snappy pieces, they seem quite popular.

Some of you will know already that I'm hardly a member of the fanclub when it comes to the concept of Representative Democracy. The system I less than affectionately refer to as RepDem is a thoroughly rotten one that invariably descends into a dismal ponzi scheme, infantilises on an industrial scale and produces bucketloads of other nasty little side-effects that we'll go into soon enough. Most people accept this analysis at least up to a point, but tend to counter it with something akin to the Churchill defence of RepDem "the worst system of government apart from all of the others". Well I'm not sure I agree with that, but we'll explain the benefits of Sortition later on.

RepDem is by definition a system which confers a false sense of rectitude on the majority view at a moment in time and can end up as little more than a legitimised form of mob rule. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it would be absolutely wrong for 51 of us to go and steal the possessions of the other 49, but RepDem basically decrees that it is morally sound for this fortunate 51 to elect representatives who will implement the theft (wholly legally I should add) on their behalf. That Democracy itself is regarded as a 'good word' by the masses means that its ability to be used as a figleaf for tyranny (with those masses as willing enablers) is very rarely if ever discussed.

This is the inevitable outcome of a process you'll have already heard referred to on these pages before as messiah-seeking. Fuelled by a demand for validation of simply 'free stuff', this search for 'the great leader' generally leads to reckless overspending and economic failure at home, the initiation of force and disastrous misadventure overseas and persistent attacks on individual freedom, be it in the economic, social or constitutional sphere. These 'messiahs' (think Blair or Obama for example) are later re-packaged as 'disappointments' who 'lied to the people' and 'let them down', thereby absolving those who voted for them (sometimes more than once) of any responsibility.

Meanwhile, it's not just the politicians within this system who degenerate into the pathetic team sport that apparently serves as a substitute for the discussion of serious ideas. We are at least quite as bad at this 'virtue signalling' bollocks and possibly quite a bit worse - simply skim-read the majority of 'topical discussions' on social media and you'll see my point. Look, if it comes to listening to a bunch of 10-watt wankers declaring 'which side' of the proverbial road they're on, well I'm sorry but I have a rather sharp set of needles that I need to stick into my eyes and be assured the task cannot wait. Meanwhile, the Toddlers of both Left and Right proceed to launch rocks at each other.

Nuance is stripped out of the issue and those suggesting the existence of it (so that'll be most readers of this site then) invariably get shot by both sides.

The 'political media' lap this fodder up, often becoming a participant in 'the game' themselves like one of those card-happy football referees playing out the career they should have had.

I mean, where would the mainstream media and its 'pundits' be without the soap opera and contrived 'drama' that RepDem gives them?

As is the case in all team sports, the players tend to become rather famous and the emergence of the 'celebrity politician' in the modern age is a natural enough, albeit pretty revolting one given the rules of the game being played. This creates a perpetual demand for 'characters' and 'showmen' in politics, which is an understandable requirement of the frontman in a rock group or lead actor in a television series, but surely should not be on the job spec for the would-be Education or Immigration minister? I'm clearly in a minority here, but I'd like those keeping things ticking over to be as boring, nondescript and uninterested in fame as possible. In fact, I don't really want to hear from them.

One of the most frequently wheeled out defences of RepDem is that through its Parliamentarians it gives ordinary citizens access to a member of its legislature. Well, hypothetically yes, but in reality most of those MPs who attempt to engage with their constituents (and many don't bother) end up as little more than social workers for the perpetually pushy and/or well-connected, while individuals with genuine issues tend to be too busy working or looking after the kids to fit their constituency surgery into the schedule. No doubt those pushy, well-connected sorts invariably love the current system as it gives them a wildly disproportionate level of influence.

Tragically, the RepDem system perpetuates 'identity politics' and gives those participating in it a degree of clout that cannot be justified through any objective lens. Politically, group advocacy is all about 'gaming the system' by forming voting blocks based on some 'point of identity', with a shopping list of demands to be extracted from would-be politicians in exchange for a significant number of votes. A form of mutual bribery that suits both sides, it invariably leads to attacks on the liberty of others, be that being forced to fund 'free stuff' for said group, or some new law being passed either offering 'special status' or forbidding the expression of contentious opinion.

Whether it's LGBT wankers or the English Defence League, wouldn't it be fantastic if our representatives could simply ignore them or, even better, tell them all to fuck off?

The good news is that if we chose them by random lot rather than a grubby quasi-barter system known as elections then they could - and I would laugh my balls off the day that happened, please bring it on. No false messiahs, no more 'showbiz for ugly people', no sad team sport played out by dismal 'ultras' trying to replicate the atmosphere of the Milan Derby or State of Origin final. No more middle class nag-hags 'gaming the system' and reducing their 'honourable' Member of Parliament to the status of Trainee Case Worker. And no more having to pander to 'identity politics' shithouses, be they of the Toddler Left or Toddler Right persuasion. Halle-fucking-lujah.

Probably the biggest thing Sortition has going for it as a system is the 'seen unseen' of it taking Utopia off the table. Once we accept that there is no Utopia, no 'magic formula' as 'messiahs' have continually had to promise us and that our rights are not more important than the rights of others, the rational case for the very existence of politicians simply evaporates. However, this means first taking responsibility - for our own role in the mess that RepDem has brought us to, for the Faustian pact we have entered into with politicians (they get 'the good life' in exchange for being 'the bad guys') and owning the consequences of what we support when it happens, both good and bad.

I suppose the question is...are we ready to step up to the plate and uplevel our Democracy? I'm not suggesting that it would be perfect - as stated previously, there is no Utopia and there will always be people who are unhappy with what is going on.

But...would it be a significant improvement on what we currently have? Absolutely.

I'm convinced that Sortition is 'the least worst system', although how we make this happen is tricky and one for another night. I appreciate politicians aren't going to take their ball home voluntarily, but we have it within our gift to 'make them redundant' if enough of us take some of the steps I've just outlined.

Anyway, I'm busy tomorrow so this was basically a replacement for what I intended to write then. There may or may not be something tomorrow night dependant on a few factors.

I'll leave you with Propaganda and catch you next time, whenever that is - thanks for reading.

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