Device Segment 5: Corruption & Rotation

250px-Spherical_Wedge.svgCouncils without assemblies and staffed by representatives naturally become oriented to their own collective interest. The division of political labour embodied by such councils results in a concentration of knowledge among the few and its denial to the many.

Practice makes perfect elitism. It stimulates the council’s contempt for the people and teaches citizens to be fools. It is for this reason that no council can be sovereign, all are subordinate to an Assembly and Council membership is widely shared.

Council members are not isolated representatives but are, instead, ever changing delegates, selected from other fora by processes of rotation and lottery. Randomly chosen, all have their time as council members. In this way, citizens learn to participate effectively and to carry the preferences of the fora from which they come. Where such a Council requires specialist knowledge, they request it. Where a Council requires the filtering of information to enable decision-making, they learn to deliver it – after which they return to their respective fora with an account of how they did so.

By spreading the role of Council membership (as with a jury), rotational lotteries and random selection enable collective decision-making to benefit from the expertise of ordinary citizens. It repeatedly demands that citizens improve their capacity for self-rule, agree to actions taken in their name and share their council experience with others. This wider dispersal of political expertise not only prevents the development of a static, privileged and corrupted political class (as we currently endure); it also educates the citizenry and garners information from diverse micro and counter publics. If one of the great tragedies of the stunted Western electoral democracies is that they waste the knowledge of ordinary citizens, rotation and lottery ensure continued responsiveness, adaptability and resilience. You should rule sometimes, and by chance.

In the ancient Republics, one criterion for judging the quality of political decisions was the degree to which they preserved the ability to make future political decisions. Where citizens practice self-rule, and the division of political labour is broken down, they become valuable resources for their polity. This is proven by the hatred and contempt shown them by our receding democratic elite.

Before the next Segment, see the Digression here.

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