Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. If you feel disenfranchised as a citizen and voter in America, this book may provide the answers you're looking for. Indeed, the consolidation of power in Washington, economic uncertainty, social erosion, and the presidential election debacle prove the need for election reform, more democracy and voter participation in self-government.
It's time for us to re-examine ourselves. And it's time for real democracy. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Set up a giveaway. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. First, it is unrealistic to advocate a return to local, small-scale, autonomous economies as is so often proposed by many ideological Lefties.
For example, when asked about many primitive-anarchists who want to go back to growing one's own food, Chomsky stated, they are utterly utopian and that that would lead to the death of many people who in a modern society do not have the skills or ability to do so including himself.
This is so because of the "rationalization" that the management of global resources has undergone. Locally based economies may work well in agrarian or subsistence societies but would entail a dramatic downgrading in the living standards of people in the developed world. How do we convince them to turn back the development clock? We cannot which is why such ideologies seeking to dismantle the global economy versus changing the basis upon which it is organized and operates, i.
Rather, in keeping with pragmatism, we need to question not if but how to deal with large-scale management of global resources in an egalitarian and sustainable manner. Second, bureaucracies are distinct from a government Max Weber, . Consequently, it is important to understand that bureaucratic administrative structures, e. However, this type of governance must not be confused with a state government per say.
Rather this is the professional technocratic staff that will facilitate public decisions. It is a form of stateless governance. This raises the old question of power relative to permanent professional bureaucracies. Specifically, it is often the case that the expert staff will use their knowledge to wield power, e.
Daniel B. Jeffs
This is especially the case with volunteer or temporary legislators who may lack the expertise and or the institutional history of the structures that they are overseeing. This however is a problem related to organizational structures in general regardless of ideology. Max Weber had identified this fact when referring to the "iron cage" . Specifically, he realized that large-scale operations are inevitable in modern "rationally" oriented societies necessitating a bureaucracy resulting in the aforementioned problems with the staff - a conclusion that was said to contribute to his chronic depression.
One may argue bureaucracies would not be required in small-scale autonomous communities which is true. But, as stated, the return to small-scale local societies is not pragmatic. In general, local governments can practice direct democracy as demonstrated by the Juntas de Buen Gobierno Councils of Good Government set-up by the Zapatistas in mexico.
In order to protect against corruption the Juntas de Buen Gobierno rotate service on the council with each citizen within the jurisdiction required to serve for two weeks, after which a new council is organized. How could millions meet in a single space to discuss legislation? Even if this were possible in physical or internet space, there would be a cacophony of voices. Technically, this was the justification behind representative democracy. Libertarian socialists who accept the need for larger-scale societal organization concede to this point which is why they derive systems where representatives are selected to join assemblies at higher levels with various safeguards such as instant recall.
But this raises once more the issue of how representative the selected individuals would be if based on some form of election or appointment. For example, how would such selection avoid the problems with existing democratic systems which devolve into "personality" contests - think of Ronald Reagan. In fact, the whole point of direct democracy is that it is as representative of the peoples' will as possible, which does not result from "likability" selection criteria.
Representative democracy based on theoretically unbiased elections also attempts to reflect the will of the people as closely as possible. But, if the purpose of a democratic system is to reflect as closely as possible the overall will of the entire demos we are really talking about a system of representativeness as used in statistical terms. This has prompted various theorists to propose systems of random selection of decision makers Burnheim, ; Carson and Martin, Statistically, a representative sample will reflect the entire population from which it came from.
This is a fact that many scholars who are not mathematically inclined seem not to comprehend or accept assuming the statistical process is monitored and certified as fair and scientific - which is not the focus of this paper. Such a representative sample cannot be generated from voting even though in the popular usage of the word the elected officials are considered to be representative of the electorate.
For example, who represents those that did not register to vote, or those who did but did not actually vote? Furthermore, who represents the mentally ill, prisoners, hospitalized, disenfranchised, and the list goes on and on. For example, political scientists have found that the typical consistent voter in the United States is older, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, well educated, and materially better off, hardly a reflection of the nation.
On the other hand, a statistically representative sample does represent the entire population. However, statistically representative samples are not generated through elections but by random selection, meaning anyone in the population has the same chance of being picked. Therefore, if all citizens are equals and the goal is to have everyone represented then random selection is as good as it gets. If democracy is understood as the will of the people then it also follows that a representative sample is as democratic as it gets short of ideal type direct democracy.
Representatives selected this way will be as reflective of the demos as scientifically possible and absolutely far more so than those generated by elections under any existing system. Furthermore, I propose the demos or the qualifying pool of citizens from which selection is to take place should be defined as all residents over the age of sexual consent. No other qualifying limitations should be considered other than a basic competence test in cases where mental disabilities, etc. This gives a voice to just about all regardless of legal status, including the incarcerated, people with addictions, all professional groups including manual labor, all sexual orientations and identities, all religious, political and other ideological beliefs, all races, ethnic and linguistic groups, people of all educational levels, ages, subcultures and countercultures.
What about the argument that representatives must be "qualified", e. For example, one journal reviewer commented on this work: Where is the role for education, and who organizes that education? It is both logical and tantalizing to agree with this argument. Unfortunately it is a fallacy. If we are all equal in a democracy we are all equal to vote and represent.
Establishing qualifications represents de facto disfranchisement. Poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests are also known as the past Jim Crow laws of the racist South. Also, who designs these tests? Who determines what the qualifications should be? A high school diploma?
What about the poor that are systemically denied a quality education, should they also be denied voting or representative rights by the system that denied them the tools to participate? That would be a tautology. Those that insist on qualifications fundamentally have no faith in or desire for democracy.
In this case the only logical egalitarian alternative system would be the one Plato outlined in the Republic. Nevertheless, education is the foundation for a democracy, a fact ironically recognized by the founding fathers. This is why the highest quality free education based on critical pedagogy as developed by Freire , McLaren , and others is imperative to break the chains of backwardness and oppression, again a topic in of itself that I have addressed in my book publications given limitations of space here.
Through education people will be better equipped to identify their true interests, act upon them effectively, and resist propaganda.
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Hopefully, it will also permit people to identify and acknowledge injustices, e. This is also the ideological reason the elite gut critical education at all levels for the masses in order to control them with a semblance of legitimacy in a system that is democratic in name only Chomsky, ; Giroux, Another comment I received from a reviewer was: The whole point concerning the principled process of 'selection' of representatives is to sharpen criteria for evaluation of potential representatives' capacities to carry out broad mandates from the wider public, and to perfect procedures for control and checkup regarding their performance".
First, the commentator misses the entire point that a randomly selected representative should vote based on their own views because these represent the views of many as is the whole point of random selection. The second part of that comment brings us back to the problem of many on the Left who also think in hierarchical terms where they self-appoint themselves as the leaders of the un-educated masses.
Given the above, three levels of governance should be sufficient and efficient. There would be no executive branch at any level. The people are the executive, thus, direct democracy. Should there be an executive then the door opens up once more to bribery, bias, and all kinds of undesirable influence regardless of how the executive is selected.
But, direct democracy can function with randomly selected lawmakers combined with direct voting on major negotiated legislative options via the internet. Legislatures at the state or regional and federal levels would be randomly selected by lottery from the pool of residents to serve a once in a life-time three year term.
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Terms will be staggered, scheduling terms of office so that all members of a body are not selected at the same time to avoid a pool overly influenced by strong passing sentiments. No one can serve simultaneously on more than one legislature or court nor on both a court and legislature. As for the legal branch at the state and federal levels, it is disingenuous to expect nine or any other small number of appointed individuals to be the Solomons of society.
Who appoints a judge can determine how cases will be voted on. In addition, a judge will always have personal biases even though he or she may think they are objective. How, then, should a Supreme Court be structured assuming one should even exist. First, people cannot be trusted to always respect the fundamental principles of a democratic process. This is due to human nature that at times can be overcome by passions at the expense of reason. In fact, psychologists have confirmed that emotions typically trump logic.
Nor does the average person have the legal proficiency to understand many complex or technical legal issues. Therefore legally trained professionals are as needed as architects, educators, and doctors for a democratic society. Second, given the need of a legal system, a Supreme Court should be structured as the legislature. Judges would be randomly selected from a qualified pool for a one in a life-time three year term of service.
At the local level, e. Local courts will be established filled by lottery from the state's pool of legally trained professionals. Each case will be presided by nine judges and a ten person jury. Cases will be decided by a simple majority vote of both bodies combined. At the next level of state or province there is a unicameral legislature meaning only one House.
The size could be anywhere from to lawmakers depending on the size of that state's population and the number needed for a representative sample and working groups. The legislature is then filled by lottery from the pool of that state's residents. Residency should be established by living there at least one year. The state Supreme Court should be structured the same as the legislature.
Judges would be randomly selected from a qualified pool of legal professionals residing in the state for a one life-time three year staggered term. The court should consist of 51 to voting judges for every case although lottery could determine a sub-set of judges that would be asking the questions and facilitating the trial.
In essence the other judges would be a professional jury. Limited service assures that current cultural beliefs and values are reflected in the serving pool which will be updated at regular intervals while the court's size and random selection limit influence. In a federated political structure, each of the states receives a percentage of the seats in the national unicameral legislature proportional to that state's population.
This is similar to how the number of congressional seats is currently apportioned in the United States congress. The selection of lawmakers would follow the same process as at the state level. The federal Supreme Court should consist of to voting judges for every case although lottery could determine a sub-set of judges that would be asking the questions and facilitating the trial. The judges should be selected for staggered terms to avoid a pool overly influenced by strong passing sentiments of the time. Accordingly, it is suggested that public deliberations be held for deciding various issues.
A choice is made by the demos when an issue is fully deliberated and consensus reached. Therefore, legislation derives legitimacy from the deliberative process. Namely, how can dialogue take place in a community where those in power either refuse to allow public input and deliberation or limit the parameters of the debate in ways that render it meaningless - moral persuasion has its limits in the face of power and opposing class interests. Consequently, if the elite even under a representative democracy wish to limit substantive debate action would be required by the demos to force public deliberations.
But, a second problem now emerges. Once a deliberation is concluded what are the guarantees those in office will actually implement the decision of those involved in the discourse?
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For example, think of the countless blue-ribbon committees formed by various administrations, how many recommendations have actually been implemented? Again, this raises the issue of power and opposing elites, a reality also found in representative systems.
However, the current proposals can be combined with deliberative democracy in that the two can and should be complimentary. First, as will be elaborated, it is argued direct action would be the necessary tool with which to obtain such structural changes. Second, the structures outlined here would not uproot all social institutions and accustomed modalities of life resulting in a major social experiment with unknown outcomes.
Rather, we are keeping basic governing institutional structures in place but, modifying the basis upon which they are staffed e. This could be combined with various formulas of deliberative democracy. For example, Fishkin suggested decision-making by way of a deliberative opinion poll. Accordingly, a representative sample would be generated from the community to discuss an issue.
The group is then polled and their recommendations forwarded to the decision makers or adopted outright. Here, Fishkin's representative sample forming a deliberative opinion poll would in fact be the decision makers. Those citizens selected through lottery to serve on legislatures and courts would discuss and deliberate options. Therefore my proposals can incorporate various elements of direct democracy both structurally and procedurally.
The same can be said regarding participatory budgeting examples of which can be found in municipalities like Porto Alegre, Brazil Wampler, , Chicago Lerner and Antieau, and many others around the world. In essence, municipal residents deliberate how budgets should be allocated based on which projects are deemed important by the community. This form of direct democracy can work well and be part of the process at the local level in congruence with the proposals outlined by this paper. But, the question of scale is raised again when looking at broader governance levels, e.
How could citizens of a nation deliberate budget allocations? A simple solution would be Fishkin's representative sample generated to deliberate, in this case, budgets. Here it is suggested that participatory budgeting will be practiced by the randomly selected legislators who statistically represent the population. Specifically, all the citizens of a state or the nation can propose and vote on budget allocations via the internet.
It is also possible to create multiple procedural variations depending on what the people decide. For example, randomly selected legislators can deliberate a number of projects to be funded which then can be put to an internet vote that will approve or reject projects and rank them in terms of priorities. A truly representative state or federal legislature, as proposed here, with working groups and straight up or down votes without parliamentary trickery and arcane rules, in place today, could debate a number of options for legislating on an issue.
Once a basic set of options are agreed upon these could be put to a state or national referendum respectively via internet voting. This process has inherently many advantages, e. It could be plausible that certain days or times of the day are put aside for the purpose of deliberating and voting on such matters. Thus, corruption and undue influence would be limited since anyone wishing to "purchase" a vote would have to buy many more people than a senator or two as is currently done given that a single senator can block virtually any legislation from passing by putting a "hold" on it.
In any case, such forms of voting should increase transparency and offer flexibility while ensuring maximum input from the demos. Clearly, many details are not outlined here because this is not meant to be a purely theoretical exercise based on one's ideology disconnected from reality. Rather, the purpose here is to broadly outline a working system that increases transparency and social justice leaving the details to the people themselves. But, voting must be mandatory as part of one's civic obligations to the community. Remember, with privileges come obligations. Compulsion to vote may be based on financial penalties as in many West European democracies or mandated community service.
Why is participation so important? When people do not vote it opens the door to influence and corruption which ultimately undermines democracy. This is the real reason the United States does not make voting mandatory arguing it is "a democratic right not to vote". Such a pseudo-right only benefits the elite who understand the value of participation in contrast to the poor majority, thus, allowing them to outvote the interests of the many. This is also why the history of the United States is one of resisting the expansion of the franchise.
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Another positive aspect of such a political structure is the emasculation of political parties - an anathema to marxists who believe in political parties and in many European cases participation within the political system. However, even the oligarchic founding fathers had cautioned against political parties with George Washington famously observing congress instinctively splitting into two bitter factions and warning against political parties in during his farewell address: The same sentiment against political factions was echoed in Federalist Papers 9 and 10 by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, respectively.
Bipartisanship and polarization are but the surface problems posed by political parties especially in systems with strong parties that have centralized hierarchical structures, e. The same problems however still manifest themselves in systems where parties are looser as in the United States. For example, how democratic is it for political parties to be dominated by dynastic political families, including ironically so-called "socialists", e.
Why should the Kennedy or Bush family name, have any added influence in party or national politics? How is this any different from a political aristocracy or caste as in countries like India, therefore inherently undemocratic? More importantly, political parties by definition represent sub-segments of society versus the whole.
What some on the Left fail to recognize is this happens even with a workers' party in that there are usually multiple Left parties claiming to be the true workers' party. Simply, political parties are another larger scale special interest group and therefore seek to promote the benefit of some over others - even within the party.
Specifically, within them you will find leaders, which raises the further question of whose interests are really being promoted. As soon as you get a hierarchical leadership structure you encounter the same problems of corruption and influence as with elected legislatures. These tendencies of political parties toward hierarchical organization were recognized by Robert Michels . The large volume and complex nature of tasks of political parties require expert leaders with a stable tenure of office, an organizational logic that increases oligarchic tendencies.
Therefore it is in the nature of elites to advance their own interests and power at the expense of those of their followers. Consequently, political parties are fundamentally undemocratic contrary to popular belief, including any so-called Left parties - is socialist prime minister George Papandreou of Greece listening to the rioting workers of his party every time he forces upon them new austerity measures at the behest of the IMF and European Union?
To be clear, I am not suggesting we eliminate political parties. Rather it is suggested we bypass them by letting the people deliberate and decide matters themselves absent of party or legislative leaders as under current systems of representation. There is no reason why people could not continue to organize formally around issues important to them which is technically what political parties are about. Interestingly, this should also theoretically increase societal discourse.
If neither parties nor political leaders get to rule themselves, they would have to increase their reliance on public discourse to promote their viewpoint. If anyone from the population could be selected as a decision maker then a group or political party would have a greater chance of seeing its agenda enacted by disseminating it and convincing the broader population of its merits.
This increases the chances of the selected legislators sharing those views and acting on them. As important, the proposed process eliminates elections for political representatives which, no matter what the intent or the quality of oversight, will be open by definition to manipulation. For example, some candidates would have greater media access then others to get their message across especially if it is along elite interests who also happen to own the mass media. Career politicians are eliminated as well including their incumbent advantages and corruption that goes with it.
For instance, incumbents are rarely defeated demonstrating power determines political outcomes which is inherently unfair if not undemocratic. Now, corporations could not "purchase" a politician as no one could know who would be selected.