Tag Archives | Democracy

Equality by Lot: A Brief Animated History of Sortition

This short animated clip offers a succinct history and explanation of how the ancient Athenians came to use sortition (the selection of random citizens through lottery to fill government roles). It questions whether or not such a system could be used in today’s modern world. Could this ancient practice help eliminate greed and corruption from the political arena by restoring the integrity and efficiency of the democratic process? As America gears up for yet another brutal election cycle, these are worthy questions to be asking…

This clip comes courtesy of the fantastic blog, Equality by Lot, and they have also transcribed the video:

What did democracy really mean in Athens? – Melissa Schwartzberg

Hey, congratulations! You just won the lottery. Only the prize isn’t cash or a luxury cruise. It’s a position in your country’s national legislature. And you aren’t the only lucky winner. All of your fellow lawmakers were chosen in the same way.

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The Voice of Openness: Does social media aid Democracy? [Debate]

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Social media had all the appearance of a democratic revolution, hailed after the Arab Spring as the power of the people. But there’s now a growing army of government and corporate propagandists seeking to control and influence opinion. Has social media become a threat to democracy? Or is it still the voice of freedom? Lyse Doucet, Carl Miller, Steve Richards and Caspar Melville discuss.

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American democracy is doomed

Via Vox

Via Vox.

Via Matthew Yglesias at Vox:

America’s constitutional democracy is going to collapse.

Some day — not tomorrow, not next year, but probably sometime before runaway climate change forces us to seek a new life in outer-space colonies — there is going to be a collapse of the legal and political order and its replacement by something else. If we’re lucky, it won’t be violent. If we’re very lucky, it will lead us to tackle the underlying problems and result in a better, more robust, political system. If we’re less lucky, well, then, something worse will happen.

Very few people agree with me about this, of course. When I say it, people generally think that I’m kidding. America is the richest, most successful country on earth. The basic structure of its government has survived contested elections and Great Depressions and civil rights movements and world wars and terrorist attacks and global pandemics.

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The Logical Space of Democracy: A Map

Finnish_Parliament

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

John Danaher is an academic with interests in the philosophy of technology, religion, ethics and law. He blogs at http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com.

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms which from time to time we have tried. Granting this, we might be inclined to wonder what sorts of democratic decision-making procedures are possible? This is a question that Christian List sets out to answer in his paper “The Logical Space of Democracy”. In this post, I want to share the logical space alluded to in his title.

To do so, I need to briefly recap my previous post, which looked at something called the “democratic trilemma”. This trilemma is a generalised version of the Condorcet voting paradox. It applies to any collective decision-making procedure in which inputs (i.e. attitudes towards propositions) are taken from individuals and then aggregated together to form some collective output.… Read the rest

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The Democratic Trilemma: Is Democracy Possible?

Nicolas_de_Condorcet

Marquis de Condorcet

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

John Danaher is an academic with interests in the philosophy of technology, religion, ethics and law. He blogs at http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com.

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

You may have heard of the Marquis de Condorcet (Nicolas de Condorcet). He was an 18th century French philosopher, mathematician and social theorist. He was a champion of the Enlightenment, and a leading participant in the French revolution. He is probably most famous today for three things. First, his jury theorem which showed how, under certain conditions, majority voting can get us closer to the truth. Second, his voting method which proposed that winners of elections be determined by pairing each candidate against every other candidate and figuring out who won each of those contests. And third his voting paradox which revealed how majority preferences could be inconsistent if there were more than two candidates or options to be voted upon.… Read the rest

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Selling ‘Peace Groups’ on US-Led Wars

Margaret Sarfehjooy and Coleen Rowley write at Consortium News:

“War is peace” double-speak has become commonplace these days. And, the more astute foreign policy journalists and commentators are beginning to realize the extent of how “liberal interventionists” work in sync with neocon warhawks to produce and sustain a perpetual state of U.S. war.

More and more “peace and social justice” groups are even being twisted into “democracy promotion,” U.S. militarism style. But rarely do we get a window to see as clearly into how this Orwellian transformation occurs as with the “Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria” (CISPOS) based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, a spin-off of “Friends for a Nonviolent World” (FNVW), steering its Quaker-inspired founding in nonviolence to promote speakers and essayists with strong ties to the violent uprising to topple the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, resulting in a war that has already taken some 200,000 lives.

Do the real pacifist members approve? Or even know?

Middle Eastern expats who support U.S.

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This Is What Dollarocracy Looks Like

Dollar symbol gold.svg

Rugby471 (CC)

John Nichols (featured in Pay 2 Play!) writes “The 2014 election campaign was an exercise in dollarocracy, not democracy,” at The Nation:

In a democracy, citizens are in charge, votes matter and the governments that take shape after elections reflect the will of the people.

In a dollarocracy, money is considered “speech,” corporations are considered “people” and elected officials take their cues from the billionaires and corporate interests that write the biggest checks. Campaigns cost exponentially more from cycle to cycle (the 2014 price tag will exceed $4 billion for federal races and billions more for state, local, judicial and initiative and referendum contests), and government becomes reflective of the demands of donors.

But that is just the most obvious evidence of the crisis.

Dollarocracy is about a lot more than the money raised and spent in campaigns. It is about the collapse of meaningful journalism, resulting from the downsizing and closure of newspapers, the replacement of local news and talk radio programming with syndicated “content” from afar, the reduction in political coverage by local television news outlets, and the horse-race coverage and spin that tend to characterize national news programs on broadcast and cable television.

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6 Scenes We Love About the Sham of Democracy

via Film School Rejects:

Did you vote? If not, is it because you don’t think your vote matters? I can understand why you might believe that, because of how cynical we’ve gotten about democracy in America. Some of that is due to the real world, what we’ve seen or what we’ve been told about political and electoral corruption, not that either is anything remotely new. Some of it, though, is due to the way the movies reinforce that idea that elections are shams.

We’re long past the days of Frank Capra, although his movies weren’t exactly free of the evils of the system; they just treated them as the stuff of villains and seemed hopeful about idealism and democracy in the end. Since then we’ve had Watergate and Bush v. Gore and numerous Election Day controversies a decade, and through it all we’ve had exaggerated depictions of the worst of the democratic process.

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Facing Up to the Capitalist Within

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

Georgie Wingfield-Hayes writes at openDemocracy:

It’s easy to blame the economic system for causing social and environmental problems, but what is that system built on? Isn’t it us?

John Newton (1725-1807) is best known for penning the hymn Amazing Grace in the later years of his life as a minister in the Church of England. In 1788 he published a pamphlet entitled Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade, in which he spoke out strongly against what he called “a disgraceful branch of commerce.” But for much of his life Newton worked on slave ships, including four years as captain of his own vessel taking stolen African men and women to the American colonies.

Newton’s transition from slaver to minister and activist was inspired by one particular event. On a return journey to Liverpool in 1748, a great storm had threatened to sink his ship, and the fear he was forced to face affected him profoundly, changing his views about the people who were imprisoned beneath his feet.

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