What's wrong with politics ?

This has been bubbling away in the back of my mind since a comment by @Leaf a few weeks ago.

In what sense of the word "politics" is it a Bad Thing ?

If you start a new job and there's a lot of office politics, or management take decisions for political reasons, is that bad ? Why ?

And what's the connection with "politics" in the sense of that section of the newspaper which tells you what the government is doing and why the opposition parties disapprove ? Which seems a useful function in a democratic society...
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Comments

  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    For clarity: I do not think politics is a Bad Thing, anymore than I think gravity is a bad thing. Politics is a reality and we are all subjected to it, whether we believe in it or not.

    I will post the quote to which Russ may be referring when I have a moment.
  • @Russ

    FWIW, I think the section of the paper labelled "Politics" is not so much about what the government is doing and how the opposition is responding, but rather about what the governing 6party is doing to stay in government, and what the opposition party is doing to get into government.

    So for example...

    "Government proposes bill to outlaw widgets; opposition promises veto" would be a headline printed under National News.

    "Governing party touts anti-widget stance in its campaign ads, opposition party responds by calling ads inaccurate" would be a headline printed under Politics.
  • OK I'll give this a stab.

    Like @Leaf I do not believe that politics is bad per se. In fact I will annoy everyone by re-stating my controversial belief that most politicians are morally superior to average people.

    However the interesting question is about "office politics" or "management taking political decisions".

    What this normally means is something like:

    * X is better at their job than Y but Y got the promotion because they are a favourite of the boss.
    * Decision A will be better than decision B in terms of getting the job done well but decision B is taken because it will please the board of directors.
    * Five people in a team of eight form a "clique" and exclude the other three from consultation and decision-making.

    In all these cases something has intruded inappropriately into decision-making, and that something is to do with group dynamics and "people-pleasing". You could call it "bad politics".

    What you want is for these things to run in the right way - for promotion to be on merit, for there to be truth-tellers rather than yes-men, for teams to cohere and work together. In other words you want "good politics".

    But like good plumbing, good politics is invisible. We only notice it when it begins to stink.




  • Russ has a history of describing other people's beliefs as political as a way of dismissing them out of hand.

    In a very broad sense, politics is the art of people living together in a group. In that sense, apart from the odd hermit and extreme survivalist, all humans need politics.
    In a slightly less broad sense, politics is the art of resolving questions of competing interests. (Only slightly less broad because virtually every serious political question in the first sense will be a question in the second sense.) Now, in one sense that can be made out to be pejorative: you're being political means that you're favouring one set of interests over another. But the other name for resolving questions of competing interests is justice. People may tend to be biased in favour of conceptions of justice that favour their own interests. But practices of debate suppose that those biases are not ineliminable.

    The third more pejorative sense is arguments over power. Where people differ over conceptions of justice, or where people don't care about justice and just want to advance their own interests, people need power to advance their conception of justice or their own interests as applicable. To that extent, politics can be said to be the art of influencing the distribution of power within a society in one's favour. If someone says that a particular action is just politics, they're claiming that it's to do with gaining power by means other than persuading other people that their view of justice is correct.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    I will annoy everyone by re-stating my controversial belief that most politicians are morally superior to average people.

    I look forward to hearing your reasoning for that one.
    In all these cases something has intruded inappropriately into decision-making, and that something is to do with group dynamics and "people-pleasing". You could call it "bad politics".

    What you want is for these things to run in the right way - for promotion to be on merit, for there to be truth-tellers rather than yes-men, for teams to cohere and work together. In other words you want "good politics".

    I think you're right about what we want, and right that decisions are made badly because something has intruded into the decision-making process. And "to do with group dynamics and people-pleasing" is a good stab at what that something is. Can you say a little more about why these are not good things ?

    But I maintain that in common usage what has intruded is politics...
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Russ has a history of describing other people's beliefs as political as a way of dismissing them out of hand.

    Dismissing is too strong a word. Perhaps relegating to a category of contentious issues to which there is no right answer and where people who sincerely hold different opinions have to manage to get along with each other accepting that they're not always going to get their own way.

    I'd argue that managing such issues is part of "the art of people living together in a group".

    And that politeness is also an essential part of that art.

    Presumably "politeness" and "politics" have a common root ? (Alongside "police" !)

    Whilst agreeing with quite a lot of what you say, I'm less convinced by this bit:
    Now, in one sense that can be made out to be pejorative: you're being political means that you're favouring one set of interests over another.

    If the board acts in a way which is seen as favouring the interests of the marketing department over those of the research department, for example, is that necessarily political ? Seems to me that if it's done in good faith as part of a strategy that's aimed at the good of the company, then nothing has (in TT's word) intruded, nothing that doesn't belong in business decision-making.

    To say that it's political might imply that the director of marketing is being rewarded for something. In other words, corruption. But maybe that's your third meaning ?
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited September 2020
    Police, politics and polite ultimately derive from Greek Polis, City.
  • OK I'll give this a stab.

    Like @Leaf I do not believe that politics is bad per se. In fact I will annoy everyone by re-stating my controversial belief that most politicians are morally superior to average people.
    Damn. I find myself agreeing with Russ on something. That statement needs explaining, because nothing I have ever seen even at the best of times indicates this is true.
    But like good plumbing, good politics is invisible. We only notice it when it begins to stink.
    Bullshit. Or rather, oversimplified to the point where it is meaningless, therefore bullshit.
    Whilst it is treu that people do not notice government when it is working well, they also do not notice when it is working at a mediocre level or when it is bad,but the bad is in their favour.
    Politics and politicians would at best be no better than the average person. In reality, because power is involved, they tends to be worse.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    The initial context for this was the discussion occurring on "burn your house down... brew you a cup of tea" thread on September 1. Link here: https://forums.shipoffools.com/discussion/comment/331817#Comment_331817 On that thread, Russ was speculating on Arethosemyfeet's interior life and motivations:
    That you put up a polite front as much as the next person, get angry as much as the next person, are as capable of insulting those you feel animosity to as the next person, and have as much sympathy as the next person for those who find themselves caught out by circumstance.

    But that your normal human empathy somehow gets pushed to one side by your commitment to political doctrines related to "protected characteristics".

    Upon which I had remarked:
    I detect an irregular verb:
    My observation of the social and economic history and functioning of the community = "common sense."
    Your observation of the social and economic history and functioning of the community = "political."
    (It's political when you do it.)

    I posted that because I had noticed the same thing Dafyd had noted: Russ uses the word "political" in a pejorative way about the perspectives of others, in what seems to me to be a rhetorical strategy. (See also Russ's similar use of the word "doctrine"). ISTM that Russ's posts on contentious subjects deliberately switch between connotation and denotation, using the former while hiding behind the latter. It's a rhetorical strategy that I find coy, dishonest, and hypocritical.

    So while I am interested in observing it, I'm less interested in engaging with it.
  • @OP. The trouble is the purchasing of influence and elections.
  • Russ: In what sense of the word "politics" is it a Bad Thing ?

    I find this a rather odd and confusing question, because it attributes to "politics" some sort of intrinsic moral quality, when it simply refers to the manner in which a community of people are governed. As the Greeks, notably Plato and Aristotle, recognised, sometimes polities are well-governed and at other times less so. By and large politics is a good thing when. the rulers are motivated in greater measure by the public rather than narrowly private good, and corrupt when that is not so.
  • wot Kwesi said.

    Also:
    Like Leaf I do not believe that politics is bad per se. In fact I will annoy everyone by re-stating my controversial belief that most politicians are morally superior to average people.

    I like TT's controversial belief. I believe this aggressively, in that I'd be prepared to say it in a pub in order to have an entertaining discussion/ fistfight. I think rather that politicians are overly maligned in Australia. They are just as morally variegated as the rest of us though. There are good ones and bad ones and good ones who are bad sometimes and vice versa. They just look bad because they are being human in the spotlight.

    The British more or less treat their politicians like we do, but the yanks... oi vey. The hero-worshipping around figures like Trump and Sanders is utterly alien to me. Australians only do that to sports stars. I reckon many actual Americans on this page and elsewhere would agree.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    @Kwesi - you're talking about government.

    Had you said
    By and large politics government is a good thing when the rulers are motivated in greater measure by the public rather than narrowly private good, and corrupt when that is not so.
    then that would make good sense to me.

    What's the difference between governing and politicking ?

    Seems to me that governing is taking decisions for the group - what a leader (or collective leadership) does when they have the power to do it.

    But politicking (or "engaging in politics") - politics as something you do - is done by those who want the power to decide for the group and don't have it.



  • No... it's also the process of making decisions.
  • Maybe politicking or ‘office politics’ could be described as manipulation? Sometimes just gossip which turns more unpleasant.

    It’s quite often the narcissists or semi-narcissists who do the manipulation (true in government too?). So it’s often a good idea to keep out of office politics!
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    The etymology of polite and politics suggests different roots. Polite seems to have its origins in polished or burnished, politics relates to the inhabitants of a ‘polis’ (Greek for fort or citadel) and social responsibilities.

    I think the distrust of politicians or rulers of any kind goes way back. Who guards the integrity of the guardians or are they just a law unto themselves? And power corrupts.

    Indeed the whole idea of people’s representation via the vote is a corrective to the risks of abuse of power. One of the reasons why abuse of voting rights is correctly seen as an abuse of power. Attempts to ‘fix’ elections by various means are just another sign of this abuse. People don’t like losing power once they have it.

    A far cry from the Christian principle that anyone who wishes to be great among us must be a servant first. Even if people start off accepting the truth of that, it’s easy to get drawn away from it. Power can be very seductive.
  • Russ wrote: »
    @Kwesi - you're talking about government.

    Had you said
    By and large politics government is a good thing when the rulers are motivated in greater measure by the public rather than narrowly private good, and corrupt when that is not so.
    then that would make good sense to me.

    What's the difference between governing and politicking ?

    Seems to me that governing is taking decisions for the group - what a leader (or collective leadership) does when they have the power to do it.

    But politicking (or "engaging in politics") - politics as something you do - is done by those who want the power to decide for the group and don't have it.

    I think you are defining "politics" as "the parts of politics that I think are bad". So no wonder you don't like "politics".
  • I have thought that remarking on something being political was usually done by conservatives, even the moderate sort who hold bazaars to raise party funds, but right out to the far right, and applied to anything to the left of what they think of as normal. Like suggesting that housing should be provided for the homeless, or that people should be paid enough not to need food banks.
  • We need to have political parties because a chamber of independents would be somewhat chaotic
  • in a chamber of independents, parties would form naturally.
  • And in the chambers of independents in the English parliaments of the 17th century the Whig and Tory parties started to form in embryo, that formation moving to near-completion by the end of the 18th.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited September 2020
    Russ wrote: »
    And what's the connection with "politics" in the sense of that section of the newspaper which tells you what the government is doing and why the opposition parties disapprove ? Which seems a useful function in a democratic society...

    That's policy. Well, what governments are actually doing and what positions the opposition have, that's policy. But how much of that do you actually find in that section of the newspaper?

    Politics is increasingly not the business of formulating policy, but the game of gaining power. What's wrong with politics is that far too many people get rewarded for playing the game of power gain, and there is little reward for actually having a clue what you're going to do with that power once you have it.

    Actual implementation of policy is frequently tedious and boring and doesn't make for good headlines, and most of the populace has been taught to be disengaged from it and pay more attention to questions about who is going to win the next election in several years time.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    Politics is increasingly not the business of formulating policy, but the game of gaining power.

    I think you can make a good case that what's wrong with our democracy is that government (formulating policy, making decisions) increasingly serves politics (the game of gaining power) rather than the other way around. The tail is wagging the dog. The game of politics is supposed to select people who are fit to run the country. Statesmen, who will govern in the interests of the whole nation.

    But government now seems driven by electoral calculation.
    In the UK there was Tony Blair's government by focus group. And now in the US we have DT who seems never to have switched out of campaign mode. You'd know whether there is a similar trend in Australian politics...
    Actual implementation of policy is frequently tedious and boring and doesn't make for good headlines, and most of the populace has been taught to be disengaged from it and pay more attention to questions about who is going to win the next election in several years time.
    All true, and to do with the media and our desire for stories that entertain us.

    But we could fill many threads with discussion of national politics, and I don't want to lose sight of what politics is at the level of businesses and churches and other groups.

    Where the emergence of informally-organised factions within the community, that in a sense correspond to political parties in the national sphere, seems like something that can reasonably be thought a Bad Thing ?
  • No, because factions and groupings are pretty much inevitable. The problem only arises when (1) your faction is so rigid that it's a permanent state of affairs no matter what the topic, and (2) most of your energy is focused on how to beat other factions.
  • So a politician can be described as a person of the city like police officer (soure: Terry Pratchette). How does that affect the debate?
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    OK I'll give this my controversial belief that most politicians are morally superior to average people.
    That statement needs explaining, because nothing I have ever seen even at the best of times indicates this is true.
    There are the politicians who go into politics because they like the power and those who go into politics because they want to make the world a better place (for some value of better that may or may not match lilbuddha's or mine) and those who are a mixture.
    I suppose putting oneself forward for political office requires a certain lack of false humility.

  • Russ wrote: »
    Seems to me that governing is taking decisions for the group - what a leader (or collective leadership) does when they have the power to do it.

    But politicking (or "engaging in politics") - politics as something you do - is done by those who want the power to decide for the group and don't have it.
    I note that these definitions effectively mean that the government doesn't engage in politics. Only people who don't currently have power engage in politics.
    This subtly delegitimises progressive politics.
    I note also that 'taking decisions for the group' is a formal description but in 'want the power to decide for the group' 'the power to decide for the group' is an intentional description. That is, government is presented as making decisions for the sake of the group, but politics is said to want the power to decide as such. This subtly implies that government has power as a means but people out of government want power for its own sake. Again, this subtly delegitimises progressive politics.
  • Yeah, that definition is clearly wrong. Because half the problem is that many governments don't spend nearly enough actually governing, preferring to worry about how to hold on to government.

    Some people who have power definitely spend a lot of their time concerned with keeping it. See also: Shakespeare's version of Richard III. It's not as if the machinations stopped when he became king.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Seems to me that governing is taking decisions for the group - what a leader (or collective leadership) does when they have the power to do it.

    But politicking (or "engaging in politics") - politics as something you do - is done by those who want the power to decide for the group and don't have it.
    I note that these definitions effectively mean that the government doesn't engage in politics. Only people who don't currently have power engage in politics.
    This subtly delegitimises progressive politics.
    I note also that 'taking decisions for the group' is a formal description but in 'want the power to decide for the group' 'the power to decide for the group' is an intentional description. That is, government is presented as making decisions for the sake of the group, but politics is said to want the power to decide as such. This subtly implies that government has power as a means but people out of government want power for its own sake. Again, this subtly delegitimises progressive politics.

    What Russ wrote there is just wrong. It doesn't subtly delegitimise anything. It blatantly disregards how government operates. The distinction between governing and politicking is plainly misconceived. That's why we have lobbyists - to influence the output of Government.

    Another error is that Trump governs by opinion poll like Blair. No! Trump doesn't do anything of the sort! Trump plays to 30% of Americans who find him an object of worship. He ignores or trys to ignore the rest.
  • I don't share the view that somehow governing is different from politics and politicking, and I don't think that's how the classical tradition from Aristotle onwards viewed it and continues to view it, because the promotion of the good life involves a proper balance of all the elements in the social whole. Achieving that balance is the science, but mostly art, of politics. The ancients recognised that political processes varied between those which work for the general good and those which were corrupt and self-serving.

    ISTM our present problems lie in the development of populism in the context of mass politics, where some leaders have reneged on their responsibilities to present their electorates with realistic and not
    irresponsible choices, and to endorse the harmful prejudices of their fearful followers. The United Kingdom and the United States are demonstrably governed by a bunch or rascals doing great harm to the nations they currently pretend to serve. Trump and Johnson are more like Erdogan and Modi, than most of their predecessors in the White House and Number 10- they have lowered the bar so low!

  • orfeo wrote: »
    Yeah, that definition is clearly wrong. Because half the problem is that many governments don't spend nearly enough actually governing, preferring to worry about how to hold on to government.

    That is the classic argument in favour of 5 year parliamentary terms, as in the UK. A lot of governing can be done before the next election moves to the front of the PM's mind.
  • Whats wrong with politics (in the UK) is that winning a popularity contest is deemed to equip an individual with all the knowledge and experiece required to run a complex government department. and make decisions that effect millions of people.
    Maybe a hidden blessing of the pandemic will be that that particular fantasy will be demolished.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    I don't share the view that somehow governing is different from politics and politicking, and I don't think that's how the classical tradition from Aristotle onwards viewed it and continues to view it, because the promotion of the good life involves a proper balance of all the elements in the social whole.

    Sorry, but... was Aristotle working in an environment involving elections?

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited September 2020
    I should note that there is a fairly interesting argument doing the rounds, which I've come across twice, that we should be picking our representatives by lottery and would actually get better results that way.

    Part of the argument being that, if you eliminate the popularity contest, you wouldn't get people entering the lottery if all that they're really interested in is the popularity contest. Plus think of the enormous cost savings from not having campaigning.

    Another part being that a lottery would deliver a more diverse range of people, more representative of the community, who would then have to work together to figure out what would be of most benefit (again, without being distracted by whether it was popular and would get them re-elected).
  • A lottery you have to enter or universal like jury service?
  • You're talking about soviets here. Just thought I'd mention that.
  • orfeo wrote: »
    Sorry, but... was Aristotle working in an environment involving elections?
    Athens was a democracy while Aristotle was living there.
    It wasn't a representative democracy so there were no permanent political leaders to elect: a successful statesman was a citizen who won all the votes he proposed. Most offices were allocated by lot, but a few were elected: notably generals and financial officers. (From wikipedia.)


  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited September 2020
    orfeo wrote: »
    I should note that there is a fairly interesting argument doing the rounds, which I've come across twice, that we should be picking our representatives by lottery and would actually get better results that way.

    Part of the argument being that, if you eliminate the popularity contest, you wouldn't get people entering the lottery if all that they're really interested in is the popularity contest. Plus think of the enormous cost savings from not having campaigning.

    On the grounds that there would be no adulation for winning a random lottery? There's still plenty of scope for common garden graft and corruption, though. We could argue about whether the fact that nobody gets re-elected means that there's an incentive to fill your boots while you can, or the fact that nobody stays around for long means that graft doesn't get so entrenched.

    This argument seems to assume that people wouldn't organize themselves in parties under this scheme. I'm not sure that I see the need for some leader of a political movement to actually be a politician. Imagine Ivanka Trump running the Ivanka Trump political action foundation, and then whichever Trumpistas get randomly elected push her ideas and talk about how great she is. It happens now in state legislatures. Trump doesn't sit in state legislatures, but he's a figurehead for a lot of people who do.

    The fact that random choice would produce a group of people which was younger, less male, less white, and less business-class is an interesting feature, though.
  • A lottery you have to enter or universal like jury service?

    You have to enter.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote:
    The distinction between governing and politicking is plainly misconceived. That's why we have lobbyists - to influence the output of Government.

    The US constitution separates three branches of government - legislative, executive, and judicial. Seems perfectly possible to regret that the judicial branch is as politicised as it is...

    Just as it seems reasonable to say that lobbyists are engaging in political activity but are not governing. And to think it a bad thing if government is so swayed by lobbying that the lobbyists could be said to be governing...
    Another error is that Trump governs by opinion poll like Blair. No! Trump doesn't do anything of the sort!
    Didn't say he did; I said that he gave the impression of being permanently in campaign mode, more concerned with appealing to those who might vote for him than in doing the right thing for America as a whole.
    Dafyd wrote: »
    I note that these definitions effectively mean that the government doesn't engage in politics. Only people who don't currently have power engage in politics.
    Not true; I'm saying that when those who have power exercise it with the primary intent of remaining in power (or securing power for their chosen successor) then their governing has become politicised. Just as those not currently in power may want it in order to govern well or for its own sake.
    This subtly delegitimises progressive politics.
    Think everything I've said applies equally to governments of the left and right.

    Do you think that nobody has ever had a managerial or technocratic approach to government ?

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    I don't want to lose sight of what politics is at the level of businesses and churches and other groups.
    You're on a loser there, Russ.
    Dafyd wrote: »
    This subtly delegitimises progressive politics.

    To be fair, you have a glimmer of a point here. There is perhaps a flavour of progressive politics which paints government as a zero-sum game, denying that there is any common good - it's all about how big a share of the cake each group gets. Within that stunted worldview there is nothing other than a competitive struggle for resources. So obtaining and deploying power in that struggle is the entirety of both politics and government, so it's meaningless to distinguish the two.

    If in your terminology that is the whole essence of progressive politics, then yes you're right, any talk of the common good or the good of the whole nation delegitimizes such a politics.
  • Alan29: Whats wrong with politics (in the UK) is that winning a popularity contest is deemed to equip an individual with all the knowledge and experience required to run a complex government department. and make decisions that effect millions of people.

    Your remarks regarding 'knowledge and experience' seem much to the point, but those criteria were significantly discounted when the selection of leaders of the Labour and Conservative parties passed from the MPs to party members. (Of course, prior the the appointed of Heath, the selection of a Conservative leader was confined to a select few advising the monarch). Thus, the extent to which the electorate were presented with a choice between party leaders, though only electors in their constituencies could vote for them, was restricted to those already considered capable of running the business.

    In the United States, the problem of suitability was supposed to be dealt with by a knowledgeable electoral college, but for various reasons that was never the case. Latterly primaries have done much to personalise candidate selection at the expense of knowledge and experience at all levels.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    There is perhaps a flavour of progressive politics which paints government as a zero-sum game, denying that there is any common good - it's all about how big a share of the cake each group gets. Within that stunted worldview there is nothing other than a competitive struggle for resources. So obtaining and deploying power in that struggle is the entirety of both politics and government, so it's meaningless to distinguish the two.
    If in your terminology that is the whole essence of progressive politics, then yes you're right, any talk of the common good or the good of the whole nation delegitimizes such a politics.

    I appreciate your posting this on the first page. It saves everyone the time and energy of trying to engage in a good-faith reasoned discussion in response to such posts, rather than spend eighteen pages on a fruitless endeavour.

  • Russ wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    I don't want to lose sight of what politics is at the level of businesses and churches and other groups.
    You're on a loser there, Russ.
    Dafyd wrote: »
    This subtly delegitimises progressive politics.

    To be fair, you have a glimmer of a point here. There is perhaps a flavour of progressive politics which paints government as a zero-sum game, denying that there is any common good - it's all about how big a share of the cake each group gets. Within that stunted worldview there is nothing other than a competitive struggle for resources. So obtaining and deploying power in that struggle is the entirety of both politics and government, so it's meaningless to distinguish the two.

    If in your terminology that is the whole essence of progressive politics, then yes you're right, any talk of the common good or the good of the whole nation delegitimizes such a politics.

    yeah, nup.
  • orfeo wrote: »
    I should note that there is a fairly interesting argument doing the rounds, which I've come across twice, that we should be picking our representatives by lottery and would actually get better results that way.

    Part of the argument being that, if you eliminate the popularity contest, you wouldn't get people entering the lottery if all that they're really interested in is the popularity contest. Plus think of the enormous cost savings from not having campaigning.

    I don't think very many politicians (of any stripe) are motivated by the popularity contest itself - for the vast majority it's the prospect of gaining power that drives them (whether they seek that power because it would enable them to make the country "better" or simply because it would serve their own personal interests is a secondary consideration).

    The problem with a lottery is it would make the selection of those who will have power a, well, lottery. And in all of our societies those who have both a good set of policy ideas and the intelligence to implement them are vastly outnumbered by the stupid, the lazy, the ignorant, the corrupt, the selfish, the prejudiced and the downright dangerous. Any system that gives a card-carrying nazi exactly the same chance of gaining power as anyone else without anyone else being able to do anything about it is not one I'd want to live under.
    Another part being that a lottery would deliver a more diverse range of people, more representative of the community, who would then have to work together to figure out what would be of most benefit (again, without being distracted by whether it was popular and would get them re-elected).

    You'd just end up with multiple factions all hating one another and refusing to work together. Granted, that's pretty much what we have already, but at least under the current system we can decide which faction has the most power.
  • Yet most people agree that justice is best served by randomly selecting a small number of people to decide whether a person is innocent or guilty. So if a random jury is the best and fairest system for deciding on an individual's fate, why isn't it also the best means of deciding wider issues? Especially as with a larger number of people, statistically you are likely to end up with a reasonably representative sample of the population.
  • JonahMan wrote: »
    Yet most people agree that justice is best served by randomly selecting a small number of people to decide whether a person is innocent or guilty.

    Jury trials aren't trying to maximize the conviction of guilty people - it's better that 100 go free and all that. It's not clear to me that political choices always want the same optimization, so I don't think it automatically follows that tha advantage of a jury extends to politics.

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    A jury is expected to reach a unanimous or near-unanimous verdict. To reach agreement, in other words.

    The notion of a citizens' jury to decide questions of government is in some ways an attractive one. On the basis that if they can't agree, society isn't much worse off for having tried the experiment.

    But when we're talking about matters that are political in the narrow sense - issues where people are not disinterestedly choosing what is best for the nation as a whole but advocating for what is in the interests of their own group or class, then the notion that sheer random chance might lead to 10 extremists who could outvote or browbeat the 2 moderates makes that a less attractive option.
  • Russ wrote: »
    the notion that sheer random chance might lead to 10 extremists who could outvote or browbeat the 2 moderates makes that a less attractive option.

    I suspect the political proposals are to have 500 or so randoms chosen, for which the probability of having a majority with a single extreme view is rather slim.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Indeed. But achieving agreement among 500 is unlikely. Too big a number for effective group discussion and collective decisions. Not at all the same dynamic as a jury.
  • No, it's not unlikely if what you're looking for is a majority. In fact, it's eminently doable - a parliament is not a jury.
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