Monday, July 20, 2020

Justice- Class 7

Should democracy work through elections or sortition? -Tom Malleson
The Politics of Presence (Ch 2) - Anne Phillips

Class notes:
Philanthropy and higher education (Prof. Mehta's research)
Comparison of 50 trusts pre and post independence
    a. Pre-independence was high
    b. They gave to institutions they did not control

Curzon to Jamshedji: 
"If it's genuine philanthropy, it must be given to institutions you do not control" -C
"I agree. We'll give to independent institutes. And only have minimum oversight" -J

Q: Are lotteries a legitimate form of representation?

Representative (First past the post etc.) - They legislate on our behalf
Direct democracy

Representative Democracy should satisfy:
a. Peace- Transfer of power is peaceful
b. Political Agency- The idea that somehow we have some role and participation in creating the form of     legislation. Gives us dignity in an existential sense. By the people.
c. Responsiveness- For the people. We will not re-elect you if you don't respond to us.
d. Impartiality- Technically, legislature must be for the common good. 
e. Equality- One person one vote. 
f. Representation- Democracy creates a mode of representation.
If we're unsatisfied with our democracy, its probably for one or more of the above reasons.

Do elections satisfy: Responsiveness, Impartiality, Equality, Representation?

Aristotle's definition of democracy: "You ruled and you were ruled in turn"

It takes so much money to even fight an election that most people can't afford it. Then does that mean it's still equal?
Women are less than 50%, ethnic minorities are extremely under represented- Then you might ask, who are the elected representing really?

1. Design democracy better: Quotas, Campaign Finance Reform etc.
2. Sortition/ Lottery

"The drawing of lots is more in the nature of democracy. In an aristocracy voting is appropriate" -Rousseau

You could win because you're wealthy, because you have good social connections, you could win because you're smart, or a mesmerising orator: Rousseau says that democracy is a way of amplifying certain characteristics. Paradoxically, you're electing an aristocracy. It's a way of us saying that some people are superior than others. 

My thought: The Modi type- Someone who's better at winning elections than governance. Then aren't we choosing the wrong type.

If competence is what you want, why do you want democracy? Why aren't you going for a more technocratic system?

We think that our form of democracy is canonical. But until the 19th century, it was understood that democracy by voting is against representation. So the idea was that you had to create a lot of differentiated electorates.

Hume- divide society into main constituents and make sure all of them are represented.
Reminds me of Madhav Khosla's account of how our Constituent Assembly was assembled. Wilful representation across different communities.
But then we're still excluding other types (other forms of division) because you can keep fine-tuning will you come down to a unit of one. 

Yale political theorist- Helene Landemore

Responsiveness: Incentive dimension and Epistemic dimension

If you had a democracy which had no migrant workers, then is it a surprise that we forgot about them? 
Could the Rajya Sabha be created via sortition?

Collective competence of assemblies vs the aristocratic view of competence

If you come from the background that our birth itself is based on deeper cosmological reasoning, then convincing people would be easy. But based on our 'modern' notions of the accident of birth, how will people react to this idea of lottery?

Predictability & Continuity are important in terms of national priorities and foreign relations. How do they correspond to sortition?

Constituent Assembly debates:
1. If it was actually an elected body, it would have too many interest groups- BR
2. If you had a majority body drafting the constitution, then who's going to stop it from being fascist.
How about we have an elected body for day-to-day governance and a sortition body for major decisions?
It was important for the Congress party to show that the CA was mirroring the nation - to gain legitimacy.

Are you going to be better if you don't have the corrupting thought of wanting to be re-elected?

James Fishkin- Deliberative Polling

The idea is not to distribute representation by identity. But conversely, if there is too less representation, it probably means that they don't have political power. Absence acts as a proxy that other reasons are disempowering them.

On what dimension to divide- Why only gender? Why not class? Why not caste? Why not education? Selection of any dimension is in itself an arbitrary act. Then are you congealing those identities?

Politics is the contest of ideas. And ideas are best represented by parties. That's why they've become more important than representation. 

"Really bad books make you think a lot more than really good books sometimes"

If say 40% of the uneducated are represented proportionately, would they then have the incentive to educate themselves?

We are not looking at representation exactly. We're looking for ideas/ arguments which would be missed without their presence. 

The adversarial legal system. 

Because of parties, partisanship has trumped ideology. The club character of politics- I need to win at any cost. That has become much more salient in our representative process. 

Territorial representation vs proportional representation

In a democracy we might not even be able to agree on what values we privilege.

The idea is not to solve the metaphysics of identity. It is to ensure that you're listening to as many voices as possible.

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