A Chance for Democracy

    Athenians drew by lot the five hundred citizens who would form the main assembly, center of their government, and the Venitians would choose their Doge through an electoral process involving eleven alternating turns of lottery and election. This feature that formed the very basis of the first democracies has been assaulted from all sides during modern times, and barely survives in the instance of citizen juries for penal cases. 

    The use of randomness would however allow us to have truly equal citizens - this very reason might be why it has been removed from the political scene. Through the combined lenses of history, political science and voting theory, this book aims to give a concise but rigorous study of the subject. By mixing popularization and original research, it should give the average citizen the tools needed to understand, explore and discuss the subject.

Underneath this text is an extended table of contents. For more information about the book please check the bottom of this page. 

Part 1 : A Touch of History

The source of democratic virtue

Starting with athenian institutions, we'll analyse how the use of randomness allowed for a political system that could withstand assault from internal as well as exernal foes. Using recent advances in cliometrics, we will also establish the link between political equality of the citizens, stability, and prosperity in ancient societies.

Venice or simplicity itself

Through an analysis of the venitian political system - remarkably complex for its time - we will see why randomness is generally not enough, and how a small minority could achieve near-perfect domination over the city. We shall also use this opportunity to study another  parallel between political equality and prosperity.

The ignorant masses

Systems based on randomness have an intrinsic egalitarian feature, but rely on the political ability of the average citizen. In the decades following the American and French revolutions, the best way to prevent those citizens from gaining power was to destroy their political legitimacy, a mechanism we will investigate in this chapter.

Divide et impera

Social movements progressively better the people's rights, sometimes simply by extending the notion of citizenship (to slaves or women for example). We shall make a small detour here to analyze how the different civil rights movements were pushed to fight against each other, and how efficient this method was to reduce their effectiveness in the USA. 

Part 2 : A Bit of Science

An impossible choice

The Marquis de Condorcet is the creator of one of the best known political paradoxes (aptly named after him). We will here rigorously state the foundations of voting theory, using multiple theorems to show that a perfect voting system is impossible, and that they are all vulnerable, from the first past the post system to instant-runoff-voting. 

Quantity and quality

Abstention is on the rise, and the radicals are over-represented in the results. We could instead of voting simply draw 10000 citizens randomly and give them the only ballots. Beyond the political considerations, we will establish mathematically how such a sample could be representative, taking care to explain why this doesn't apply to polls, whose error margins are getting worse. 

Democracy through technology

Hand voting gives a strong, irrefutable result that everyone can check, but suffers from a lack of anonymity. Conversely, secret ballots are anonymous but vulnerable to manipulation of the ballot box. We will see here how recent mathematical developments could allow for secure anonymous voting, without having to rely on voting machines or online voting.

Part 3 : A Speck of Hope

Not just a critique

This book seeks to contribute to the debate about  randomness in politics, but this contribution would be incomplete if it did not also formulate some concrete proposals. This chapter establishes a few rules about creating institutions before proposing a simple equitable and efficient political system which could inspire others.

Fighting the good fight

From the Five Stars movement in Italy to République Numérique in France, without forgetting the recent advances in participative democracy in Taiwan, we will try to list a representative (although not exhaustive) set of initiatives that could change our political practices in the near future. 

A perfect world

Keynes announced in 1930 that future humans would barely work. This could be feasible, but for some features of our economic and political systems. As the fight for economic equality is directly linked to the one for political rights, we'll look at our future to t how we could improve our situation on both fronts. 

Where to get A  Chance for Democracy

No luck there alas, as the book is not yet entirely translated from French. Publishing a book is not an easy task for an unknown researcher and writer, and the French version isn't publicly available yet. As the goal was to stimulate a public debate, efforts are underway to find a distributor who would accept to sell it for a low price (with an ebook version available in a pay-what-you-want scheme). There are nearly no good recent ressources in French on the subject, so publishing it there is my main goal before releasing the English translation. 

If you want to know more, you have multiple possibilities : 

  • If you are currently a researcher, a journalist or simply a really passionate citizen, feel free to contact me by email to get a preprint in pdf. Comments and ideas are also most welcome. 
  • If you are an editor or distributor and would be interested by this book, the English version could be adapted in about a month of work, but I probably won't start this work unless given a concrete proposal or sufficient demand.  
  • If many interested readers would be ready to buy this book (for a reasonable price), I would consider self publishing. If you are among those, I would appreciate it if you subscribed underneath (I will only send two emails, one to say that the self-publishing is under way, and the other to say that the book is printed). You can also share this page on your favorite social networks or leave (constructive) comments here. 

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