In the realm of alternate electoral methods, the somewhat “out there” novel Courtship Rite by (if I recall the mathematician) Donald Kingsbury. In this science fiction novel set an a colonized planet quite a number of customs have arisen among the humans living there that are very alien to our customs today. One of the societies, from which a number of our protagonists derive, for example practices polygamy as well as cannibalism. There is actually a logical reason for the latter, being that on this alien world most animal and plant life is poisonous to the colonists … and there is no meat available other than man for consumption. Anyhow, that is not the point for today’s little essay. Given the current season and year in the States it might be more topical to offer some of Mr Kingsbury’s unusual suggestions for government.

In an age where the Democrats urge universal (and in fact arguably foreign) enfranchisement and participation in our elections the suggestion in Courtship Rite is quite the reverse. The radical society in that culture was a full participatory democracy … with a catch. On laws, one could only vote on their passing if one was an expert on that particular law. How did one become an expert. By becoming a participant in the discussions involved in framing the text of that law and in discussion on its merits, consequences, and implementation. Anybody could vote on any issue and law, but in order to vote, one had to become knowledgeable and and expert in that.

Further, the executive as well as selected in another manner. Mr Kingsbury suggests essentially that one of the primary qualities this society felt was necessary in a leader or the executive was to be able to accurately predict the unfolding of political and global political trends. People who wished to become executive submitted to a repository, dated predictions of future events. There was likely some (but the details of implementation were left to the reader) weighting of predictions based on the importance of the event and how far in advance the prediction was posted. Whomever had the highest score at this “prediction” game was the Executive. Any citizen could call for a “re-tally” like a vote of no-confidence and possibly in that way remove the current leader. Of course, one way to get predictions to come true, is to make predictions and then work to make them come true. In this way, the Executive very often had a good deal of influence which enabled him to have his predictions fall in line.

Filed under: Mark O.Politics

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