Author: David von Reybrouck
Date: 2013
Publisher: Bodley Head
ISBN: 978-18479-24422-3

Contents:  A thorough look at what is wrong with our representative (and limited) form of democracy and the development of a case to supplement it with Sortition 

  • Symptoms, the paradox of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, declining vigour.
  • Diagnosis, looks at three common responses - populism, technocracy, direct democracy, and then presents a new diagnosis.
  • Pathogenesis, history looking at antiquity and the renaissance, the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Remedies, deliberative democracy, international examples, allotted assemblies, blueprint for a democracy using sortition, appeal for a bi-representative system.

Relevance: I find the argument convincingA Reminder that by relying entirely on the ballot our democracy is not in line with ancient ideas. The Greeks used sortition and saw it as an essential safeguard against Plutocracy. Reybrouck shows how sortition was deliberately avoided to limit democracy in the c19th. He points out that "as early as 1851 an observer was able to determine 'the elective aristocracy of which Rousseau spoke fifty years ago is what we now call representative democracy' " page 93

I have always thought Jury service something we could learn from and was looking for ways of refreshing democracy, this book was a timely arrival and influential on my thinking because it rigorously describes how it can work in modern society, I am personally convinced that this (or something close to it) is needed.