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You are disabled.

Posted by Romain on

You are mute, blind or deaf. Mute because you cannot sing like Florence from Florence and the Machine. Blind because you cannot paint like Van Gogh. Deaf because you cannot write music like Mozart. Speaking of deaf musician, Beethoven. He had to be turned around to see the people applauding for his ninth symphony, he could not hear them. And as I already wrote it in a previous post, when it comes to politics everybody has a handicap. But we can cope with it.

Two gifted people.

Politics requires a loud and clear speech. It requires silence for the message to be heard. Moderation provides this silence, provides the space for everyone to speak. This may not suffice. Nuit Debout has a well implemented moderation system, yet the same people spoke over and over again. Yes they were not professional politicians. But they learn how to express themselves clearly and distinctively, and more preoccupying, they learn the words that would please the crowd. You need something else. You need power rotation.

The random power rotation enables to renew the speakers. We then ask silent people their opinion. Even if they censor themselves moderation can fall on their lap and then they have no other option. They must speak and express their mind. They learn how to distribute speech and how to be a good moderator. The mute gain a voice.


From « The » to « A »

Posted by Romain on

The person in its uniqueness can be undone A person, an anonymous, belonging to a group cannot be stopped. The indefinite article emphasizes the anonymity while the definite article underlies solitude. I therefore today change the blog’s name. It was « The sortition blog » and it becomes « A blog about sortition ».

My engineer school trains cogs to fit in a big machine. They train you to become the perfect agronomic engineer. The cog and not a multi-task and useful thing. I learn, before entering the school, to complete a math or physic exercise as fast and as good as possible. I dislike completing exercise but I love creating new ones. Indefiniteness traced this path.

My new French business card.

Sortition helps to erase the uniqueness and solitude associated with power. Everybody can become the moderator. Everybody will run out of time for their mandate. Because power turns, everybody will have a chance to moderate again. The impermanent part in the title has a crucial importance. It sets the stage.


Jury Citoyen

Posted by Romain on

Democracy takes too much time to the regular citizen and should be left to some happy few. These were the thoughts of our modern democracies original founders. They decided that we should elect the people that will have the power in their hands. And random selection would allow people to decide for themselves -way too dangerous. The founders knew that sortition enable democracy and elections foster aristocracy. They chose elections for this reason. But deciding using randomness looks … mmh … random … Jury Citoyen or Citizen Jury also called Minipublic address this question.

Two people who proposed or is proposing to use Jury Populaire in politics more often. Segolène Royal and Loïc Blondiaux (source:Wikimedia).

Using a dice to decide would be foolish. Selecting at random a single person to decide would also be foolish. Selecting a few people – as little as fifteen people – to give an opinion on a precise subject seems like an excellent idea. Political scientists as well as the lay public think about this question in many countries like: Ireland, Canada, Australia, Iceland or France. Everywhere the effects are similar: the selected people often change their mind after the long discussions during the few weekend when the gathering takes place; they become more involved in politics and more aware of the public goods. Everywhere they provide new directions that could be follow or not by politicians. But why can’t they take executive decisions?

Minipublics are too often black boxes. How do we recruit people for it The random selection occurs too often behind curtains. Also, fifteen people are easy to lobby. These two points bring down their legitimacy. I argue in this blog for transparency and propose ways to make random selection more transparent. There is a need for experts to be consulted, the minipublic needs to have the mean to ask for expert’s opinions but not let theses them decide anything. Moderators/Animators/Facilitators play a key role and should be selected using sortition 😉 Professional politicians and the affiliated journalists love to criticize Jury populaires. Le Figaro showed a photo from the people of Jury Populaire to demonstrate how far-fetched Nuit Debout has became.

Yet these juries provide excellent and well-thought decisions and some propose that we should use Minipublic to appoint our executive leaders. I’ll go here one step further, maybe we could use Minipublic to take executive decisions?



Posted by Romain on

At five years old, I lost my father. He smoked too much and a heart attack killed him. Innocence and happiness end, they abruptly and unexpectedly end. But I learn something else recently. Everything end and even the darkest moments have an end. Time also begins. And we say a loud and clear « fuck you » to death when we make a little humans. Furthermore, time has a wider power and impact than my modest life. Time stands as an invaluable ally against tyranny.

Two hourglass. The same hourglass sets the beginning and the end of a mandate.

Most dictatorships begin democratically. A president runs for successful elections, then another, then another, then another … They usually modify constitution to do more than one mandate. They also use a straw-man to replace them as president who put them as prime minister. They employ elections as a ramp to absolute power. Yet they die and I agree then with Bob Marley when he says: « have no fear for atomic energy, ’cause none of them can stop the time »

Strictly limiting a mandate in time avoids outdated rulers. We, everybody, define a maximal mandate time from the start. Because we don’t want tyranny we strongly set the end before designating a ruler. After defining this time we designate the moderator with a dice. The nth person on the left becomes an impermanent moderator who will cast the dice at the end of their mandate. People asked me: « why on the left ». The choice was arbitrary but now I have an answer. Clocks follow the same direction.

Thank you for reading! If you have a bit of extra time for a comment I’ll write another month.

To Jean-Michel and Nicolas.



Power concentration

Posted by Romain on

Power solidifies rapidly. Initially power behave like a gas but rapidly turn into solid matter. We go from an horizontal organization to a vertical in no time.

Dictatorship like North Korea exemplifies this tendency. A father transmits absolute power to his son. The power fails to spill and change can’t take place anymore.  To a less extreme extent the same happens everywhere. Leaders often come from the same sociological background either in US or in Europe .

Two ways to concentrate. The Kim Dynasty and a funnel (respectively from wikipedia and wikimedia).

Randomness plus the limited mandate enable to counter-act this tendency. There are no struggle for power using sortition. It will be the dice who decides who will be in charge. The time limitation also plays an important role. Power cannot remain in the same hands. Even if these hands a skilful and well-intentioned at the beginning, they can at any moment becomes evil or clumsy.

Sortition should be imposed at the at the movement inception. Right from the beginning otherwise charismatic leaders impose themselves super fast. These leaders will concentrate power by establishing a set of rules in their favour. This seems the only way to maintain an anarchist organization.

Thank you for reading!


Subordinated specialists

Posted by Romain on

Specialists invaded media outlets. They dictates how people should think while the inverse picture seems the right one. People should have an opinion and should take decisions, the specialist job consists in implementing these decisions. Specialists serve the people and not the opposite. I focus this post on journalist that is a particular type of specialist. Journalists specialize in writing, they know how to present a fact and they select among all facts the worthy ones.

Two specialists, an extinct species too specialize for its environment and a famous French editorialist.

My view stays purposely narrow. I search for the one specialist needed in a meeting. You need no specialization to moderate. Sure some moderate badly and other are good moderators, yet I believe that everyone has the minimum set of skills to moderate decently. You also need some sort of stability and while distinct people can moderate within a meeting, a single secretary enables a unified minute from the meeting.

Therefore it looks like a good idea that a moderator designates its secretary. A subordinate that could remain the same from moderator to moderator. This subordinate won’t dictate how we do the meeting, they won’t take any decisions but report how the meeting unfold. Importantly a new moderator has the power to dismiss the secretary. This subordination promotes neutrality.

Thank you for reading! Your opinion?


Biased Elections

Posted by Romain on

Elections remains a good choice to designate a leader, when free from any influences. People would vote for a person who represent their interest, in an ideal world. These people should be the majority,  in a democratic paradise. Today, in the real world elections have become biased, they serve the richest minority’s interest, elected people only represent themselves and money clouds voting. Let me discuss here two examples illustrating these points.

Cambridge Analytica stole data from more than 60.000.000 facebook users during the last american presidential election. Trump’s team used these information to surgically target voters and focus their interests on certain points like sponsored ads. By the way, Ted Cruz’s team also had access to these data but used them less cleverly. Trump used this data in two ways: 1) to carve a message to raise interest 2) to target people who can be most influenced. A channel 4 news TV series highlights this scandal. But the problem spread further than the USA.

The French justice system thinks that Nicolas Sarkozy received money from Muammar Gaddafi during his 2008 campaign to run for presidency. Nicolas Sarkozy stayed 48 hours in custody regarding this matter. His team received 50.000.000 while one can only legally spend at maximum 21 millions to sponsor a French presidential election campaign. A member from his team rented a secured vault that can host a man to store this money in cash. France elected Sarkozy in 2008 and it would be naive to say that the money was foreign to the result.

Two people who may have tipped the result of an election. Romain Cazé CC-BY.

One can corrupt a random choice only in its very beginning. The one and only way consists in rigging the draw. In theory this may seem detrimental but in practise it produces a resilient mechanism.

Thank you for reading! If you want to correct or add informations, write them below.



Posted by Romain on

A thing needs to be fun to be a game changer. You need the political endeavour to be enjoyable otherwise you are doomed. The content sometimes matter less than how we display a topic. This explains why I focus so much on how we could perform sortition, the practical means.

Two games that made life more enjoyable! Romain Cazé CC-BY

I love to imagine an organisation where we start every meeting by casting a dice. This immediately lightens the mood as if we were about to start playing a game. Such an organism would make heavy subject lighter.

The method to appoint a moderator initially used a coin instead of a dice with (tails the first person and heads the second person on thrower’s left become the moderator). Many people struggle to flip a coin. They are clumsy and afraid of doing wrong. This makes the process tedious and uneasy. Obviously you can still use a coin if you have no dice but a dice fits better. A dice can be thrown many times in a row without thinking twice.

I always have a dice in my pocket for these reasons. We never know we need a moderator.

Thank you very much for reading! If you have a suggestion to make sortition more enjoyable comment below.


Fight for simplicity

Posted by Romain on

I fought hard against myself to write a simple method to appoint a moderator. The idea of using two dices seduced me but it might be too complex. Simplicity holds the key because a single friction suffices to halt sortition. Thus I present here the method using a single dice instead of two.

Using one dice enables multiple positive features. The caster cannot be moderator. This method lays midday between asking for volunteers and having an inclusive list. People just need to switch seats to be or not a candidate. It is fun. It is obvious to understand, even an uneducated kid can get it.

Using two dices creates complexities. Either we are much more than six and it looks worthwhile. But a productive meeting contains less people than 36. In such a case you need to throw multiple times and to explain each time why.

I already modified the method numerous times. I removed the thumbs up, the minimal time now I am removing the need for two dices. The rule may change back to what they were but for now:

Appoint impermanent moderators.

An illustration to explain the method to appoint impermanent moderators. Romain Cazé CC-BY

We determine a maximal time of office before casting a dice. Someone casts the dice and the nth person on their left will moderate, n being the number on the dice. When they resign or when we reach the maximal time this person cast the dice to appoint a new moderator.

And in French it gives:

Désigner des personnes qui vont modérer la réunion pour un temps.

On détermine ensemble une durée maximale de mandat avant de lancer un dé. Quelqu’un lance le dé et la nième personne sur sa gauche va modérer, n étant le nombre inscrit sur le dé. Si elle démissionne ou si son mandat touche à sa fin cette personne relance le dé.

We should moderate all discussions about sortition using this method. This version is the current one but certainly not the last. The fight continues…

This version nicely fits in a toot!


Appoint impermanent moderators to handle a meeting.

Posted by Romain on

A moderator distributes the floor: a person can ask for it by raising their hand but the moderator can also ask silent ones their opinions. A moderator makes sure that no one talks too much or too little by controlling how long people speak. How can we fairly appoint moderators for a fixed amount of time? I propose here a method to do so.

I. We determine together a maximum time of office, for example the duration devoted to an item on the agenda.

II. One casts one or two dice to appoint a moderator depending on how many people attend the meeting. The throw 1 or 1-1 designates the caster as the moderator, otherwise the n-1th person on the caster’s left will moderate. The number n corresponds to the throw: for a die there are 6 possible results, n being the number written on the die; for two dice there are 36 possible results – i.e. 1-1, 1-2, … 1-6, 2-1, 2-2, … , 5-6 , 6-6 – n being the result’s rank. If you have no dice you can use a coin that you flip several times, then you order the results to obtain n. For example by throwing the piece 3 times you have 8 possible results. If the result is higher than the participant’s number it suffices to throw again.

III. If the moderator resigns or if we reach the maximum term of office, we appoint a new moderator and the former moderator casts the dice.

In addition to raising your hand to speak, you can move your hands over your head to express your agreement or cross your arms in the air to express your disagreement. The moderator can also add other visual signs in addition to these three basic signs.