Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011.04.28 — Election Canada: An Alternative Method of Choosing Your Candidate

Governance by Lot — an alternative voting strategy

The next Canadian federal election is fast approaching. And for this May 2nd decision day I've decided to suggest a method that might encourage voting from the undecided. the habitual ballet spoilers and those who have given up voting as a futile effort. In other words, I am addressing those who have come to understand that they are being proffered what is largely a false, or perhaps an empty, choice: regardless which government rises from the rabble, the wealthy and their large corporations will continue to be given tax breaks and incentives to outsource work at the same time that fundamental social services such as education and health will continue be underfunded.

No, I am definitely not going to suggest strategic voting. I disagree with such a practice because it perverts the principle of democratic voting — even if it's apparent pragmatism or seeming utilitarianism has the smell of being a reasonable solution to the anti-Canadian anti-democratic near tyranny of a Harper. The problem is that the 'pragmatic' alternative is largely imprisoned by the same anti-social economic ideology, even if it appears less extreme.

Instead I would like us to revisit one of the methods Aristotle discusses in The Politics, his treatise on governance: the jury or lottery system. I have argued for this method, as it is truly democratic, at the BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform and in my blog.

Well it turns out that Aristotle's 'lottery' system — which he describes as having been old in his day — was not — is not restricted to Greece (or the West). Robert Hopcke describes an example of an ancient deliberate synchronistic method still being used by some Buddhist monks:
An example of which "is the case of the very conscious and deliberate method the Chinese monks at Kuei-yuan use to elect an abbot as head of their community. As repeated by Holms Welch and Robert Aziz, these monks choose an abbot by drawing lots from among the names of hundreds of candidates: after prayer and ritual, a seniour member of the community uses chopsticks to pick out a name from a metal tube, and the person whose name is drawn three times in a row – from
among the hundreds possible – is acknowledged as the abbot. As one might imagine, this time consuming process, which the community continues for as long as it takes unit the thrice-chosen name appears, can sometimes eventuate in the selection of a person whom the community initially perceives as a bad or problematic candidate. But even when almost universally acknowledged inferior individuals have been chosen, this method nevertheless seems consistently to have worked: to the community's surprise, such "inferior" individuals have proven themselves capable leaders, which points up the elegance of such a method in which pure chance – free from the influence of human prejudice, envy, malice, and ambition – is better at providing fo rthe community's leadership than any mortal could have been."
Hopcke, Robert H. There are no Accidents: Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives . New York: Riverhead Books, 1997, p. 208.

Aziz, Robert. C.G. Jung's Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity . Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1990, pp. 153-4.
And with that why not vote synchronistically? The chop stick method seems a bit tedious for us busy backs'ons, so toss a die, use the 5th number on your pocket money's serial number, or whatever.

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