Re: [OPE-L] the wisdom of crowds

From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 08:25:23 EST

> Gerry, have you read ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ by Surowiecki?
Hi Paul C:
No, I haven't.  I'm not sure I see the relevance, though. 
I agree with the proposition that large groups of people
are smarter than an elite few.  But,  how does that 
speak to the choice between direct democracy (where the
'crowd' chooses its leaders) and  random selection 
where the crowd does not choose (except to the extent
that they consented to the process of random 
selection to begin with)?    
In solidarity, Jerry

[JL wrote]
A process where there is a random selection of administrators/leaders is a worthwhile goal.  But - especially in the early period in the development of post-capitalist societies, there may be advantages to forms of direct democracy whereby administrators/leaders are selected on the basis of the program (and possibly other criteria, like experience) which they advance.  We should not be so naive, after all, to assume that all conflicts and self-interest  will cease with the emergence of post-capitalist societies and in that context selecting leaders randomly is a bit likeplaying Russian roulette.   [PC wrote] 2.       I think that the institution of the randomly selected assembly combining legislation with executive function is the key here. So long as you have a state structure based on an elected or appointed head of state – the roman dictatorial or imperial model, the role of leadership and command are combined. In a randomly selected popular assembly, the working masses will   be in the majority ( except perhaps in a highly parasitic rentier state).  As Aristotle says, the poor are always many and the rich are few. This class character of the state then provides a high probability that it will make decisions in the interests of the masses, provided that leadership in the original Leninist sense of mass education is there.


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