Those old Greeks had a great idea

I’ve thought about basic democracy for probably 10 years, but that’s just an instant since basic democracy began. More than two-and-a-half millennia ago Athens was run by a boule, a group of 50 men appointed from 10 tribes. In 507-508 BC, Cleisthenes (also spelled Kleisthenes) reformed the boule by expanding it to 500 men who were chosen by lot. Cleisthenes believed a larger group untainted by political favouritism would do a better job.

This takes me to the point of this basic democracy blog: Canada’s conservative government in the throes of the Duffy expense fiasco is likely to push harder than ever to reform the Senate. That’s all and good, but the problem is that they want an elected body, and elected bodies are fraught with even more problems than appointed ones. The NDP opposition would like to see the Senate abolished. I could write on and on about either scenario, but for now I’m just going to voice a proposal: Canada’s Senate should be neither elected nor abolished. Rather, it should comprise a much larger group of senators who are selected, figuratively, out of a hat.

NOTE: Some scholars say the original boule comprised 40 men, and other details of the boule are ambiguous. It is certain, however, that the larger council was chosen by lot. Comments from historians on this topic are welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Those old Greeks had a great idea

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on the US Senate and the British Columbia Referendum | Basic Democracy

  2. Pingback: Rains' Coast

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