Selection for Public Office by Lot


My comrade made some arguments here against the virtues of elections as a method of filling public offices. Below is a comment I made on their post.

lotteryI completely agree with your argument that elections are bad because they promote the virtues of “leadership”, a kind of egotism and individualism.

I think Marx’s comments in _On the _Jewish Question happily back up your argument. In _Jewish Question_ Marx is anxious to understand and transcend the political-economic antinomy we see developed in bourgeois democracy. We see society schizophrenically divided into pure, virtuous democratic citizens, with public legal rights and responsibilities; and then citizens with private lives with prejudices, manipulative persuasive abilities and so on.

Marx observes that this is the ancient antinomy between form and content. Liberals take the division of a person into concrete and abstract elements to be the best thing that has ever happened since the enlightenment. The abstract processes of bourgeois law should rule over the dirty, “judaical” content.

However this charge for elevating the abstract over the concrete is obviously a charade. It is not real freedom, real democracy. Real, concrete citizens, with affective attachments and real creative potential are hollowed out and reduced to numbers. There is a second dimension to this alienation. Bourgeois democracy is a political process that generates abstract universal logic only. The particularity of human existence is subjugated to the totalitarianism of the liberal democratic state.

And this completely explains why representatives elected by popular vote is seen as the only logical choice for determining the will of the capitalist state. It is a very clumsy attempt to try and short-circuit the alienation of concrete human content into hollow abstract legal right. Marx again observes that elected officials have an ancient song and dance about having a “mandate”, which is actually a complete fairy tale. It is impossible to generate anything determinate from an election.

So not only do elections foster the wrong virtues within collective identities, but they are also logically and methodologically poor political tools.