Many believe that 2020 brought a pandemic, police brutality, systemic racism, war in the middle east, and near recession. 2020 brought a pandemic: all the other problems have always existed. Pandemic boredom has led more than just black people to demand change (a tricky topic for those who feel powerless), therefore, 2020 brought enlightenment. I want to discuss a less commonly known format for change called Sortition.
In Sortition, governments and political parties should be abolished and replaced with a selection of random people who represent every race, religion, profession, gender and age-group. There should be a designated group for a certain measurement of land, and the group members are to be reassigned regularly. Let me get a little utopic and expand on this proposal. The distance of trade should be limited; every company should be independent. Every individual should participate in agricultural work, with a huge increase in small-scaled farms and a focus on composting low waste (aka, you eat what you grow). Sortition-ran areas should be self-cleaned/maintained on a community-wide rota. Minimum wage and taxes should be reconsidered, and curriculums should instil realism into the youth. Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues etc. should be abolished and replaced with community prayer centres that welcome every religion under the same roof, encouraging understanding of otherness.
This design strives for equal opportunity, human welfare, unity, self-sufficiency, eco-friendliness, and strictly local economies. The current class divide would gradually close, and therefore, legal systems would need a redesign too (a pro-rehabilitation approach would be most suitable). Capitalism would be understood as equal to other humanitarian crises, meaning capitalist traditions like Christmas would transform into a day where relaxation, family bonding and gratitude is prioritised.
My ideals are hugely inspired by this democratic system of Sortition, but you could also label them as socialism. Someone else could insist that I’m a humanitarian. Others, an eco-anarchist hippy who doesn’t understand the world. Quite frankly, labels are intimidating. It’s probably in any humanitarian’s best interest to avoid jargoned gibberish. I’m as common as they come: I got a B in Nat 5 Modern Studies and that’s about as far as my education in politics goes, so don’t be fooled.
Let me introduce myself properly. I am a 22-year-old musician who can barely afford to pay my rent. I am someone who loves my life, loves my home, loves food and art, is thankful for my talents and has big dreams. I am someone who has been at a loss of reasons to get out of bed since the uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd. I am someone who feels nauseous when I think about the sheer luck it takes to be born into a loving, working class, white family in Scotland. I am someone who is ashamed, guilty, and outraged.
The Covid-19 lockdown should be the most important thing to have happened to any person with an ounce of compassion and access to the internet. The reason being that the new-found time has made ‘the state of things’ utterly unavoidable – ‘the state of things’ being systemic racism, racial oppression, poverty, the ‘time is money’ construct, famine, climate change, war (the list goes on).
The luckiest position you could possibly be in is one with white privilege: a position that requires pandemic-induced time to research an oppression that is foreign to us. Why do we need time? Corrupt governments, capitalism, and fake democracy provide distraction and misinformation. Usually, we’ve been awake at 8am, out for 9am, working until 6pm, cooking at 8pm, and washing the sweat off of our tired bodies at 10pm. When, in that schedule, is the right time to ponder over something like systemic oppression? Or better yet, to stand in solidarity with minorities?
I honestly introduced myself here because it is important that ‘regular folk’ get serious about ‘the state of things’. Here’s a pep-talk for anyone who is reading: you should not need a degree in politics to be heard. And one certainly does not need great intellect to comprehend that the current Western world governments are unrepresentative of the diverse societies they so poorly attempt to govern. ‘Regular folk’ who feel passionately enough about change should be trusted with advocating for it. Therefore, I (a common person) invite you (a person with spare time and internet access) to be a little radical. Engage your anger towards the system and, together, let’s think about a plan of action (such as Sortition).
It’s ok if you feel out of your depth – I do too. It’s only natural we feel this way given that we were selectively educated for the preservation of the systems that we all suffer from at the expense of the rich white man’s shameless benefit. You know, the system in which you accept defeat in your early twenties; the system that replaced black slavery with black oppression; the system that spends our taxes on who-knows-what.
Nothing will change whilst rich white men rule the Western world under the pretence of democracy. The rich white men in charge don’t want small businesses to flourish for fear of thinly spread wealth. The rich white men in charge don’t want to refurbish every building in this ‘United’ Kingdom with wheelchair access – they’ve got more exciting things to spend our money on. The rich white men in charge don’t want equal opportunity for people of colour for fear of a less white ‘United’ Kingdom. The rich white women in charge don’t prioritise equal opportunity for sexes for fear of dividing the respect they worked so hard to get from the rich white men above them.
If a surgeon makes a mistake, their patient could die. If a pilot makes a mistake, a plane could crash. The government’s mistakes cause more evictions, divorces, mental health issues, suicides, and deaths than we could probably imagine. Such mistakes are a result of ineffective governing systems and lifestyles.
Black lives should matter, homeless people should matter, poor people should matter, addicts should matter, mentally ill people should matter, minorities should matter, refugees should matter, women should matter, non-binary people should matter, disabled people should matter… but they won’t until they are represented.
Let’s outrage until EVERYBODY is accounted for. Let’s outrage until quality of life is a priority. Please research Sortition – I swear, it’s on to something.
[Bethany Anderson – she, her – @bertakennedy]
[Image Credit: Amine M’Siouri]