Any Cook Can Govern

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* Article: C. L. R. James. Every Cook Can Govern. A Study of Democracy in Ancient Greece Its Meaning for Today. Correspondence, Vol. 2, No. 12. June 1956;

URL = http://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1956/06/every-cook.htm


Description

"Marxist theorist and activist C. L. R. James, in his 1956 essay ‘Every Cook Can Govern‘, did not offer any specific plan for incorporating sortition into modern government. Instead, James forcefully offers Sortition as a radical tool for democratizing government, reflecting in practice the idea that served as the title of his essay." [1]


Excerpt

C.L.R. James began as follows, on Athenian Democracy:


- The Greek form of government was the city-state. Every Greek city was an independent state. At its best, in the city state of Athens, the public assembly of all the citizens made all important decisions on such questions as peace or war. They listened to the envoys of foreign powers and decided what their attitude should be to what these foreign powers had sent to say. They dealt with all serious questions of taxation, they appointed the generals who should lead them in time of war. They organized the administration of the state, appointed officials and kept check on them. The public assembly of all the citizens was the government.


Perhaps the most striking thing about Greek Democracy was that the administration (and there were immense administrative problems) was organized upon the basis of what is known as sortition, or, more easily, selection by lot. The vast majority of Greek officials were chosen by a method which amounted to putting names into a hat and appointing the ones whose names came out.


Now the average CIO bureaucrat or Labor Member of Parliament in Britain would fall in a fit if it was suggested to him that any worker selected at random could do the work that he is doing, but that was precisely the guiding principle of Greek Democracy. And this form of government is the government under which flourished the greatest civilization the world has ever known." (http://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/c-l-r-james-every-cook-can-govern-1956/)