Reading Martin Nowak & Roger Highfield’s verygood ‘Super Cooperators’, there’s this observation:
“There’s a telling joke among scientists that every new theory has to pass though three phases of “acceptance”: first, it is completely ignored; second, it is obviously wrong; and third, it is obviously right, but everyone knew that anyway.” (p63 of the 2011 Canongate edition).
Sir Matthew Hale
I was reading Tom Bingham’s ‘The Rule of Law’ and found Sir Matthew Hale’s resolutions. I was quite taken aback that I’d not heard of this before and even more surprised that – when I searched online – I struggled to locate it.
So, finally, having found it here, I thought I’d copy it here (below) so that I won’t forget it.
I’m struggling to think of an equivalent set of resolutions that elected representatives could adopt – and struggling even harder to understand why I can’t recall any examples of one of them attempting to do this.
Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance.
- That in the Alministration of Justice, I am intrusted for God, the King and Country; and therefore,
- That it be done, 1. Uprightly, 2. Deliberately, 3. Resolutely.
- That I rest not upon my own Understanding or Strength, but implore and rest upon the Direction and Strength of God.
- That in the Execution of Justice, I carefully lay aside my own Passions, and not give way to them, however provoked.
- That I be wholly intent upon the Business I am about, remitting all other Cares and Thoughts, as unseasonable and Interruptions.
- That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any Judgment at all, till the whole Business and both Parties be beard.
- That I never engage my self in the beginning of any Cause, but reserve my self unprejudiced till the whole be heard.
- That in Business Capital, though my Nature prompt me to Pity; yet to consider, that there is also a Pity due to the Country.
- That I be not too Rigid in Matters purely Conscientious, where all the barm is Diversity of Judgment.
- That I be not byassed with Compassion to the Poor, or favour to the Rich, in point of Justice.
- That Popular, or Court-Applause, or Distaste, have no Influence into any thing I do in point of Distribution of Justice.
- Not to be sollicitous what Men will say or think, so long as I keep my self exactly according to the Rule of Justice.
- If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to Mercy and Acquittal.
- In Criminals that consist merely in Words, when no more ensues, Moderation is no Injustice.
- In Criminals of Blood, if the Fact be Evident, Severity is Justice.
- To abhor all private Sollicitations, of what kind soever, and by whom soever, in matters Depending.
- To charge my Servants, 1. Not to interpose in any Business whatsoever, 2. Not to take more than their known Fees, 3. Not to give any undue precedence to Causes, 4. Not to recommend Council.
- To be short and sparing at Meals, that I may be the fitter for Business.
I’m in favour of public protests in general, mainly because they backfire and undermine the case that they purport so support.
MPs should be treated bit like jurors. They should be constantly invited to use their skill and judgement to spot the interests of the nation as a whole. And as jurors, they should conduct their deliberations free from the harassment of people with megaphones and personal shanty towns.
Read the whole post here.
(An old post from 2007 revived).
I went on Boogaloo Radio with my old friend Ann Scanlon. No droning on about democracy for a change. Just music, and pubs, and reminiscences.
On Sunday 13th May, I will be speaking about my book “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” at Conway Hall in central London. This is part of the “Thinking on Sunday” series of talks.
For tickets and information, please follow this link.
This has just been published:
“A brilliant new book by Paul Evans, ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’…says
“If we wanted to design a system in a way that helps wealthy and charismatic people con everyone easily, we could barely design anything better than electoral politics.”
Although this is a slim volume, it poses some deep questions which deserve far more attention than they’re getting.
…even if you think Paul has the wrong solution, he is at least asking the right question. And given that so few are doing even this, he’s done a massive public service.
A very positive review from Nick Cohen in The Spectator here:
“Paul Evans’s important pamphlet Save Democracy – Abolish Voting is disturbing, and therefore worth reading, because he shows the supposed enemies of corporate power are no less elitist.
…… Drawing on the work of Mancur Olson, Evans says that the inchoate mass of people with poorly expressed concerns have little and, on most occasions, no lobbying power to match them. Laws and regulations are changed by active minorities, who either have money (lobbyists) or the time (activists) to take up politics as a hobby, whether as the highly unrepresentative groups of party members who select candidates and elect party leaders, propagandists for causes on social media, or the supporters of single-issue campaigns.
… What make Evans’s pamphlet compelling is that traditional remedies fail to answer the problems he highlights.
… Evans’s modest proposal, presented with a touch of Swiftian irony, is that rather than give every citizen the vote, the state should give each citizen an equal sum of money to spend on politics. They could then form consortiums of like-minded people to sponsor not just politicians but everyone involved in the political process – civil servants, journalists, lobbyists and so on. Only ‘players’ who secured broad support would then be able to play the game.
….Descriptions of the failures of democracy feel alive and true in the present age. Evans’s polemic is no exception. Proposals for reform, by contrast, seem a waste of breath”
A ballot paper is supposed to send a message to the government, telling it how it should behave. There are plenty of signalling mechanisms that would do the job a lot better, and it’s a mystery why the vote has been allowed to be fetishised as it has.
There are so many different ways of making decisions. Academics decide what they know using the peer review system, or by conducting clinical trials. Judges use a jury to decide what happened so that the law can be applied. Market mechanisms are used to make decisions about production and prices.
Bookmakers, actuaries and stock markets help to decide whether something is likely to happen, so everyone can allocate their risk accordingly. Artificial intelligence makes decisions that affect everyone, and it is beginning to transform the way that professions work, and to influence the decisions that are made.
This is an extract from my forthcoming book “Save Democracy?—?Abolish Voting”. It is taken from the Introduction to the book.
The bug in democracy’s code
The variety of liberal democracy used in Europe and North America has created untold growth, prosperity and inter-democracy peace. It has been a fantastically successful experiment and no generation of humanity is as lucky as ours.
Its continuing positive development is not assured, however. One of its fatal flaws is that politicians are stuck in something that looks a lot like the prisoner’s dilemma where, in a climate of distrust, their default setting is to accuse each other, however opaquely, of being liars and thieves. Because of this, politicians fail to defend the idea of democratic governance itself.