Kleroterion Forum

When a lottery is the right way to share, select, decide


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Bhuddist Abbot chosen by lottery:

Posted by kleroterion on Wednesday, 18 June 2008

China tries to be nice to Tibetans – allows a lottery

Abbots to be chosen by drawing names from a traditional golden urn

China revives a Buddhist tradition in Tibet

BUDDHIST HISTORY is being embraced by communist China in a move which is likely to enhance its control of Tibet. A remarkable 18th-century method of choosing senior religious figures within Tibetan society has recently been reintroduced on a larger scale by the Chinese authorities as a way of appointing influential religious leaders in Tibet.

Until now, Tibetan monks have chosen most of their religious leaders (abbots, etc) by combing the land for children who are believed to be reincarnations of previous incumbents. Now the Chinese government has said that all reincarnates have to have state approval and that senior ones have to be appointed through a system that was used back in Manchu limes. The system for senior appointments sees names of reincarnated candidates placed in a 2011-year-old golden urn from which the winning “ticket” (an ivory stick with an individual’s details written on it) is drawn. The Chinese government plans to use a golden urn to help choose all Tibet’s most senior religious leaders. However, there are two golden urns. One is kept in Lhasa in Tibet and the other is in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

The tradition of using a golden urn as an ostensibly divinatory device was introduced by the Manchu dynasty Chinese emperor Qianlong in 1793. However, in many cases, the system wasn’t divinatory at all, because the monks often saw to it that the name of the particular child they had selected appeared on all the ivory sticks in the urn. Despite this, the appearance of central Chinese power was enhanced by the fact that it was the imperial government’s representative who presided over the drawing of the “ticket” out of the urn.

By once again becoming involved in the selection of ostensibly reincarnated religious leaders in Tibet, China’s otherwise totally atheist government is massively expanding the scale on which it engages with a religious system of inheritance-through-reincarnation that goes back even further than the original golden urn ceremony. The tradition began in 1283 when a top Tibetan religious leader died leaving a will stating that, despite death, he would continue as their leader through reincarnation. The leader also left detailed instructions as to where exactly his reincarnated self could be found.

Report by David Keys in BBC History Magazine p9 February 2008


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John Burnheim

Posted by kleroterion on Wednesday, 18 June 2008

A new (or perhaps the original?) Kleroterian: I am delighted to tell you that John Burnheim has joined our emailing group! Most of us will be familiar with his 1985 book about ‘Demarchy’ (a word he coined) which was titled: Is Democracy Possible? The Alternative to Electoral Politics  This has been re-issued (2006, available in print form from Sydney University Press) “For the new edition of this important work Burnheim reflects upon the impact of the book and upon his current thoughts on the primary issues he raised when it was first published in 1985. Despite a generation of dramatic historical change and intense theoretical interest in issues of global democratisation the problems he raised remain unsolved. Is Democracy Possible? Remains a distinctive and provocative discussion of the possibilities for the democratic reorganisation of modern society” 

Now in his 80s, John was Professor of General Philosophy at Sydney University (where he had been involved in some controversies!). He still lives in Sydney, Australia.

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‘Lottery for School Places’

Posted by kleroterion on Wednesday, 18 June 2008

 ‘Lottery for School Places’ 18 January 2008
There is a flurry of news items from the UK today (18th Jan) about school choice and lotteries, with the headline including the word ‘lottery’ appearing in 3 articles (attached). (Use News-Google, keyword lottery for lots more articles about this theme.) 

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England: School entry selection by lottery

Posted by kleroterion on Friday, 18 January 2008

Selection by lottery could be just the ticket

(Daily Telegraph, 18 Jan 2008)

Top schools should allocate places ‘by lottery’ Popular schools should choose pupils through lotteries to stop middle-class parents monopolising places, the admissions watchdog said yesterday. Greater regulation is needed because unfettered access to the best schools is leading to social segregation, Philip Hunter, the chief schools adjudicator, said.

Thank you Dr Hunter, for making it clear (to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee of M.P.s) why the Choice Agenda, so popular politically, leads first to covert selection, which can only be countered by random selection, a ballot, a lottery; call it what you will. (Lots more in today’s UK Media on this)

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Hello Kleroterians!

Posted by kleroterion on Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Welcome to the Kleroterion Forum. The aim is to keep a rolling discussion going on our strange and wonderful idea—that randomisation is our friend. As a democratic mechanism for sharing scarce goods, deciding who should judge, selecting officials, a lottery can, in the right circumstances, be a rational and just way of settling the issue.

On this Forum we could keep ourselves informed of any new uses for lottery-deciding (and newly discovered old uses too!). Articles from newspapers and academic journals on this topic are popping up regularly. They could be posted onto this forum. Of course many of these articles will be from within our own group.

Once items are posted, they joy of this blog-Forum is that we can add comment. To start with I propose that we keep this posting-power private—only group members can write in. But this should also be our window to the outside world, to sell the idea to a wider audience. We could also hope to pick up more folk interested enough to join us.

I will act as moderator for this Forum on my own, but perhaps I should try to acquire a small team later on.

So how about it? How do we get going, get the blogging (as I believe it is called) underway?

For the moment I leave that to be announced. For now I invite comments on the viability of this Forum, its name, purpose or indeed anything else. (No prizes for guessing I’m a novice in this field, so mea culpa!)


Posted in Uncategorized, Welcome | 4 Comments »