Norman Lewis (Independent)—A transparent lack of trust

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The latest exposure by Wikileaks of thousands of secret documents about the aftermath of the Iraq war has once again provoked debate about transparency and the implications of the indiscriminate cascade of disclosure. Exposures like these and notoriously, the MP expenses scandal before the last election, have fostered the belief that transparency is now a necessary condition for a functioning democracy.

Transparency advocates argue that the public disclosure of information is more important than the right to privacy because it is vital to rebuild trust, that this is impossible if politicians continue to “hide secrets” from the public, that democracy is a sham unless it is forced into honesty by radical campaigners like Julian Assange, pictured right.

But does this compulsive desire to publish every note, leak every memo, really do anything to bolster trust in society?

The short answer is that it does the opposite: it fuels mistrust rather than nurturing a climate of trust. It breeds suspicion and fosters secrecy.

Read it all.

Update: If you missed it, make sure to see "The Web Means the End of Forgetting" by Jeffrey Rosen, which was posted back in the summer, as it covers the theme from another angle.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

Posted October 28, 2010 at 7:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Vatican Watcher wrote:

Back in university where I was a poli sci major, we discussed this when talking about two different scenarios:

1. President Carter
2. President Truman

The question we discussed was which president has fared better in history’s judgment as a trusted leader though at times he may or may not have been completely honest with the public?

Truman came out the better of the two.

October 28, 11:16 pm | [comment link]
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