Tuesday, November 9, 2010

economy of secrets

What constitutes an ‘informed citizenry’? What are the levels separating the informed from the uniformed (and the misinformed)? Is a population an informed citizenry when they know the ‘truth’ about government actions? Or can it incorporate the very notion of concealment – in that if we know information is being kept from us, we in turn are informed. Secrecy in and of its self solely exists because there is a demand for the information being protected. If nobody cared, there would be no need for keeping it secret. The very fact that we know information is being kept from us could lead to the assumption that we are informed – and the demand on our part for complete transparency is a demand that can only be made by a highly informed citizenry. So, in an odd way, secrecy could be an encouraging sign. We are informed, and we are demanding to be more so. Once we stop participating, stop caring, and stop fighting for our rights, information will constitute little significance – thus there will be no need for secrecy - and I can’t think of anything more horrifying.

Another question that pops up regarding an informed citizenry is the question of by whom are we being informed? Information must pass through a medium from which we receive it. In turn, does it matter what news sources we rely on? Can an informed citizenry be a misinformed citizenry? We all know and understand how powerful information is – and, again, those wielding it (those who benefit somehow from the revealing of it) will continue doing so in a precarious manner until it losses its power. Touching on a previous weeks discussion, the tendency for news sources to rely on seduction and entertainment (in that text is being replaced by images, etc) to inform us, how can we expect ‘truth’ from our information providers when we expect to be entertained? When multiple players are in the game (those who create the information – and may want it to be kept secret – the medium through which it is dispersed, and the person who is receiving it), one could ponder if an informed citizenry is truly an achievable notion, for this interaction can vary among individuals.

With all that said, I for one am pissed off and demand total transparency. Further, I believe that anyone who keeps from me information that I have a right to know is a fascist f*ck. (maybe that’s why I want to be a librarian) But I’ve been known to be extreme at times. Thus, I think the discussion should be kept alive, and hopefully secrecy will continue to be a necessary evil – for once there’s no need for it, once the demand for information recedes, we will truly have become lost.

1 comment:

  1. Fascist f*ck? Tecumseh pulls no punches!

    The whole informed/misinformed tension kept coming to mind for me throughout the readings. On one hand, I agree that knowing we're not getting the whole story is an important first step toward actually getting it. On the other hand, the number of players involved multiplied by their varying degrees of duplicity ultimately creates a fairly impenetrable fog of noise and static. The conclusion of this sort of thinking, if you follow it to its extreme, ends up somewhere in tinfoil hat territory - where nothing the government says can be trusted because they're putting fluoride in our drinking water to make us weak and subservient.