In the article, ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government,’ I liked Lessig’s balanced yet undeniably sarcastic look into the value of transparency in our society. The public and indeed our culture now screams to know more. We want to be privy to all the dirty details; some say its to make more informed decisions but perhaps its just because we humans are nosey in nature and like the inside gossip. A good scandal never hurt everyone… at once, or did it?!
“But will the effect of these projects–at least on their own, unqualified or unrestrained by other considerations–really be for the good? Do we really want the world that they righteously envisage?” (Lessig, Pg. 1)
In the recent article, ‘Sleepless in Canberra,’ Bob Ellis rather famously says that the extreme transparency and unrealistic expectations of the public destroys any hope of an exceptional Australian prime minister, “The 24-hour news cycle is at the heart of this, and it’s killing our democracy.”
This idea intersects with Lessig’s idea that full transparency in government erodes the trust foundations between the public and their governing body, “The “naked transparency movement,” as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff.”
If the public should one day (god forbid) demand to scrutinize and ‘see’ every appointment, expense and movement in my life i am certain i would faint. They would be horrified at the complete waste of time that is my daily schedule, my hemorrhaging of funds into online shopping websites and my lack of concern for the consequences of eating a whole block of chocolate for dinner and the truth that people in general shit me most of the time.
I wouldn’t last long as prime minister. People are hard to please. I refrain from going into politics so i can continue pleasing myself. As Lessig says, “There is no questioning the good that transparency creates in a wide range of contexts… But we should also recognize that the collateral consequence of that good need not itself be good.” (Lessig, Pg. 2)
Ellis makes fair comment on the health (physical, mental and emotional) of our past and present Prime Ministers.
“The larger question, though, of sleepless politicians, and therefore burnt-out politicians and policy incompetence and the current ruinous way of doing things, needs a whole change of culture I fear.” (Ellis, Pg. 1)
Looking at the expectation that they remain awake, accountable and alert to make comment on breaking news 24/7 as a ridiculous demand and unrealistic demand. He makes you think about the belief that one person should be able to ‘do it all’ and stand for all would require some sort of super-human robot like creature as our leader. And is in a word -impossible.
“Because we’re hemorrhaging our best political talent and it won’t come back, at any price, into a democracy now in serious danger of swallowing itself whole and vanishing. It’s injurious to their health, and they know it, and they flee it as soon as they can, and our nation is in trouble, deep trouble, because of it.” (Ellis, Pg. 2)
We would need to adjust our hopes and be a slight more forgiving and hold back judgement if the transparency thing is to work for Australians or anyone for that matter. All it takes is thinking about what transparency would mean on an individual level, how ‘seeing’ would work in some cases and not in others, think George Orwell’s, ‘Nineteen-eighty-four.’ Yeah.
Ellis, B. (2010) ‘Sleepless in Canberra’ The ABC, Drum Unleashed. Available: http:// www.abc.net.au/unleashed/35116.html (Date accessed: 01/05/13)
Lessig, L. (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government,’ Available: http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0 (Date accessed: 01/05/13)
Thakur, M. (2012) ‘Gunther von Hagen Showcases Preserved Animal Anatomies’ INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES. Available: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/323655/20120404/gunther-von-hagen-animals-inside-out-exhibition.htm (Date accessed: 09/05/13)