Monday 17 October 2011

Secrecy and Think Tanks

The public sector is now so transparent that we have a right to read the private emails of climate scientists working for a state-sponsored university. The private sector is so opaque that we have no idea on whose behalf the people who appear every day on the BBC, using arguments that look suspiciously like corporate propaganda, are speaking.

What does political theory have to say about secrecy? It seems that a large part of power - be it with tax havens or lobby organisations as above - is vested in its secrecy. Yet secrecy isn't ignorance. Secrecy has to be maintained; it takes intensive legal and political enforcement, not to mention highly convenient delineation. Secrecy itself is something fundamental to power - the power to define privacy. Making something public and hence political certainly takes power and a lot of work but this is no less true of making something private. This 'liminal power' that decides the contours of 'the political' is decidedly interesting to me.