The importance of secrecy in politics

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Naurgul
Posts: 623
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:50 am UTC
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contact:

The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby Naurgul » Fri May 15, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

Hello,

The Bilderberg conference got a bit of publicity here and among the conspiracy theories and other big words I also came across an interesting position (don't bother clicking if you can't read Greek) that defended the group. The argument was that politicians need an institution that will allow them to be informed about social, business, communication, philosophical issues in private. It said that a think tank like this helps them supplement their abilities to act on their roles. It also said that this kind of lobbying is needed as preparation for the balancing of the various interests.

I was naturally inclined to disagree with this position. I think that since politicians are supposed to be the sum of the political will of the people they represent, they must be also bound to be transparent in any activity that is relevant to their roles as representatives. I also tend to think that openness always leads to a better world; under the table negotiations and keeping your interests secret are things that must be discouraged.

So, what are your opinions on this? Is there such thing as too much transparency? Obviously, there are "issues of national security" but I can't think of anything else that might justify this kind of secrecy. In addition, the reasons why politicians getting informed and lobbying should happen in private are pretty unclear to me.

User avatar
BoomFrog
Posts: 1070
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:59 am UTC
Location: Seattle

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby BoomFrog » Fri May 15, 2009 3:03 pm UTC

I'll play devil's advocate. Imagine a world with perfectly honest politicians who are only trying to best serve their constituents. They would still need to have discussions about controversial issues behind closed doors. If they were discussing the economy and they thought it was in trouble and were discussing ways to improve consumer confidence, publishing their discussion would hurt the country. It would cause a loss of confidence or even a panic, which has real effects on the economy.

Actually any sensitive issue (which is all of them) everyone would have to be on guard about what they say. Any quote can be taken out of context and used against you in the next campaign. If every discussion was recorded and published then all the politicians would be full of big talk and hot air, but nothing would get done. No one would feel free to discuss things in a frank, useful or efficient fashion.
"Everything I need to know about parenting I learned from cooking. Don't be afraid to experiment, and eat your mistakes." - Cronos

User avatar
DarkKnightJared
Posts: 268
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:10 am UTC
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby DarkKnightJared » Sun May 17, 2009 4:34 am UTC

BoomFrog wrote:I'll play devil's advocate. Imagine a world with perfectly honest politicians who are only trying to best serve their constituents. They would still need to have discussions about controversial issues behind closed doors. If they were discussing the economy and they thought it was in trouble and were discussing ways to improve consumer confidence, publishing their discussion would hurt the country. It would cause a loss of confidence or even a panic, which has real effects on the economy.

Actually any sensitive issue (which is all of them) everyone would have to be on guard about what they say. Any quote can be taken out of context and used against you in the next campaign. If every discussion was recorded and published then all the politicians would be full of big talk and hot air, but nothing would get done. No one would feel free to discuss things in a frank, useful or efficient fashion.


Maybe it's a bias towards transparancy, but I don't see how a frank discussion on how to fix something would cause harm. To me, it would show that they actually want to do things right and figure out the best way to get out of whatever jam we're in, and even if I didn't agree with the decision, I could see why they did it.

As for transparancy making polititians "full of big talk and hot air"--you mean they're not already?

User avatar
Naurgul
Posts: 623
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:50 am UTC
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby Naurgul » Sun May 17, 2009 9:06 am UTC

He probably means they would be forced to be like that all the time. They may be modest, intelligent, honest and pragmatic when they don't talk in public, for all we know.
Praised be the nightmare, which reveals to us that we have the power to create hell.

Nemiro
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 8:39 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby Nemiro » Sun May 17, 2009 10:36 am UTC

DarkKnightJared wrote:Maybe it's a bias towards transparancy, but I don't see how a frank discussion on how to fix something would cause harm. To me, it would show that they actually want to do things right and figure out the best way to get out of whatever jam we're in, and even if I didn't agree with the decision, I could see why they did it.

As for transparancy making polititians "full of big talk and hot air"--you mean they're not already?


Emphasis mine :D (I've always wanted to say that).

To the sort of people who frequent these boards, yes, such a discussion might not cause panic. But in a large majority of people, mere hints of economic problems can cause bank-runs and even if it doesn't immediately, the way the press thrives on bad news makes it more likely. Also, although I'm inclined to believe that if the population at large are just finding out, insurance companies and banks already know, the interest from these institutions can rise dramatically. If they didn't know, it wouldn't, and for them, the bottom line is very important.
Joshua wrote:GREETINGS, PROFESSOR FALKEN.

Spam here please

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby Indon » Sun May 17, 2009 1:20 pm UTC

Naurgul wrote:He probably means they would be forced to be like that all the time. They may be modest, intelligent, honest and pragmatic when they don't talk in public, for all we know.


I think judging from what they produce in terms of legislation, we can confidently say they are usually none of these things.

And if an honest discussion threatens to damage an economy, then I believe that could be considered a value adjustment - i.e. junk is overvalued, and when people realize this, it will adjust to its' real (much lower) value.
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

btilly
Posts: 1877
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Postby btilly » Sun May 17, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

Everything I know about the history of politics says that whenever light is shone on a previously dark corner, you can see lots of cockroaches scurrying away. Consequently no matter how valuable secrecy might be in hypothetical situations, I'm all for enforced openness and transparency in government.
Some of us exist to find out what can and can't be done.

Others exist to hold the beer.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests