[OPE] Wikileaks, Karl Marx and you

From: Jurriaan Bendien <jurriaanbendien@online.nl>
Date: Fri Jan 21 2011 - 05:21:32 EST


I didn't say that wikileaks endorses a "general principle" that all
confidential information should become public. If I implied that, then I
worded things wrongly. I said "if you endorse the general principle of
people releasing confidential or private information, or hacking into other
people's databases, you invite others to do the same to you." I meant that
if I associated myself with such practices then I might pack major trouble
in that sense. It's not that I am averse to a challenge, but just that in my
position I am limited in what I can do, I cannot be involved in certain
tings. From a scientific perspective, everything you need to deconstruct
life's problems is accessible in the public domain, and you can access the
private domain there with the assent of the relevant party or parties.

Corporations and states do nothing, people do. All the published
communications were information produced by people and sourced to people.
Certainly, if someone speaks on behalf of an organisation it has a different
weighting or status. It can scarcely be maintained though that, if a person
acts in this representative sense, the relevant information should
automatically be accessible to all. If that was the case, there would not be
any laws governing official information. I worked with confidential official
information for years, under oath, so I am fairly confident I know what I am
talking about there.

The truth does not necessarily set you free, it's a necessary condition, but
not a sufficient one. Honesty effectively means telling the truth in a
manner which takes the other into consideration, it involves the element of
intent (honorable intent, bona fide, introducing a social or ethical
dimension). Hence, the truth could also lock you in chains. The whole
dispute is not about the importance of the truth per se, but how to convey
it, how to tell it. I could state certain truths on OPE-L, and the advisory
committee would bar me from the list very smartly for violating protocol. It
might set me free in some sense, but also would bar me from an opportunity
for scholarly communication, and I might not feel so liberated after all.

I do not really know what you mean or intend with your quote from Marx's
critique of Hegel's philosophy of right. I think, that democracy is not a
panacea or an organizational solution for everything. Democracy does not
automatically guarantee that the truth will be revealed, it provides only
the possibility that it can, or will be revealed - the vast majority could
be wrong, and the minority or a few dissenters could be correct, and at
least the possibility exists that this can be established. Nor does
democracy guarantee freedom, inasmuch as the minority can be oppressed by
the majority (or vice versa). Democracy is foundationally about the right to
dissent, or think differently, without being burnt at the stake or summarily
shot etc., with the background thought that "one could be wrong", and that
one has to allow the evidence of experience to be the judge of that. As soon
as people start to believe, more or less fanatically, they can never be
wrong even in principle, then we start to leave the realm of democracy
(which provides for the element of doubt and skepsis) and enter the realm of
autocracy ("my word is law", "l'etat est moi"). Majority rule is meaningless
without pluralism (but pluralism is often badly misunderstood).

Paul B:

Obviously I am not as radical, revolutionary and far left as you are, I
ain't perfect and I have never argued this. Wikileaks just doesn't
necessarily represent my interests, they could release confidential
information into the public domain for all sorts of reasons, or threaten to
do so. Then you are asking me to have confidence in the authority and
judgement of wikileaks to do this sort of thing. But frankly I do not really
have that confidence. A healthy public dialogue or debate presupposes that
the parties have something in common. If people really have nothing in
common, and as an act of desperation start to release confidential
information about their adversaries, this may certainly stir up debate and
discussion, but the effects may be chaotic, unpredictable and insidious. The
procedure might backfire, and people may not draw the conclusions that
should be drawn at all. Well, one should not be too afraid of this
eventuality in the broader scheme of things, but it could do more harm than
good, and the harm and the good could be differentially and unfairly
distributed, in ways that are impossible to predict. If I deliberately and
consciously release information, I have to take responsibility for the
release of my information, and if I can't, I had better think twice about
releasing it, since I can hardly evade the consequences of releasing it, and
it would hardly be a sign of integrity if I did try to evade that.

Just because there are a lot of hypocrisies, duplicities, inconsistencies
and propagandistic lies around, doesn't mean that I have to be involved with
that necessarily, or that I should add fuel to the fire. I am better off
with a model of behaviour which articulates my own attitude to integrity in
a positive and constructive sense, or, if I have criticism, explains clearly
what the criticism and its intent actually are - rather than implying that
there is a criticism or reproach without stating explicitly what it is.

Of course imperialist politicians have principles, and therefore I don't
get very far with arguing that they are unprincipled. I have to demonstrate
that the principles they have are such, that they ought to be rejected.
It may well be that principles formally enshrined in law are not actually
the principles which are applied, but that does not mean that there are
no principles being applied. In general, the best policy is to respect the
person, and challenge what he says or does.


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Received on Fri Jan 21 05:23:14 2011

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