Stage Management

June 22, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Political, Society, Web

Transparency is not much embraced by the economic powers that be. Corporations and the agencies of government that represent their interests have been pushing hard for opaque economic governance for more than 30 years. It’s easier to perform the tricks of the trade when you control the stage.

“Deregulation” is the word used to suggest the benefits of letting corporations make money without the burden of accountability. We’ve gone about as far as deregulation can carry us. The federal government has been replaced by corporate representatives. Having legislated that corporations can do what they feel is best for corporations and the country, corporations have decided what is best for them is to control the country. Not a big surprise there.

Having deregulated transparency, we’ve obfuscated the reality that more knowledge is a good thing. Watching the dissolution of the economy, we’re realizing again the benefits of keeping government and corporations separate. We went through this struggle early in the preceding century.

My colleagues and I design network and coalition structures. This work goes with the territory of preparing web applications that manage the business and communications of networks and coalitions. One of the blessings of the new online communications technologies is how easy transparency is to design. Much has been made of the phrase “paradigm shift.” I would suggest that the use of new technologies to encourage organizational transparency is part of a deep shift working its way through out society.

This transition is characterized by both our observing the horrifying results of a lack of transparent practices while at the same time experiencing the profound benefits of complete transparency. At the top, we are observing a slow-motion train wreck as our economy does an accordion collapse as confidence in what we can’t see disappears. From the bottom, new practices emerge, championed by the powerless–our children–that demand that everything be seen.

Transparency is not the natural ally of the American cult of individuality. That everything possible be “personal” has been a hallmark of the way corporate interests encourage our not noticing the profound importance of what is not personal, but communal. Communal interests demand transparency. Suggesting that anything that is not personal in nature is an attack on liberty and independence continues to allow those making such claims to continue to perform their services in secret, serving their personal interests.

By successfully demonizing the communal, socialist, the commons, shared interests and high taxes, the corporations continue to control the stage and keep the processes used to create wealth a secret. Secrets are not good for an economy. For corporations, it was never about the economy. For corporations, it was about short-term gain.


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