By now you probably know—unless you rely on Das K for all your news, in which case you must be very, very bored—that Wikileaks is preparing a big financial institution document dump! I am decisively thrilled about this, which makes it about the only thing I really have to look forward to right now aside from maybe death and my next beer, and unlike Mother Jones‘s Kevin Drum I am not at all confused as to why…
This gave me pause when I read it. As I said earlier, I’m on the fence a bit about whether an indiscriminate release of thousands of U.S. embassy cables is useful. After all, governments have a legitimate need for confidential diplomacy. But when I read about WikiLeaks’ planned financial expose, I felt no such qualms. A huge release of internal documents from a big bank? Bring it on!
And yet, just like governments, big corporations have both a legitimate need for confidential deliberations as well as many of the same pathologies that secrecy breeds. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course, on a variety of levels, but still: it’s not all that different either. So why do I feel so differently about it? I’m not quite sure. But it suggests that my thinking about this is not as clear as it should be. I will continue to mull this over.
Okay WHAT ABOUT, Kevin, how we live in a democracy, and how our elected officials passed laws so that the government eventually has to inform the citizenry about how it does things, and no one who who makes his living working for the democracy actually makes that much because we, the voters, decided that would be unseemly, but our politicians and media and elections and central banks and courts and military and legislative processes and universities and Michelle Rhee-endorsed charter schools can all be bought by and outsourced to powerful corporations that abide by none of those rules and pretty much never have to tell anyone anything ever about what they’re doing with “our” money, even when it ends up totally destroying the financial system. This dearth of information breeds in turn a dearth of understanding about the operations of the “private” sector, which in turn has bred (among people who, unlike Drum, still have to give the subject more thought) a nauseating mythologizing of wealth and commerce in this country, which is very convenient to the oligarchs who control everything already, but what isn’t, the end.