Grown up thinking about Wikileaks and Cablegate, on the internet of all places
Wikileaks and the Long Haul
Like a lot of people, I am conflicted about Wikileaks.
Citizens of a functioning democracy must be able to know what the state is saying and doing in our name, to engage in what Pierre Rosanvallon calls ???counter-democracy???*, the democracy of citizens distrusting rather than legitimizing the actions of the state. Wikileaks plainly improves those abilities.
On the other hand, human systems can???t stand pure transparency. For negotiation to work, people???s stated positions have to change, but change is seen, almost universally, as weakness. People trying to come to consensus must be able to privately voice opinions they would publicly abjure, and may later abandon. Wikileaks plainly damages those abilities. (If Aaron Bady???s analysis is correct, it is the damage and not the oversight that Wikileaks is designed to create.*)
And so we have a tension between two requirements for democratic statecraft, one that can???t be resolved, but can be brought to an acceptable equilibrium. Indeed, like the virtues of equality vs. liberty, or popular will vs. fundamental rights, it has to be brought into such an equilibrium for democratic statecraft not to be wrecked either by too much secrecy or too much transparency.