• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

[Repost] Benedict de Spinoza:More Transparency in Both Government and Corporations

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 22, 2012

“It has been one of the songs of those who thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret…But the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead…Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evils secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens.They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in the time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”- Benedict de Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

One of the things that have always intrigued me is why Cabinet meetings of our ministers,that discuss important issues and Bills, are held behind closed doors and hidden from the view of the very public that those legislative actions are going to affect. Are they plotting against the citizens during time of peace?

Lets extend this argument to corporate big-wigs.Several strategy decisions are made in secret and for obvious reasons. One, to prevent sensitive data from reaching competition. Agreed. However, an arrangement should be made to video record these meetings and display them to the shareholders once the results of the decisions have been fully realized in the public domain. Shareholders, like citizens in a democracy should have the right to view the decision making process of the executives theyΒ  pay huge salaries to “protect their interests”.

After 60 years of Independence, India finally has a Right To Information Act. A bittersweet case of better late than never; generations from now it will be recognized as the one legislation that saved democracy in this country.

20 Responses to “[Repost] Benedict de Spinoza:More Transparency in Both Government and Corporations”

  1. I call it the newspaper policy. If you would be embarrassed by reading about it in the morning paper, don’t do or say it. We need more transparency on the part of all organizations, and at the same time more accountability on the part of citizens. It’s a two way street, or in this day and age a motorway.

    • Raunak said

      more accountability on the part of citizens…that is so important. I think that very often, we forget that our leaders are as human as we. Hence, we should be more forgiving of their trespasses. Once we show a little more leniency, leaders won’t have to hide or lie so much.
      Every small error on the part of a politician is magnified to such ridiculous levels by the media that politicians have ceased to live naturally. The media and our expectations do not allow a politician to present to us the real self, and in this process he ends up forgetting his own real self as well.

  2. This is a great post! The idea of transparency can be applied to psychology, as well – especially family dynamics.

    Families who are closed, secretive, and FEAR BASED, create members who are shameful, anxious, and generally dysfunctional. Their members develop an external locus of control – they look out side of themselves for direction on how to live because their individual needs have never been respected, they are rules focused. (Individuals are motivated by fear rather than an internal sense of right and wrong.) Closed families lack healthy boundaries which also creates fear. These families function as one large ego mass rather than a group of individuals.

    Open families, on the other hand, encourage individualism and independence. They have rules that require accountability – rules that promote healthy self-development based on feelings. They have well defined boundaries, have order and structure, respect individual feelings and needs, they’re flexible and are able to modify values over time, change is seen as a positive thing, and finally communication is open, honest and respectful.

    If it were up to me we would live in a world with much greater transparency. If policies, laws, etc. have to be discussed and decided secretly, in a cloak of darkness, I think it’s fair to assume that certain individual needs are being over-looked or that intentions are not always as they are stated. If our laws and policies are good and fair, there should never be a reason to cover up the process we use to arrive at those laws.

    Sorry for the ramble!!

    • Raunak said

      you rock πŸ™‚ thank you so much for these wonderful thoughts! really appreciate them.
      the application of the principle of transparency to family unit is so apt. freedom +accountability is the key. Many families go wrong by overlooking accountability and this leads to children going astray or becoming weaklings.I have seen very close families and have felt the underlying tensions and fears that you mention. Fortunately I was raised in a balanced way. While my parents gave me a lot of freedom, the catholic schools I went to ensured that disciplining through fear was not left out of my upbringing πŸ™‚

  3. This is very interesting and transparency would certainly eliinate a lot of corruption, I think.
    There was a lot of talk on teh news a while back about anti-corruptionprotests in India but now they don’t mention it any more – what its the latest situation on that? (If it’s not too complex to outline briefly!)

    • Raunak said

      TSH, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. they enrich the discussion immensely. πŸ™‚

      The corruption movement in India was led by a Non-political organization called India Against Corruption (IAC). However the politicians in India kept delaying the demand for introduction of a strict anti-corruption legislature called Lokpal Bill. After months of protests, the IAC decided to become political and form a party to contest elections. They realized that to change the system they would have to enter the system.
      This decision caused a split of the IAC with some members opposing the move to become political. Now the IAC and its political front s being led by their leader Arvind Kejriwal, who I refer to as AK47 πŸ™‚
      Sadly now the media focus has moved away from corruption issues…in search for sensationalism it is focusing on the individuals in the movement and raising doubts about their motives…and not addressing corruption.
      We Indians are not capable of change…It pisses the crap out of me….some time backI even wrote a post on this…if you havent’t read it here it is

      you might enjoy it πŸ™‚

      • It is very interesting how the people in power can manipulate a situation like that and divert a movement that threatesns their powr and source of money. This story is so similar to the oen in Sicily. Have you heard of the Movimento 5 stelle (5 star mevement) in Italy? They also made a stand against corruption which of course in Italy is not onyl about embezzlingstate money but about organised crime (Mafia) on a global scale. The political parties here control every TV station and the newspapers so the only means of “free press” or free communication is the Internet – which Berlusconi tried to block with legislation giving him rights to eliminate any website criticising the government (i.e. him).
        The TV here almost completely ignores the M5S but they are growing tremendously. They decided to put up political candidates but they only allow candidates who participate in the movement by carrying out at least 8 activities a month such as physically removing rubbish from the steets (refuse collection is outsourced to a private company which happens to be the Mafia so it never gets removed) or visiting politicians who have succeeded in getting out of old mafia contracts to outsource services like this, and publicising how they did it online.
        The elections are today and tomorrow, so we are all hoping they will have some success, and even more important, that once elected they will not be completely blocked from changing anything by the existing powers.

      • Raunak said

        they do deserve success. Wish them all the luck!

        India shares a very important link with Italy. Sonia Gandhi, who heads the ruling government is an Italian. She married Rajiv Gandhi and after his death became the most revered politician in her party.

        Unfortunately, under her regime the country has seen the most horrendous corruption scandals. It truly has become intolerable. Some people even speculate that the Italian mafia and intelligence services are behind her corruption ridden rule. Conspiracy theories!

    • When you mentioned Sonia Ghandi I decided to read up about her – in Italian. Many things related to the Mafia are dismissed as conspiracy theories outside Italy or even outside Sicily. You have to live here to appreciate how ubiquitous and how unbelievably outrageous their activities really are. Also, a lot of information on people’s backgrounds is only accessible if you speak Italian. Well, I am happy to report that there is no dirt on Sonia Ghandi in Italian anywhere on the Internet! So I would feel fairly confident to say that the corruption is due to incompetence rather than evil scheming.

      Meanwhile, the Italian senate is voting on a new “defamation bill” right now, which would mean any website must be unplugged immediately if the person it speaks about claims that it damages their reputation. That would mean there would be no Wikipedia entries about any Italian politician, for example, and probably no online mention of Berlusconi at all. There are already some websites blocked to me he here in Italy, (illegaly at the moment) but I would soon find my access to many websites all over the world censored. The bill would also allow monitoring of emails and Facebook communications and other “private” messaging.
      In a country with no free press, this will be the last line of free communications closed. And I do believe the bill will go through. If you have no platform even to reveal or talk about the corruption of politicians, there will be absolutely no means of stopping them.

      • Raunak said

        wow…thank you so much for searching up stuff on her in Italian. I had never thought of that aspect. Wish I could share this information with all haters in India. Will definitely spread the word amongst my peers.

        Wow…didn’t know free speech was being so harshly targeted by the Italian politicians. That definitely is scary. Isn’t there a social movement that could unite people against the bill and lead huge protests?

      • The movimento 5 stelle is really the movement that is protesting for this. One of the 5 stars is “information” and calls for freedom of the press, of the TV stations and free internet access, the end of defamation laws and generally freedom for journalists to say and write whatever they want.
        Tomorrow we’ll find out how they have done in today’s elections.

        Generally, though, there’s a lack of “outrage” in Italy because you get kind of jaded when you live somewhere the president is exposed as a pedophile and gets away with it. You make a fuss, create a scandal, and everything carries on as before!
        In Sicily a few years back the president (Toto Cuffaro) was convincted of being in the Mafia and sentenced to 5 years in prison, and he announced that he was not going to stand down as president just because of that, he would finish his term of office. And he did.

      • Raunak said

        it sounds eerily similar to India.we all need a revolution!

  4. soumyav said

    for if you are given a power for someday,its for sure everything is going to change in the indian democracy! πŸ˜‰

    • Raunak said

      The first thing I will do is remove democracy and instate a combination of Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Scientific Enquiry, Spartan Military Tradition, Vedic Religion and Chanakya’s administration.

      • All fine except please take the Spartan Military tradition out of this!
        Boys were taken from their mothers on their 7th birthday and each allocated to a 30 year old Spartan soldier as apprentice and to be used sexually. This institution of sexual abuse and violence brutalised them and created repressed anger which was what made them fight with an agression the other Greeks could never match and despite all their training, it was this that made them very powerful as soldiers in their heyday. For a man to derive sexual pleasure from women was considered effeminate and shameful.
        This institutionalised psycologial and physical abuse undermined the social structure so much that they were eventually beaten and controlled definitively by the Athenians so, even viewed only from a military standpoint, their methods were ultimately a failure.
        Really the only reason their military prowess has gone down in history was because they neglected every other aspect of social development, having no interest in the arts, writing, architecture, or even religion. The Athenians constantly made fun of their military obsession add their macho, lesbian-like women because there was pretty much nothing else to them.

      • Raunak said

        that is a strong argument…Spartan Military methods deleted! Lets add Saladin instead. any objections there?
        Thanks TSH πŸ™‚

      • soumyav said

        Wow! sounds like a perfect administrator in welfare of his subjects.. πŸ™‚

      • Saladin sounds good to me!!!

  5. Good Deed said

    Good point you made here here, Malcolm…
    But we are actually under these circumstances fools if we expect something like open dialogue with citizens… We will never know these things which take place under closed doors, at least not in this system. We are asking our politicians to get rid of corruption and money interests, but the whole system is built on that as a premise… Like your post and message though… Cheers!

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