Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

You don't need to be an Insider

I went to bed early last night. Apparently there was a Newsnight report about the ongoing child abuse revelations which are rocking the British establishment. The BBC cautiously redacted the name of the friend of Margaret Thatcher who was closely involved. So this morning I thought I would give myself a little test of how easy it would be to find out who he was. It took less than five minutes. And it was only as long as that because I had the wrong name in mind. I have decided not to link to any websites, because it will all be out by the end of the day anyway. For example, wikipedia staff have edited content, but wikipedia editing history is open to anyone to read. If you care to know you can find out. PS it is not a fascinating fact or anything.

There was an article in Crooked Timber about the concept of Insider knowledge (it's not about child abuse).
Most of the time, you can learn as much or more from intelligently consuming publicly available information as you can from attending purportedly insider briefings... (in fact) you are likely to end up with a less biased understanding. ... the reasons for the apparent near-unanimity among foreign policy specialists that going into Iraq was a good idea was a combination of bad sources, careerism, and substantial dollops of intellectual dishonesty.

I agree with that post: the idea that powerful people have some kind of secret understanding, closed to the rest of us, is self-serving bullshit. OK, obviously there are secrets - like who exactly did what and when - but secrecy is there to protect the incompetence and weakness of the powerful. It doesn't give politicians and their pet journalists special power or competence, quite the reverse, it allows them to be rubbish. And secondly, while the details of allegations can be hidden (for a while) the overall attitudes of superiority and selfishness which enable abusive behaviour are obvious to anyone who cares to see.

Let me take an example from outside Western society, and outside right wing circles. Both Stalin and Mao were linked to people who physically abused others. In both cases the details were suppressed. But do we think that ordinary people in those countries did not know? Or that the attitude which enabled that abuse was not clear to all? Of course people knew. And it is just the same for us. (By 'the same' I mean we already know in our hearts, like people in Russia did. The wicked deeds are different).

I think the only thing that happens when details come out is that what has been frankly obvious to anyone with eyes can't be denied any longer - not the individuals but that attitude that some people are expendable, usable, less important. Although of course some people will bitterly continue to deny.
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