PHILIPSBURG:— As is the case in the wider world, here on St. Martin (Sint Maarten & Saint-Martin) too, transparency has become a hip hip hurray word; a feel good word; a word without spot or blemish. Few question how they came to love this word and idea so much. A word that is unsoiled and uncontested – and never connected to inhuman trends is a dangerous thing!
If you want to be taken seriously as being anti-establishment—regardless of the fact that you are a millionaire or you are politically well-connected—then make sure you use the word transparency in your criticism of the powers that be (or accuse your adversaries of being non-transparent towards “the people”). Politicians and wannabe politicians, policy makers, social activists, and those who refer to themselves as concerned citizens, trip over themselves using that word.
The ideal world for these believers in transparency seems to be one where there are no secrets and no lies; everything and everyone must be clearly and completely defined. This is who I am/we are and this is what I/we think of you. A world in which we have the right to let you know what we think about you and you should know this. Everything, and we do mean everything, has to be recorded and accessible to all (from the intricate decision making processes in government to the vox populi). This is what we call the cult of transparency, and the victory of Donald Trump could be understood as the outcome of the dominance of that cult. Our plea is to say farewell to the cult of transparency and work towards a St. Martin and a world of more social and economic equality. Equality is not a hip word these days. Our wager is that once elected officials, businessmen and women, and persons active in civic associations, take care of promoting and doing equality, matters will become more transparent to us all; transparent in this case meaning that individuals of all walks of life will have the skills and knowledge and moral character to pick sense out of nonsense.
But let us return to the pickle: wholesale acceptance and promotion of transparency can lead to the ascendancy of someone like Donald Trump! This seems a big leap. Many who have committed themselves to the ideology of transparency, and frequently use that word, may object. They may retort that there is transparency proper and then there is the corruption of that good intended word and idea proposed by good intended technocrats and men and women who genuinely love democracy and the rainbow that is humanity. They stress that the cult of transparency should not be confused with the thing itself (making transparent how public resources are spent and the choice of contractors determined). Trump, the aficionados of transparency respond, has nothing to do with transparency proper (think about his tax evasions, he sought to hide).
Note that their reasoning once again restores transparency to a word and an idea that is perfect. (). Transparency in their argumentation is not an outcome of other acts, but supposedly the cure and medicine for a world where the growing disparities between the have-a-lots, the have-some, the have-a-little, and the have-none is wreaking havoc. Why is it so difficult for persons to allow transparency to be a soiled word/idea – like every other word/idea – that we should therefore use with caution? The movie “Liar Liar” staring Jim Carrey comes to mind, and one wonders if these believers in transparency really believe in fairy tales! If they realize that such a world would be undesirable and unworkable, they may come to see why we focus on equality – an ideal whereby there is sufficient room for equal hearing of personal and group grievances, while never compromising on equal concern for the well-being and welfare of all!