According to the dedicated page on the US State Department web-site, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is ‘aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable’. A few lines below the text clearly names the nominal beneficiary: ‘OGP is a vehicle to further advance President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s goals of strengthening democracy and human rights, fighting corruption, and harnessing technology and innovation to transform governance in the 21st century’. Let’s try to analyze the binding documents of this earnest initiative in order to bring to light its real agenda and philosophy.
Any country joining the initiative should comply with three basic requirements. First is to embrace OGP Declaration, thus acknowledging its commitment to increase the availability of information about governmental activities and access to new technologies, support civic participation in the governance and implement the highest ethic standards in public administration. Second, they should deliver a concrete National Action Plan, developed in close cooperation with the ‘bodies representing civil societies’, member states and OGP Steering Committee. Third, they should ‘commit to independent reporting on their progress’ in ‘regulatory compliance and enforcement activities’ by ‘well-respected local governance experts’ through an Independent Review Mechanism. Therefore, according to Partnership brochure, ‘all OGP countries will benefit from a networking mechanism — a technical assistance facility established to connect countries with the networks, expertise, and resources they need to develop truly innovative pen government initiatives’.
In practical terms the initiative merely means the intrusion of the outside experts (naturally financed by an interested party) into decision-making process of any national government that has joined this respectful club. And the shaking hand is hardly the US Administration. The latter is just a handle of the global cradle. Thanks to inalienable transparency principle of the Partnership, the independency and funding sources of the acting network of cooperating organizations and experts might be easily checked. Scrolling down the Eastern European list of OGP suppliers, we discovered, for example, a bunch of institutions and persons directly funded by countless cells of George Soros’ financial conglomerate: e‑Governance Academy (Estonia), Expert Forum and Partners Foundation for Local Development (Romania), Croatian ‘Wikileaks’ creator Marko Rakar (Windmill) and many others. Abundant facts of OGP – Soros connections (via the key promoters of OGP Samantha Power, Alec Ross and Julie McCarthy) were recently revealed by Strategic Culture Foundation. So a non-transparent veil over the Open Government initiative hides an unpleasant truth: the cooperating governments open their records not to the public, but to a network of agents of a single transnational financial colossus. The public will get only worthless stubs.
Meanwhile the global awareness about equivocal mission of the OGP is notably rising worldwide. India withdrew from the Partnership last July at its inaugural High-Level meeting in Washington. Russia will certainly not join it in Brazil despite unprecedented political pressure on President Medvedev. The core members of the European Union, Germany and France, are still resilient to join the initiative as well. Even The Economist was quite pessimistic about the perspectives of OGP last October:
‘The OGP does have some drawbacks. Its launch seemed rushed, and it is not yet clear who will set the targets that government openness projects must reach. Putting lots of data online may look good but make no real difference.’
So would it be enough for a national government not willing to be opened to a hostile influence from the outside just to restrain from joining OGP? The answer might not be that simple. The OGP is an important, but only particular instrument to dismantle nation-states and the principle of sovereignty in the international affairs. A phenomenon that should attract much closer attention with this regard is… the Internet.
A few months ago the leading Russian political journal Expert published a notable article by Ivan Davydov ‘The Destroyers of Hierarchies’ (link in Russian). Here are the basic, most intriguing ideas of this piece:
The distinguished German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his article ‘What is Enlightenment’ (1784) argues that the brightest minds beyond any intellectual tutelage need to impose self-restrictions for the sake of common welfare and social stability. He concluded referring to King of Prussia Frederick the Great: ‘But only one who is himself enlightened, is not afraid of shadows, and has a numerous and well-disciplined army to assure public peace, can say: “Argue as much as you will, and about what you will, only obey!” A republic could not dare say such a thing.’ Those restrictions Kant was talking about are majorly overcome today. The authorities are no more consecrated, the Church does not dictate irrefutable rules, the ethic values are relative and the laws are conventional. The privilege ‘to make use of his understanding without direction from another’ (ibid) has cost Europeans two monstrous wars and social experiments perhaps even more costly than wars… But importantly, until now the expanding human courage was still somewhat limited by certain restrictions. The system of communications was hierarchical, vertical. The mankind was divided at those who spoke and those who listened. The ability to speak was essentially the power. To acquire such ability anyone had to pass through a system of filters. The filters were different in nature, but not everyone could get access to a newspaper, TV-studio, university chair or parliament seat. And that was normal.
But suddenly the grinning Internet has come to the street, wagging a social network at hand. Has come and told the people that now everyone who has a keyboard or web-camera can speak. The mankind is no longer divided on those who speak and those who listen. Now everyone speaks. And no one listens.
Hierarchies that used to cement culture for centuries are being ruined before our eyes. The filters are broken. The status of any orator is fading away despite all his previous merits. The only hierarchy left is the hierarchy of answers in the Internet search query. The first 10 links really matter. The rest is nothing.
Our memory is rudiment as well. Why should I stuff my head with information available in a couple of clicks? There is only one requirement for my opinion: it should not exceed 140 characters to fit Twitter. Sophisticated argumentation is not needed anymore. If my post will loom for a minute and plunge forever into the abyss of the Internet, why should I need it?
Today there is no need in courage to make use of your understanding. Contemporary human being doesn’t want and apparently cannot make use of anything but his reason reduced to 140 characters.
To be frank, still there is one restriction in this atomized world of speakers – the reality. Something that is outside the Internet. But most likely it would not last long. Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring are the symptoms of a new coming environment. The environment of anti-hierarchical networked humans who riot against any order where the hierarchy is still present. Surprisingly, the world hesitates and responds nervously. It bustles, takes some decisions, makes changes and eventually breaks.
The first breaking point is obvious the politics which Homo internetus perceives as his own domain because of its predominantly communicational nature. In this sphere he already does not distinguish reality and virtuality. For him the politics is just a network devoid of any authority and value. This process will most likely go on. All other hierarchies are also in the shooting sight. The reason of this phenomenon is that the Internet strikes civilization not from the outside, but from the inside. It targets human brain, human cognitive system. It eliminates human being as a cultural and ethical creature.
It is still unknown whether Homo internetus can draw a positive tangible picture of the coming world. Yet we do not have any positive example. On the contrary, he does not want to mature and drifts backward turning into a youngster who can’t even imagine that there is something beyond his limited personal experience. But he already believes that he rules the world.
This essay perfectly explains the roots of the challenge the mankind is facing. The Network is turning into a real master of the world. It imposes partnerships to the hesitating and timid governments. It says to the public: “Argue as much as you will, and about what you will, only obey!” It digitalizes human brain and human soul. It establishes absolutely totalitarian and non-transparent system of global power in which quiet transparent and worthless local administrations channel the superior orders to the mob. This system will plunge the world into chaos and in due time propose a new malice hierarchy of their own. Mr. Soros is hardly the real mastermind of this game. But who knows any name above him?
Only universal awareness of this sad truth can make the difference. Think twice before applauding your government joining OGP. Listen to the sober voices defending sovereignty of your country. Live the real life.