Of the ideas in this talk, the main one, and the one I find most interesting, is how Krastev pokes a hole in one of the major talking points of the internet age: that transparency will inevitably lead to a better government. Here is a key quote (starting at 10:45 in clip):
“Transparency is not about restoring trust in institutions. Transparency is politics’ management of mistrust. . . .But when politics is only management of mistrust then—I’m’ glad that 1984 has been mentioned—now we’re going to have 1984 in reverse. It’s not going to be the Big Brother watching you. It’s going to be we being the Big Brother watching the political class. But is this the idea of a free society? For example, can you imagine that decent, civic, talented people are going to run for office if they really do believe that politics is also about managing mistrust? Are you not afraid that with all these technologies that are going to track down any statement the politicians are going to make on certain issues? Are you not afraid that this is going to be a very strong signal to politicians to repeat their positions, even the very wrong positions, because consistency is going to be more important than common sense? And the Americans who are in the room, are you not afraid that your presidents are going to govern on the basis of what they said in the primary elections? I find this extremely important because democracy is about people changing their views based on rational arguments and discussions. And we can lose this with the very noble idea [of] keep[ing] people accountable.”Transparency is often helpful but in an environment where ideology is more valued than critical thinking, transparency can become a stick used to beat those who try to break out of established ideological and political trenches.