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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

“Bullets Of Truth”: Julian Assange And The Politics Of Transparency, Mark Fenster Dec 2018

“Bullets Of Truth”: Julian Assange And The Politics Of Transparency, Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

This essay updates (to early 2019) earlier work on the WikiLeaks story in order to consider what more recent developments reveal about the theoretical promise that Assange articulated at the time of the website’s emergence. Assange has characterized secrecy as both a form and symptom of corruption, and ultimately as the foundation of a “conspiracy” of governance that states like the U.S. inflict on their subjects and the world. He advocates a non-political, vigilante form of transparency in which WikiLeaks serves as a neutral entity that will save the public and free the world with information. He predicted ...


Feed: State Transparency Amidst Informational Surplus, Mark Fenster Dec 2018

Feed: State Transparency Amidst Informational Surplus, Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

An email arrives, promising inside information about the perfidious forces that secretly rule the nation. A Twitter feed from a prominent insider at an establishment think-tank announces the latest disclosure about the president’s secret role in the Russian conspiracy to manipulate the election that elevated him with the blast of toy cannon. Meanwhile, the President’s tweets serve to annoy, distract, humor, or comfort those who see them, and they above all announce some truth about his presidency. 

Debates about government transparency presume that the state controls an informational spigot, which can be made to allow information to flow ...


Excerpt From Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy And Power In American Culture (Revised And Updated Edition), Mark Fenster Dec 2007

Excerpt From Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy And Power In American Culture (Revised And Updated Edition), Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

This is the introduction to the revised and updated edition of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2008). The book challenges the dominant academic and popular approach to conspiracy theories, which views them as a paranoid, extremist expression of marginal groups and individuals that pathologically challenges the basic assumptions of American history and the pluralistic political system of the United States. The book is premised on the contrary proposition that the prevalence of conspiracy theories is neither necessarily pernicious nor external to American politics and culture but instead an integral aspect of ...


The Opacity Of Transparency, Mark Fenster Dec 2004

The Opacity Of Transparency, Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

The normative concept of transparency, along with the open government laws that purport to create a transparent public system of governance promise the world—a democratic and accountable state above all, and a peaceful, prosperous, and efficient one as well. But transparency, in its role as the theoretical justification for a set of legal commands, frustrates all parties affected by its ambiguities and abstractions. The public’s engagement with transparency in practice yields denials of reasonable requests for essential government information, as well as government meetings that occur behind closed doors. Meanwhile, state officials bemoan the significantly impaired decision-making processes ...