Publicity's Secret Author(s): Jodi Dean Source: Political Theory, Vol. 29, No. 5 (Oct., 2001), pp.

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JODI DEAN Hobart and WilliamSmithColleges

SECRECY REQUIRING Critical democratictheory and capitalist technocultureconverge today arounda single point-the necessity of publicity.Publicityis the organizing element of democraticpolitics and the golden ring of infotainmentsociety. Few on the Left arewilling to theorizedemocracywithoutsome notionof publicity.No matterhow entangledpolitics becomes in networksof sentiment and spectacle, many continue to think that rule by "the public" is and enhancedby practicesthatenablethe production disseminationof public opinion, practicesgenerally implicatedin technologies of surveillanceand expectations of entertainment.So, they emphasize public spheres and as oppositionalcounterpublics if these conceptsreferredto morethanmedia productions,interestgroups, or rhetoricalcategoriesinvoked to mobilize a the particular pointof view. Theyunderscore public'srightto know,positing, as it were, a secrettheknowledgeof whichwould solve theproblemspreventing the publicfrombeing all thatit can be. In short,manycriticaldemocratic theoristsassumethe democraticpotentialof an ideal of publicityeven as they avoid explainingwhat, today,thatpotentialmight be.1 age. ContempoPublicityis also the governingconceptof the information relies on the convictionthatthe solutionto anyproblemis rarytechnoculture publicity.More information,greater(faster,better,cheaper!)access seems the only answer.It doesn't even matterwhat the questionis. People are supAUTHOR'S NOTE:Thanksto ThomasDumm,Paul Passavant,Lee Quinby,John Shovlin,and for StephenWhite their insights and criticisms.
Vol. 29 No. 5, October2001 624-650 POLITICALTHEORY, ? 2001 Sage Publications 624

subculturalsuccess is depictedless in termsof the risk of "selling out"than it is in the promiseof "makingit. Rather.formsof thinkingeven as it refrainsfromaskingwhy.gettingthe before the public.I look at publicity'slimit-the secret. ever drawnto uncoverthe secret and find out for themselves. Suspicious inquiriesinto potentialwrongdoingoften uncoverreal crimes and produce we significantreforms. such thinkingmight need to be protected.I arguethatdemocraticpolitics has been formattedthrougha dynamicof concealmentand disclosure.If something isn't public(ized). doesn't meanthatit won't have positive political form their own opinions-and the way to do that is throughnew communicationtechnologies. generally dominant. alertingthe public to a suggests a demandthatprotectssome. violence.Thus.througha primaryoppositionbetween what is hidden andwhatis revealed. focus on the limit point of I . might say. for example.such an alternative.gaining finding mindshare. of My concernis not with the contentsof secretsor the properdetermination what should be made public. economic sucthe cess.4Since to offer an alternativetoo quickly risks stopping critiquebefore it starts.2It is neverthelessalso clear that the vast networksof news and entertainment enable contemporary that of democracyalso threaten democraticformsof life-especially as practices they producesearching. To call into questionthe obviousness of publicityas the normof contemand porarydemocracy. to bring to expression the impasse in an ideal of publicitythatworks simultaneouslyto encode democraticpracticeand marketglobal technoculture.3 alterMy inquirydoesn't amendits critiqueof the publicwith a reassuring it native.suspicious subjectsever clicking for more information.or establishingbrandidentity. of gaining recognitionfrom the largerculture.andnormsof publicity never make valuable contributionsto democraticpolitics. can't precedecriticalengagement insofaras critiquemarksa certainimpassein thinkingandseeks to bringthis impasse to expression. exactly. key concernis with publicity.That an event is spectacularized.practices.The fantasyof a publicto which democracyappeals andthe ideal of publicityat its normativecore requirethe secret as theirdisavowed basis.againby takingadvantageof networked communications.These days."that is. It would be stupidto claim unsettlepublicity'staken-for-grantedness affiliate with theoriesandpracticesof democracyarticulated myself throughnotions of antagonismandnetworksof desire. seems to me. it doesn't seem to exist at all. to search for the involves what this "makingpublic" meanswith respectto the functionof the secretwithinthe logic of publicity. Conversely.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 625 posed to find out for mattersas disparateas science. andpersonaladvancement.

During the Enlightenment.The key element among the presuppositions pervadinghow we imagine andpracticedemocracy. Using Jeremy Bentham'sEssay on Political Tactics. persistingpracticalconcernswith respectto how facts and truths(knowledge) areproduced(and deployed) in the service of prevailing power relations.the public requiresthe secret in a sense thatI understand ideological. this account of ideology comes up against all sorts of problems-epistemological questions of the nonideological. damages possibilities for democracy as it becomes materializedin technocultural practicesof spectacle and suspicion.7 . between imaginableandnon-imaginable. Many political theorists no longer regardideology-critiqueas a viable school have arguedthat analyticaltool. as thatpoint of exclusion through which the public becomes democracy ship. Its correspondingview of ideology-critiqueproceeds by unmaskingmistakes to disclose the underlyingtruth.I argue. as partof the dynamicof a mediatized as in screensandcelebrity.5By ideology.I showhow thepublicis structured througha splitthatis disavowedandheld in place by the secret. First. publicity requiresthe secretas its constitutivelimit. Finally. I consider three aspects of the requirementof secrecy. I mean the "generative matrix that regulatesthe relationshipbetween visible and the non-visible.the publicrequiresthe secret historically.publicityis the organizing concept ("quiltingpoint")of the ideology thatinformsthe desireto make the links and discover the secrets.626 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 democraticvalidity-the secret-and the sense in whichpublicity"requires" the secret.Here."6 of today operatesthroughand as the materialization well as changes in this relationWhatis seen and imagined. To say more aboutthis thirdsense in which the public requiresthe secret: my claim is thatthe ideal of a public spherefunctionsas the ideological support for global technoculture.Second.Too simply put.critics of the Frankfurt thebasic notionof ideology restson anuntenablynaiveview of people as vicschool pretims of false consciousness.publicity as a democratic ideal emerges in encounterswith the sovereignprivilegeof secrecy.practicedand understood.scandalandindignation.As critics of the Frankfurtschool have rightly pointed out. technoculture glutted the secretsustainsthe fantasythatdisparate audiencesarea collectivitycapable of being representedas a unitaryactoror political site.the (early)Frankfurt sumesthatthe fundamental problemof social dominationis thatpeople don't know what they're doing. Such a fantasy.I readJtirgen Habermasand ReinhartKoselleck for their accounts of Freemasonryas a practicalrealizationof this ideal. For example. material issues regardingdistinctions between ideas and and apparatuses.

it is not unreasonable assumethatthere to is a Darwinistic capitalistic earning process to such riches. Michael Wolff's account of the gold rush years of the Internet. An example from Bum Rate.moreover. we somehowcan't helpregardin rich people as having earnedtheirmoney. unmaskingis clearly an pointless:cynicism alreadyincorporates ironicdistancefrom official cultureandeverydaysocial otherwords. social realitywould dissolve. the investment bubble popped not when people stoppedbelieving the hype-for the constantrefrainwas thatthe whole thing was hype-but when they stopped .2izek arguesthatideology the critiquetodaymustdo morethansimply "unmask" lie. Similarly.they stoppedacting as if they believed it. or rankled. The book describes Wolff's generally futile effortsto attract high-level investmentin his Internetcompany.suggest an underlyingbelief thatpublicityis a sign of somethingmore. Indeed. Even thoughnine times out of ten thatfix is in. Fantasyemergesto cover over the antagonismsandinconsistenciesthatpervadethe social field. 2izek gives the exampleof the communist governmentsin easternand centralEurope:what happenedwas not thatpeople stoppedbelieving in the system. Cynics may have a distance from social reality. Because publicityis the currencyof our time. Our actions. Oureverydaypracticesandthe technologiesandinstitutions within which they are embedded.thatit is and easily manipulated has no connectionwith some kindof valueinheringin its object. Slavoj 2izek presentsa strongcase for a psycho analytically informed concept of ideology capable of theorizing the ways our deepest commitmentsbind us to practicesof the face of contemporary technoculture'spervasivecynicism.rather. somethingreal. butstill they do it.but their actions still accordwith it. We know thatpublicity.People know very well whatthey aredoing.materializethis the feeding frenzy arounddot." the fantasyof what things are like.No one was interestedin talkingwith him untilhe was mentionedin an articleon the frontpage of the WallStreetJournal. 2izek emphasizes that these actions themselves produce social reality.Zizek emphasizeshow ideology comes into play not just at the level of knowing(uncoveringtruth)butat the level of doing (materializing belief).Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 627 In response.coms. withoutit. by someone else's publicity. Social reality is sustainedby the "as if. Thus. or publicityhounds as deservingtheir fame.has no intrinsicworthor merit.Wolff writes. Even people who should know better (even those for whom manipulationsof the press are a daily accomplishment) are almost always money.we act as if we did not have this knowledge.helps clarify the way thatthis doing persistsin the face of seemingly contraryknowledge. nevertheless.

"'0 one belief involves what we do even when we know better-crossing our level. The localization of democraticpotentialin the public is inevitablyaccompaniedby perceptions of conflict. laughing at a joke that isn't funny. belief is exteriorizedin largerculturalpracticesand technologies.the more publicity is idealized as the key to democracy.and ideological-I am also presentinga dynamicof conceptualchange. Its basic procedureinvolves identifying what fantasy holds a belief togetherand analyzingthe way it enables us to escape a certaintraumaor deadlock.not at the level of knowledgebutat the level of the fantasythat sustainsbelief. belief is embodiedin of more than our own actions: as the example from Burn Rate demonstrates. that informsaction.It pointsto the fantasyof a unity. It laughs for us.9 The last aspectof 2izek's theoryof ideology important my critiqueof for involves this materialization belief. as I show three different relations between the two-constitutive exclusion. of the inclusive social body to come afterthe hiddenbarrier its realization to .effective procedureof people. To returnto secrecy and publicity. 2izek gives the example of cannedlaughteron television. A "SYSTEM DISTRUST" OF Whatfantasysustainsbelief in the public?Bentham'saccountof the law of publicitypointsto the secret.Differentlyput. In effect.compensatingin advancefor the public'sfailure to serve as the unitarysubjectof democracy. concretehistorical. belief cannotbe of publicity reducedto an internalmentalor emotionalstate. fingers for good luck.628 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 acting as if they believed it. The materialization publicitymakesexplicit the antagonismswithin the ideology of the public sphere.embodiedin the practical.But on anotherlevel. Zizek's upgradednotion of ideology-critique operates. negatesitself. buying into consumeriststandards beauty.belief is "radically On exterior. relievingus of our duty to develop an opinion or even care aboutpolitics.Cannedlaughteractually relieves us of our duty to laugh. in realizing or materializing itself in the practices of contemporary of technoculture.then.the greaterthe pressureto an materializea publicthatcan live up to or instantiate ideal of publicreason.andweaknessin the public. These laughs do morethantell us when to laugh(for why wouldwe need to be told?). failure.Publicity. For 2izek. Anotherexample might be talkingheads debatingpolitics on television:they debatefor us.The secretfills out the gapbetweentwo competingnotionsof the public. of Yet precisely this concretematerialization an ideal of publicityunleashes and multipliesthose suspicions thatunderminethe public sphere. Rather. no one todayreallyhas to believe.ourinstitutionsdo it for us.

it is because it is ignorantof the facts-because it does not possess the necessary particularsfor forming a So good judgment. But theirview.'3 public tantthanthis public's fundamental claim to know. Second. Benthambuildsboth concepts into a system of publicity. portion of Instead. Benthamintroducesthis split in the public when he addressesobjections raisedto the principleof publicity. Guidedby theirneeds and desires. knowledgeable. Bentham supports the idea of a powerful."12referto this universal I as Whatit knows is less importribunal thepublic supposedto know.its constant. Practices of concealment and revelation materialize belief in this fantasy. It becomes enlightened not becauseits beliefs arereplacedby knowledgedirectlybutbecauseit believes throughthe more certainknowledge of others. Bentham is clearthatthe manyandthe middlecan't reallyjudge.thereis a trickle-downeffect thatleads to the betterment those in the middleclass becausethey adoptfor themselvesthe opinionsof the small.The law of publicity doesn't transformthe public supposed to believe into the public . he argues.He explainsthatsome defendgovernment by secrecy with the argumentthatthe public lacks a capacityfor knowBenthamdefends the public supposedto know againsta differing.It has the abilityneededto judge butnot the information it needs to judge well: "if this class judge certainandconstant. Two notions of the public inform Bentham's attack on governmentby secrecy. throughthe few who judge well. undeniablycertainpublic tribunalthatunites "all the wisdom andjustice of the nation"and "decidesthe destinyof public men. It believes thatothersbelieve.and well informed.Publicitywill supplythe information thatwill stabilizeand the judgmentof the public supposedto know."'4 ratherthan trumpingthe public supposed to believe with the public supposedto know. ent notion of the public. thepublic supposedto believe. that is." First. they are inconstantand likely to err. its opinion is thatothers have an opinion thatis valid.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 629 has been still believes. incorruptible.the middle who believe throughthejudgmentsof others.mistakenlyunifies whatis in fact divided:the public is actuallysplit into threeclasses-the manywho have no time for public affairs. guide Benthamallows thatthe benefitsthatinformation providesto thejudging of the public don't directly affect the mass of people at the bottom. A flux of conflicting opinions. The way the middle class forms its opinions doesn't change throughenlightenment.and the few whojudge for themselveson the basis of the availableinformation. well-informedjudging class.The thirdclass. however.makingthe public appearas preciselythatsubjectfrom whom secrets are kept and in whom a right to know is embedded. Itsjudgmentsstem from trust("beliefin the belief of the other")ratherthan knowledge. this public is easily seduced and unableto judge its true interests.

What as a system provides is the possibility of informedjudgment.informedand ignorant. The limits of each notion are deferred.knowing and believing. The public supposed to believe. they preventthe governmentby secrecy public supposedto know fromknowing. The institutional hinderthis class fromjudging has to rely on the sense thatsomeonein fact knows. Onthe contrary.On the contrary.does not representpublicity'slack. reductiveacceptance a of the way thingsareinsteadof a utopianembraceof the way thingsmightbe. It reassuresBenthamas well as his audiencethatthey need not worryaboutthe middle and the many making all sorts of horribledecisions.displacedthroughthe invocationof the opposingconcept. even though no one can say precisely who. this deferralis asymmetrical.The splitpublic securesin advancepreciselythatbaring rierto a tribunal the manythatenablesBenthamto appealto a principleof of He can arguefor a public tribunalbecause he can be sure that the publicity. Publicityholds out the possibility of good judgmentto the public supposed to believe. the publicity guaranteethat someone will know. sticking their noses into politicalmattersthatthey don't understand.Thisjudging portionof the public is constantandcertain. whole public won't reallyjudge. Fromthis angle.alwaysas a belief in the public supposedto know. Recall that Bentham'sargumentagainst those who oppose publicity on the groundsthatthe public is ruledby passion andignoranceemphasizesthe conditionsof competenceandcertaintyof thejudgingclass. generallydisruptand the orderof things.630 THEORY/ October2001 POLITICAL supposedto know. It provides the guaranteeof knowledge that stabilizes belief. This is wherepublicityas a principlecomes in. Thatpartof the public believes but doesn't know should not be read as a failureof publicityor an exclusionarylimitingof the public. Foreven as the belief of the two lowerclasses operatesat a distance.held out as the possibility thatthe public will judge well so long as it has the properinformation. .theirbelief has to stop somewhere.Of course. Nor is it a cynical rejection of the ideal of a constantanduniversalpublictribunal. giving some the certainty of knowledge necessary for judgment while positing others who believe in them. then. thatnot everybodyknows is necessaryto sustainthe fantasyof the public. Publicitywill providethe informationthatwill enable the public supposedto believe to believe that someone knows. The public is constant and inconstant.butits certaintyis suspended. the public supposedto know seems only thatpresupposition necessaryfor the public supposedto believe. publicsupposedto believe installsthatelementof believthe ing throughthe othernecessaryfor publicityto functionas a systemof affirmsthe split withinthe public.

a sense of mystery. what sustainsthe fantasyof the public is the barrier its realization. so does thejudging class enjoy to throughthem.their judgment will embody the certaintythey alreadyhave. thatthejudgingclass acts for the lowertwo classes frees Because they are not involved in finding them up to amuse themselves. Someone is guilty. Again. For example.It is neversimply groundedin a particular of facts.tyrant.The innocent. weigh it. andreallymakeajudgment. and it is rarelydeceived.and indolent man. The information thatproves the truthof publicjudgmentis out there.the secret is the answer.Thereis a secret. and this is why they hide. and the wise have nothingto fear. It holds open the possibility that the judging public will judge correctly. For why should we hide ourselves if we do not dreadbeing seen?"'8 certaintywith which the publicknowsin these cases indicatesin The advance thatthereis somethingfor it to know.How do they know? The answeris the secret.the possibility in which the believing public needs to believe. So the pleasuresof publicity enable the multitudeof "all classes in society" to become more attachedto and confidentin government.The secretfills outthe gap andconceals the inconsistencybetweenthe public supposed to know andthe public supposedto believe. Indeed. .certaintyis held out as a promise. the information.the good. they can enjoy publicity's pleasures.Their very preference for secrecy is a sign of their guilt: "Suspicion always attaches to mystery.althoughit may be of (andis always) withheld.the unlikelihoodthateveryone will be burdenedby having to for dig around information. These threehave good reasonto flee from the judgmentsof public opinion: they have already forfeited their reputations.One might say that the public tribunaloperatesas a secret tribunal-the public knows the secret guilt of the malefactor.out of reach. It thinks it sees a crime where it beholds an affectationof secrecy."'6 them. In Bentham'sdiscussion.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 631 At the same time.a possibility. For "theamusementwhich resultsfrom it. publicationof the goings Benthamthus sees addedvalue in freeon in the assembly is entertainment.the very certainty set of the public precedes andjustifies its right to know the facts."the "tyrant. It's that missing information the Once they have warranting rightnessof the opinionof the publictribunal.the truth.'7 as the lower Just classes act andjudge throughthe thirdclass." the "indolentman"-as benefiting from secrecy.15 informationand making judgments. Benthampresentsthe "enemies"of publicity-the "maleand factor. more precisely.To this extent. evaluateit. The secretmarksthe absencenecessaryto sustainbelief in the public supposedto know. ing some in the public fromthe dutyto judge-a measurably happiernation.the authority the public supposedto know carrieswith it an aura. or.

Briefly put. this law posits and in so doing interpellatesthe public tribunal. Yet. in Koselleckarguesthatthe "freedomin secret"presentedabstractly Hobbes . whose Critiqueand Crisis preceded and influenced Habermas's Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.the issues to try.did the "publicity as a normativeideal in the Enlightenment. both. this law is a practice-generating program installed into the social for the very production of the public. Withoutthat therecan be no public. I begin with Koselleck.It providesthe objects of judgment.the differencesin theiraccountsof the practicesthroughwhich these subjectivities are produced lead them to opposing assessments of public power. exactly. In Bentham'swords.the lureof the secret.the materialization the public dependson the protectionsprovidedby secrecy andproceedsthroughthe productionof suspicious subjectivities.Itspervasive mistrustdrivesthe will to seek out and expose. Demandingthatnothingbe concealed.Despite the fact thatKoselleckis the theoristwho emphasizesthe rituHabermasis the one whose failureto mainals and arcanaof Freemasonry. As I mentioned.thatjudgment is alreadythere. the certaintyof the public supposedto know becomes materializedin practices of revelationand disclosureas the guaranteethatits searchis justified. tainthe splitbetweenthe public supposedto know andthepublicsupposedto believe makes uncovering the secret the key to democracy. No. as an account of the processes throughwhich popularsovereigntyis configuredas a politics of suspicion. right.throughthe motivating force thataccompaniesriskof exposureanddesirefor attention. and universallyvalid. At the same time. accountof the concreterealizationof publicityas a normof reaHabermas's son should be read as its own inversion. "systemof distrust. lic" come to be imbued with an authorityto know? JurgenHabermasand Reinhart Koselleckprovidecompellinganalysesof the social materialization in of the "public" seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Europeas thatwhich of For can be invokedas a criticalauthority. sustainsthis system.that the information needed for judging properly is hidden and needs to be exposed.the regime of publicityis a risk. Publicity operatesthroughthe threatof publication."'9 The suspicionthatsomethinghas been withheld.632 THEORY/ October2001 POLITICAL The public suturedtogethervia the secret is overwhelminglysuspicious.Publicityholds out thepromiseof revelation. FREEMASONS RULETHE WORLD! I now turnto secrecy as the historicalconditionfor the emergenceof pubHow.the law of publicitydoes not simply provideinformationthatwill stabilizethejudgmentof the public tribunal.

like others.the secretthatman as a humanbeing has been eliminatedfromthe structure the stateand. counteringthe representational power of the sovereign with its own mysterious authority. These opinions.thatthe state's of claim to neutralitydependson this omission. On the other hand. In what practices were such ideas concretized? Koselleck. citizens' views about virtue and vice are more than private opinions. this space is the secretat the heartof the absolutiststate. First."sphere is man free. Although these judgments remain secret from the state. They providedforms of association and experiences of connection beyond those delimitedby absolutism.Members were thus bound together throughthe secret as well as throughtheirexceptionalposition in relationto the absolutiststate. Only in the latter. The Hobbesiansubject.the decision groundslaw in an act of purewill.indeed. It exists in an exteriorpolitical sphereof acts subject to law and in an interior sphere of conscience. Freemasonry'ssecrecy enabled the interior space of the conscience to expand into larger social connections. KoselleckreadsLocke's accountof "TheLaw of Opinionor Reputation"as a broadeningof Hobbes's interiorconscience into a secretmorality. to secretsocieties like Freemasonry.a splitheld in place in by reasonandinstantiated the sovereign.Instead. looks to the lodges. In effect."20 The lodges were secret inner spaces within the absolutist state. "Joint participationin the same arcanum"linked initiates from various classes and estates. establishing a . becoming "thesecretof freedom.areno longermerelyindividualas they arewith Hobbes. spaces separatedfrom the political by the very mysterieswhose protections enabled the lodges to serve indirectlyas a counterto the state. Koselleck explains. sovereign Koselleck argues.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 633 andLocke was madeconcretein Freemasonry."21Actions thatwere once subject only to the laws of the sovereignare now subjectto the praise and blame of one's fellow citizens. to the law of reputation. lodges were ritThe ualized enactmentsof nonfamilial. very also split.nonmarket relationsoutside of the state. they are judgments with the characterof moral laws. the mysteries of Freemasonry imbuedit with the auraof the unknown.this freedomwas establishedby the new bonds of belief created by shared initiation into Freemasonry's arcana-the organization's ritualandhierarchydemandedthatsome believe in others' arcaneknowledge. Locke expands their scope: they now determinethe moralvalue of actions. "secret.On one hand.they receive "theiruniversallyobligatorycharacterfrom an unspokenaccord of the citizens 'by a secretandtaciteconsent'. these judgments.Koselleck's accountof Hobbesemphasizesthatthe Hobbesianstate is constitutedthrougha splittingof politics frommorality.This auracompetedwith the aura of the crown. For Locke.Beyond politics andmorality.

and self-control at the basis of Freemasonry'ssocial order. an entitlementBenthaminvestsin the public.The sense of being entitledto judge. to invokeandfollow the law of reputalodges tion and censure.had simply to believe thatthere were some above them who knew. of membershad to submitthemselvesto the authority the Masonicleaders. the secretenabledequalityand hierarchy.Those who believed. then. actions.Koselleck "man'sleaning but towardthe hiddenand mysteriousis used in a way so advantageousto morality. orders. To achieve enlightenment. Koselleck emphasizesthatthis new moralforce thathad to forego direct coercion "was always simultaneouslyan act of passing moraljudgment on the State.providingan incentive for initiates to practice the obedience necessary for advancementinto the higherranksof the lodge. So.634 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 secret mutuality that "separatedthe brethrenfrom the rest of the outside world. in otherwords. duty. Because of theirposition outside the state. Here the secretwas initially considereda vehicle of moraleducation. Functionally. they interiorizea set of beliefs andhabitsof judgment.a in some versions.They believe in theirordereven as they must increasinglydistrustthe world outside.As the out of initiationworks on the wills. then. installed trust.ritualpracticesenabledadeptsto believe thatothit ers believed. requiring brethrento write extensive monthly reportson themselves and each other."24 secrets thatprotectedMasons from the outside world proThe . Of course. of the distinctionscharacteristic the old regimewith a new elitism of replaced rank. Masonsjudged themIn selves accordingto theirown moralstandards.knowledge. thus emerges in Freemasonry of the ritualizedtransmissionof rites and arcana. and enlightenment." at of the same it deliveredthe neophyteto the "moralregimen. Application to and promotionwithin the Illuminatiincluded filling out a questionnaire consistingof severalhundred questionsaimed thirty-two-page at revealingthe variousdimensionsof the candidate."to that "directorate tolerin brethren the nameof ance"which on the strengthof the secretwas alreadyterrorizing morality. this Koselleck notes how lodge practicematerialized belief: the Bavarian Orderof Illuminatiinstitutedan elaboratesecretreportingsystem.this meantthatthe trainedtheirmemberstojudge.23 At each stage of initiation. and bodies of lodge memprocess bers. The need for secrecy. practice.And it functionedas a disciplinarymechanism. Masons could not guarantee that members would keep the for secret. remainedinvisible to those in the lower leadershipthat. they substitutedthe moralforce of reputation the state's coercive force."22 attachedmembersto the lodge by makingthemsuspiciousof outIt discoverthe secrets.

criticism "assumedthe role Locke had at one time assigned to moral censorship.of judgment.unworthystate."25 Freemasonry's uals allowedthis moralinteriorto expandandin so doing emergeas a counter to a politically.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 635 duced in them the sense that they were entitled to judge this world: 'The mediumof the secretwidened the privateconscience into a society. moreover.representing became orientedto a readingaudienceandmore directlypolitical in its criti- .In this a dogmatismthatrejectsas tyrannyanypowerthatit itself does not acceptorjustify. can theorizebourgeoismorality he as a trump. a network that traversedand transgressedthe boundariesof the European states.Like absolutistsovereignty. criticsrepresented themselvesin termsof the triumphof reason.Freemasonry "Politicalabsencein the name of moralityturnedout to be an indirectpolitiThe cal presence.As the influence of the bourgeoisieenabled them increasingly to challenge the state's legitimacy.Extractedfrom the political field of the absolutist state. Masonic secrecy is the key to Enlightenment:Freemasonry'smysteriesandarcanaestablisheda networkwithinthe state-indeed."27 Claiming a capacity to argue both for and againsta position. it. a conscience of the world from which the ritsociety voluntarilyexcludeditself by way of the secret. The sense of an entitlementto judge grew out of practicesof belief in the contextof suspicion. the morality nourished in secret could claim a new dominion. they had the right and capacityto judge. For Koselleck."26 system of values circulatedsecretly.a conspiracy. Precisely because they were the instantiationof reason. too. that occupied the same location of exception claimed for the sovereign. anythingor anyoneunwilling to be subjectedto theircriticalgaze. edly moral.moreover.The lodges didn'tengage politically. Because it distinguisheditself fromthe absolutiststateas deliberatelynonpoliticalandavowthreatenedstate sovereignty. the society came to be a large conscience. Like absolutist sovereigntyitself. Koselleck links the republicof lettersto Freemasonry analogically:criticism's initial separation from the absolutiststatealso became the basis of an authoritative right to judgment.As Koselleck writes.linking lodges in a sharedspirit. Concealmentprotectedpracticesof freedomandnew forms of alliance as it produceda unity by sustaininga division between those supposed to know and those supposed to believe. was automatically suspect. this moralitywas exceptional. and increasinglymorally.Because Koselleck anchorsthisjudging in secrecy. The invisible authoritycirculating secretly throughoutthe itself to itself as "public" it as lodges therebyextendedits reach. now claimedas the publicgaze.a sovereigntyof reasonapartfrom and above became the spokesmanof public opinion.they replacedaction with moralizingjudgment. made a claim to reason.

Reason.28 ForHabermas. even as a public. But Habermas'snext argumentis the one I wantto emphasize. itself neededto be protectedfrombecomingpublicbecauseit was a threatto any and all relationsof domination.secretsoci- .. against the reliance of princely authorityon secrets of state. remainedinternal. sovereignpowerof decision was protectedby the secret.Pubwas a way to counter. polemicalclaim of thiskindof rationality developed.Habermas reversesKoselleck'sreadingof Hobbes. Although JtirgenHabermas'stheory of the bourgeois public sphere is widely read for its account of publicity as the rational achievement of it publicitywas supposedto serve the promotionof legislation based on ratio.It the was the arbitrary elementatthe heartof the machineryof a rationalstate. politics. The decisive element was not so much the political equality of the membersbut their exclusivenessin relationto the politicalrealmof absolutismas such:social equalitywas possible at firstonly as an equalityoutsidethe state.which throughpublic use of the rationalfaculty of was to be realizedin the rationalcommunication a publicconsistingof rationalhuman beings. above.636 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 cism of the state.this arbitrary powerby subjectingit licity to the scrutinyof reason. Just as secrecy was supposedto serve the maintenanceof sovereigntybased on voluntas.establishedthe terrain termsof and the political-precisely because the public spherewas beyond.ForHabermas. the invisibleauthority Enlightenment of moralitycontinuedto presentitself as universal.."29 HereHabermas complicatesthe equationof reasonandpublicity.The coming togetherof privatepeople into a public was thereforeanticipatedin secret. its public. At the same time.Its sphereof publicityhadstill to rely on conjunction with the critical public debate among privatepeople. as a public sphere still existing largelybehindclosed doors... This recalls Lessing's which at thattime was a broaderEuropeanphefamous statementaboutFreemasonry.. its assessmentof the rightness or legitimacyof thatwhich itjudged. The opinion of this new public.Habermas considerstwo linksbetweenpublicityandsecrecy..The first involvesHobbes. writes.As long as publicityhad its seat in the secretchanceries of the prince.reasoncould not revealitself directly.emphathe emergenceof rationallegal rationalize.and above politics.Habermas includesin his accountof salons andcoffeehousesthe secretsocieties typical He of Freemasonry. sizing was the Historically.secrecyand will thathe employs in his discussion of Hobbes.Habermaswrites. also acknowledgesthe constitutiveplace of the Enlightenment secret. nomenon:it was just as old as bourgeois society-"if indeed bourgeois society is not merely the offspringof Freemasonry.rational.Takingup the practicesout of which the sense of a public sphereemerged.

publicityas a set of claims to reasoncounteredthe secrecy at the core of the not as paradoxical it firstseems: what as mattersfor Habermasis the claim to reason. Habermascombines this reading of secret societies as rational protoof publicswith aninterpretation the publicityof the sovereignas merespectacle. Again.They arethe tribunal even with his reiteration Koselleck's accountof Freemasonry a vehicle of as for the cultivation and circulation of the law of censure and reputation. in the historical context of the absolutist state. for all theiresoterica.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 637 eties were proto-publics. not the claim to inclusivity. has nothingto do with speclicity of king. it may well be secret. it claim to reasontransforms into something Outsidethe state.In Habermas's tacle and display.and mystery. As a public supposed to know.Freemasonry's "morepublic"thanthe stateor government. the norms of reason thoughtto underlieanexpansionof rightsandlibertiesof the peopledepended on remaininghidden. The sovereign's was anirrational of powerfashioned aura through publicity of display before an audience.Secrecy was a conditionfor the publicityof reason. knowledge.Habermastreatsthem as partof a generalEnlightenmentprocess of the rationalization power.were.its positionbeyondthe boundaryof the stateas well as its fantasyof a powerful. it relies on certainty.As a in to believe. The usual emphasison Habermas'sdiscussion of the family andthe literary public thus needs to be complicatedby attentionto Habermas'saccount of the emergenceof a public sphereagainstandthroughsecrecy.Unlike this audience-oriented practices pubview. Habermas ends up acceptingFreemasonry's claims.then. Habermas'spoint is that.their rationalmeasures they transmitted for moraldisciplineandself-cultivation. it is an affiliation conjuredup throughrituals. a publicwhose absolutecertaintyis a productof practicesof criticalreflection. Practicedsecretly within the lodges. The secrecyof the public.WhereasKoselleckfinds the Masons ultimatelyhypocriticalin theirsubversionof the absolutiststate throughmoraltrumping. and unerring judgment. In contrast.Privatepeople came togetheras a public in secret.Emphasizingthe rationality of of Freemasonry.Freemasonry Koselleck's accountworksas a split public.Whatholds it togetheris its secrecy. So public.Masonic brothers.they betterrepresent public spherethan nonsecretassociationsbased in custom and tradition. realpublicity.Because secret societies sought the to cultivatereasonin theiradepts. unifying knowledge. Habermaspositions them as a public supposedto know. . public supposed their principlesfor enlightenment. Associationsthatjudge on the basis of reasonarefor Habermas definition by thatinevitablyand inevitablyrightlyjudges.vehicles for the reconstitutionof political society in termsof a public sphere.

Belief is dangerous.Habermasemphasizesthe autonomyof the bourgeoissubof ject.but the rise of readingcircles also extendedthe practicesof explorationandreflectionfrom the immediacyof the family to a largersocial audience. two.In the literarypublic sphere. emphaseson autonomyandtransparency or to preciselythat"systemof distrust" suspicioussubjectivitythatKoselleck associates with secret .as in keeping with the law."3'Ratherthan irrevocablyopaque and unspeakable. For Habermas.32The autonomythatdependson clarity mistrustswhat is hidden from it.therecan be no freedom. the subject needs self-clarity. This force underfreedomdependson attainingclarityabout lies the necessity of transparency: the pure will.Habermaswrites. the subjectorientsitself towardpublicity. what could secretly be enslaving it. Withrespectto the domestic sphere.638 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 Although Habermasincludes the lodges in his accountof the rise of the public sphere. attainedclarity about itself. and towarduniversallyknowable and valid principles. by communicatingwith itself. "The subjectivityoriginatingin the interiorityof the conjugal family. Tounderstand realizeitself as free.As Kantexplains in the Prefaceto the Critiqueof Pure Reason.30 The ideal of the family was the ideal of an emancipatedinnerworld.The novel needs to reflect-and to be able to reflect-on its motiand vationsandaffections.Withoutcriticalreflection. a world of purelyhumanrelationsin contrastto the comrelations.Rather.interioritydesignatesa field of conscience thatcomes underthe domainof the morallaw. is fundamentallyopen and for discussion. Freedomdepends on this information. Habermas's lead Paradoxically. accountappearsin his acceptanceof RousThe problemwith Habermas's seau's and Kant'snotion thatone can be forced to be free. Interiorityemerges throughpractices of self-clarification and public presentation. Not only did structuralchanges in literary genres introduce new forms of psychological identificationand experimentation. anchoringhis accountof privateautonomyin the self-understanding the bourgeois family.Tounderstand realizeitself as moral.Withrespectto the litpetitionandcommodificationwithinmarket Habermasfocuses on the importanceof self-clarity. Interiorityis to be would be misleadingto say thatthey play a majorrole in his theoryof bourgeoissubjectivity.his theoryof interiorizedsubjectivity privilegesthe domestic sphereand the literarypublic.the subjectivity It Habermastheorizes strives for transparency.towarda largeraudience of which it is a part. provideda vehicle for the explorationof the personalitycultivatedwithinthe is not simply the ready conditionof communicationbut its content. thatis autonoand mous in the Kantiansense.

of Habermascan't accountfor the invasivecharacter the demandsof publicbecause for him they are the same as the demandsof reason.When attachedto the sovereign. In Habermas." to his secrecy or powerof concealment. differently.But they then awakenjust suspicion.Justas autonomyis theresultof reflectiveself-clarification. Ultimately. while the sovereign'saurais linked to his exceptionalposi"kingness. enlightened public.Habermas'sbourgeoispublic sphereis as unitaryas his individuatedsubject.the ineluctablemysteryor "Thing" gives the king his that Yet.This normalizingand judging role was alreadypresentin Locke's accountof the public tribunalin terms of the law of reputationand censure.the ultimateoutcomeof the criticalexchangeof reasonsin the . The subjectin need of transparencyis compelled (by reason and freedom!) to create and presentitself before a judging and normalizingaudienceof others. critical debateis the very processof transforming public supposedto believe into the the public supposed to equationthatassumespublicity'srationality uses this assumption to increasepublicity's compulsive force.he connectsit to the command to reveal. so does critical debate lead to a free. Habermas'saccount of the subject's orientationto an audience suggestsless a reasoningsubjectthanone deeplyboundto the opinionsof others (althoughthis may well be the same thing). this impact of publicity on behavioris dissolved into publicity's equation with and publicityas a systemof distrust. Second. In connectingthis orientation the to Habermas the conceptualtransfer the monarch'saura of enables.Withconsensus as the anchor.This complicatespublicity'slink to the privilege of display: now publicity serves as a norm embodying the rightness of the demand to disclose.however. to the public.When Habermasbrings audience orientationtogether with the subjectivityemergingin the bourgeoisfamily.audienceorientation connotes the force of display.Recall thatthe orientationto an audience was an aspectof the publicityof the king.andcannotclaim the sincere respectwhich reasonaccordsonly to thatwhich has been able to sustainthe test of free and open examination.first.the auraof the public functions tion. a norm premised on suspicion of the hidden.33 So the autonomoussubjectin need of clarity is also the suspicious subject. ity The seriousness of Habermas's omission becomes evident in those instanceswhen he acknowledgesthatthe subjectivityemergingin the family was orientedtowardan audience.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 639 Religion throughits sanctity and law-giving throughits majesty may seek to exempt themselvesfromit [criticism]. Indeed. Discussion is a kind of purificationthrough which whatis revealedis held up to the scrutinyof reflection. family.

democratic.political attachment. the suspicious of demandsof a public supposedto know have escaped Freemasonry'ssecret societies and taken materialform as the basis of science. In the networksof mediatedtechnoculture. ritual. Thatthe public has a rightto know is one of the most prominentpolitical cliches.We need to know! It's odd that.high-speed computers-and has an unparalleledability to integratecomplex informationsystems. thatit refersto morethan It's celebrity. politics. direct broadcasting.640 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 the publicsphere.PR.Information makesus strong.of technoculture.on one hand.publicityhas continued purchaseas a criticalpolitical and moralideal.this certaintyof reflection now pervades Froman affiliationbornof arcanecontents.In a statementtakingfor grantedthe link between publicity and suspicion.. law.Joseph Nye and William Owens write.New technologies have virtuallyeliminatedthe barrier the realizato tion of the public sphere. thanksto which it dominatesimportant communicationsand informationprocessing technologies-space-based surveillance. andthe fearsof superstars.find. All it needs is information..34 Let the technology believe thatthe truthis out there.Why did we need an "information Because we superhighway"? neededto be informed.on the other. the public has emerged as the reason. and link exteriorizesbelief in technologies of disseminationand surveillance. The demandto know goes all the way down. contemporary and abstractedknowledge. This advantagestems from Cold WarinvestmentsandAmerica'sopen society.morethaneverbefore. and the idea that each is entitledto an opinion changes the terms of inclusivity. HABERMASOCHISM Radical in the Enlightenment.the many.The one countrythatcan best leadthe informationrevolutionwill be morepowerfulthanany other. odderstill thattheoristssuch as Frasercan presumethattodaypublicityneeds no defense:"Iam going Nancy idea that to takeas a basicpremisefor this chapter somethinglike Habermas's of the public sphere is indispensableto critical social theory and to demo- . and power. Knowledge.there seems to be no differencebetweenthejudgingpublic.makesus "us.andthe middle."Itjustifies ourcertaintyin ourconvictions. It's the mantraof the informationage. the ideological presumption that powers the networkedeconomy of nonstop media and seamless interconnection. longer confined No to the exclusive arrangements an emerging bourgeoisie.thereis neveranydoubtregarding rightnessof publicjudgment. model for a society of spectacleand simulacra. It extends throughout the social as the compulsionto search..

ratherthanas a space for critical-rational judgment. Adding an "s" to the theorizationof the public in no way suffices as a Habermas. Habermasacknowledges that public relationsmay very well effect desirablechanges."35 I see it.38 links critical publicity to reason with the He thateverythingincludedin publicdiscussionbe open to critique. reinforcesthe priorityof an official public multiplepublic spheresapproach and sphereas the goal. it's engineered throughadvertisingor "publicrelations.Habermassuggests thatthe success of democracyin social-welfarestates dependson reorganizingthe public sphereso as to enable publicity to fulfill its criticalpotential.The "s"gives a sameness and equalityto radicallydifferentnetworksand his recentwork."This. a space of conflict. Public relations treats the public sphere as a political space.Habermasis more pessimistic than in his later work. strategies we startquestioningthe motivesandworryingaboutthe styles used in critical debate.Indeed. appealto "therules"of commuandclaim thatthe publicmustbe "informed" "convinced"-it's and nication. despite its best intentions. As andsecrecyin the information pushesus to challengetheprempublicity. . age ise of the public sphere-indeed. public spheres In his initial influential theorization of the public sphere.36 to multiple. for Habermas.differentiated appealing publics as a solutionto the problemof a But the multiplepublics argument moreconfusing is unitarypublic sphere. arbiter. It createsthe illusion of options in some sort of And. Habermas opposes two versions of publicity." emphasis on the his of publicsto each other. the new configurationof orientedtowardcritiqueand one oriented towardconsumption.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 641 cratic political practice. requirement He connects consumer-oriented publicity with staging and manipulation.with his referencesto "the"public-the notion of the public public. Here public opinion doesn't arise out of critical debate.the marketplaceof ideas and opportunities. hardto find any different(iated) at all.follows Fraserin responseto this challenge. In this early argument. Nevertheless. ideal of inclusion.37 thanit is convincing. power. he concludes thatthe contest between critical-rational consumerist-manipand ulativepublicityis farfromdecided.buthe arguesthatit's at the cost of the public sphere'stransparency: once the image and event-making of public relationsstartto establishthe termsof public discussion.andhis notionof the "finalauthority" the of porosity In short.distorts the normativeforce of publicity. finding politics hopelessly imbricatedin public relationsand lamenting the consumeristreconfigurationof the public sphere. as an audiencebeforewhich "actors" appear. and engagement.This appearsin Habermas's account in his language of "center"and "periphery. to thinkaboutthe ways publicityfunctions as technocultural ideology.

permanentmedia-interconnected television. At one time publicity had to be gained in opposition to the secret politics of the monarchs.attachesus all the morefirmlyto the mediaof publicity: now we critical publicity seems a norm out of control.mediaengage and in both at once. to all the institutionsandpracticesthathave "livedoff the publicityof otherinstitutionsrather thanbeing themselvessubjectto the public'ssupervision. continuedimpactof these secretsmeansthatpublicity the doesn't go farenough. Instead. a kind of Habermasochism media self-cannibalization. What's easier thanreversingthe cameras. publicity is achieved with the help of secret politics of interestgroups.tapingthe taping?Reflecting on the process of productionis now more appealingthanfocusing on what'sproduced. Mediarepeatedlycriticizethemselvesand use this self-criticism to sell copy and generateaudience. Today."41 ideological hold of an ideal public with the rightto know is strengthened the observaby tion of the manipulative effects of consumer-oriented publicity.Why? Because the probis lem with consumer-orientedpublicity lies in its continued reliance on secrecy. We are distantand ironic enough not to be seduced. newspaself-reflectionto strengthen per. Habermas'searly call for more publicitythus seems to have been answered by andin the information age."4The very means of publicdiscussionmustbecome mattersfor public inquiryand soughtto subjectpersonor issue to rational-critical public debateand to render political decisions subject to review before the court of public opinion.The critique of consumer-orientedpublicity. a critique that generations inculcated in mediagrow up making.642 THEORY/ October2001 POLITICAL The key to this reorganization more publicity.In the face of this materialization of stopstoo soon.andInternet-use theirown "critical" theirnetworkedhold on popularimaginations. trying to distinguish between consumer-oriented criticalpublicitymakesno sense. 2izek notes that"anideological identification exertsa hold on us preciselywhen we The maintainan awarenessthatwe arenot fully identicalto it. But the resulthas not been a new rationalpublic sphere. critical reflection is much more thanjust a way to generate audience by claiming a rationalityand objectivity superiorto one's media competitors.on the contrary.3 So for Habermas. Publicityneeds to extendall the way down. In contemporary technoculture. of To be sure.Talkingheads attackthe polarizing emotion and spectacle of television shows featuringtalking heads.Habermasexplains. When we think about the public supposed to know and the public supto posed to believe positedin the criticalandconsumeristorientations public- . Clearly.It's the hallmarkof the ideology of the public sphere.

.buthis solutionmisses its target. Installedin new technologies. moreover. Precisely because each is an expert. even as it underminesany sense that anyone knows anythingat all.thesedebating consuming Are publics. Let me explain."it's playing Doom or yakking in chatrooms. the ideological function of the distinction between "critical" and "consumerist"appears in stark relief. thesetwo publics.the continuedcirculation of it were. Habermas'sargumentpresumes that the problem with publicity comes fromthe consumerorientation the public. accessinginformation even if we can't. The audience before the staged public suppliesmoreinformation. We know this because to be manipulated mediapresupposesthatone believes the mediain some form by or another. They are supposed to know.Information solve the problembecause the problemis one of belief. it now functionsas the stimulusand currency of the informationeconomy.The endless exposureof evermoresecrets. andmorereflection.The Habermasochisticsolution to the problem of consumerist morecritipublicitydoesn't affect said to be filled with naive.The secretthusno longer suturestogetherthe split public.targeting. gullible consumers who or either identify with emotionally laden figures and representations cynidismiss thatwhich is raisedin the public sphereas raisedmerelyfor the cally and sakeof publicity.when instead of "debatingthe issues. In a nutshell. The critical account of the public spherepresumesa publicof citizens who debatemattersof commonconcern. the two halves of the same old public that appearsin Bentham? simply No. Recall that the system of publicity is supposedto convince the public supcan't posed to believe to believe in the public supposedto know.the technologiesbelieve for us. cism. In this context. Rather. democracyis threatenedwhen the critical public is left in the dark. not knowledge. Although the consuming public looks like the public supposed to one believes in the expertopinionof anyoneelse. the problemrestsnot with whatit believes butwith whatit doesn't. Permanent mediabringus closer to the secretbutcontinueto hold itjust out of reach. These debatingcitizens need to be informedaboutpolitical issues.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 643 ity. In this view. Everybody has to find out for themselves. the public supposedto doesn't believe thatthe public supposedto know knows. hails each as an expertentitledto know. and it doesn't need to-mediated technologies materializethis belief as if there were some believing public. of The consumingpublic'srelationshipto informationis the same as thatof the many and the middle in Bentham's account. And the collapse of this belief is what's at stake in contemporary technoculture and displaced from the analysis throughHabermas'sequating of publicity andreason. But they aren't the problem-in either Habermas'sor Bentham's account.

and on the Internet."It can also andat the same time serve as "thesubjectsupposedto know"andthe "subjectsupIf posed not to know. At the same time. When subjects act as if they believe."43 we treat this as a third notion of the public. we areentrapped the "toomuch."42 With respect to ideology.Enjoymentmakesit/the public. this "big Other"stands outside the subject as a hidden or like agencypullingthe strings. It can functionas "thesubjectsupposedto believe. media will reporttheir increasedratings.for being an informedmemberof the sector of the public thatjudges-really think that thereis a rationalpublic sphereor thatone would emerge shouldthe correct media practicessomehow startto governour political lives? No-the guilty feelings conceal the fact thatthe public doesn't exist at all.I felt a little of guilty duringthe impeachment Clinton.becauseI knew thatI was following a story of illicit sex.too little criticalreflection.too littlerationality. On talk radio. "the public supposednot to know. the poll numbers confirming the publicness of it all. Does this meanthatI-or any amongus who feels guilty for failing to live up to ideals of criticalreasonclaimed for the public sphere.given ample to opportunity rage againstthe mediamachinethatyet againhas gone too far. what producesthe pleasuresof publicity. it should not know that its voting machines are hopelessly inadequateandthatlarge numbersof votes arenevercounted). the big Other operates in various modes.Most important. a set of practicescarriedout for the sake of "thebig Other." The criticalmantrathatthereis too much mediabut too little (real)informationmay often be effective in makingthe audiencefeel deny ourenjoymentof publicity?Forexample.and that I paid much more attentionto the whole Lewinsky affairthan I ever did to the boring Whitewaterinvestigations.the multitudes sharing the collective experience. they maintainan orderof appearThe ances. it should not know that it isn't there.the audience will be addressedin its critical outrage. reproachfully: consumerism. in letterssections of the editorialpages. The excess is what makes the event."andif we dismiss it we are guilty of "too little.for now it is a commonplaceof the media event that media will comment on their own excesses.So we can't win-if we continueto by engage in the event. that the secret functions to hold open the formalspace of the fantasyscreeningout the failureof the public as ."we recognizethatthe claim thatthe publichas a right to know can be supplementedby a sense of whatthe public should not know (for example." realm of the symbolic. that I had enjoyed Monica Lewinsky's interviewwith BarbaraWalters.644 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 Mightnot the critiqueof consumeristpublicitybe a way to represspublicity's pleasures.Those who hold on to the ideal of a rationalpublic sphere of course respond to this enjoyment thereis too much thereis too muchmedia.a kindof meta-subject "divineProvidence" "the public.

We assumeguilt becausewe have and to keep up appearances. 2izek's point is that ultimately what the big Otheris not supposedto know is thatit doesn't exist at all.a heterogeneous The citizenry. To protectthe big Otherfrom this knowledge. Of course.We feel it even when.the hold of the ideology of the public sphereis strong. then. a wish that"fantasizesa unified 'people' where thereis. How do we know when we have enoughinformation.that it in fact stimulates not simply the continuedimpositionof the public but the explosion of networkedmedia.. in reality. i&ek gives "oneof the most elementarydefinitions of ideology" as "a symbolic field which contains .andcelebrityformats.that . it's easierfor us to feel guilty aboutenjoyingpublicity'sexcess thanto acknowledge the nonexistenceof the public sphere.Because technoculture materializesthe belief thatthe public has a rightto the role of the secretin securingthe public sphere as an ideological construction.of the point of decision. points to the ideological functionof the ideal of publicity in the informationage. This inability to know if and when we are satisfiedunderminesthe normativeclaim for publicity as it reminds us of power's decisive intervention.The public is a fiction.That this limit cannot be acknowledged. the subject "escapes into guilt. when the ultimatesecrethas been revealed?We don't.we don'tbelieve the big Otheris there at all."Likewise.a politics wheredecision is postponed in favorof a consensus thathas alreadybeen achieved. our enjoymentin it. This returnsme.we disavowthe fact thatthe publicisn't there.44 PUBLICITY REJECTING In the preceding section. a filler holding the place of some structural impossibility.outside of.while simultaneouslydisavowing If this possibility."45 we applythis to the public sphere.46 emphasis on making whethervia the rules and proceduresof the rationalpublic sphereor public. screensthe fact thatthere is no public thatcan act. thiscompulsionis an ideologicaleffect of thebig Other. I addressedthree aspects of publicity as ideology: our distancefromit. The public sphererests on the constitutiveimpossibilityof a politics without. Fascinatedby publicity in its normative.we see thatthe secret marksthe constitutivelimit of the public.. We can't.precisely when. technological. So whatmight appearas the technocultural of the publicisn't the loss loss of anythingat all-the public was neverthere."in Lisa Disch's helpful formulation. andbeyondpower. the networkedintensitiesof publicityin global technoculture.a limit thatthe public spherecannot acknowledge. and our sacrificialguilt before it.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 645 category of political society.

hidden. thatshouldbe ours.whatis missing is the rule that can compel obedience withoutcoercion. These injunctionsattestto publicity's secret.addressingthe audiencewho . An exteralization of publicity's constitutivegap.the secretreappears the sense that of is always missing. And age this makes it possible not only to recognize publicity as ideology (the idea thatthe publichas the rightto know drivesthe infotainment cultureeven as it or turnsthem into the disdeflects attentionfrom fundamental antagonisms culture)butalso to acknowledgethe secret posablecontentsof entertainment as boththe generativelimit of publicityandits currency. also protectedFreemasonry's moralopinion. withholdingour legitimacyfrom us. the secret motivatescontinuedeffort in publicity's behalf. At the same time. Somethingor someone standsrightoutside us.the secretmarkedthe gap holdingtogetherthe split public. It can't be filled in. ForBentham.people or issues. Similarly.The barrier sustainedBentham'sfantasyof the pubthat lic has been removedin the information promiseof the structural impossibilitythat generatesthe public sphere. The somethingis withheldas the public's missing authorization. a kindof contrary malevolence-if thereis nothingto hide.the function of the secrethas changed. the supplement that will make everythingjust. mateTechnoculture rializes the belief that the key to democracycan be found in uncoveringthe secrets. whetherof groups or information. In contemporary technoculture. a few morefacts.and surveillance camerasbelieve for us. the secret always withholdsjust what we need from us. fair. any revelationcalls us together. The whole solutiondependedon not havingeveryonejudge and on disavowingthatthis was a constitutiveexclusion within the public. secretcan't be told.those represseddesires. Even if no one really believes. preventingus from realizing the rightnessthatwe claim. the secretwas thattherewasn'treallyajudging public at all. our knowledge and our visibility.No. will provide enough legitimacy to justify what is claimed in the name of the public. secrecy protectedthe sovereign deciIt sion's politicalinterventions. thenwhy not come tell all? But this injunctionto reveal misreadsthe sense that out. The ultimatesecretwas not the missing information the warranting rightness of publicjudgment. okay.No inclusion.From the perspective of the public.uncoverthose denieddetails.Includejust a few this and therewill be justice. In the conenabling in temporary ideology of the publicsphere. satellites. its certaintyinjudgmentto emergein practicesof belief. the Internet.646 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 which the public doesn't know strikesus as somethingwithheldor denied. It's simply the formthroughwhich the fantasyof the public takes accountof its failure in advance.But what is hiddenis the guarantor something the legitimacyof anydecision backedby the nameof the public. therewas just a differentelite. in the absolutist state. go public.

andpreferences thatall too often confirmthe interestsof whomeveris doing the invok- .Instead.democratic politics concentrates on access.Forthe most part. The desire to uncover the hidden deflects attentionfrom the system of distrust. It makes sense. This tribunal. Reagan conservatives. the way suspicious subjects are produced who act as if they believed in a unified public and the truththatis out there. a spatialmodel of a social world dividedbetween public and prithey adopt vate spheres. to reconsider in terms of How does this internalsecrecy some issues currentlyformattedas "private.These warswere often foughtthroughthe dynamicof concealmentandrevelationa particularly effective tactic in an entertainment culturedesperatefor sensation. Hiddenbehaviorsand desires were forced out of the closet and into the light of a judging public. To this extent.When conceived within andconfinedto the public sphere. it displaces attentionfromthe belief materialized the mediin ated networksof the informationage.a via individuatedscreens and targetedinvitationsto consume." Ostensibly democraticpolicies arejustifiedthroughthe invocationof a publicwith beliefs. then. they seem unable to theorize the power of light of the importance the secretas a generator the public." ized limit continueto generateandaffirmthe ideology of publicitythatdrives technoculture? contemporary of of Indeed. tastes. Media publicize the a private: they produceaudiencesandcollectivities. rary Takingup the political claim thatwhat was once hidden shouldbe revealed.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 647 receives it as the public andcontinuingto reproducesuspicious subjectsin a system of distrust.race.the circuit of concealment and revelation.ignoringthe system of distrust. the compulsion to disclose and driveto surveilthatso pervadesthe contemporary. on questions of inclusion and exclusion withinthis imaginaryspace-as if the public were constantandthe failureto redeemits claim to universalitywere simply a contingentnumericalissue of ensuringthat each and every voice "count. Recentexpansionin techof surveillanceand publicityremindsus. redirectedthe countercultural message of the 1960s to wage theirown warsaroundsexuality. between the public supposedto know andthe public supposedto believe. Few contemporary accountsof publicityacknowledgethe secret. mediatization of accompaniesa reconfiguration the political:few contempoAmericanswould disagree with the claim thatthe personalis political. interpellating citizenry.that actively generatesthe public.for example.of the impactof nologies networkedcommunicationson democraticpractices. At the same time.andgender. however.from the seemingly inescapableoscillations between the public as constant and universal and the public as uncertainand in flux. it may well be thatthe notion of the public hindersmore thanit helps democratic efforts.these accountsclaim eitherthe priorityof the one or the other.

See SlavojZizek." butembeddedin specific contexts. there are mentionjust a biopolitics.MA: MIT Press. democraticpolitical theory is likely to focus mistakenly on revealing.TheStructuralTransformation the Public Sphere.CornellUniversity.Foran accountof the emergenceof notionsof the public and of publicopinionin earlymodem Europe. 6. 1994). 186..July 14. transnational few. And becausepublic opinionis always displacedas the opinionof someone who isn'tthere.this restrictivefocus rendersdemocracy as a failure in advance:becausethe publiccan neverlive up its promise(a failuremarked by the secret). The TicklishSubject (London: Verso.Thomas Burger(Cambridge. SlavojZizek (London: excellent study.theseinvocations themselveshavepoliticaleffects:if a bigeffortsto increasethe presenceof the police anddecrease city majorjustifies the presenceof the homeless on the basis of public opinion. outing. and uncovering what has been concealed or withheld from the public. Practically.ed. The separation betweeninsiderandoutsideris inherent in secrecy. In this essay. 3. 1989).is it not possible that some will believe that others have this opinion. to be the defining trait of secrecy. and the place of fantasy. NOTES 1. 1. 2000. explains that secrecy "presupposes andof keepersof a secretfromthose excluded.CA: StanfordUniversityPress.they incorporate "motifsand aspirationsof the oppressed.a setting apartof the secret from the non-secret. . TheSublimeObjectof Ideology (London:Verso.. of course. I use "publicity" designatethe normsand practicesassociatedwith the to These normsandpractices. 2. See also Michele Barrett's (Stanford.1982). 87-88. Sisela Bok takes "concealment.. 5.these restrictions narrowthe rangeof thinkingaboutpolitics."in MappingIdeology. distractingus from fundamental social and economic antagonismsand deflecting attentionfrom questionsof alliance.arenot fixed "public. SlavojZizek.trans."Instead. 4. democratic things aboutpublicity. In this respect. So. a dynamic of suspicion and surveillance(now materializedin is technoculture) installedas the next best well as the collectivity to which they refer."WhatIs at Critique?" the Society for the Humanities.see JiirgenHabermas."Bok. Theoretically. Secrets (New York:Pantheon.or hiding.there is no public.. 1989). and to think something secret is already to envisage potential conflict between what insiders conceal and outsiderswant to inspect or lay bare.whatpasses as democraticpolitics seems to dependon not telling the biggest secretof all: thatdespite the rhetoricof publicity. 6. rearticulating them in such a way that they [become] compatiblewith the existing relationsof domination". Slavoj 2izek makes clear thatthe "rulingideas are neverdirectlythe ideas of the ruling the class.ThePolitics of Truth Verso.. "TheSpectreof Ideology. 1999)."She separation. 1991). My ideas here arenot originalbutaredrawnfrom a talkgiven by JudithButler. and hence might this mayorthenactuallyproducetheopinionto whichhe claimsto be responding? When based on the notion of the public.648 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 ing.

.NC: Duke UniversityPress.vol.. See &izek.. Nye.WhyI'm Not a Secularist (Minneapolis:Universityof MinnesotaPress.. tion. 17. I shouldalso note thatinsofaras iizek does not see ideology as a problemof knowledge but insteadviews it in terms of the fantasies materialized throughour practices. 53. 36.LydiaG. Bentham. Ibid.Dean / PUBLICITY'SSECRET 649 7. 16. I'm drawingherefromZizek's discussionof the subjectsupposedto know in ThePlague of Fantasies (London:Verso.. and "The Spectre of Ideology. Owens. Ibid. Ibid. See &izek. Fora nuancedaccountof the Kantian will.. 83. 18.andWilliamA. Ibid. 35. 46. 1999). 115. 70. Nancy Fraser. 1. 20. 31. 79. Ibid. in The Works Russell andRussell. 54.LaclauandMouffe attemptto demonstrate way a given field of disparate the elements is suturedtogethervia the totalizing interventionof a hegemonic nodal point. Ibid. 51. 2. 106. 9. 314.Between Facts and Norms. 2 "Of Publicity"(1821).."312. 121. 29. Ibid. JohnBowring(New York: 13. manipulates. 1997).Justice Interruptus (New York:Routledge KeganPaul. "America's Information Edge."chap. 82.This notionis neversimplytrumped. 125. Zizek. Michael Wolff. 83. 20. Cochrane(Durham.UK: CamThe CulturalOrigins of the FrenchRevolubridgeUniversityPress."Essayon Political Tactics. SublimeObject.. 26."313. Ibid. 55. continuesto hauntanddisruptunitaryaccountsof thepublic. 110. 77. ReinhartKoselleck.William Rehg (Cambridge.. 1997). trans. Ibid. trans. 1996). 33. see WilliamConnolly. Ibid.chap. 28.SublimeObject. Both historians. 74.Plague of Fantasies. Jeremy Bentham. Ibid. Bur Rate (New York:Simon & Schuster. it Rather.StructuralTransformation.. JosephS. by an articulation of the way "an ideology implies.universalpublic. 24.Sublime Object. 15.thatis. 1991). Critiqueand Crisis (Cambridge: MIT Press). 12. 14.. 11.. Jr."ForeignAffairs (March/April1996)."My discussion of Zizek's theoryof ideology synthesizes the argumentsin these two texts. This indicatesthe differencebetween2izek's accountof ideology andthatdevelopedby LaclauandMouffe... Ibid.produces a preideological enjoyment in structured fantasy". 27. Ibid. 22. 8. 23. 310. Quoted in Koselleck. 310.34. the demonstrating rise of a notion of the rational.he does not position the critic as somehow "outside"of ideology but as fully within it.Inventingthe FrenchRevolution(Cambridge. 1990) and Roger Chartier.MA: MIT Press. 21. 2izek arguesthatthis point needs to be supplementedby an analysis of enjoyment. See also KeithMichael Baker. 19. 1962). JtirgenHabermas. 311. ofJeremyBentham. "Essay on Political Tactics. 35.1998). 32. 10. neverthelessunderestimate the continuedinfluenceof the earliernotionof the inconstantanduncertain public."Essayon Political Tactics. Habermas. 30. ed. Bentham. 34.

New York. For a discussion of Habermas'suse of Fraser. 21. SmithColJodiDean is an associateprofessorofpolitical science atHobartand William She is the author of Solidarityof Strangers(Universityof leges in Geneva."trans. 232.650 POLITICAL THEORY/ October2001 37. 1997) and CulturalStudies and Political Theory (Cornell UniversityPress.StructuralTransformation. 1999)..See his "Further Public Sphere. 1998). 45. Habermas. Ibid. 46. Ibid.see William E. 1999). CaliforniaPress. Habermasand the Public Sphere. 38. "Civic Virtueand the UncertainPromise of ElectoralFusion"(paperpresented at the annualmeeting of the WesternPolitical Science Association. 209. 1992). Lisa Disch. Enjoy YourSymptom!(New York:Routledge KeganPaul. 40. Slavoj ZiZek. Plague of Fantasies. Habermas. Seattle. March 25-27.. Plague of Fantasies. 14. 1996) and Aliens in America(Cornell UniversityPress.ed. 42. 41. 43."Between RadicalismandResignation:DemocraticTheoryin Habermas's BetweenFacts and Norms. 44. Habermashas since reevaluatedhis pessimistic assessmentof consumer-oriented publicity. Scheuerman provides a persuasiveaccountof the tensions that accompanyHabermas'sattemptto combine Fraser's radicaldemocraticsocialism with the "realist" model of BerhardPeters."in Habermas:A CriticalReader. 39-41. 39. 76. Scheuerman.findingthe continueddemocraticpotentialof Reflections on the the public spheremorepromisingthanhe had firstthought.ThomasBerger. PeterDews (London:Blackwell. 2iZek.StructuralTransformation. .. 2izek. WA. She is the editor of Feminismand the New Democracy(Sage.421-61. Ibid. 201. 2000). 40.