March 26, 2012 Articles

Criticism and Self-Criticism: Law and Compliance in a Revolutionary Time

Regulated entities seeking recognition of their proper conduct should expect to receive criticism and be ready to engage in self-criticism.

By John H. Walsh

When the majority of the people have clear-cut criteria to go by, criticism and self-criticism can be conducted along proper lines, and these criteria can be applied to people’s words and actions to determine whether they are fragrant flowers or poisonous weeds.

— Chairman Mao Zedong


Our age has been described as a revolutionary time in financial regulation. Changes in institutions, laws, and regulations have been pushed forward at an accelerating pace. Moreover, beyond the pace of events, new norms are emerging in regulators’ expectations. Two in particular, with the potential to reshape how they view regulated entities, are evocative of past revolutionary times: a new emphasis on criticism and self-criticism. Today, regulated entities seeking recognition of their right conduct should expect to receive criticism and should be ready to engage in self-criticism.

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