What is the Deep State?
My understanding of “Deep State” has evolved from a fuzzy image of people huddling in secret meeting rooms, making deals and plotting nefarious activities, to a more simplified view.
Now I see it as a bunch of individual government employees who feel (similar to a tenured professor) that they have a right to their position no matter what. They see themselves as entitled. This entrenched bureaucracy has found a highly profitable and comfortable lifestyle and they realize that it beats the hell out of working in the real world. And they see it as worth protecting at all costs.
In this centralized government construct lie money and power. There is a tacit understanding, perhaps never spoken, that protecting others is the same as protecting one’s self. The relationships are like thousands of tentacles crossing and weaving and touching here and there in very random ways with other like minded bureaucrats sucking on the government teat. This creates a web far too complex to have a single purpose. But the underlying theme is lust for power and lust for money, and an overwhelming desire to protect their status quo. To keep their position they create small expedient lies, which then grow into more complex lies, and in turn metastasize into small crimes, and sometimes major crimes and coverups, and perhaps even murder………. On the other hand there are good, well meaning, government workers who are dedicated to the well being of our country, and they should not be conflated with the “Deep Staters”.
I believe the “Deep State” evolved naturally because many random individuals found themselves in positions of power, and the central government, over many years, grew like a cancer. They saw others in similar positions and wink-wink they shared a goal. The unspoken bond was forged. The “Deep State” was formed. The low level “Deep Staters” however, have to be cautious because they know they are expendable and many of them get thrown under buses, but for the conniving few who reach the top, they have earned the dubious honor to meet in secret rooms and plot against anyone who might diminish their power or quest for more wealth.
I read recently on this and you make some good points in alignment to what I have learned. Deep Staters are often generational Federal Government employees (parents also worked as career Federal Employees) that are employed at high levels in the various departments and agencies. They are often educated at the ivy leagues especially Harvard. They are often the lead in policy development. As such, they are expert manipulators of elected officials and see it as their duty to install their will into public law and not that of the citizens that elected your representatives. However, none of these Deep Staters ever face election. If a strong elected representative opposes and suppresses them, they go sleeper on their perverse causes (yet keep their jobs) and wait until a weak representative (or one that supports their cause) comes into power.
Unfortunately for us, the policies made by Deep Staters are underlined with immoral themes that tend to exploit the common citizen of their wealth and well being in support of their own elite power.
I worked for the Federal gov’t for over 30 years in two major departments. I never saw anything that resembled the “deep state” fantasies spun mostly by far right conspiracy theorists. I worked out in the hinterlands, so never got all that close to the power centers in DC.
However, I knew quite a few people who did work in at those levels. They were mostly very bright highly educated professionals who may have moved back and forth between academia, govt and beltway bandits. They were, almost without exception, socially ept and enjoyed life. Creativity was high on their lists of talents.
After 30 years of working and socializing in those circles don’t think I ever met anyone who might have been meeting in smoky rooms plotting the overthrow of America. They were professionals who took pride in their career paths. Their work lives are largely dictated by laws and regulations. The consequences of violating those restrictions were serious and perhaps career ending. Although there are always a few people who engage in unethical and even illegal activities, I can’t even imagine the kind of infrastructure necessary to carry out the plots dreamed up by “deep state” believers. It would require way too many people of criminal intent.
Some time check out the podcast The Oath by Chuck Rosenberg to get a taste of the kind of people who dedicate themselves to public service. The ‘best and the brightest’ was not just a euphemism.
Rand Paul, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, the CIA, J Edgar Hoover and a bunch of other people say hi
I found this piece by Doug Casey to have some merit. The point that I found compelling is that the Deep State includes most of us. I assume that Doug — see comment above — does not include McNamara as one of the “best and brightest.” I say this because McNamara to me epitomizes the Deep State. BTW, I worked for a period of almost 4 years for two state governments. I hated it. Whether or not a person likes it is primarily a function of personality. I am an INTJ and it didn’t work for me… My replacement (in 1996) at one of the positions is still there. He makes $320K per year and that is another reason why people work for the state. It’s partly about the Benjamins.
Here is an excerpt from the Casey article:
Now, what causes economic problems? With the exception of natural events like fires, floods, and earthquakes, they’re all caused directly and indirectly by the State, through its wars, taxes, regulations, and inflation.
Yes, yes, I know this is an oversimplification, that human nature is really at fault, and the institution of the State is only a mass dramatization of the psychological aberrations and demons that lie within us all.
But we don’t have time to go all the way down the rabbit hole, so let’s just talk about the proximate rather than the ultimate causes of the Greater Depression. And here, I want to talk about the nature of the State, in general, and then something called the Deep State, in particular.
A key takeaway (and I emphasize that because I expect it to otherwise bounce off the programmed psyches of most people) is that the very idea of the State itself is poisonous, evil, and intrinsically destructive. But, like so many bad ideas, people have come to assume it’s part of the cosmic firmament, when it’s really just a monstrous scam.
It’s a fraud, like your belief that you have a right to free speech because of the First Amendment, or a right to be armed because of the Second Amendment. No, you don’t. The U.S. Constitution is just an arbitrary piece of paper… entirely apart from the fact the whole thing is now just a dead letter. You have a right to free speech and to be armed because they’re necessary parts of being a free person, not because of what a political document says.
Even though the essence of the State is coercion, people have been taught to love and respect it. Most people think of the State in the quaint light of a grade school civics book. They think it has something to do with “We the People” electing a Jimmy Stewart character to represent them.
That ideal has always been a pernicious fiction, because it idealizes, sanitizes, and legitimizes an intrinsically evil and destructive institution, which is based on force. As Mao once said, political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. But things have gone far beyond that. We’re now in the Deep State.
This lecture by G Edward Griffin on the topic of the Deep State blew me away several years ago:
“An excellent lecture by G. Edward Griffin entitled “The Quigley Formula: A conspiratorial view of history as taught by the conspirators themselves”
“Quigley” is the late professor Carroll Quigley, a Council on Foreign Relations member and historian, as well as mentor to CFR & Trilateral Commission member Bill Clinton. The lecture is based around the following quote from his book Tragedy & Hope, pp. 1247-1248: “The National parties and their presidential candidates, with the Eastern Establishment assiduously fostering the process behind the scenes, moved closer together and nearly met in the center with almost identical candidates and platforms, although the process was concealed as much as possible, by the revival of obsolescent or meaningless war cries and slogans (often going back to the Civil War)….The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy. … Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”
1) Focus on the lecture and ignore the audience.
2) After you’ve seen this lecture, you will want to go to a guide or a source that is cognizant of this crucial piece information. I recommend ‘The Corbett Report’.
A central part of the debate is the definition of the term. What are we referring to?
Wikipedia has an interesting page on the topic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_state_in_the_United_States
Note the competing definitions here, that cover:
“collusion and cronyism exist within the US political system and constitute a hidden government within the legitimately elected government”
“a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process”
“corruption prevalent among career politicians and civil servants”
“aspects of the national security establishment”
an “administrative state”
As Snowden puts it: “the deep state is not just the intelligence agencies, it is really a way of referring to the career bureaucracy of government. These are officials who sit in powerful positions, who don’t leave when presidents do, who watch presidents come and go … they influence policy, they influence presidents.”
Based on these, the definition may or may not include the following:
– secrecy of the members, goals, and methods
– corruption of government officials
– collusion between government officials and donors seeking favors
– the persistence of policy goals and activities through changing elected officials, some of whom campaigned against the policies yet did not change them once in office
A good way to clarify thinking on a nebulous or complex topic like the “Deep State” is to be specific. Look at events that are clear examples of Deep State actions, that could not be reasonably explained another way. Then look at the what characteristics those events have in common. Contrast that with events that are similar but differ in some essential way. Use this to build a definition of the term.
So what are some good examples?
I see lots of theories about what the deep state is.
Anyone have any concrete examples?
Cause it looks to me more like random corruption woven together by conspiracy theorists brains. But I haven’t studied it.
I think Peggy has it about right. There are bad and incompetent people everywhere. The distinction with the “deep state” notions is that they involve large scale conspiracies to undermine the US gov’t.
“The point that I found compelling is that the Deep State includes most of us. I assume that Doug — see comment above — does not include McNamara as one of the “best and brightest.” I say this because McNamara to me epitomizes the Deep State.”
One person does not a deep state make. The closest thing to a deep state I have seen is the Trump administration. I don’t think there is much doubt that they collectively are actively trying to undermine the US Gov’t. Trump appoints people to positions of power who have no experience in the relevant fields and are frequently openly hostile to the purposes of their agencies or departments.
I could point out many people in the course of my lifetime who I found antithetical to good governance and policy. McNamara was one of those, as are Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, James Inhofe, Joe McCarthy and Eliot Abrams, to name a few. What do these people have in common? They are or were all either political appointees or politicians. None were career civil servants.
As misguided or intentionally evil as these people may have been, do I believe any of them were part of a giant conspiracy to destroy the US gov’t? No, although they individually may have wished such a fate.
“A key takeaway (and I emphasize that because I expect it to otherwise bounce off the programmed psyches of most people) is that the very idea of the State itself is poisonous, evil, and intrinsically destructive.”
“The U.S. Constitution is just an arbitrary piece of paper… entirely apart from the fact the whole thing is now just a dead letter. You have a right to free speech and to be armed because they’re necessary parts of being a free person, not because of what a political document says.”
Doug Casey is clearly far off base. The U.S. Constitution is not a “dead letter”. It is the very basis of the rule of law in this nation. Whether or not the rights to speech and to be armed are “necessary parts of being a free person” they are legally rights only because they are specifically laid out in the Bill of Rights, the amendments to the Constitution. Rights are not given by a divine being, they are by definition granted by a sovereign, or, in a democracy, by the will of the people. We forget that at our peril.
The “very idea of the State itself is poisonous, evil, and intrinsically destructive” is a notion that is as nutty as it is dangerous. The facts are that people have always had ways of ordering their affairs so that we can live in social arrangements that do not result in self destruction. Those structures range from families to clans to villages to cities to states to nations. The U.S. is, by definition, a democratic republic. Now, there is plenty of room for debate how close we come to meeting the ideals of those terms, but to claim that the Constitution is a “dead letter” is to invalidate the fundamental basis of that structure. Again, we do that at our peril. If we were to scrap the Constitution, we would never again have those rights.
Ok, I went on a bit of a tangent there. The point I want to make is that the much maligned bureaucracy is made up of a lot of people doing the necessary jobs of keeping our society functioning. They collect taxes, write the checks, contract out public work that needs to be done, regulate the parts of our society that could be injurious to the public good, organize and maintain the national defense, mediate conflicts between gov’t and the public, investigate and prosecute crime, provide relief during natural disasters and on and on. They keep our society functioning. It is somewhat axiomatic that the bureaucracy keeps gov’t functioning during times of war and national crises. They engineered a complete conversion of our industrial might to a war footing after Pearl Harbor. The gov’t kept functioning more or less smoothly during the Constitutional crisis of Watergate. It is doing so now during what has been described as the five crises we are facing: covid, racial divides, climate, economy and leadership. IOW, life goes on pretty much as normal because the bureaucracy keeps on doing its job.
So as some one pointed out, if you wish to find a “deep state”, define your terms and identify who the deep state is. It is like so many conspiracy theories, those espousing them are usually short on suspects and facts.
I tend to agree with Doug.