I was with some erudite and well-read people a few days ago and I was met with looks of puzzlement when I brought up the phrase ‘deep state’. I was trying to describe why people should stop reading my blog (at least for the moment) and immediately purchase a copy of The Devil’s Chessboard, a history of the Cold War era that starts during WWII and ends with the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968 (actually, it ends with Watergate, but you need to read it to understand). One of the features of the book that makes it so difficult to put down is the way author David Talbot interweaves all these stories of the people who became part of the Washington Establishment–an establishment that knew better than to start poking into the contradictory evidence around the assassination of JFK. In short, the Deep State knew that there could be no reasonable questions about the contradictions of the Warren Report.That’s where the deriding of ‘conspiracy theorists’ came about.
So here’s Deep State: Deep state is the theory or narrative about the accrual of government power in the hands of a pre-identified group of plutocrats. It posits the idea that there are virtually no accidents in history and there’s no swaying the control of the American government to the people short of revolution. If one prosecutes the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence –the head guy for the CIA) for the many crimes we know the CIA has committed since the 40’s, the deep state has already got a backup plan. Their choice for the miscreant’s successor will be just as evil and ruthless and will come pre-armed against whatever took down their predecessors.
Deep state also accepts the idea that there is a mind-set within the government and the institutions that control it. One must accept the paradigm of the Harvard and Yale grads who are the people whose careers are made in the service. And one should always assume that the deep state actors are everywhere. Bill Moyers has put forward an excellent article on Deep State, and he should know. Here’s a relevant passage, though you really should go read the essay.
…most of the avatars of the Deep State — the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to “stay the course” in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run — are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican.
I could say more about deep state theory, but this anecdote (which I just found) points out the Deep State conundrum pretty well by using our current POTUS. After graduating from Columbia University, Barack Obama worked for a company that he didn’t name in his autobiography. That company was in fact a CIA front and has been identified as such. And Obama’s mother Ann Dunham had worked or been a student organizer for a series of CIA front operations in her early years. It’s all here, courtesy of William Blum, who has written about Deep State for several decades.
Or you could look at the 2004 election. The two major party candidates (George W and John Kerry) were related and can trace their ancestry back quite a ways. Funny thing, they also are both Yalies, and both were pledged to the infamous Skull and Bones fraternity, a secretive group that has membership in high levels of government and business. What are the odds of a country with 310 million citizens producing two candidates who are related, tied into the power elite, and members of one of the most secretive societies in the world? Pretty low unless you understand Deep State. And both Clintons are Yalies (the law school). In 1992, Yalies Poppy Bush and Bill Clinton faced off. Do you ever wonder why political campaigns seem to all echo the same themes and share the same talking points about strong defense and security?
Which brings us to the current race. Hillary is almost surely the Deep State’s choice. But can that work against a faux populist campaign being run by Donald Trump? Trump is frightening to the oligarchy for all the reasons the rest of us find troubling (his racism and xenophobia, more about which here). But he has also made loose talk about repudiating US debt and his fiscal policy is at odds with the Federal Reserve. The Deep State doesn’t take such threats lightly. And the Deep State was apparently caught by surprise at the Brexit vote. The plutocrats are terrified that their power is waning.