It gets funny, this shallow analysis of the deep state that is currently big news. There’s something ghoulish about it, perfectly timed for Halloween and masked jokers. What was once ridiculed by the CIA and its attendant lackeys in the media as the paranoia of “conspiracy theorists” is now openly admitted in reverent tones of patriotic fervor. But with a twisted twist.
It was two years ago, early in the Trump administration, when The New Yorker and Salon, among many others, were asserting in no uncertain terms that there was no deep state in the United States, and so Trump had nothing to fear from that quarter since it was a figment of his paranoia. Kit Knightly, brilliantly demolished this spurious propaganda on March 21, 2017 in a must read reminder of how tricksters play their games. See his “There is No Deep State…it just looks like there is” in the Off-Guardian.
The corporate mass-media have recently discovered a “deep state” that they claim to be not some evil group of assassins who work for the super-rich owners of the country and murder their own president (JFK) and other unpatriotic dissidents (Malcom X, MLK, RK, among others) and undermine democracy home and abroad, but are now said to be just fine upstanding American citizens who work within the government bureaucracies and are patriotic believers in democracy intent on doing the right thing.
This redefinition has been in the works for a few years, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that this tricky treat was being prepared for our consumption a few years ago by The Council on Foreign Relations. In its September/October 2017 edition of its journal Foreign Affairs, Jon D. Michaels, in “Trump and the Deep State: The Government Strikes Back,” writes:
Furious at what they consider treachery by internal saboteurs, the president and his surrogates have responded by borrowing a bit of political science jargon, claiming to be victims of the “deep state,” a conspiracy of powerful, unelected bureaucrats secretly pursuing their own agenda. The concept of a deep state is valuable in its original context, the study of developing countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey, where shadowy elites in the military and government ministries have been known to countermand or simply defy democratic directives. Yet it has little relevance to the United States, where governmental power structures are almost entirely transparent, egalitarian, and rule-bound.
The White House is correct to perceive widespread resistance inside the government to many of its endeavors. But the same way the administration’s media problems come not from “fake news” but simply from news, so its bureaucratic problems come not from an insidious, undemocratic “deep state” but simply from the state—the large, complex hive of people and procedures that constitute the U.S. federal government.
Notice how in these comical passages about U.S. government transparency and egalitarianism, Michaels slyly and falsely attributes to Trump the very definition – “unelected bureaucrats” – that in the next paragraph he claims to be the real deep state, which is just the state power structures. Pseudo-innocence conquers all here as there is no mention of the Democratic party, Russiagate, etc., and all the machinations led by the intelligence services and Democratic forces to oust Trump from the day he was elected. State power structures just move so quickly, as anyone knows who has studied the speed with which bureaucracies operate. Ask Max Weber.
Drip by drip over the past few years, this “state bureaucracy” meme has been introduced by the mainstream media propagandists as they have gradually revealed that the government deep-staters are just doing their patriotic duty in trying openly to oust an elected president.
Many writers have commented on the recent New York Times article, Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him” asserting that the Times has finally admitted to the existence of the deep state, which is true as far as it goes, which is not too far. But in this game of deceptive revelations – going shallower to go deeper – what is missing is a focus on the linguistic mind control involved in the changed definition.
In a recent article by Robert W. Merry, whose intentions I am not questioning – “New York Times Confirms: It’s Trump Versus the Deep State” – originally published at The American Conservative and widely reprinted , the lead-in to the article proper reads: “Even the Gray Lady admits the president is up against a powerful bureaucracy that wants him sunk.” So the “powerful bureaucracy” redefinition, this immovable force of government bureaucrats, is slipped into public consciousness as what the deep state supposedly is. Gone are CIA conspirators and evil doers. In their place we find career civil servants doing their patriotic duty.
Then there is The New York Times’ columnist James Stewart who, appearing on the Today Show recently, where he was promoting his new book, told Savannah Guthrie that:
Well, you meet these characters in my book, and the fact is, in a sense, he’s [Trump] right. There is a deep state…there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law. They do not work for the President. They work for the American people. And, as Comey told me in my book, ‘thank goodness for that,’ because they are protecting the Constitution and the people when individuals – we don’t have a monarch, we don’t have a dictator – they restrain them from crossing the boundaries of law. What Trump calls the deep state in the United States is protecting the American people and protecting the Constitution. It’s a positive thing in this sense.
So again we are told that the deep-state bureaucracy is defending the Constitution and protecting the American people, as James Comey told Stewart, “in my book, ‘thank goodness for that,’” as he put it so eloquently. These guys talk in books, of course, not person to person, but that is the level not just of English grammar and general stupidity, but of the brazen bullshit these guys are capable of.
This new and shallow deep state definition has buried the old meaning of the deep state as evil conspirators carrying out coup d’états, assassinations, and massive media propaganda campaigns at home and abroad, and who, by implication and direct declaration, never existed in the good old U.S.A. but only in countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan where shadowy elites killed and deposed leaders and opponents in an endless series of coup d’états. No mention in Foreign Affairs, of course, of the American support for the ruthless leaders of these countries who have always been our dear allies when they obey our every order and serve as our servile proxies in murder and mayhem.
Even Edward Snowden, the courageous whistleblower in exile in Russia, in a recent interview with Joe Rogan, repeats this nonsense when he says the deep state is just “career government officials” who want to keep their jobs and who outlast presidents. From his own experience, he should know better. Much better. Interestingly, he suggests that he does when he tells Rogan that “every president since Kennedy” has been successfully “feared up” by the intelligence agencies so they will do their bidding. He doesn’t need to add that JFK, for fearlessly refusing the bait, was shot in the head in broad daylight to send a message to those who would follow.
Linguistic mind control is insidious like the slow drip of a water faucet. After a while you don’t hear it and just go about your business, even as your mind, like a rotting rubber washer, keeps disintegrating under propaganda’s endless reiterations.
To think that the deep state is government employees just doing their patriotic duty is plain idiocy and plainer propaganda.
It is a trick, not the treat it is made to seem.
5 thoughts on “The “Deep State” Has Been Redefined as Career Bureaucrats Doing Their Patriotic Duty”
I also had noted Snowden’s fragmented consciousness on that point. [[[repeats this nonsense when he says the deep state is just “career government officials” who want to keep their jobs and who outlast presidents. From his own experience, he should know better. Much better.]]]
For me, that’s an alarm bell.
That NBC wanted to interview him to promote his book, in my mind, means that perhaps he was never a white hat, as it were.
He was mildly snotty viz. the Russian government too, in NBC interview. For what rational reason, I cannot fathom.
I also found it illogical of him to still be insisting, now, that it was his plan to go to South America to be safe. Yes, that was his plan.
No mention was made in NBC interview I watched involving the airplane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales — which US authorities apparently? thought Snowden was on, and the plane was grounded, forced to land in Austria! This in July 2013, about a month after he went rogue.
This was a big deal at the time.
For this point to be totally ignored is mystifying. [Or, intentional.]
At the time — I was hoping Snowden would stay stuck at the Moscow terminal, and get Russian asylum — simply because Russia is the only government strong enough not to bow to US diktats. This was perfectly obvious.
Yet — Snowden is talking now like he still wanted to go to South America — in 2019. What?
That was another red flag.
My take-away was an uneasy feeling that he is not what I had thought he was.
I’ve come to the conclusion that — Maybe: it was a wonderful excuse for Obama hawks to change course and really begin to demonize Russia all over again.
Snowden pretends to leak stuff that was kind of already known; Greenwald pretends to publish it, and manages to publish about 2 percent of it. [At this point, I don’t know how much was published; perhaps all of it was that hey possessed; perhaps the plan was never to publish more, I just don’t know.]
And, of course, British police enter Guardian offices to smash the Snowden files [which was brazenly idiotic and meaningless, an affront to any thinking person]. And that was a good Hollywood script.
And, then, the Guardian then uses this as an excuse to become, like US media has been for years now: anti Russian bigots, and advocates for McCarthyism, and war mongers. That is to say: masters of intolerance while dressed up as “social justice warriors” as it were.
Within months of the Snowden affair, US spooks were all in on the violent overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine. As were the British.
Perhaps Snowden was and is a double agent, whose job was to create an excuse for West to destroy relations with Russia?
So a question would be: was Putin duped?
There are arguments that can be made he was and was not. [Putin/Russia being militarily weaker is an essential point to ponder in any analysis of this.]
This is a Nov. 9, 2019 Tweet by Greenwald:
“When we were in Hong Kong in 2013, we assumed @Snowden’s future was going to be disappearing for decades if not life into a maximum security US prison-hellhole.
“Instead, he defends press freedoms, speaks via video around the world, & his book is on the NYT list for its 5th week.”
This Oct. 23, 2019 Tweet by Snowden
”For everybody wondering about #PermanentRecord, the book @JoeRogan and I are talking about—the book the government doesn’t want you to see—you can get it here” [– him promoting his new book.]
All I’m sure of now is that I am now skeptical of all of Snowden’s story.
This is an enigma: Snowden is addicted to cell phones, a computer terminal, and the sundry instruments of electronica media that is blasphemously — and incorrectly — labeled “social” media. There is nothing social about it, of course.
His addiction led him to be gravely concerned about abuses, industrial level spying on everyone, in particular the cell phone is the premier tracking device used by governments to spy.
His mission as we are told is to thwart this spying, and intentionally or not, his statements at times incoherent over the years have had the effect of suggesting communications can be kept free of government spying, via encryption and the like.
The seed of the disease begin with the device. The cell phone.
I’ll also take the liberty to engage in what most, but not all, would say is blasphemy: kick the habit.
Of course it’s more likely everyone on earth would stop smoking, rather than stop texting — and by extension, throw away all their cell phones, and just quit, cold turkey.
Snowden believes it is non-negotiable that these new devises are with us, now and forever.
Being an addict himself, that is both understandable and also self-serving.
I say this objectively without malice, since, as anyone that’s followed Snowden, sees he took the mantle on his own to be a protector of all things electronic media…he’s assumed the mantle of a protector, kinda sorta.
Be that as it may. . . .Somehow, I’m reminded of the first lines in Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization —
“Sigmund Freud’s proposition that civilization is based on the permanent subjugation of the human instincts has been take for granted. His question whether the suffering thereby inflicted upon individuals has been worth the benefit of culture has not been taken too seriously — the less so since Freud himself considered the process to be inevitable and irreversible. . . .”
Snowden’s proposition that civilization is based on the permanent subjugation of the human instincts — further subjugated via electronic devices now ubiquitous — has been take for granted.
His question whether the suffering thereby inflicted upon individuals has been worth the benefit of culture has not been taken too seriously — the less so since Snowden himself considered the process to be inevitable and irreversible. . . .
What do we end up with when Dogma — either by Freud or Snowden — replace: reason and rationality and critical consciousness and good old skepticism?
We know the answer, and yet we kind of partly already see the answer via the consequences of the negative consequences of our way of life in America, post WW II especially.
Of course, Post Modern social theory tells me it is blasphemy to articulate meta narratives such as this.
Well, that is their dogma, their religion — as is the above Freud’s and Snowden’s.
It is no small irony that Freud and Snowden and Jean-François Lyotard and his Postmodern Condition — all of them stuck in dogma — and have abandoned reason and rationality and critical consciousness and good old skepticism viz. the above.
Thank you for this essay that included the brief critique of Snowden.
You make so make incisive points that I’m not sure where to begin. Maybe with cell phones since I too think they are central and refuse to have or use one for the reasons you mention. Marcuse was right. Freud was right. But Marcuse was more right because he resisted Freud’s pessimism and wanted to help liberate the human instincts. I think of this every day and know Marcuse was right. Even the machine I am typing on, a small laptop, makes me cringe. I think I was the last(only) holdout at a college where I used to teach and when I finally gave in and essentially was forced to use the computer or leave my teaching job, I had eight thousand plus emails that I never knew I had that had to be deleted by a tech guy. But I had functioned fine without all those messages. I had my typewriter. Anyway, I too have thought many of the things about Snowden that you mention. I have vacillated in my conclusions, which even now are not solid. I tend to think he was and is naive, clearly a computer nerd, limited intellectually because of that, lacking in knowledge of history, etc., and very desirous of coming home. He may have been manipulated, his best instincts twisted by forces greater than he – in other words, used. All those documents he gave Greenwald, where are they? As far as we know, and we know very little, a tiny portion have been released and released through the mainstream propagandistic press. So what do we know? Not much. We are left to guess, and the guessing game is their game, always thrown out there for us to ponder endlessly. So like so much in the shadowy world of espionage, we go on guessing as best we can. My best guess is that Snowden is a courageous whistle blower in over his head. Of course I can’t prove that. Time might tell. You should write an article about your thoughts here, including the postmodern critique implicit in what you say. Pax, Ed
Post Modernism as Moral Turpitude
Were I a young man, I may have been flummoxed by post modern social theory’s reliance on dogma to flatly state, that, meta narratives: Dead.
There is no lawyer or judge alive, anywhere in the world, that would take seriously this profound gibberish. [As will be demonstrated below, that does not preclude them from in engaging in it with malice intent.]
Every decision and every motion and every criminal and civil accusation — all are premised on some, and many, meta narratives. Commonly labeled precedent. Or prior decisions. Or more broadly, common law, or articles within a constitution, etc.
Whatever one my think of Garfinkle and Goffman, their theories focusing on individuals and their communications at an extreme micro level — of which post modern social theory claims ALL the real action is — this duo didn’t fall into the anti-meta dogma, this zealotry.
My own view is that post modern social theory, and it’s dogmatic seduction towards inevitable totalitarianist “end of history” nonsense either made scholars lazy, of their own free will, of course; or was only ever perceived in a fragmented manner.
What fascinates me is that, say, reading a judge’s ruling, — it can’t be written absent the meta narrative.
What happens in a written decision when a judge goes rogue, that is: departs from tradition, from precedent, from meta narrative, from, in short, the law? And from common sense?
What can result is what Jean-François Lyotard and his Postmodern Condition refer to as “word games.” [[I believe the accepted translation into English from French is “Language Games.”]]
Here, worth noting a basic social fact, communicated by Durkheim: a contract is already a contract before it is agreed to.
By which he means parties agree to something, of necessity — on the basis of common understandings, values, goals, norms — otherwise a] there would be no communication to even begin a negotiation; b] without a], there is no contract or attempts to agree to any. There can’t be, absent social solidarity at some level.
However remote, or intense.
Language games divorced from meta narratives is only nonsense. There is a dialectical relationship, a correspondence as it were between them.
The absence of this: A central The-Ism of post modern social theory.
[And, thus, a birthing, if you will, of a paradigm that, based, on deity-like — or in the words of Professor Richard Falk: “fath-based pre-enlightenment ‘thought.'”
The moral of the story is: beware of any one or anything that separate meta narrative — this includes conceptions of historicity — from the here and now.
Pernicious and anti-human, and pro-tryanny legal doctrine, ensconced in decisions — they are found when this post modernist theoretical framework embeds a judge’s decision. [With malice intended.]
A wonderful example of this has been at play in the Julian Assange saga.
For reasons I have yet to fully conceptualize, Assange was a target of Obama and his AG Holder from 2009. And for similar unclear reasons, Trump charged Assange in December 2017.
The sealed 2017 indictment of Assange was unsealed — more than a year later in April 2019.
I have no way of knowing if other sealed indictments [from Obama era] of him were also filed in federal court.
One [from DOJ/Trump] was filed in federal court Dec. 2017, which is an indisputable fact; as is the fact a sealed indictment was hidden for 16 months, until April 2019.
In 2018, a group calling itself Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press had filed a federal lawsuit, petitioning the federal court to make public the criminal complaints the government [Trump DOJ] had [secretly] filed in federal court — under seal.
Their plea was rejected in January of this year.
The judge rejected this plea, which happened four months before the government unsealed them, when Assange was arrested in London, in April, where he is in jail.
The US federal court judge’s order — in January — denying the Committee for press freedom’s request, states:
“What makes this case unique is that the Government [DOJ] has not acknowledged whether formal charges have been filed against Assange, and the Committee has not cited any authority supporting the notion that the public has a right to require the Government to confirm or deny that it has charged someone,” the federal judge wrote on January 30.
Is something wrong with this sentence?
The court knew there was a criminal complaint filed with the court, along with a docket number.
“the Government has not acknowledged,” the judge wrote, referring to Trump/DOJ.
Everywhere else in this ruling, denying the Committee their plea, the judge uses meta narratives, or precedent, citing laws, the constitution, common law and the like.
But not here, on the key factual point; instead, we have “the Government has not acknowledged whether formal charges have been filed against Assange.”
Here, we have Post Modernism in action.
When there is no connection from the here and now to frame reality, we have chaos, or feel free to call it post modernism. Or tyranny, or government fiat, or an abuse of power, whatever.
Of course, this judge was in a bind, and says so, when he wrote that the DOJ “declines to confirm or deny that any charges have been filed against Assange. It asserts that the Committee’s application is based only on guesswork.”
The judge gilds his own lily, concluding: “Permitting such fishing expeditions would require courts to sort through endless factual permutations giving rise to varying degrees of uncertainty. Courts cannot perform the delicate balancing required by the First Amendment and common law doctrines under such uncertain circumstances.”
Here, the court had known for 16 months a case had been filed against Assange, and we get this kind of post moderism-speak from a lifetime government employee, in this case, a federal judge.
The court’s dilemma, as it were, was to not disclose the existence of this case, out of deference to prosecutors, who, for the past decade at least, had shown zero deference to an innocent man: Julian Assange.
I also take the liberty to say this judge would have been wise not to claim performing any “delicate balancing.”
Moral Turpitude has replaced Justice.
Just a brilliant analysis. You must be a sociologist/lawyer trained in classical logic or my shadow twin. I repeat: write about this. Send me an email at email@example.com and we’ll talk.
Listen to brother Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and re-read Brother Ed’s essay.
Think about it. Go for a walk…
Then read ” Hoover’s FBI and Anglo American Dictatorship ”
Contains this gem> “Hale Boggs called on Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell to have the courage to fire J. Edgar Hoover. Boggs “accused Mr. Hoover and the bureau of tapping the telephones of members of Congress and of stationing agents on college campuses to spy on students and faculty members. He said these were `the tactics of the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Gestapo.’|“ [New York Times, April 6, 1971]”
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