Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Deep State: Primary Loyalty

The Deep State is a relatively recent term that I equate to the much older term by C. Wright Mills called the power elite.  The idea that there is a small  powerful group that runs things. What is their primary goal? How large a group are we talking about? Who are they?  We currently are using this 1% vs the 99% formulation but that division  would be a "decision" group of 3.3 million people in the USA alone. That's a bit too large for a group of decision-makers but it certainly makes sense that the successful would be working to maintain the conditions that support their status.  In fact, in a relative sense, it would be reasonable that the upper fourth of the population might be satisfied with their circumstances and would continue to support the status quo that enables them. A fourth of the population is no hidden cabal.

  A more manageable "elite"-the .1% - would therefore contain 330,000 people in the USA with a minimum net worth of approximately $43 million.  Are they the people who run things or do they need to be richer to be the elite deep state?  What about the 30-year bureaucrat in the Department of Agriculture that enforces and approves national agricultural policy?  He might make only $135,000/yr. but is part of the "unelected" bureaucracy.  How about the deputy undersecretary for African affairs? Head of the IRS?  Are they puppets or, as decision makers, part of the "Deep State"?  These actors have positions of responsibility but are not necessarily "rich".  The "Deep State" is thus a conspiratorial but vague term.  How many people have a say-so in running things in America today?  Is it even possible to say who the 100 most influential people are?  What kind of agreement could we get?  We need a definition before we get too far down this rabbit hole.

So let's say we have the 'obvious' leadership and the 'hidden' leadership.  If the Obvious Leadership consists of the President/White House, all senators/representatives/SC justices, the top .1% of all federal government department employees, 50 state governors, 300 mayors of the largest cities,  all people with $100+million dollars, all 4,000 CEOs of the Wilshire Index 5000 companies in America, all college presidents, all NGO's with a budget over $1million, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leaders of foundations, unions, biggest law firm partners, and actors making more than $10 million/movie, some outspoken sports heroes, and 1 comedian to keep everything in perspective THEN we seem to be talking about maybe 20,000 leaders. These are the obvious leaders, who are the "hidden" leaders?  Who are the people who are "more equal" than others? If we consider someone like Dick Cheney--is he both ex-Vice President and a member of the Deep State cabal?  Is ex-President Clinton in the loop or out of it?  There seems to be some confusion here about who the actual decision makers are.  If the obvious leaders are puppets, they serve at the behest of the hidden leaders then we want to know how do the shots that are called get transmitted to the puppets?  Where are the strings?  The deep state proponents will typically say something like 1) they are paid off with money and status and 2) know that if they cross their overlords they will be ostracized. So the deep state could be an imaginative state of mind where you feel yourself part of it and act according to precepts that you have gleaned from a lifetime of pursuing political influence. The deep state is a gravitational force.  But why call it deep?  It is just the current ruling consensus.  People who are trying to accomplish things work together in a particular way.  There is no mystery hidden leadership.  It is a governing state of mind.  Instead of talking about hidden manipulators we would be analyzing the governing consensus.  My take is that the deep state is a conspiratorial term for the people who oppose the current governing class and its policies.  The imprecision of the term allows acolytes of the concept to sometimes name obvious leaders and other times hidden leaders for decisions.

The Deep State is thought of as subterranean monolithic force in its support for the status quo and how things are currently decided but may itself be divided about the direction of the American Project.  There are many different interests among several groups with different goals. The 'deep state' could be divided into many competing groups. If I don't like the influence of the so called old money Republicans I might identify with the internationalists or 'globalists'.  I view the status quo as a balance of competing forces, not a hidden master plan executed by unknown leaders. We could name all these groups but would it get us any closer to seeing who has real influence?   Old money WASP financiers.  19th century industrialists. Progressive secularists.  Multiculturalists. What about the secret society Masons, Illuminati, Catholic Church, Religious evangelicals that are organizing society to be fundamentally religious?  One schism in the so-called Deep State developed from a split between the fundamentally nationalist conservative corporatists and a more liberal international minded secular leadership. For a shorthand, we could say the WASPs vs the Jews but I don't want to project any anti-Semitic nonsense about this interaction. They both agree on the conditions that support their elitism but they could have different goals. We might say they are America First(Nationalism) and Internationalism.  "Globalism" is often criticized as supporting a New World Order of World government.   The NWO is a smear term.  I am not privy to the hoped for plans of the power elite but I can say that if you are governing then you are looking for levers of power to exert your influence.  So, I ask again, What is the goal of the "Deep State" and who are its members?   It is fair to answer that there is no such thing as the "Deep State", it is a conspiracy term that imagines a cabal of secret people who are a bogeyman for one's own imagined helplessness and irrelevancy.

 What is the essential primary Mythos of the American Project?  Liberty and Justice for all. Or are we really about "show me the money"? My interest is directional clarity. What is the vision for America?  We talk about Freedom, Equality, and Justice but is it what we are primarily about? If you are reading this, you should create a vision statement to guide your own criticism.  I created one as a guide to my own political participation and hopes for the future.  Our task as citizens is to create a substantially just, eco- sustainable, multicultural, representative democracy.  Some might say we have exactly that but it just works poorly.

Deep state theorists would laugh at that formulation.  They know money runs things and the oligarchy is not interested in your input.  You are not in the club.  We have a government that  the rich direct and support.  Voting doesn't matter.  Political participation only counts if you count.  Voters are mesmerized by showy issues of no substance that distract them from the decisions that would make a difference if they were aware of them.  Propaganda rules and hardly anything is as it appears.  The world we think we are living in, is illusory, while the power merchants secretly create more for themselves. Deep state acolytes are conspiracy theorists.  I don't use the term judgmentally. There are plenty of secret plans that have been carried out with minimal public knowledge. Conspiracy types believe the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, and even Sandy Hook and the  Boston Marathon bombing are secret government efforts to gaslight the public and influence policy in preferred directions. One successful conspiracy is possible--I don't dispute it, I am suspicious of the Kennedy assassination-it appears our own CIA was involved--how much is a good question.  I am not comfortable with the 9/11 story--quite frankly the buildings appear to "blow up" not collapse but I am willing to let the jarring facts sit out there crying for a more comprehensive explanations.  I think it less credible that everything that is presented by mainstream media is false.

So what I would like to think about now are the  various competing interests in the governing consensus.  For one group to keep some modicum of power it has to support other groups also competing for power and influence.  For example, I have a lot of concern about the neocons in our own State Department. Why are we de-stabilizing all the countries in the Mid-East?  It does not benefit the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Yemen. It benefits our war industry and Israel.  It is reported that many important decision makers and influence peddlers are dual US/Israeli citizens.  People like Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, David Brooks.  I believe they have undue influence on our current foreign policy. Let me be precise, I am no Holocaust denier and think it is a good idea for the Jewish people to have a country.  I accept the creation of Israel though realize that it was stolen from the Palestinians. I have no understanding that could untie the Gordian knot of who owns the land of Canaan.  Israel is there, we(America) did not make that decision alone and we are stuck with history.   BUT, and it is a very large but, the existence of Israel is not the most important issue for America.  There are many that might wish it so because we have the power to determine it but the spunky little Jewish state is NOT the most important foreign policy interest of the USA.  We have a lot of Jewish citizens who would dispute that assertion.  And I don't blame them.  Not so long ago Germany did not consider its Jewish citizens "real citizens" and made an immoral attempt to solve the insularity problem by killing them. The politics of that time faulted Germany for WWI which was crippling them as they dealt with Depression levels of unemployment and Bolshevism.  Let's go ahead and ask then, Did the Jews consider themselves "German"in the same way as the majority Christian Lutherans did? I cannot answer that.  Were Jewish intellectuals attracted to Communism? What particular rights and responsibilities did they feel were essential to be a "good" German?  Or were they proud of their religious identity and had their own definitions of success different from fellow German citizens?  Let's ask a more central question:  were they a close minority looking to assimilate or stay carefully separate as a unique people?  The politics of the megalomaniac Hitler considered  their independence dangerous.  In fact, the Jewish people were just contributing to the society as violinists, physicists, shop owners  and periodontists. They were German "multicultural" citizens.  But we can notice the cautionary tale--multicultural societies are fragile.  They require a certain amount of good will on both sides.  The Jews in America are very successful at only 2.5% of the population and should be honored for their contributions to American cultural identity.  We can and should ask whether 5 of 6 major media outlets under CEOs that happen to be Jewish is desirable? fair and balanced (to quote the irritating Fox News)? or perhaps dangerous to American interests?  Or are American and Jewish interests the same?

America is multicultural.  It absorbed the ideals of immigrants as it grew and provided opportunities for them not possible in their home countries.  We are, all of us, grateful for that.  But we have an unknown  future and to my mind it is one of contraction and decline.  We are a flawed people with an outdated Mythos of American exceptionalism and it is inappropriate to our problems today.  If growth is currently transitioning to contraction then our current governing consensus is busy readjusting the terms of participation in the American Project.  Why are Southern White guys suddenly so politically aggrieved, voting for Trump at an over 75% rate? The current focus on a multicultural, diverse, body politic nourished by streams of immigrants is changing their world.  Could it be true that all of the many minorities agree their political situation will be better if the WASP majority is gradually demographically turned into a minority?  "We" would then ALL be minorities. I can see a confident majority not wishing for that.

I am suspicious of the formulation that there is a deep state cabal running things.  I know Jeff Bezos is a billionaire and has more influence as a citizen than me. He has more money than any single person should have and I do not have any problem taxing a lot of it away.  If he is pushing Alexa as a surreptitious spy in my home as prelude to dictatorial control of the internet and as a member of the deep state then I should be savvy enough to organize some opposition, decline to participate, and pay attention to the things that matter.  My question is primary loyalty.  We all have a multiplicity of loyalties and a desire to thrive.  Who has to compromise and who gets their way?  We should remember that a society that works is preferable to one falling apart and participate accordingly.

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