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The Deep State


What is "The Deep State"? According to Wikipedia, "The concept of a deep state is that there exists a coordinated effort by career government employees and others to influence state policy without regard for democratically elected leadership." Originally, the term referred to entrenched shadow governments of countries like Turkey and Russia.

Conspiracy theorists and Trump supporters often use "deep state," with conspiratorial undertones, to refer to intelligence officers and government officials who use covert tactics, such as leaking information, to undermine the president (or control the world, depending on the purpose). 

In the article below, David Brin discusses the concept of "deep state" and how the term has been co-opted by Trump and the far-right to malign "every profession in U.S. society that deals in facts and knowledge." 

The Deep State

Courtesy of David BrinContrary Brin

[David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The PostmanEarth, and Existence. Dr. Brin serves on advisory boards (e.g. NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program or NIAC) and speaks or consults on a wide range of topics. David Brin's nonfiction book about the information age – The Transparent Society – won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.]

"Deep State" is a buzz phrase being used by the confederacy to explain the hostility they face, from every profession in U.S. society that deals in facts and knowledge. Their narrative is that these professions — the same ones that were maligned for decades in right wing media, from science, teaching, economics, skilled labor and journalism to the civil service, law professionals, medical doctors and judges — have colluded to create a truth-bending, Orwellian cabal. And now, note two of the last knowledge castes have been added — members of the Intelligence Community (IC) and the U.S. Military Officer Corps (MOC).  

This Deep State – the story goes – has been responsible for both liberal tyranny and American decline from greatness. (See Is Michael Flynn the first casualty of a “deep state” coup? It’s not unthinkable.) 

Never mind that these are the same professions that empowered the great burst of creativity and invention and entrepreneurial drive that multiplied our wealth a hundred fold, since the Second World War.

Never mind that every metric of U.S. national health improved, across the spans of both the Clinton and Obama Administrations, while nearly all such metrics plummeted across both Bush regimes. That only makes statistical "facts" the enemy.

Moreover, the lack of any significant foreign-planned Islamic Terrorism on U.S. soil can only be explained by conspiracy among roughly a million highly competitive journalists, cops, jurists and security experts who all magically agreed never to mention the true, bloody rampage.

Never mind that American lives were statistically safer, under President Obama, than at any other time in the history of the republic. Or that blue cities take in most of the refugees, yet blue citizens don’t feel in much danger.

Or that Iranians have harmed U.S. lives or interests far, far less than the graduates of Saudi-financed madrassas. So why is every member of the Trump administration beating a drum for war (of some kind) with Tehran? Michael Flynn was a leading drummer. Indeed, if you want a more plausible “deep state” conspiracy theory, how about you start with the fact that no one in our military wants an Iranian War? 

Indeed, when you compare the different ways that democratic and republican presidents wage war, any sage officer would loathe the idea of a GOP commander-in-chief, ordering our troops into battle. 

Articles like this one – "denouncing the “Deep State” – are trial balloons that test possible justifications. They set the stage for actions against all the knowledge castes, but especially security professionals. And more harbingers have blossomed in recent days.

“President Trump is considering tapping billionaire friend and New York financier Stephen A. Feinberg to lead a broad review of U.S. intelligence agencies…. The appointment of Feinberg would send shock waves through the intelligence community, a frequent target of Trump’s ire both as a candidate and as president" (Trump downplays possibility of a New York billionaire reviewing U.S. spy agencies).

“Feinberg rarely gives interviews and once said of private equity executives, “We try to hide religiously. If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person,” Feinberg told shareholders in 2007, according to Rolling Stone magazine. “We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it.”

Even allowing for polemical exaggeration, the zeitgeist here seems chilling. Now look up the word: “Cerberus.” Dang, these guys aren’t even trying to be subtle, anymore.

The trumpists and other murdochians know it will be dangerous to try pulling Erdogan-style purges of the IC and the MOC. Those officers whom they fire will make lovely recruits for the Democrats to run in Red congressional and assembly districts. (I'll speak more about this, later.) And those who remain will continue to be sources of leaks that (betrayal!) keep the public informed. And yet, what choice have the alt-righters, but to attack? Among all the despised fact-based professions, the IC and MOC are cadres who present the greatest obstacles to any oligarchic putsch. Conservative by temperament, their resistance only drives home a key point that we all must remember:

This civil war just isn't about "liberal-conservative" anymore. It is now blatantly revealed to be what it's always been. Culture war between an anti-knowledge Confederacy and the forward-looking, scientific and progress-seeking Union that it periodically betrays, about once per generation. 

There is another buzz term that you'll get to know, promulgated in this article. "Anti-Russian hysteria." The notion being that the Deep State is rife with mongerers trying to re-ignite the Cold War, or worse. This despite the fact that a U.S.-Iran War is both a top administration goal and lusciously desired by the Kremlin. This catch-phrase — along with "Deep State" — will spew forth.  And yet…

…And yet, I have to figure that the murdochians have gone too far, this time.

Do you remember what finally brought down the equivalent of Steve Bannon, back in during the Greatest Generation? The screeching firebrand Joe McCarthy? It was when he attacked the U.S. Military Officer Corps. But, weaned on stereotypes, movie clichés and pop-paranoid philosophers, I doubt that Bannon has a clue who he is leveling his lance against. The best-educated, most-pragmatically grownup and loyal clade of men and women in American life.

Moreover, whenever I think of those folks, I can sleep at night, and so should you, knowing that they are — deep in their guts and bones — on our side. 


Visit David Brin: Contrary Brin blogwebsitebiographybooks/novels, and short stories.

(David refers to the NY Times' article As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America.)

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