Is there a Deep State in our western liberal democracies? If so, is it a conspiracy or something more ‘interesting’ than that? These are questions that the Left has been traditionally engaged with, especially when facing undercover campaigns to prevent progressives from winning power or, on occasion, to unseat or destabilise left-wing governments. However, more recently, the Alt-Right has begun waging a war of words against the Deep State, with Donald Trump and his supporters doing so most boisterously. Is this a figment of the imagination on those on the extremities of the political spectrum (left and right), as this BBC Radio 4 program ends up concluding? Or is the Deep State something real, tangible – a clear and present danger for democracy? In this audio essay I argue that the Deep State is inevitable in contemporary, corporate, financialised capitalism and constitutes democracy’s greatest foe.
After exploring the space between markets and formal state institutions in which the Deep State ‘lives’ as a Private-Public Technocracy, I outline the four manufacturing ‘processes’ that constitute it:
- Manufacturing prices (i.e. subverting the very market mechanism that capitalism is supposed to rely on)
- Manufacturing desires
- Manufacturing money (e.g. the black magic by which central and private banks conjure up the supply of money)
- Manufacturing consent
Touching upon the great misconception of the establishment’s liberal individualist political philosophy regarding the limits of the state (and what it means to be an autonomous individual), I define the Deep State as a conspiracy without conspirators, as a grand design without a designer (i.e. not too dissimilar to the manner in which Darwinian evolution produces complex systems without a grand designer, or how – according to Adam Smith – a market regulates supply and demand without any human actually regulating them).
Finally, I return to the 1920s and 1930s, in order to highlight the manner in which Donald Trump and the new Nationalist-Fascist International is copying Goebbels and Mussolini in attacking the Deep State only in order to take it over and use it against those whose votes and attention they seek to appropriate.
Lastly, I put forward a radical idea of what to do about the Deep StateP: Nothing! Progressives must simply fight for democracy, reason and humanism and, as long as we manage to unite across countries and to break down antiquated party-political divisions, the Deep State will recede.
Part 1 – Democracy’s Greatest Foe