Plutocrats, spooks and the U.S. “deep state”

I recently learned a new expression.  The “Deep State” is the part of the government that keeps going year in and year out, regardless of the election results, and that elected officials can’t root out.

The U.S. intelligence apparatus is part of the deep state.  Back during the George W. Bush administration, there was a public uproar over a “total information awareness” program that would cover the whole of the country.  Supposedly it was shut down, but the documents made public by Edward Snowden show that it never was.

The financial system is another part.  The financial crash of 2008 was in large part due to financial fraud, and one thing that liberals and conservatives agree on is that fraud should be prosecuted, but the Obama administration acted pro-actively to prevent it, with bi-paristan consent.

That’s not to say democracy is dead in the United States.  Public outcry prevented the Obama administration from going to war in Syria.  Public outcry prevented President Obama from nominating Larry Summers, the architect of American financial dysfunction to head the Federal Reserve Board.  But there is a difference between a government of the people, for the people and by the people and a government that has to take public opinion into account.

There is some indication that Wall Street and Homeland Security are working together in anticipation of another financial crash.

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup.  An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years.  DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets.  Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest.  The question is, why?


The shadow financial casino has only grown larger since 2008; and in the next Lehman-style collapse, government bailouts may not be available.  According to President Obama in his remarks on the Dodd-Frank Act on July 15, 2010, “Because of this reform, . . . there will be no more taxpayer funded bailouts – period.”

Governments in Europe are also shying away from further bailouts.  The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland has therefore required the systemically risky banks to devise “living wills” setting forth what they will do in the event of insolvency. The template established by the FSB requires them to “bail in” their creditors; and depositors, it turns out, are the largest class of bank creditor.  [snip]

When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government.  Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow.

Fear of that result could explain the massive, government-authorized spying on American citizens, the domestic use of drones, and the elimination of due process and of “posse comitatus” (the federal law prohibiting the military from enforcing “law and order” on non-federal property).  Constitutional protections are being thrown out the window in favor of protecting the elite class in power.

via Washington’s Blog.

This is speculation.  I don’t have access to the people in the upper echelons of government and finance.   I don’t know what they intend.  I may be connecting dots that are not connected in real life.   But unlike certain other conspiracy theories, the idea of the “deep state” doesn’t require any extraordinary assumptions about motives and capabilities.

The “deep state” is the part that can’t be touched by the political process. Does [the NSA’s] Gen. [Keith] Alexander help run it? If I had to give my own best guess, I’d say — add the “upper echelon billionaires” to the intel guys, and you’ve probably listed everyone who counts as someone with a say in what happens when.

Do we go into Syria? That’s probably a fairly open conversation, with lots of voices, including Obama’s, having a say (though none of those voices are yours). Do we send every cop in an Occupy city to join the spook state in a national one-day takedown? With a Yes from every full-blown billionaire and each junior-mint Keith Alexander, Obama couldn’t stop it if he wanted to.

Could you therefore describe modern America as a joint operation between the billionaires and the intelligence community (national spook apparatus), with the political operation serving either or both?  Occam’s switchblade has a very sharp edge; yes, you could.

via Gaius Publius: naked capitalism.

Back in 1956, C. Wright Mills, the brilliant anarchist sociologist, wrote The Power Elite.  He argued that the United States, far from being a pluralistic society in which all segments of the population had their say, was run by a corporate elite, a governmental elite and a military elite.  I thought he was wrong, but, as with a number of radical thinkers during my lifetime, I have come to appreciate him more now than I did when he was alive.


Gaius Publius: Deep State — Is the Upper Echelon of the Intelligence Community Running America on the Naked Capitalism web log.

Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse? by Ellen Brown on Washington’s Blog.

An inside story of the Wall Street bailout, which is my review of Neil Barofsky’s Bailout, an inside story of how Wall Street financiers were shielded from prosecution and business failure.  It’s an example of the interlock between government and high finance.

The Deciders by John H. Summers in the New York Times, which is about the enduring significance of C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite.

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