The Deep State is author Mike Lofgren’s term for power centers in Washington, Wall Street and, to an extent, Silicon Valley that determine government policy, yet operate in secret, without accountability to the law or democratic control.
He wrote in The Deep State that the USA is condemned to unending war and economic decline unless the power of the Deep State can be overthrown.
But can it be overthrown?
The power of money. Wall Street banks and military contractors have more money available to influence elections than any of their critics do. The Supreme Court has ruled the corporate entities have the same rights as individual human beings, and that spending money can be an exercise of the right of free speech, so there is no practical limit on how much money can be spent on a campaign.
The power of subversion. The FBI has a long history of infiltrating civil rights and peace organizations with informers and undermining them from within. Ditto for the CIA in foreign elections. If the FBI and CIA felt threatened, is there any doubt they would use whatever tools they had to protect themselves?
The power of information. The NSA has the means of learning the personal habits and behavior of every American. Who is there who doesn’t have something in their background that looks bad, or can be made to look bad? The precedent for this is the FBI’s spying on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and its dissemination of information about his sex life.
The power of repression. The police crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, shows how the government treats peaceful protest movements as national security threats.
Suppressing the vote. Many techniques exist for suppressing the vote or making votes meaningless. New laws intentionally make it more difficult for members of targeted groups to vote or easier to disqualify them from voting. The Dieboldt electronic voting machines allow vote tampering. and there is some evidence this is happening.
Financial power. When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he intended to propose an ambitious program of public workers. He never did, because he was told this would cause the “bond markets” to lose confidence in him, and interest rates to rise, choking off the economic recovery and increasing the national debt. If a future President attempted to curb the power of Wall Street, is there any doubt that the financial markets would “lose confidence” in him or her?
Economic dependence. The Department of Defense and other parts of the Deep State employ millions of people, almost all of them honest, patriotic people who believe they are serving their country. Reducing the size of these institutions to what’s needed to defend the country would throw many of them out of work. Without some alternative, this would not only damage the lives of these individuals, but possibly throw the country into recession.
Learned helplessness. Many Americans have come to think of economic oligarchy and perpetual war as facts of life, about which nothing can be done.
It will not be enough to convince a majority of American voters that the Deep State exists, and that it is a bad thing. This would be just the start of a long struggle.
In spite of all this, Mike Lofgren argued in his book that there have been time in the past when abuse of power has been just as bad as it is now, and yet the American people took their government back. He thinks we have it in us to do it again.
May it be so.
Anatomy of the Deep State by Michael S. Lofgren for Huffington Post (2014).
An oligarchy has broken our democracy. It must be dislodged by Mike Lofgren for The Guardian.
Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”, an interview by Elias Isquith for Salon.