by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:
Since the battle is for the legitimacy of the state, it must be waged at least partially in the open.
Speculations by outsiders must give Deep State insiders many opportunities to chuckle, “if only they knew.” We don’t know, of course, and public leaks are engineered to misdirect our attention from what’s actually going on or “frame” our understanding in a positive way.
Decades later, history reveals a very ordinary mix of great successes and horrific failure in secret operations, caused by errors of judgment, faulty intelligence, poor planning and so on. In other words, life isn’t tidy, either inside or outside the Deep State.
Nonetheless we can postulate a few things with some certainty. One is that the Deep State– the unelected, permanent government which includes not just the intelligence community but a vast array of agencies and institutions as well as the top-level structures of diplomacy, finance and geopolitics–is not monolithic. There are different views and competing camps, but the disagreements and bureaucratic wars are kept out of sight.
Two, we know that at critical junctures of history one camp wins the narrative battle and establishes the over-riding direction of state policy. Put another way, one camp’s understanding of the era’s most pressing problems becomes the consensus, and from then on disagreements are within the broad outlines of the dominant ideology.
The end of World War II was a critical juncture. The proper role of the U.S. in the postwar era was up for grabs, and over the course of a few years, the CIA and other intelligence agencies were established and the doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union became the dominant narrative, a narrative that held with remarkable consistency for four decades until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
This collapse was another critical juncture, and debates over America’s role in this “unipolar era” were finally settled in favor of the geopolitical-activist ideology of neoconservatism (Neocons).
This globalist ideology led to a variety of policy disasters and is now discredited in many circles, and has been under attack within the Deep State for some time. This is the divided Deep State I’ve written about for the past five years.
Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)
Is the Deep State at War–With Itself? (December 14, 2016)
The failures of Neocon globalism have ushered in another critical juncture.What is America’s proper role in a multi-polar world that is fracturing across multiple faultlines? This critical juncture is a manifestation of a broader profound political disunity in America and many other nations.
The corporate media has obligingly portrayed this profound political disunity as a contest between “good globalism” and “bad populism,” a clear attempt to smear all those who see the dark side of globalism as a threat to the nation and indeed the world. This bias reflects the continued dominance of the Neocon-globalist camp.
But the cracks are now visible. The mainstream “influential” press has recently been publishing critiques admitting the failures of Neocon globalism and agonizing about how to “save” the globalist agenda despite its failures.
Globalization’s Wrong Turn–And How It Hurt America (Foreign Affairs)
I have long held that there is a camp within the Deep State that grasps the end-game of Neocon globalism, and is busy assembling a competing nation-centric strategy. There is tremendous resistance to the abandonment of Neocon globalism, not just from those who see power slipping through their fingers but from all those firmly committed to the hubris of a magical faith in past success as the guarantor of future success.
Michael Grant described this complacent clinging to what’s failed in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:
There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.
This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.
This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.
The faction within the Deep State that no longer accepts traditional fictions is gaining ground, and now another fracture in the Deep State is coming to the fore: the traditionalists who accept the systemic corruption of self-serving elites and those who have finally awakened to the mortal danger to the nation posed by amoral self-serving elites.
The debauchery of morals undermines the legitimacy of the state and thus of the entire power structure. As I recently noted in Following in Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality (June 29, 2019), America’s current path of moral decay and soaring wealth/power inequality is tracking Rome’s collapse step for step.
Enter the sordid case of Jeffrey Epstein, suddenly unearthed after a decade of corporate-media/elitist suppression. It’s laughable to see the corporate media’s pathetic attempts to glom onto the case now, after actively suppressing it for decades:Jeffrey Epstein Was a Sex Offender. The Powerful Welcomed Him Anyway. (New York Times) Where was the NYT a decade ago, or five years ago, or even a year ago?
Of all the questions that are arising, the signal one is simply: why now? There are many questions, now that the dead-and-buried case has been dug up: where did Epstein get his fortune? Why did he return to the U.S. from abroad, knowing he’d be arrested? Why was the Miami Herald suddenly able to publish numerous articles exposing the scandalous suppression of justice after 11 years of silence? Years later, victims recount impact of Jeffrey Epstein abuse.
Here’s my outsider’s take: the anti-Neocon camp within the Deep State observed the test case of Harvey Weinstein and saw an opportunity to apply what it learned. If we draw circles representing the anti-Neocon camp and the moralists who grasp the state’s legitimacy is hanging by a thread after decades of amoral exploitation and self-aggrandizement by the ruling elites, we would find a large overlap.
But even die-hard Neocons are starting to awaken to the danger to their power posed by the moral collapse of the ruling elites. They are finally awakening to the lesson of history, that the fatal danger to empires arises not from external foes but from inside the center of power as elite corruption erodes the legitimacy of the state.
The upstarts in the Deep State have united to declare open war on the degenerates and their enablers, who are everywhere in the Deep State: the media, the intelligence community, and on and on.
Since the battle is for the legitimacy of the state, it must be waged at least partially in the open. This is a war for the hearts and minds of the public, whose belief in the legitimacy of the state and its ruling elites underpins the power of the Deep State.
If this wasn’t a war over the legitimacy of the state, the housecleaning would have been discrete. Insiders would be shuffled off to a corporate boardroom or do-nothing/fancy title office, or they’d retire, or if necessary, they’d die of a sudden heart attack or in a tragic accident (if only they knew).
The cockroaches are scurrying, and the challenge now is to crush as many as possible before they find cover. Bullies are at heart cowards, and once the bullies who were untouchable due to powerful friends in powerful places are exposed to an accounting of their behavior, they will spill the beans on everyone in a craven attempt to lighten the consequences of their corruption and debauchery.
Power is a funny thing: when it dissipates suddenly, it dissipates completely.
All those who were confident they were untouchable might want to heed this sign: carefully fall into the cliff.