I have been criticised by acquaintances on social media, because I do not take what they believe to be conspiracies as seriously as they do. I recently read a book by Sean McFate called Goliath: Why the West is not Winning. I am not sure if that is his real name. He is a real warmonger, so I was not impressed with everything he wrote, but he has some good insights into the nature of war as the Westphalian order breaks down.
McFate has some important insights into the difference between conspiracies and a deep state.
Conspiracies seek to overturn the establishment, while the deep state is the establishment, and then some. Deep states are like states with cancer. Their institutions of power—the military, the judiciary, intelligence agencies—have gone rogue; rather than serving the state, they make the state serve them. Over time, they end up usurping power in an internal coup d’état, becoming a “state within a state” that influences policy without regard for legitimate leadership or the concerns of citizens. In other words, these renegade institutions hijack the nation from deep within the states own structure.
Deep states are real, but they are not conspiracies.
The distinction between a conspiracy and a deep state is subtle yet profound. It’s really about individual versus institutional actors. Conspiracies are powered by individuals, known as conspirators. Orchestrated by a cabal or a mastermind, conspirators pool their personal connections, influence, money, and other resources to subvert the establishment. This is why conspiracies must hide in the shadows for self-preservation. Should the establishment catch them, they would be branded traitors and hung.
Great conspiracies of the past include Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot to blow up England’s king and parliament in 1605, and John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln after the American Civil War, meant to revive the Confederate cause. In both cases, the conspirators were hunted, caught, and killed, their deaths serving as a warning to other would-be threats to the establishment. It’s worth noting that past conspiracies still inspire.
Unlike conspiracies, deep states are institutional actors. Yes, institutions are populated by people, but they are not the same as conspirators… People in institutions toil for the cause but rarely make the full and final sacrifice. Conspirators risk their personal resources, whereas institutional employees deploy an organization’s assets. A general doesn’t fight the enemy using his private wealth; he uses the army. If he is defeated, the general gets fired, but the army marches on. Fawkes and his co-conspirators lost.
In some ways, institutions are their own organism. They don’t let just anyone rise to the top. Only individuals who have been institutionalized after decades of service are promoted highest ranks, where they will then reliably promote the institution’s agenda. Conspirators would deride these “company men” as empty suits who are promoted for their groupthink—that is, until they were caught and hung by those by those same company men.
Generally, they are the institutions of power the military, the secret police, the intelligence services, the law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary. Their authority is codified in law, making them completely legal- What makes them different from normal institutions is that they’ve gone rogue- Deep state institutions place their own interests above that of the state and its citizens. There may be a legitimate government in place, but it’s the deep state that really calls the shots.
The institutions that comprise the deep state do not plot their actions like participants in a conspiracy. Rather, they engage in passive synchronization. They cooperate because their institutional interests align… resulting in mutually reinforcing actions that protect their common goals. Gradually this tacit consensus congeals into a deep state that can control a nation. They can overrule, sabotage, and reverse legitimate government decisions with no accountability or even visibility.
Conspiracies and deep states are natural enemies. Conspiracies seek to undermine the system, while deep states seek to hijack it. Conspiracies hide in the shadows, while deep states operate in the Conspiracies are composed of radical individuals, while deep states are institutions. The time frame for conspiracies is short, or years. Deep states think in terms of decades and centuries. In social science parlance, conspiracies represent agency states embody structure, in a demonstration of the classic structure-versus-agency debate. Conspiracies and deep states are different as fire and earth.
Deep states exist, and their naked power will become more apparent as states fade. Their unmasking will prove dangerous, as the protestors of the Arab Spring discovered. When a deep state is threatened, it does not go gentle into that good night. It attacks. It is one of the forces accelerating durable disorder.I note that the acquaintances on social media who believe in conspiracies tend to assume that if the deep state is at work, it must be led by a few conspirators who are in league with each. Having worked for the government, I understand the power of passive synchronisation. I understand how government agencies can work together towards a common cause without the need of a conspirator controlling them.
I understand the working of the spiritual powers of evil and their ability to work through government organisations to establish a stronghold in their nation.
When bad things happen in the world, many Christians see a conspiracy at work. I see passive synchronisation of various government agencies, pushed along by the spiritual powers of evil.
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