The Deep State: Digging Down with Trepidation


“The Deep State” is a term that has been growing incrementally in America’s Political awareness. My own introduction came by way of Bill Moyer’s interview with Mike Lofgren, author of The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. Since then, as more information has entered my awareness, I’ve felt a painful need to understand more about this mysterious entity. I say painful because if even some of what’s being reported is true, it means having to radically adjust the way I see the world.

After reading an article on OpEdNews by Gareth Porter, I decided to test my understanding of the problem by posting a comment on the article in which the main points of the problem, as I understood them, were listed – along with several questions that came to mind as a result. It got several replies, one of which is included verbatim.

The Comment:
I have some questions to ask, and I do so without facetious intent. I’d just like to know if I have a correct understanding of what this and other writers who have dealt with the same issue are saying:

  1. The Deep state is the entity actually in control of U.S. foreign policy.
  2. All the news coming from mass media outlets really is “fake” in that it’s manipulated by the Deep State for its own purposes.
  3. No one in government can be trusted, because they’re either part of the Deep State or are being duped by it.
  4. The so-called “elected” Presidents of both parties are simply trading places as the titular head of a sham government.
  5. Self-interest for the purpose of self-preservation is the primary driving force within government agencies.
  6. As long as the FBI, CIA and NSA (not to mention whatever other agency we might know about) maintain their ability to covertly direct policy and disseminate propaganda, there is no hope for government “chosen” by an electoral process to have any effect, or serve any purpose.
  7. If this is in fact the case, it puts citizens totally at the mercy of unseen forces.

Personally, this leaves me with several uncomfortable questions:

  1. Is there any way out?
  2. If conspiring forces are so deeply entrenched, what power do ordinary citizens have to uproot them and take back the ability to self-govern (if in fact we ever had it).
  3. Would it even be possible to do so without taking apart the whole machine and starting over?
  4. Who can be trusted?

Please clarify any misunderstanding on my part – it would be greatly appreciated.

Reply by Jack Dresser:

You’ve described the picture very well. A revolutionary transformation uprooting and replacing our hopelessly corrupt and murderous system is clearly necessary for human survival. The recent impassioned rejection of the duopoly by voters suggests the first boil over of a revolutionary teapot Chris Hedges anticipated 3 years ago. But Hedges warned that a viable replacement system needs to be clearly conceptualized and ready for installation to avoid chaos and/or seizure of power by the embattled deep state which still has the guns.

A stepwise process will be necessary with multiple elements to preserve the economy while transforming its structures and outputs. As an established government figure bearing the vision of a not-too-radical democratic socialist model, Sanders demonstrated what could be done as a beginning. His platform, however, was very limited. He failed to face militarism, ecological destruction and climate crises on the near horizon. The Green Party platform was much better, as is the Movement for Black Lives platform, and it’s interesting how closely these platforms match.

But beyond clear-eyed and creative vision, politically savvy candidates with charisma are needed who can dissolve the artificial left-right distinctions and identify key common threads. A critical mass of the citizenry must reach the level of understanding you describe to demand and support integration of legitimate citizen needs united in radical change. Solution to any puzzle first requires clear recognition of the pieces and how they fit together.

There are numerous small-scale models around the world to draw upon – e.g., the autonomous communities of Gaviotas in Columbia and Marinaleda in Andalucia, the autonomous Mondragon economy of Basque Spain, the direct participatory socialist democracy we destroyed in Gaddafi’s Libya, the recent constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador protecting rights of indigenous communities and the earth, the localized eco-agricultural projects surpassing GMO agriculture in crop yields using organic methods, and many discrete, inventive, sensible social and political systems as seen in Michael Moore’s “Who do we invade next?”

There may yet be basis for hope, but we must first decapitate both heads of our Hydra and see citizenship as a daily, not biennial, duty.


From this and other replies, it appears that my basic understanding of the Deep State is workable. But it’s evident that there’s much more to learn. I’ve seen writers shoot off in different directions when discussing the Deep State, some of which are a bit too far out for my taste. My plan then, is to identify a few sources who can be deemed credible and follow the thread of their reports.

In truth, I hoped my analysis was off the mark. But since I’ve been assured it is not, it means having to face a choice: either ignore what’s been revealed about the Deep State and carry on as usual – or reconstruct the entire political landscape, and learn to comprehend it from two points of view.

Perhaps the iceberg analogy would be appropriate here. The tip of the berg may be real enough, but the immensity of what controls its direction lies unseen, deep below the surface.

However, the question about a way out was answered – and in the way I’d anticipated. A thorough transformation of government, (whether top-down or bottom-up, I’m not sure) is needed. Furthermore, any transformation that includes eliminating the Deep State would have to be nothing short of revolutionary in nature. What form that revolution would take is the only question.