The 'Deep State' Is No Supervillain

Security cameras on Tiananmen square and China's national flag at the Great Hall of the People, where the closing ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party plenum is going to be held on Tuesday, are silhouetted against the sunset in Beijing, November 11, 2013. Top leaders are meeting in secret in Beijing to plot an economic agenda for the next decade, and will be looking at pilot schemes in Chengdu and elsewhere that are testing land and residency reform for clues on what changes to make. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Ho

The encroaching “deep state” was a program carried out in broad daylight by Bill Clinton and George Bush, Tony Blair and centrist European leaders.

March-April 2018

This post–Cold War oligarchic revolution from above might be described as a conspiracy, but it is not a secret conspiracy perpetrated by the deep state. It was a program carried out in broad daylight by Bill Clinton and George Bush, Tony Blair and centrist European leaders. And it succeeded in its two goals of weakening the economic leverage and political power of the working-class majorities in the United States, the UK and other Western nations.

The populist rebellions of the second decade of the twenty-first century, which have been led by right-wing tribunes like Trump or left-wing demagogues like Sanders and Corbyn, can only be understood as a long-delayed reaction by populations to the replacement of the cross-class compromises of the post–World War II period by untrammeled oligarchy. America’s newly empowered ruling class has closed ranks against Trump, but it would also close ranks against any other outsider president who challenged its post–Cold War dominance of American society, including Bernie Sanders.

Deep divide? Yes. Deep state? No.

Michael Lind is a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author, with Robert D. Atkinson, of Big is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business (MIT Press, March 2018).

Image: Security cameras on Tiananmen square and China's national flag at the Great Hall of the People, where the closing ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party plenum is going to be held on Tuesday, are silhouetted against the sunset in Beijing, November 11, 2013. Top leaders are meeting in secret in Beijing to plot an economic agenda for the next decade, and will be looking at pilot schemes in Chengdu and elsewhere that are testing land and residency reform for clues on what changes to make.
REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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