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The Origins of the Deep State
Not what you might think...
When trying to explain the tyranny that is closing in around us, our first impulse is to blame the centers of hidden, unaccountable, and misused power: clandestine operations of rogue security services; public health authorities ruining the public’s health; global plutocrats seeking to re-engineer the planet. All these and more constitute today’s “Deep State.”
But these are not where it began, and they could not have arisen without others having pioneered the model. For this, we all bear some blame. The good news is that it is within our power to remedy.
If the “Deep State” is defined as powerful people using impersonal bureaucracies to control people’s lives, then the Deep State originated in how we managed the basic problem of modern industrial society: the problem of the poor. We “solved” the problem of poverty by erecting a massive, quasi-socialist governmental Leviathan to supervise the lives of the poor – in effect, to keep them out of sight while flattering our self-image as doers of good. But the Leviathan state did not ameliorate their poverty. It perpetuated and proliferated it. Now the monster we created has spawned offspring, and they are devouring us.
The prototype of the Deep State — and what provided tools for the Left’s current coup d’etat – is the gargantuan “welfare state”. This quasi-socialist Behemoth proliferates not only the poverty it is supposed to relieve, but myriad connected social ills, so that armies of functionaries can pretend to combat them. At one time despised by both the Right and Left, it is now so massive and powerful that no one dares to challenge it, as the events of the last three years demonstrate very clearly.
The welfare state represents the most radical innovation in the basic role of the state in all of modern western history. When it comes to cadres of “impartial and high-minded civil servants” forcibly controlling and manipulating the private lives of millions of non-criminal citizens, the welfare state is the original “Deep State.”
The welfare apparat is a vast governmental underworld that most people find too dreary to notice, it is the world of social work, public housing, foster care, child psychology, child and family counseling, childcare, child protection, child support enforcement, juvenile and family courts, all of which is closely connected to public education. Its apparatchiks are quasi-police who devour vast resources managing other people’s lives and especially their children. Depressing as this underworld is, we pay a price for ignoring it. It provides the social foundation for groups like Black Lives Matter, and it elevates people like Kamala Harris to public office.
The train of events culminating in the coup of 2020 was set in motion by the death of George Floyd in a Minneapolis ghetto and the riots that ensued in the name of racial or “social justice”. In other words, it all started within a milieu of dysfunctional and violent welfare communities.
Beyond the Conservative Cliches
The welfare Leviathan has long been criticized by conservatives using stock clichés: bloated, expensive, wasteful, inefficient, full of lazy cheaters. But the clichés do not begin to describe it. The huge expenditures are actually minor compared to the far greater costs of its social destructiveness.
It is often pointed out that, financially, the welfare state is a “two-edged sword,” as the late Phyllis Schlafly put it. “At the same time that it forces government to become the financial provider for millions of children and their caregivers, it reduces the government's tax receipts to pay for the handouts.” In fact, the effects are far more devastating even than that. Welfare is government’s self-expanding engine for creating social pathologies for itself to solve. The effects are more than wasteful, for it is money spent to turn children into dropouts, delinquents, criminals, addicts, derelicts, prostitutes, and rioters – precisely the problems that then rationalize more government programs, government spending, and government power. The huge welfare expenditures are less important than the gargantuan bureaucratic industries created to control the social fallout: law enforcement and incarceration, education, housing, health, and numerous “social services.” Our exploding domestic budget is devoted almost entirely to social ills bred by welfare.
Now this underclass has acquired political consciousness. “Woke” ideology is crude, but not directionless and with enough coherence to decimate not just poor communities but our social order.
Where It All Came From
Defying the purists, who rejected “welfarism” as a capitalist scheme to co-opt the working class, the liberal-Left establishment erected a different kind of welfare: not broad-based social insurance for everyone, but a “safety net” limited to the poor that was anything but safe. Operating according to its own innovative dynamic, it literally bred its own quasi-proletariat of the marginalized, resentful, and entitled – all managed and directed by a vanguard of radicalized apparatchiks. At all levels, essential roles were played by women.
The growth of welfare under Progressivism, the New Deal, and especially the Great Society with its “War on Poverty” accomplished what slavery and segregation could not: It decimated the African-American family and created a permanent, self-perpetuating underclass of impoverished single-mothers, fatherless children, and criminalized fathers. Given the irrefutable fact that every major social pathology is directly attributable to fatherless children (not to race nor class), it is hardly surprising that the result was a self-destructive horde of criminals, delinquents, truants, addicts, and derelicts that proceeded to tear down their own communities and quickly populated the world’s most massive prison system. Simultaneously, it created armies of functionaries to administer and institutionalize their lives, both in and out of detention, with a self-interest in perpetuating and expanding the havoc. It also bred an angry subculture of victimization, entitlement, and resentment.
And yet, the terrible truth is that while the rage of the underclass is misdirected, it is not entirely unjustified.
Since this population was disproportionately minority, everyone else got into the habit of not caring. The Left feigned compassion for “oppressed” blacks but could not decide if the cause of their oppression was racism or capitalism (it was neither). Conservatives, who could have reaped decisive political advantage by pointing out that the real culprit was family destruction, instead decided that the only solution was “law-and-order,” with draconian punishments that further expanded the gulag – and the resentment. Having foolishly yielded the moral high ground to the Left, the Right had no plausible remedies to offer – other than an ugly punishment mentality – when faced with periodic revolts: following the murder of Martin Luther King, Rodney King’s beating, George Floyd’s death, and many others.
To be continued… Next: The new ideology.