Archive Civic Polity Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth

Corporations and the Deep State: Being Realistic About What We’ve Got

The news of the vetoing of Arizona’s SB 1062, the bill which would have clarified the religious-objection rights of business owners, has now shown us that “the market” can stand in the way of the democratic process every bit as much as can judicial activism. Unlike other states which have had their laws struck down by higher courts, Arizona’s governor vetoed the bill due to corporate pressure. Some of the most persuasive voices were Apple and the NFL. John McCain got right to the point: “We were talking about losing the Super Bowl. Can you imagine the economic impact?”

This sort of move is not totally unprecedented. The same thing happened to the Boy Scouts of America last year. The difference is that was a case of certain parts of the private sector dominating another part of the private sector. In Arizona, the private sector was successful in dominating the public sector, and for some reason we haven’t heard much complaining from the Left. This was a good business decision and a victory for progressive politics carried out by the executive power of a Republican governor.

Nothing surrounding the Arizona bill is terribly surprising, but it ought to perhaps get more of our attention since it occurred less than a week after Mike Lofgren put out his “Anatomy of the Deep State.” Mr. Lofgren explains:

[T]here is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.

This “Deep State” is sort of mutual dependency between key parts of the public and private sectors which transcends party divides and seems to account for all of the major decisions that get made. These elites are both “big government” and “big business,” and they are both blue and red, depending on the issues. The constituents of the Deep State are various military and intelligence departments, the National Security Council, various judicial bodies, Wall Street Bankers and financiers, and the Silicon Valley Technological community. This particular alliance also explains how it is that the current manifestation of “liberalism” is conservative when it comes to economics, progressive when it comes to social morality, and invasive when it comes to surveillance and privacy. As Mr. Lofgren puts it, “The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction.”

While this revealing of the Deep State is certainly unsettling, I’m not sure that it is truly surprising. It seems to confirm various suspicions that have existed for years, and in the wake of other exposés like the Wall Street Fraternity and the ever-growing revelations from the Snowden links (One of the latest reveals that social media false flags are being used to discredit or extort “hacktivists.”), it can hardly be called far-fetched. But again, the one thing that should not be missed is the alliance of both “Right wing” and “Left wing” elements in the Deep State and the necessary exclusion of the competing points of view. The Politics of N.I.C.E. is obviously alive and well.

A question that does come up is how it is that the gay rights movement has become a “business decision” for the big corporations. One answer is that the gay community has a disproportionate amount of influence in these circles compared to other minority groups. Another might be that the founders and CEOs of these large companies simply happen to sympathize with them and make morally-driven decisions. But I think the larger answer is that the minimization of conflict is in the best interest of consumption, no matter the businessman’s personal moral thoughts. In former days, the gay rights movement was seen as rocking the boat and creating an unwanted distraction. Now, through the cultural changes of the last 20 years, the situation is reversed. Those who would oppose “equality” are the ones causing the disruption, and so they need to be moved out of the mainstream. It was a business decision then, and it is a business decision now.

For Christian political thinkers, the situation ought to be clearer than ever before. The system is working against traditional Christian interests. It won’t do to simply call for a scaling down of the status quo or a voluntary agreement that those in power not take all that they can get. Neither can anyone reasonably assume that the solution is for the various individuals involved to become personally pious. That would be nice if it happened, thought they would most likely find themselves no longer in possession of a job. The internal logic of the current manifestation of the corporate capitalist system is what is creating these shared points of interest, and the Deep State simply ensures that the elites, both conservative and liberal elites, can continue to pursue their interests.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.

4 replies on “Corporations and the Deep State: Being Realistic About What We’ve Got”

In Turkey, “Deep State” means something else, already partially exposed through the Malatya murders. Do not forget them.

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