Everything you need to know about the clandestine network of elite operators who allegedly control governments from behind the scenes
In late November last year Donald Trump introduced a phrase into the Presidential lexicon – “the Deep State”.
It’s a phrase frequently used by so-called alt-right, anti-establishment commentators to explain how shadowy government forces conspire to discredit any politician who refuses to play by their rules – and overrule the will of the people.
And for a President frequently referred to as America’s Conspiracy Theorist in Chief, it’s a perfect catch-all for everyone in Washington who’s out to get him.
But what is the Deep State – and does it really exist?
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Deep State refers to a clandestine network within the government, the intelligence and national security services, the military and major financial institutions.
The theory is that these elite operators are the ones who really control the government from behind the scenes. They’re the man behind the curtain.
Think of any conspiracy you’ve ever heard of – from the JFK assassination and the invasion of Iraq to the faked moon landings and 9/11, below, being an inside job and when you dig down far enough, the Deep State is probably behind it.
The main function of the Deep State is to maintain the status quo. They act to protect the interests of the establishment – be it Washington DC’s political elites, the military and intelligence services’ ability to snoop on citizens and act with relative impunity overseas or the Wall Street’s capacity to keep making tonnes of money.
Operating outside the law, the Deep State ensures the power lies not with the people, but with the elite.
No, the idea of a ‘shadow state’ in the US dates back at least to the Eisenhower era in America when the public was warned about the growing influence of the “military-industrial complex” – an alliance of the armed forces and the arms supply industry.
President Trump has been dubbed ‘America’s Conspiracy Theorist in Chief’
Firstly, he LOVES a conspiracy theory. Remember when he insisted for years that Barack Obama was not, in fact, a US citizen and therefore was ineligible for the Presidency? And when he suggested Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in his sleep, might have been assassinated?
And our personal favourite is the one about former Presidential rival Ted Cruz ‘s father being involved in the Kennedy assassination.
The idea of a Deep State being behind some or all of these things pushes all of Trump’s buttons.
Secondly, there’s a practical benefit to a populist leader promoting the idea of a Deep State, actively working to frustrate the will of the people. It means any time he can’t get something done – or finds himself in trouble – he can blame it on a conspiracy of Deep State operatives.
Most recently, the President has been fuming over the justice department’s investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia during his election campaign.
Rather than directly addressing any of the accusations against him and his team, he’s taken to trying to discredit the investigation by branding elements within the FBI and Justice department Deep State conspirators.
Also, Trump’s son Eric once appeared to suggest on Twitter, below, that Ellen Degeneres was part of the Deep State.
In a tweet, he noted the social network was suggesting he follow both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, evidence, he suggested, of the Deep State’s shadowy hand at work.
According to the screenshot included in the tweet, Twitter also suggested he follow Degeneres.
The popular talk show host has since denied being part of the Deep State.
Probably, to a certain extent.
There’s certainly resistance to change at the top levels of the government establishment. There’s a way things are done in Washington DC, and Trump plays by a different set of rules.
In the US, as in the UK, there’s a revolving door of people moving from military jobs to government jobs to jobs in the arms industry and the banking sector.
Last July, John Brennan, who was director of the CIA under Barack Obama said current officials had an “obligation … to refuse to carry out” anti-democratic or outrageous orders from Donald Trump.