The FBI has removed any pretense of being non-partisan, above the fray, serving the nation rather than any party or individual, etc., by raiding the home of the candidate representing half the country in the next election. Don't remember them doing that to Hillary Clinton over her misplaced documents ("her emails").
But looking back on that ancient year of 2016, the FBI still did attempt to maintain a non-partisan stance for anyone watching. Whether the Director, James Comey, was hurting or helping the Clinton campaign seemed to change by the week. Probably he figured, like all the other clueless elites, that Trump was destined to lose, so by roughing up Clinton every now and then, he could wring some concessions out of her before she actually took office, in exchange for calling off his dogs.
Since the Trump era, though, the FBI, CIA, and the rest of the Deep State / security services / intel agencies / whatever you want to call them, have taken the mask off. Not just regarding their partisan stance -- Dems good, GOP bad -- but their status as a self-contained faction within society, with their own group interests that may clash with other sectors and/or the general public. Similar to the military, the media, the banks, agriculture, and so on.
They openly say that their goal is not to serve the people, the state, etc., but to increase their own numbers, their own influence, and to not be pushed around by elected representatives or the mob they represent. In this way, they are equivalent to the energy sector, finance sector, etc., that insists it not be regulated by elected government.
Laissez-faire for the secret police sector is argued in the same BS terms as for the others -- dire consequences would follow if elected government would hamstring them with regulations. In this case, internal chaos, mafia / warlordism, insurrection, coups, and so on, unless we just let the FBI and CIA do whatever they want.
As usual, the fools are interpreting events like this week's raid as a sign of the permanent power of the Deep State, perhaps even its growing strength going forward. In reality, they have begun their decline. And although their eventual liquidation is about a century away, that's not very long on the time-scale of the rise and fall of empires.
But rather than sperg out about the 24-hour news cycle for rage-bait clicks and clout, I decided to fit this into the big picture of imperial birth and death, looking across a range of empires around the world, from the past 2000 years.
Specific case studies will either be added to this post, or in the comments section, as I have time to write them up. I want to get the outline out ASAP, and fill in case study details when I can. The only case study aside from our own that I'll write up right now is the Praetorian Guard from the Roman Empire, since they're a well known example.
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The most important fact about the Deep State is that it does not stretch back indefinitely in time, contrary to the paranoid view that it has existed forever and will continue to exist forever, always thwarting the will of the people.
Reality check: the FBI was created in 1908, and the CIA and its predecessor were formed in the 1940s. They were not there before the founding with the Pilgrims, nor by 1776 and independence, nor even during the Civil War of the 1860s. The people, institutions, and forces that created the American empire did so without a security apparatus.
And yet not every state has a security apparatus rivaling the FBI or the Praetorian Guard. These only arise within large expanding states, AKA empires.
First, a quick review of what causes imperial growth and decay in the first place, as popularized by Peter Turchin in War and Peace and War. The not-yet imperial people are being pushed up against by some other expanding group, that is, some other pre-existing empire. Those lying on the meta-ethnic frontier between the two groups, over a long time, cohere into an intense Us in order to withstand and beat back Them. This intense Us-ness (asabiyah, collective action potential, etc.) allows the group to grow and expand to become an empire in their own turn.
But this Us-ness does not last forever, nothing does in a dynamic system. It gets eroded by the waning of the initial external threat, as the nascent empire expands at the other's expense, as well as by internal divisions during the empire's resting-on-their-laurels stage of life. As the glue comes undone, the empire fragments and collapses. No more intense feeling of Us at that huge scale, and no more political or economic institutions left operating at that huge scale.
Now we see why there is no security apparatus before, during, or shortly after the birth of an empire -- the society is too focused on the external, not the internal (like the FBI), and they are focused on surviving the foreigners rather than on managing foreign clients (like the CIA).
In fact, it takes some degree of internal strife, after the initial imperial growth has begun, to make its elites worry about internal organized enemies. Random isolated individuals are never a collective threat to elites, only existing or start-up factions. And if those factions are not just farm-owners trying to lower tariffs a bit to get rich quick, but are vying for control of the entire empire's government -- that makes them dangerous enemies to the state writ large.
This is why the security apparatus only emerges after a new empire's first bout of protracted civil strife, unrest, war, etc. In the American empire, it was the Civil War, Reconstruction, labor unions, and anarchist and socialist movements, roughly during the second half of the 19th century. With hardly any delay, the FBI is formed in 1908, to target collective threats to the integrity and harmony of the empire, from within its own borders. It did not need such an apparatus in the early stages of imperial growth, when the society was focused on survival against the Indians.
Such a "public servant" rationalization has to be their mission statement, in order to wedge themselves into the broader network of elite sectors. They're not entrepreneurially filling a new open niche, and using their leverage to expand their own wealth, influence, and power -- no! They're simply responding to a crucial period of national weakness, and selflessly trying to put it back together and keep it from fracturing ever again. And thus, they are serving the interests of all political parties, and the state writ large, and the general public who elected them. They are magnanimous and godlike in providing the fundamental safety and structure that allows the lower-tier sectors like agriculture and finance to do their thing in peace.
At the time of its emergence, the security apparatus would be looked at with suspicion because everybody knows that the empire had gone over 100 years with no such apparatus, all the way to the founding and before. So what gives now? Well, that whole Civil War thing, the whole labor union thing, etc., which also were not there at the founding. Well, except that the American Revolution *was* a kind of civil war between loyalists and revolutionaries from the same British colonies. Why didn't the American revolutionaries need an extensive secret police? Well, uh, you're asking too many questions -- just focus on the threat of terrorism from the labor unions, socialists, and anarchists! Certainly *those* threats were not there at the founding.
And back and forth the debate must have gone. Even President Harry Truman matter-of-factly described the FBI as a new secret police. Of course -- he was born in 1884, and grew up entirely before the Bureau's creation from nothing. However, as new generations are more removed from the pre-security apparatus era, they come to accept it as totally natural and normal. How could there *not* have been an FBI-like apparatus during and after the American Revolution? Only there wasn't.
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Nor was there a Praetorian Guard at the founding of the Roman Empire during the 3rd century BC, as Rome united the Italian peninsula against the main external threat -- the expansion of the Celts (or Gauls) from the northwest, and secondarily the Carthaginians from the southwest. As the personal police of the Emperor, the Guard only comes into existence after a long period of internal civil strife, well after the empire has begun expanding. That was the Crisis of the Roman Republic, lasting from the late 2nd C to the late 1st C BC, culminating in Caesar's Civil War in the 40s BC.
Right after the Civil Wars are over, the new emperors have a large Praetorian Guard that is not only their own personal bodyguard, but a network of spies / intel who are stationed permanently in the capital city itself. They begin intervening in political disputes during the 1st C AD, most notably by proclaiming Claudius emperor during a succession crisis, in which they had also assassinated the previous emperor, Caligula.
But to reiterate, they were not some permanent bureaucracy, an everlasting Deep State, etc. They were one among many powerful factions in society, along with the military, the large farm-owners, and so on and so forth. They could weigh in on political disputes by forming a coalition with other powerful interest groups, but they did not have supreme outranking power over their coalition mates.
For comparison, the FBI began intervening politically during the mid-20th C, and first joined a coalition to remove a sitting leader during the Watergate affair that deposed Nixon. The key confidential informant for WaPo media operative Bob Woodward, known as "Deep Throat," was not just any ol' inside source with juicy gossip -- he was 2nd in command at the FBI, Mark Felt. But back in those days, the security apparatus was still committed to the veneer of non-partisan public service, so they kept secret the FBI's central role in removing a landslide-elected president, not revealing it until 2005.
Sidenote: there has been a huge, and largely successful, propaganda campaign over the decades to make the CIA the scapegoat among the security apparatus, and to lionize the FBI in comparison. Everyone has heard someone say the CIA had a role in the JFK assassination, but almost no one has heard someone say the FBI had a role in removing Nixon, even though that's not a theory but an admission from the key actor himself. Anytime you need to say something bad about the Deep State, it's always "the CIA" instead of "the FBI" in figurative speech. I slip into that myself. But the CIA is mainly concerned with external matters, and the FBI internal matters.
If it's we American citizens who are complaining about something going on here, it's the FBI we're dealing with, not the CIA. If it's Syrian people whose apartment is getting shelled by Al-Qaeda, then it's the CIA that they're dealing with.
At any rate, the Praetorian Guard did not last forever, and neither will the FBI. During the Crisis of the Third Century, the Praetorian Guard shrank in numbers, territory, and distinctive influence -- they were just one of many military factions vying for power, assassinating one emperor and proclaiming another, during decades of military anarchy. If they were an all-powerful Deep State, they would simply proclaim one guy emperor, and that would be that -- no more chaos, division, coups, or insurrection. No constant turnover. All going along smoothly, with no disruption because the Deep State's competitors are supposedly lower-tier than those with real power, behind the curtain.
The Guard was de facto ruined by Diocletian, whose reign saw the end of the Third Century Crisis but not the rebound of the empire. It was now irrevocably split into a Western and Eastern half, with the latter becoming the new Byzantine Empire. If he had wanted to import the Western Roman Deep State to his Eastern Roman capital near Byzantium, he could have easily done so. The Praetorians had recent field experience in Palmyra, Syria. They're not physically tethered to Roman or Italian soil. But after decades of military anarchy, the power -- and indeed the role -- of the Deep State was over, for good. Diocletian would have palace guards to protect himself, but not an extensive new Deep State for the Byzantine Empire-to-be.
What the military anarchy of the 3rd C showed to everyone was that the Praetorian Guard was not a non-partisan group, given to public service rather than collective self-interest like so many other sectors of society. They were not above the fray, they were participating at every step of the way. And worse, they proved they were no longer capable of fulfilling their raison d'etre -- securing peace, harmony, etc., against the forces and groups who could bring chaos, division, strife, and civil war.
So who needs the Deep State, if they're too powerless to keep internal peace and harmony? Let alone when they are direct participants in the very anarchy, chaos, and civil war they were supposed to be preventing! And not at the BS level of promoting a few agents provocateurs to discredit their enemies and bolster their own position in society. But by going full-force into one succession crisis after another.
The Praetorian Guard was finally liquidated by Constantine, another proto-Byzantine emperor who invaded Italy in order to crush the Roman ruler, Maxentius. That's who Constantine defeated at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD -- the Praetorian Guard, who backed Maxentius rather than Constantine. But they choose the wrong guy, and by that point they had no power left to eke out an existence afterward. Constatine dissolved them as a Deep State entity, and they would never reappear again, going on 1700 years later.
We are currently around the Crisis of the Third Century phase of Roman history -- we are done with expansion, and have begun contracting territorially (losing the Philippines, Cuba, and the Panama Canal, beginning after our peak in WWII). Our only additions have come through peaceful alliances, not conquest (i.e., the difference between Germany and Italy being in NATO, vs. Poland and Lithuania being in NATO). And the national and imperial order is visibly breaking down by the month. Anyone who points to a much earlier phase of Roman history as analogous to our own is a 100% copium-dealer (and user), who can't handle the cognitive dissonance that our golden age is long gone, never to come back. All that we have to look forward to is the new Dark Ages, for better or worse.
So that still leaves some decades ahead of FBI and other security apparatus intervention in domestic politics, with increasingly civil breakdown effects, delegitimizing their own sector and their coalition allies such as the Democrat party writ large. But give it a century, and they will barely exist as they had up until 2020. Whatever rump states replace the American empire, they will not include the FBI, nor the CIA.
If one of those rump states comes under the expansionary pressure of some other empire, and then becomes an empire in its own right, then such a neo-American empire could develop a new Deep State, after a period of civil war of course. But it would not be the same Deep State as ours, nor anyone else's. Each security apparatus is particular to the empire on which it is a parasite, having had zero role in its creation or early growth, and directly contributing to its ultimate demise.
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To preview other case studies that I'll post about: China during the Han and Ming dynasties (court eunuchs as their Deep State), and the modern empires of Prussia / Germany and Russia. Unfortunately, not much I can say on the Ottoman / Turkish Deep State, the one that gave the term its name, since info is scant on Wikipedia and cursory searches (but then, it would be). I'd like to look into Indian and Persian empires, but my curiosity has already been satisfied and the basic pattern confirmed. So we'll see about them.