How Deep is the Deep State?

Ms. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, first assistant press secretary, said she thinks there is a “very real potential” that Mr. Trump’s allegation about Obama administration wiretaps correspond ds to facts.

Well, you never know what the “deep state” is going to do next, do you?

Actually, this sort of misbelief is something right and left conspiracy theorists have in common. But if both sides of the political spectrum are using the same words to refer to the same thing, that thing’s purposes and principles must be very obscure indeed …

… unless there are two deep states. That would explain it!

The mere logic of a referent that has self-contradictory predicates – e.g., is both black and not-black – proves that the referent does not exist. Or that at least one of the predicates must be invalid.

Which poses an interesting question. How would the right prove to the left that, for example, the deep state helped the Obama administration wiretap Mr. Trump’s campaign? How would the left prove to the right that, for example, the deep state is spying on and obstructing the efforts of progressive groups to organize? One might as well say it’s the Devil’s doing, as he is well known to support all wrongful acts and oppose all worthy ones.

On the other hand, what good would a conspiracy be if it were unable to conceal itself? Self-contradictions make mighty good concealment – from reason at any rate, if not from the empirical senses, or from the big data in the cloud. Similarly, wouldn’t a conspiracy proactively plant evidence that it doesn’t exist? So how could one expect to confirm its existence?

The power at the disposal of persons who run conspiracies is unimaginable. Or maybe it exists only in the imagination. Nevertheless it suffices for everything.

Until the deep state conspirators show themselves, let’s banish this term to the same realm as “alternative facts,” now so roundly ridiculed that no one dares to use it anymore except as a form of ridicule. Same with “fake news.” There really is fake news, but it’s not just news the user of the term finds disagreeable, threatening, or desirable to suppress or discredit. The term is useless if it’s not used meaningfully, for example, to refer to stuff people just make up without regard to, or investigation of, the facts.

Another version originally published in Marx’s Political Economy on March 18, 2017.