tv The Idea of Deep State in American History CSPAN September 3, 2019 8:02pm-9:49pm EDT
good morning everybody and welcome to the society for historians of american foreign relations on this the longest day of the year. hopefully the panel will not be the longest panel of the year. i teach us military history and foreign policy at the university of texas at austin and i'm pleased to be sharing this panel on the deep state. we are joining here to talk about this quite important topic, three fantastic historians all of whom study politics and power in a me american history.
prof. beverly gage, prof. dirk bonker and prof. 202-748-8000. i'm going to set the tone with a few minutes of introductory remarks and introduce each panelist individually, 15 or 20 minutes apiece and then we will open the floor to discussion. we are here today to talk about the origins and effect that we call the deep state and it's important to say at the outset what historians always like to say. this is not really new. today we call it the deep state but in early areas activists spoke about the washington establishment, the power elite, the system, and the military- industrial complex. even though those terms very, they usually share a lot in common. the arguments that typically
accompany these are almost always conspiratorial. they almost always talk about a cabal within the government working in secret to drive policy toward their own ends, their own ends, not the common good. the actual people seem to range all over the map depending on the politics. they can be the intelligence agency, the national security council, the fossil fuel companies or unspecified elite. they almost always are pursuing some sort of effort that undermines the government. the core message over and over again is that this is either illegitimate itself, it's making the government illegitimate or it is in cahoots with unelected forces
and shadowy networks are bad actors must be opposed and uncovered for the nation to return to its true course. one of the things i've found interesting is that arguments span the political divide. in this america you can find common usage of the deep state on both sides. today we hear mostly about it from pres. trump and his allies in the republican party who want to cast doubts on the conduct of law enforcement agencies, the left be a fbi, judges, at times the cia but it was not too long ago when left-wing critics were alleging there is a deep state alliance between say halliburton the oil companies in the white house ostensibly driving policy. so where do these terms come from their earlier analogs? did they come from the united
states? perhaps the most important question even more important than asking where they came from is where they going and what deeper cultural currents are empowering and propelling these arguments forward giving them force? historians like to look for underlying structure for specific events or key arguments. what conditions exist over time that produce a common response even if it has different names in different places? we have three historians who will speak for about 15 minutes each and then we will open the floor to the audience and have a roundtable discussion on the deep state. >> our first panelist is michael j allen associate professor of history at northwestern where he researches history memory and
politics of american empire in the 21st century. he is the author of until the last man came home, pows, mias in the unending vietnam war exporting the legacies of american defeat in us politics and diplomacy, and i want to add after teaching it for the first time, it taught me an enormous amount of the strange legacies of the flights that i see in every cemetery improved i go through. thank you for that book. michael is currently working on a book called new politics, the imperial presidency, the pragmatic left and the problem with democratic power 1983-1981 which is the first study of how debate altered the very structure and terms of the post- world war ii us politics and foreign policy. michael will start us off on how legacies from distrust from the cold war era-- on the deep
state today. >> i would like to start thinking erin for stepping in. the original chair and commentator was unable to be here due to a family emergency that called him away and erin was generous enough to join us today. i'm sure he will have many valuable insights to add later. let me get started so that we have plenty of time to have that conversation. my task is in part to lay out what the current conversation about the deep state is in to talk a little bit bit about american thinking of this problem of state power particularly in the postwar edward world war ii era and how it led us to this moment. >> an army of bureaucrats working to protect obama. retired congressman jason--
defined his subjects as the permanent class of democrats republicans, federal bureaucrats and entrench-- trying to weapon is everything in their power to destroy president pres. trump. aided by endorsements, his exposi debuted at number seven on the new york times bestseller list where it joined the russian hoax, the scheme to clear hillary clinton and frame donald trump were spent 10 news -- 10 years, in the case against the antitrust conspiracy which also debuted at number one and spent 13 weeks on the list. for those of you with the handout you can see these are just three of the many books that have been published by supporters, fox news analysts and the like over the past 18
months or so. these titles which were on the new york times best seller list at the same time improved on-- killing the deep state and the fight to save president trump. like other operatives and supporters who produce such books you have the distinction of battling the deep state be on the page having been called upon, called before a grand jury to testify to his role in coordinating dealings with wikileaks about his plans to push hacked emails from the service to the public in 2016 elections. having argued in print that the russian investigation was a deep state plan engineered by operatives to put the president under investigation, they could not have been surprised when agents knocked on his door with subpoenas to testify which he
called line testimony if that's what it takes. >> special counselor robert mueller was quote a deep state operative who had served both the bush and obama administrations as the atty. gen. from 2001-2013. he was director of the fbi during those 12 years, not atty. gen. is an error that-- given the conspiracy that he conjures in his work which included quote this pages on the handout and you may want to take a look at it, but which included quote the cia, nsa and other intelligence agencies that maintain a commitment to a globalist new world order in cooperation with the federal reserve, the comptroller of the currency as well as law enforcement agencies including the fbi and the doj, to allow
clandestine operations including illicit drug dealing and supplying weapons to terrorist groups that further the role of the global elite. and who also control the new united nations the global--. >> lest we dismiss this long cost of care is as a circus sideshow with little relevance to craft it must be emphasized how central these ideas are for natural foreign policy and international relations at the present moment. the credit engage and are taken seriously by presidents top advisers and avid supporters and who motivated consequential government actions as the 2017 firing of james call me. atty. gen. william barr creates the-- of russian meddling in the 2016 election as well as recent news
as the us cyber command placing malware inside computers controlling russian power grid without notifying the president for fear he may countermand the operation or disclose it to russian officials given his distrust of national security agencies particularly on issues pertaining to russia and cyber security but these are only the tip of the iceberg. the deep state is how trump and those around him describe a broader system of invisible and often unaccountable power they see is concentrated in washington but extending to new york paris and berlin with offices in london and-- park. and includes elements of military and financial might but also includes leading media and intelligence that allegedly dominate the global economy and politics. us presidents come and go, compared political parties lose an election and when the next but the deep
state goes on. it is a state within a state, what trump calls the swamp or at other times, the elites. in march 2018 pole showed 27% of americans had heard of the deep state or will were familiar with that creature. show that three quarters of americans believed their way a quote of unelected officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy". brought distrust of such people helps make trump hesitant. trumps war with them is fundamental to all he does and all he represents from his hatred of the press to his disdain for traditional allies and security and trade agreements. to his embrace of rogue regimes to open can count for diplomacy or even civility. in his estimation the powers that be have bullied bankrupted and belittled his people for too long and his presidency represents their comeuppance. however were docked this is a
systemic view of power in america and the world and helps to explain why he has upended traditional alliances and expectations in national security politics. republicans have prided themselves on their close ties to armed forces and national security agencies while blasting democrats on defense. spending lavishly on defense and repeatedly authorizing use of force, both bill clinton and barack obama have it times-- the case to republican opponents by regularly up pointing republicans as secretary of defense and naming holdovers to head the fbi and cia. the cia which locates the center of an extra constitutional deep state controlling both political parties. this tendency to follow in republican footsteps on display in his decision to be keep the secretary of defense despite his
services to george bush senior and his oversight of juniors wars in iraq and afghanistan along with obama's decision to keep robert mueller on at the fbi is partly responsible for the idea of a permanent security establishment in the present moment. it is one that a congressional staffer put it in his 2016 book, and hope and change really change anything? this is not just a question that he asked. it's a question that sarah palin asked when she said how is that hoping changing thing working out for you? >> given this history it is a surprise to see a republican president embroiled in such conflict with national security bureaucracy including james call me who trump fired soon after taking office, gen. james matus who resigned in protest over the disdain of the president by allies and alliances, and brennan who trump threatened to strip of his acutely that's the clearance
. the hostility towards this men surprised washington more than anyone after taking to twitter to-- delaying what trump called and intelligence briefing on the so-called russian hacking" suggestion that perhaps more time was needed to build a case. chuck schumer to to invest in this-- and a msnbc to warn him. you take on the intelligence community they have six ways on sunday to get back with you. two months after the report trump remains on valid by his rules and democrats seem to have no plan for bringing him to heal beyond hoping he will text if i testify on capitol hill in ways they have proved incapable of doing themselves which underscores the question of who really rules washington?
elected officials or washington bureaucrats? his battle with the bureaucracy have also called into question pieties that have sustained policy since wilson. on super bowl sunday jump answer critics who accused him of overly close ties to vladimir putin who illegally invaded the crimea and is thought to have murdered clinical opponents saying you think our country is so innocent? our country does plenty of killing. such a frank admission caused the ranking democrat to sputter this is an extra inexplicably bizarre. does he not see the damage he does with comments like that? most assuredly he does but he calculates that the damage is merely to insiders who accrue and keep our by denying dirty secrets in order to better see if his people-- the american deep state which is the sole scholarly work on the subject although we may want to debate just how scholarly it is.
deep state deceptions are quote not designed to deceive the enemies of america but first and foremost to deceive americans conditioning them to the accept authority measures at home and abroad. he and his in-house intellectuals, steve bannon, sean hannity and-- whose work includes the fact that he has a phd are teaching voters to think in these terms which were once reserved for graduate seminars via his only reality show theatrics. these ideas predate trump and exist independently. they explain his rise more than his rise explains them. the deep-- make sense. it accounts for the pronounced and growing economic inequality and helps to explain how and why the privileged and powerful profited handsomely despite failures of 9/11, the iraq war and the global financial crisis even as everyone else suffered.
second, explain the bifurcated structure of power where the government is capable of sustaining endless wars and bailing out banks too big to fail but seem unable to address basic needs of an ash of ash americans. and the political movements that they sent to washington to affect change have found themselves stymied at every turn to find this religion-- illegitimate and un-american by insiders. each of these confronted liberals before they fueled-- trump rallies. all were present at the quote creation of the national security state and have existed alongside the state and the permanent war that the united states entered into a 1941. to find conservative responses
to managerial liberalism in the 1930s and 40s including a position to an enlarged military establishment that he and his successor helps create which senators like taft warn put america on a slippery slope . his successors made peace with the state, liberals came to expect that the consensus had substituted the pursuit of profit and power for the promise of social democracy. -- argued american power had expanded and become concentrated among a small country of executive decision- makers who he called the ones who decide who operated according to what he called a military definition of reality reinforced through what he called administrative routines in intimate groups and accessible to the public.
rather than paint this in economic terms as a progressive historian might he emphasized the interlocking and overlapping nature of corporate and state power. in washington as well as at west point here get a small group of men gained power through appointment rather than elections with unified authority unchallenged in congress were his quote differences between the parties so far as national issues are concerned are very narrow and very mixed up. contemporaries coined the phrase the establishment antecedent to the deep state to describe the power elite. interestingly conservative-- claim to be the first to use the word establishment in a speech in 1956 admitting the audience was confused by his meeting. but he borrowed the term from henry fairly who used it in 1955
to refer to quote the home matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised exercise. a web of associations sowed dents and assumptions so deep he said they do not need to be articulated. he himself referred to what he called the executive establishment, the military establishment, the permanent war establishment and the national establishment throughout his book. the establishment is a general term for those who hold the principal measure of power irrespective of what administration occupies the white house. the perfect establishment figure was quote the republican called to service in a democratic administration or vice versa. there were, he quipped, pivotal figures who made possible the cold war consensus.
for contemporary revisionist-- busy redefining us diplomatic history to emphasize continuity and consensus rather than conflict and rupture there was something inherently suspect about shape shifters who one power not by winning arguments but by forging consensus behind closed doors. these are a generation of left scholars and activists who learn to scrutinize washington's best and brightest to understand why leaders embarked on duplicitous disasters in cuba i run chile and the watergate complex in the 60s and 70s. liberals blamed figures like george bundy the republican henry stimson turned harvard dean who led to could democratic residents to disaster in vietnam as their national security advisor while some blamed henry kissinger who
worked in the white house before joining the nixon administration" the convergence between the republican and democratic parties to eliminate foreign-policy from political and campaigns. both of these agree the only way to fix the broken system of missed governance and establish greater democracy in america was to abolish the political party stalemate in favor of what sts called 2 genuine parties centered around issues and essential values. both sides set out to do just that. the left liberal reformers who stripped democrats of power by intraparty reforms while rockefeller and conservatives perched rockefeller republicans
from their ranks backed up by congressional liberals who launched a decade-long period ending with the church committee hearings in 1975 which dragged dirty laundry into the harsh light of public scrutiny. in its wake the national security establishment found itself under siege and a draft, a lost tribe wandering in the wilderness of politics suddenly dominated by insurgents such as jimmy carter and ronald reagan. but it sheltered in place within the security state that it helped to build hunkering down into what we might call the deep state to defend guiding presence despite new or more conflicting rhetoric only to emerge with new power after 9/11. but perhaps with no greater public legitimacy. let's take away this offer as we puzzle puzzle over the state. what can teach diplomatic
historians of how we should perched us relations? i would like to add three thoughts. first, public distrust of a national security state is not new nor is it limited to the political french. second, the persistence of public debate about the authority of the foreign policy establishment highlights the importance of revisionist approaches to distro medic history and to explain us data actions. finally this history demonstrates the danger that the empire poses to democracy in the-- as well as the margins. the rise to power feeds on the same fears as unchangeable and peer your power that motivated revisionist history of us foreign relation in the 60s 70s and be on. however unlikely it is that trump will address the conditions that give rise to those fears persistence indicates a broader loss of
faith in american democracy. williams says 1980 essay empire as a way of life in which he wrote that quote imperialism has an irreducible meaning, the loss of sovereignty, control of her essential issues and decisions. in that fundamental sense he continued the cost of empire is not properly tabulated or in wasted resources but in the loss of vitality as citizens. we have increasingly seized to participate in the process of self-government granting sovereignty to the establishment. those in and out of government who order the priorities and relationships in america and the world. in the democracy quote we the citizens are supposed to be the establishment by ascribing our governance to what he saw vega shapes a hunting the corridors of power we as he put it limit ourselves to choosing between minor variations on one theme
and fostering an illusion that elect repointing different people will produce change that never comes. his analysis says much about where we are and how we got here but offers no easy solution as to how to get out. thank you. [ applause ] >> the second speaker is associate prof. dirk bonker from duke university. he researches the history of militarism and warfare in the 20th century. he's the author of militarism in a global age, naval ambitions in germany and the united states between world-- before world 11 demonstrating a culture of professional naval officers and elites sharing similar habits on both sides of the atlantic ocean. he's currently working on a book about the history of militarism and concept and in a way that's connected to his first book
they will give up a bit of background on the transnational elements of this notion of the deep state showing it's not necessarily a-- phenomenon. >> i first encountered the concept after reading a book in germany about the deep south. there was also a persuasive case for the existence of a welfare state committed to preparing for a military defense of the nation. using that concept as an analytic,-- work had introduced him. it is perhaps only appropriate that in the context of histories of violent germany, when we consider the origins-- is usually credited to introducing the term deep state
and is arguably its most prolific analyst. we can trace the underlying idea back via a series of references to the work of german immigrants . in 1955 article published in the bulletin of atomic scientists and republished in the purpose of american politics the link between he and the germans is the work of critical security studies scholar whom scott had credited repeatedly for shaping his thinking about state duality including the coining of the term itself. is not my intention to make an argument about-- on the deep state. it's obvious that the talk about deep state has very
various origins. academically the concept has developed its greatest power in- - and the term deep state promises contemporary political discourse thanks to pres. trump and political allies. employments remain rare in our field. the phraseology use political semantics but it did not come out of nowhere. unaccountable forces capturing control of the state or scheming against newly erected representatives of the people has cast a shadow on political imagination. the discourse within the deep state within the context of deeper ways of arguing and i will focus on what i consider is one of the most important previous iterations of the idea of some sort of state duality,
we can talk about the deep state with the making and remaking of overlapping ways of thinking and arguing each with their own regulators of analytical complexity. there's a history of conspiracy theories in general, paranoid styles of thinking. they have always been a legitimate form of thought and knowledge shared by elites and -- people whether they involve the crown, freemasonry, the slave powers of the catholic church, the money power of communism to name some of the more prominent ones. these conspiracy theories were never confined to margins but as much
of the critical center and brother reasonable ways of explaining the movement of the world in secular terms. they continued-- including the offset to stigmatize them. second there's a more specific history of a particular mode of thinking and arguing about politics which pits-- people of against the elites. the history of popular persuasion has always exceeded the history of late 19 and early 20th century capitalism. and the distinct political expressions.
collapsing into today's-- population of the united states or for that matter europe. politics have base itself in different ends of ever-changing political spectrums. -- as a form of political mobilization and an expression of discontent in response to recurring crises within the us form of representative democracy. there is an emergence of some sort of duality in public involving the constitutional state as a-- of the national security state. this language never coherent into single discourse. talking about the existence of the--
state and in a study of the state department, the regular state hierarchy and hidden security hierarchy which would act parallel to the former but also exercise control over its decisions. or consider the best-selling book on the cia published in 64. distinguish between visible government and shadow government, interlocking machinery representing real power comprised of individuals and agencies drawn from the government but agencies relating to the fear of government organizations. but the most prominent form built into the national security state, one that perfectly sets a precedent from
an autonomous center from within was ranked in different terms and i'm of course referring to the notion of the industrial complex that pres. eisenhower addressed from january 1961 to which i will now turn. eisenhower's discourse on the military-industrial complex does not require much exposition. everyone in the room will be familiar with the setting and the context. the speech represented a combination point of eisenhower's long-standing frustration of policymaking and an ability to impose priorities in terms of budgets and military needs from congress and the pentagon and his critique of deliberate hyping of requirements by vested interest. >> what we have here is a prominent member of the policymaking elite recent concerns about the ramifications of the creation of the national security state
and sustained militarization. >> finally has talk about what he calls the conjunction of an immense establishment in the claim to power by the scientific technological elite registered the realities of political economy. that network of contractors, military agencies think tanks and universities with-- on the verge of demilitarization-- and characterization. for our purpose, three features of the discourse and the military-industrial complex standout. in market as a precursor by the deep state. first, he does not-- as a lobby exercising what he called
unwanted influence in the confluence of government but rather presented it as a powerful and hidden center of power from within. the military-industrial complex was nothing but a deep the entranced nexus of power within the system of government located outside public view and democratic control. and this is important i think, also straddling the public- private divide. second the invocation of a military- industrial complex representative moved away from images that eisenhower used before when describing what he considered to be the-- condition of american life and politics. the cold war and the notion of the garrison state. it described the state as a unified structure and an inevitable developmental destiny leaving remarkably little room.
prior to 61 eisenhower repeatedly talked about the impending garrison state and what he calls grimm paraphernalia. without going into too much detail, he was talking about unidirectional all-encompassing transformation. the view that was also present in ideas of a so-called military ascendancy or militarization of america circulating within america's political class. what is also striking about the implication of the term military-industrial complex and his warnings of misplaced power is a certain ambivalence, it's openness to different readings. it leaves many questions opens because of its generality. a vigorous defender of a fiscally conservative
government of a free nation, or both. once introduced by eisenhower the notion proved capacious enough to be up created across the political spectrum. critics could tie it to a more systematic critique of capitalism or they could use it in liberal or conservative fashion to denounce particular practices of the military economy as the unfortunate product of-- to demand more effective control to rational organizations relying on regulatory public-- or market mechanisms. >> eisenhower's notion of a military-industrial complex fit in a certain way of thinking or arguing arguing to contextualize a talk about the deep state of the us. a way that registers the emergence of a state of big government in the 20th century. its emphasis of duality is represented to shift away from
one-dimensional more conspiratorial populist critiques of the industry which had occupied center stage in american politics in the early- mid-1930s and had done so on the basis of broad-based political mobilization and military allies in general. -- 1934-1936 special committee on armaments industry. as was suggested there are 2 broader context. a vigorous-- national politics to confront the systemic province that might cause another war in the us to be of the merits of increased public ownership control and regulation in a mirror military-industrial sphere that is already effectively nationalized with the debate and to other struggles over public
enterprise. >> riggins lay in the-- international piece for freedom and had asked congress to investigate in the industry. there was nothing particularly outlandish of the investigation including the repeated talk about a full-scale nationalization of the armaments industry. the political mobilization against the armaments industry in particular were primarily-- in the form of the populist persuasion setting people against the interest and warning against interests and manipulation of the political process. images of corruption and operating outside of the law and outside of accountability meaning arms manufacturers engaging in bribery and shady business methods, beating the patriotic
drum to mask the pursuit of profit and causing conflicts to sell their products, and if possible to offsides. -- captured the notion, the title of the best-selling book published in 34. some justification charged to-- who published his own critique of the interest of her formative naval policy because this approach, this review of the revelations of the committee emphasizes the merits of a structural analysis of broader conditions of economics. what also characterized this talk was not simply considerable political appeal in general. the critique of the interest in
the collisions in a populous conspiratorial could usually function as a site for divergent politics. -- the political posture in a fast-moving world of global politics. the economic politics was the new deal and it expanded to a debate. in important ways eisenhower's discourse on the military-industrial complex which is invocation of what he called an immense military establishment and large arms industry exposed a critique of merchants-- to a different key. after all the industrial complex loomed as an organized interest in a speech that invoked the-- of misplaced power. -- was the ammunition that they ought not to quote dictate
national policy appeared in a key memorandum produced by the president and his speech writing staff in 1960 which identified for the first time the actual subject of the farewell speech. he had vents to more conspiratorial populist view of business elites. there's a danger of the military ganging up with industrial relators he once said. the military needed to stand firm against greed corruption and narrow favoritism, and against monopoly. i'm coming to the end. so the current talk about an american deep spate, so doing a direct attention to three broader ways of thinking and arguing which in which within we can place this talk. i spoke as a key antecedent of today's discourse. one does not talk about the
security agencies so i'm portend too much of today's deep state literature let me suggest thinking about the deep state is also-- for a different reason. the military-industrial complex enters the world in a political speech but was not it up for use as an analytical category by scholars of different persuasions. to thinking about the deep state through the lens of the military-industrial complex invites us to consider the notion of a deep state as a possible conceptual term with analytical problems not only for the study of turkey and egypt or of germany, the historical place with which i began. but also, of the united states. it reminds us that we as the story goes whether we like it or not always draw keywords a political discourse of for our
own analytical categories. we choose them carefully and pose our own definitions and use them in a disciplined manner. we may defy that the deep state should-- qualify for analytical pick up but would do well to recognize there's no meaningful history to be had beyond political semantics of our own time. thank you. >> our third speaker is prof. beverly gage where she is prof. of history, professor of american studies and the director of yale's program and drive grand strategy which i'm proud to be an alumnus of. she's the author of the day wall street exploded the 1920 bombing of wall streetãwhich is mason lee easily made into a full-length documentary. she's published in just about every major historical journal i know it is a contributing
writer at the new york times magazine. she's a regular guest on pbs news hour and is now writing a major biography of former fbi director j edgar hoover to be published in 2020. the floor is yours. >> i'm going to talk today a little bit about i would say a case study in the deep state which is as erin suggested, j edgar hoover. i'm writing a biography of huber and certainly a popular perception, he represents many of the features of what may be labeled the deep state. i wrote down some of the keywords from the introduction, conspiratorial, unelected. this image
this image. just as a reminder of j edgar hoover, and his place in american history, he was director of the fbi from 1924 through 1972. so, he was head of the fbi for 48 years, that means he came to power in that job at the age of 29, and he died in that same job at the age of 77. he was appointed under calvin coolidge, and he lasted through coolidge, and then through herbert hoover, so he was there in the early years of the great depression, he was there through the 3+ times of franklin roosevelt's presidency, so through the new deal, and into the second world
war, when roosevelt died. truman kept him on, so hoover was there through the early cold war, and through mccarthyism, when truman left, eisenhower came in, and hoover stayed through both eisenhower's presidential term, developing cold war through the 1950s, through the rise of civil rights politics in the united states, he stayed on through john f. kennedy. after kennedy was assassinated in 1963, he stayed on for lyndon johnson's presidency, and when lyndon johnson left office, he stayed on through richard nixon's presidency, and finally died in the position of fbi director in may 1972. so, throughout this. as you can see, hoover lasted in this world of bipartisan establishment politics he lasted through eight presidents
and almost 2 dozen attorneys general, republicans and democrats alike. he was never elected to this position, but was reappointed repeatedly, and over the course of his career, he built the fbi from being a rather small and insignificant bureaucracy, the investigative wing of the justice department, into a really substantial part of the national security state and an institution that was created almost wholly within his own control, and in his own image. and, in our popular imagination, i think the answer to how he did that tends to emphasize a lot of these kind of deep state terms. i think most prominently, the idea is that hoover controlled so much power, and lasted for such a long time, by ruling through fear and intimidation, by creating a bureaucracy that emphasized secrecy, and that as
i suggested, really began manipulating politics in a secretive way from behind the scenes, intimidated presidents, intimidated congressmen, created a culture of fear that allowed him to stay in office for so long. and, in those terms, ideologically, i think we understand hoover's greatest influence on american politics, to have been really as a conservative political figure who wielded a lot of this power in the service of containing popular movements rather broadly, but in particular, targeting the american left, targeting liberals particularly the communist party in the 1940s and 50s, but moving on to many of the left movements of the 60s and 70s. so, this is our popular and i think in many ways also our scholarly perception of hoover, the ultimate unaccountable bureaucrats, someone who
wielded his power as a conservative ideologue to contain popular politics, and to contend with liberalism broadly, and it does really in secret, almost as a rogue actor, someone following his own agenda, someone who had enough concentrated power, again, to shape politics from outside of the electoral system, and outside of the democratic system in many ways. there is a great deal of truth to this story, but i wanted to suggest here and maybe push back a little bit about the idea of the deep state that that story is largely overblown, or at least it does not tell us very much about really key parts of hoover's life, and about the creation particularly of the national security state, certainly in popular discourse which has fallen off the map. so, i would suggest that far
from being a kind of rogue actor, and far from being someone who operated outside of electoral politics, the hoover we all really see as a product of the same kinds of forces that are producing other parts of the state and in particular, the fbi really emerged as part of the same liberal states that began to grow and had its greatest moments of growth in the 1930s, and in the 1960s, and that far from being solely a kind of conservatives constraining force on leftists and liberals, the fbi actually was in many ways a product of the same state building impulses that produced the social security ministration, and the civil rights act later on. so, i think as we conceive of hoover i want to make three key arguments. one is that by emphasizing
hoover as an unaccountable bureaucrat and a kind of product of deep state impulses it does not tell us very much about first of all, how it is that he came to power, before he exercised power, how it was that an institution like the fbi was actually built, i think it does not explain all of the time and energy, that hoover and other figures at the fbi put into cultivating political relationships and particular relationships with elected public officials, and then finally and i think most importantly, it does not explain hoover's enormous popularity over the course of his career. we tend to think of hoover as one of the great coming out of this moment that michael discussed in the 1970s. characterize particular i think out of that -- they knew about
what the fbi was up to, and as long as the public at large, really the kind of politics he represented. it took those exposis of the 1970s to remind everyone that hoover was one of the most popular figures in american history in the 20th century, he was one of the best respected public servants in this period, from the 20s, through the 1970s, and while many of the details of what the fbi was up to, some other secret operations were of course secret, and largest laws of what the fbi was doing was perfectly public, both in terms of his campaign against domestic law enforcement powers, but also in terms of his intelligence operations, political intelligence in the
domestic sphere, particularly again against the communist party, against other left groups, the details were not necessarily public, but the agenda was very much out there, and was pretty widely supported by the american public. so, i think as we talk about the deep state, we tend to talk about american suspicions of this kind of power, without actually thinking about the ways in which that can actually often be embedded in and supported by both sides, elected officials in washington and also by the american public at large. so, to just give you a quick taste of this, i want to talk a little bit about hoover's relationship with two presidents, who we might not necessarily think of as aligning very well with j edgar hoover's own politics. those are the folks that i would characterize as the two greatest liberal presidents of the 20th century, franklin roosevelt and lyndon johnson, far more than any other presidents, throughout hoover's long reign, these are the figures, first of all in
roosevelt's case, who really gave the fbi the power that it came to have, and in johnson's case, allowed that power to continue to exist, in the critical period of the 60s and 70s, when the fbi became so controversial. so, starting out with roosevelt, again, i think we tend to put roosevelt and hoover in different ideological categories, we tend to think of franklin roosevelt is really the architect of the liberal state and of j edgar hoover as operating in some very different sphere, but, it really is roosevelt, more than any other president, who built the architecture of the fbi, and in fact, willingly for his own purposes gave hoover many of the areas of jurisdiction and power that he came to have. the bureau itself had been created in 1908, again as a rather small enough to get a
body within the justice department, during world war i, it had expanded out from that, to perform some of the first rather widespread efforts in political surveillance within the united states, but when hoover took on the job of fbi director in 1924, there had been a real backlash against these kinds of political operations, and many of the powers of the bureau has had in the teens and 20s in terms of political radicals and other political groups within the united states had been curtailed, and so, hoover spent much of the 1920s working on the bureau as a relatively small organization, perfecting its bureaucratic processes, not exercising a tremendous amount of power. so, it is when the new deal comes along, that that really begins to change. and, roosevelt really did three critical things for j edgar hoover, that formed the ultimate architecture of the fbi, and particularly gave hoover his own personal power.
many of these were done with the full consent of congress, and went through congressional processes, others were done with executive processes, and approval of executive power. the first of these was the expansion in the 1930s of the fbi's jurisdiction in terms of domestic law enforcement, in the 30s, largely in response to bank robbery kidnappings, other forms of crime, the fbi began to get a much larger menu of federal crimes that it was responsible for, this is sort of the war on crime moment, organized around john dillinger, figures of that age, but is it is really in that moment, the fbi becomes the dominant federal law enforcement agency, particularly having to do with bank robbery and kidnapping, the federal government notwithstanding, other things are becoming federal crimes, so as you are beginning to get greater regulation of banking, the fbi also comes in and begins to be responsible for
bank robbery. domestic law enforcement duties and that is through the democratic process, right, that is to congress passing laws, and the president signing off on them, so that is piece one of the architecture that comes into place in the 30s. piece two is that it is really under franklin roosevelt that the fbi learns to sell itself as a popular institution. i think we tend to again, when we talk about the deep state, we don't talk about his popular constituency, about its popular image, about the idea that certain parts of the national security establishment and the military have a popular constituency that mobilizes on their behalf. in hoover's case in the 1930s, really drawing on roosevelt's lessons, the government and government services, something that had to be sold and promoted to the american people, the fbi gains not only
its public relations apparatus, but enormous fame, and hoover himself becomes a household name in the 1930s as a law man, and as someone fighting on behalf of the american people. the third and most google thing that happens is that as roosevelt becomes increasingly concerned, by 1936, about the war in europe, and its possible ramifications here at home, the possibility at that point of war in europe, he begins to turn to the fbi, and authorizes them to serve a more expansive political surveillance capacity within the united states. in 1936 through executive order , he authorizes the fbi to begin investigating and communists. by 1939, he gives the fbi control over espionage and subversion and sabotage, within the war, and from the period of
1939 through 1941, when roosevelt is feeling deeply constrained by public opinion, which is very much against u.s. involvement in the war, he works very closely with the fbi to begin building a new intelligence apparatus that is going to serve the purposes of the war, much of that goes on, from 39 through 41. before the u.s. has officially entered the war. it seems pretty clear that franklin roosevelt would have done even more with the fbi, both had hoover not stopped him , and had roosevelt not died, those are two interesting moments in the 40s in which roosevelt was really pushing for fbi expansion, and in one case, hoover is a constraint, and in another, roosevelt died. when japanese internment comes along, there is a lot of enthusiasm for the fbi to begin managing japanese internment, hoover actually pushes back against that, the department of
justice and fbi both opposed the policy of japanese internment, and so, it happens in large part through other channels. and, at the moment, that roosevelt died, he was actually considering taking up hoover's idea that when the war came to an end it ought to be the fbi in charge of local surveillance, turning the fbi into a proto-cia. in the 1930s, the point to take away is that the fbi is not operating on its own. it is operating both in conversation with congress, in conversation with the presidency and in many ways is being empowered by the president's own agenda. hoover is certainly pushing some of this, but he is not the engine of empowerment in many ways. if roosevelt is in many ways it
is really lyndon johnson who allows hoover to stay on, in the natural course of things at this moment, there is a mandatory federal retirement age of 70. so, hoover should have retired in 1965, had things been allowed to go their own natural course, and it is lyndon johnson, who at the moment that he becomes president, decides that one of his first act is going to exempt j edgar hoover from federal retirement provisions and in fact keep him on and power. there has been a certain amount of acts of speculation about why this might have been. they were neighbors and very good friends. did hoover have something on johnson? but, i think it is pretty clear, that both hoover was an enormously popular political figure, in part because of his conservative political constituency, someone who could help johnson with the more
conservative elements of the democratic party, and in part that hoover would serve many of the goals that johnson had for his own presidency. from 64 through 65, johnson more than any other president uses the fbi to support his own political agenda, to secure his own reelection, and to forward both his more conservative and his more liberal political goals. i'm happy to talk more about any of that in the q&a. but, in finishing up, i suppose i want to push back on a few of the concepts of the deep state at least as they apply to j edgar hoover, famously this unaccountable bureaucrat, i think that we cannot see the quote unquote deep state as developing outside of a broader state of development, the fbi's greatest moments of expansion
were also the greatest moments of expansion of the liberal state, of the national security state, to some degree, but as i said the new deal, the great society, these are also moments of empowerment of the fbi. and i think in particular, we need to really contend with the relationship between quote unquote unaccountable bureaucrats, and elected politicians, who often support and use the deep state in ways that serve them, not simply as a reviled part of american politics but one that has an enormous popular constituency as well. >> wonderful, thank you so much beverly. all right, folks, we have about 30 minutes for questions, and i think i will start us off with just two, to you and the panel, no one needs to answer my questions, my two questions, as
i listened to our panelist, the first one is, is the deep state a useful term for historians to use to explain american politics, unelected power with undue influence on american politics, where do you study and where does the power reside and where do historians conceptualize it and its planets. let's try to understand it is most useful the so-called paranoid style in american politics always existed in american history? even oddly enough overall people have more access to information today. then in the first few decades
and the belief that there are cabals, conspiracies, secret drivers of u.s. government policy. so, what propels those currents in the. you study? is it economic disenfranchisement, or s&s enteral -- ethnocentrism, whenever we hear of over arcing cabals it is undeniablywho have the blame. why don't we open up the floor, get a few, there's a microphone if you wait for it we have a few here.
right there on your right. >> thanks, i would like to start by thanking i want to add to this bureaucratic structure question, there is something that is useful, something to think about, what are the components where, you know, for the conspiracy and what are the components of this state structure that we have that actually are sort of built-in, secret and unaccountable, and what we might call the deep state for something else, is wrong -- is a raw, specifically
made in secret without subject to review and revision by any democratic process. and, we need some serious deep work -- you know, for want of a better word, on the office of legal counsel, and the office of legal counsel, within the attorney general's office, and in terms of the conflict now, and the presidential power, which of course matters literally today, presidents bar, -- opinions are created about the lawfulness of certain presidential actions by the president's lawyers, so there's no adversarial lawmaking process that happens in court, and, then, those presidents get built -- those presidents get built upon. generally some opinions are released but a lot of the relevant law especially relating to presidential power and use of force is classified.
so, if there is any element that we might call sort of deep state, that sure seems like it. and, i sort of raise the question for you about technologies of the state as we have it, so i wonder especially for beverly and everyone, we have the enabling feature of your stories, so yeah, that's my question? >> yeah, i think that that is a great question, and a really important category to think about. and sort of build off of erin's question of whether the deep state is the term that we want, a term that i think did not come up so much of the ministry to state, and in many ways, i think that that still remains the more useful term. i suppose
what the deep state contributes that the minister the state does not is that the administered estate suggest a certain level of transparency, whereas the deep state suggests that much of this is going on in secret. so that that might be a useful distinction. but, certainly, regulatory decision-making, and the question of who is making most of the decisions that are made, right? most of what is going on is not happening through legislative processes, is not happening necessarily through public discourse, although some elements of the initiative state does occur. and you know there have been these moments, in american history, the 1970s in particular, when there have been real push is to try to open up some of these processes, i think one of the interesting things that made me else is that we might think about now
is whether we are at these moments of reform. during hoover's life, the only check on the fbi, the only check on his power, making the case that he had all these kinds of elaborate political relationships and popular constituencies, formally, the only check was having to go and get this appropriation every year, there were no intelligence committees in congress, there was no one in the federal bureaucracy, who had a right to access fbi files, and so, that made them very useful for the freedom of information act so they didn't think that anyone with a be able to access what they are doing here, the notes are pretty valuable documents, but they always operated on the assumption that they had total control over these kinds of internal decisions, one of the most famous examples of hoover's own discretion, was around wiretapping and bugging,
in which wiretaps, which are taps through the telephone system, were supposed to be approved by the attorney general, and while they were not always approved they technically were, -- they typically work. but, hoover decided that that did not apply to bugs. right, that did not apply to microphones planted physically in different spaces, and this was a secret decision, purely ended ministry to decision, internal to the fbi, it was never suggested to outside scrutiny, and it was looking at the carving out the entire sphere for instance hugging martin luther king's hotel room did not need to be approved by the attorney general but if you're wiretapping has known you did and of course robert kennedy approved the fbi wiretapping martin with the kings phone, so the idea that this is all a secret as we might like.
one thing to say, in the 19 -- there was an effort to expand transparency, there was an enormous reform energy that michael said sort of lasted through the 80s and 90s, to some degree at least that was really undone by 9/11, so one of the questions is whether we are going to have that kind of reform energy and scrutiny. again i don't think the energy was really there for us, the political energy, but i don't know, it might be one of the end results of a kind of battle with the deep state. >> if i could just briefly comment, one of the things that struck me about your question, mary, was the comment that there is no adversarial process , and i think this speaks to
some of the persistent sort of themes of our three papers, you know, we tend to right now exist in what we imagine, what feels like a very adversarial political environment. and, that has long been true, it is not true solely of our own moment, and yet, one of the things that i think makes this concept of the deep state both attractive and repellent to us is that it seems to operate largely by consent. it is not burdened with these conflicts, and contests, that define our open politics, it is governed by administrative procedures and administer it if affinities and the like and we can think of that as a problem as undemocratic, but i think we
have our attention pulled to the way there something attractive about it, there is something efficient and professional about it, you know there is a kind of way in which it works, that sort of explains the different emphasis, maybe what the jerome corsi's of the world are giving us, depending on your point of view it can either be, something that you know, sort of advances your interest and keep you safe, or a conspiracy, but the lack of adversarial process i think has persistently struck a lot of americans as somehow undemocratic. because, you know, they cannot necessarily engage, or change these processes, or understand or comment on them often, if they are happening in secret.
>> if i can add just one quick other thing to that, in many ways, a part of the progressive tradition that produced the admin estate of state and then continued on for many many years, and we see this quite dramatically in hoover's career, is the idea that that is actually going to be the more virtuous part of the state, right? the part of the state that is professional, that sits outside of the drama of electoral politics, that is somehow going to be acting in the common good , as it is constructed, this is an enormously popular idea through much of the 20th century, it is the idea that produces a figure like hoover, if he is popular, you know, there is anti-communism but a lot of it is driven intact by this idea that unlike all of these self interested politicians who are always fighting with each other, and engaged in these adversarial processes, he is able to stand back from that, he was born in
washington dc, he probably said he never belonged to a political party, he never voted because dc residents couldn't vote at that point that was supposed to be a virtuous tradition and i think right now we are seeing a real battle over whether that has created a sort of sealed elite world or whether it is in fact a virtuous tradition of professional public interest work that is going to protect us from demagogues and other figures. >> yes sir and do please identify yourself when you speak please. >> from the university of southern denmark, and, i also, to the notion of the deep state from conspiracy theory studies, and there, the deep state might mean something lightly different from let's say the tradition of a security state, it is much more nefarious to
some extent, a newer idea, stated perhaps from 1970 along with definitely related to the new world order, it has, you know, probably it is more marginal, though -- from the march of last year, where a lot of people think of ideas, suggesting the more marginal thing. so, i was wondering if you really think that, or if you think there are differences between what we now talk of as a deep state, coming into existence in the last 20 years, and then the more traditional national security state, ended ministry to state. >> we have that for you and your
narrative about the way the deep state functions in denmark, are there also these constant references to military and intelligence services, which is a commonality across the turkish narrative, the egyptian narrative, the american narrative, and even in italy, originally it's for the environment, it was always military and intelligence services, that had these, not only undo powers, but often legal power. right? it often crossed over into killing or arresting people. is that often the case? >> denmark is a little different in that sense, in that we always almost had a very high degree of trust in the state, much of the current, i am actually in america but i've worked a little in denmark, but much of the current state in denmark, and i think that goes for a lot of other european countries as well is actually imported from the united states, through, you know, the x-files, right?
i mean, the x-files has actually had a proven effect on people's views on the deep state, and conspiracy theories in general. >> a long way for david to company. >> this is i think an essential conversation, do you take this one or michael? >> let me just begin by i think emphasizing how important it is to make the distinction between what we talked about as a political keyword, or whether we are interested in the concept right, and the term itself we cannot fix its meaning, it has so many different meanings, it has some conspiratorial meanings, it may have more meanings that register with some practices of the state, but i think it is very difficult to sort of identify the core. one of the things i tried to do
in my talk was to sort of emphasize, that there is the notion of duality into the state once we got into the era of the national security state and the government, and there i tried to identify some of the kind of academic thinkers that we take serious, president eisenhower, in general, to see that this idea is not like an outlandish conspiratorial idea, but there is this tradition, the term is not being used, and of course, even among people talking about the state duality, there are very different ideas, that is a critique of the state that actually kind of associates -- the emergency state that everyone thinks the terrorists and genocidal lists are doing,
this is very different from now how people are talking about the deep state. referencing franco, to talk about, you know, security in the state department, he does not make an argument about the state department, but he plays around with the idea of state dualities, and i think that again the come back to this question of what are possible promises, that is an interesting idea i think that is an invitation to think about , to not think about the state as a community institution, but to think about the particular industries of military and security latest -- agencies. that i find potential is a useful idea. i would also emphasize, as aaron talked about, you know, the association with the military and security agencies, if you read peter dale scott, speaking of eisenhower, it invites you not to think about
the state, recommended invites us to think about the relationship between state institutions, sectors of the state and what is outside the state, right, private industry, if you read peter dale scott, he is talking about drug cartels, banks and other things, sir, the argument in the deep state also comes with kind of the argument that is about like -- relations between the states and the . so this is perhaps analytical promise or at least an invitation to take it more serious. i think, on the keyword side, i think that basically means to watch the history of political keywords and some fantastical conspiratorial politics and maybe also populist politics which you might think as part of conspiratorial but populist politics always transcends conspiracy theories right, some of us may also think that it is
kind of like -- populist frame of thinking of people's interests, there might also be some analytical promise to these kinds of analyses. >> if i could briefly add to that, i don't see this kind of rhetoric about the deep states today, as substantially different, then the kinds of arguments that were made in the past, and one of the ways one of the key debates within the church committee. was whether or not cia assassination programs were or were not authorized by the president. did the president no, or not know, of these programs. which seems to me, to get to the crux of your question, like, is there something deeper now than in the past.
and i guess the issue, the reason i cite that example, there seems to be nothing deeper than the basic epistemological questions, the constitutional authority know or authorize the agency of a state agency or not. that is the ground-level question beneath which, we really start to get into the deep deep state, right? and, i think that that question has been there for a long time. the question, for instance was raised, around the manhattan project, truman's unawareness of the manhattan project until he becomes president, so these kinds of questions have been there for a long time. and i think they get back to mary's point about if the law is made, in secret, maybe with only two people in the room,
how do you even know, or establish, this basic fact, it's very difficult. and, that is the question that was at the heart of the investigation, really. as to whether or not this is part of a sort of legitimate state program, however controversial, or unethical it may have been, or whether it was a true conspiracy theory. >> two quick things to add onto that, i think you are right to ask to distinguish between a general set of -- there is the foreign-policy blob, right, but sometimes is just used to kind of describe a certain elite world of elected people, something more like a ministry to state and then in other cases we are talking about something very very specific, much more secretive and conspiratorial, and i also thinking that, taking a part of what is it we are talking
about, it is also interesting to look at debates within institutions that we or someone might describe as part of the deep state, precisely the questions michael was suggesting, for instance, the fbi. you actually saw a little bit of this after 9/11, too, the fbi always held and hoover in particular really held the cia in contempt, the cia and nsa, because he did not believe that there budgets should be secret, he did not believe that there was enough transparency in what it was, that the cia was doing, and they found that the fbi was much more law bound in part because it was a law enforcement agency as well as an intelligence agency but there were lots of battles even between different intelligence agencies structured differently, about who is really the nefarious actor, how much accountability there really is, what levels of secrecy are operating, pretty
different and subtle visions of how it plays out. >> ashley neil, i'm a doctoral candidate at the university of kansas. my question about the idea of the deep state as an and a little help eric -- category getting for president nixon come he had a true belief about some establishment deep state, and that heavily influenced how he thought about policies, and i think in a way, we need to give credence to this idea, because of the effect it has, and i wondered what you thought of that kind of deep state, the true belief that in government, and for nixon, there were forces acting against him in some respects, he over blew it, definitely but there were people who wanted to bring him down with inside government. >> excellent question, anyone want to tackle that one? >> i will say a couple of quick words, one, absolutely nixon
came into office with the axle is an idea that he wanted to politicize the bureaucracy. in fact, one of the problems in american politics was that bureaucrats become to insulated from electoral politics. he wanted to make them do what he wanted them to do not what they wanted him to do. that was one of the themes of the nixon presidency. i think it was also one of the things that did bring him down in some sense, right? so, hoover, in order to go back to the example that i know best, he died in may 1972, he had not dealt very well with the question of fbi succession. nixon, who has had a lot of battles with hoover, but they were very good friends, he had wanted the fbi to do things that the fbi did not want to do, and that hoover did not want to do, not many of which were pull quite political. and so, when hoover died, he appointed an outsider to the fbi
, and the fbi essentially rebelled against this outsider, this person that they saw as a political operative, the man who when hoover died, the number three man at the fbi, quickly thought that he should become the fbi director, mark phelps, really went after nixon, famously started leaking at all to bring down the nixon presidency, so there is a way in which watergate was a product of a kind of rebellion of the bureaucracy, a conspiracy working in cahoots with the washington post, you know, just as nixon might have feared that they would. i can i think that this is a story we ought to take seriously. >> i thought of the deep throat deep state sort of analogy as i was writing this piece so i'm glad you mentioned it, beverly. i don't think that that language around deep throat, deep source and whatnot, should
be overlooked. and, i agree, that is part of the point i am making in my paper, that trump clearly takes this notion seriously, as did nixon, and that is part of the reason why i think people who wish to understand politics and policymaking process should also take it seriously, though i agree that it might be useful here to sort of establish some parameters around which we are going to try to use this category, if we want to use it to understand how the state works. one of the things that i guess i would just briefly say, on the nixon and trump approach to the deep state is that it feels to me often times that both of those figures that there is this degree of protection going on. i mean, as beverly said, nixon was trying to politicize the bureaucracy very deliberately,
if you reference his papers he is constantly scheming in that regard, and one can also i think clearly see that the same goes for trump. for instance, his authorization of the investigation of the fbi's, inquiry into the 2016 election he is politicizing this bureaucracy, and both men are doing that because they already regard the bureaucracy itself as political. and of course rightly so. it is. you know, i mean, the progressive idea, that the administrative state is about politics, of course has its own kind of political ideology baked in. and, as outsiders, both nixon and trump were keenly aware of that, and they have resisted it. and they tried to reverse it. and so, it sort of brings all of those things to the surface in a way that they are not often brought to the surface. if we are in a moment where there are more calls for transparency and reform, perhaps it is because both the 70s and today are moments where
presidents are really battling the bureaucracy in a way that kind of brings these things to the surface. one of the things howard baker said during the watergate investigations was, the cia's involvement was like animals crashing around in a forest, you could hear it but you couldn't see it. and, you know, it is that same sense that there are things going on just beneath the surface that we can kind of feel but cannot quite understand, which i think is also true today. and, i think the reasons that that is happening has to do with the battles between presidents and bureaucracies in both of those moments. >> if i could push the panel to consider my question. >> [ laughter ] >> you all studiously ignored, i noticed. i am intrigued, by the endurance, the darker elements of the deep state. i think we are all agreeing that there is a reasonable set of historical inquiry inquiries, is there ungrounded power is it unwarranted, we all
agree that is valid and important work for historians to undertake but there is almost always a darker conspiratorial element, that they are running the world where there is one guy in the cia who also controls all standards and also the internet or something like that. so, in that f, the story of american history is one of slow and uneven movement toward better enfranchisement, more people involved in the political process from 18th century through today, people have more access to information, while the government and the state have certainly grown and there is a lot of classified stuff, enter information technology look at the budget, at presidential populations, at any speech in ways that you certainly cannot do in the 19 centuries. people have more access to information, or people have access to their government in one way or another, and yet there is consistently a portion of our society that wants to
say this is not the real power, this is a secret power behind it, that is driving the train. my first question, in the american context specifically, can you comment on that, is that just one of the byproducts of democracy, that as long as people are per dissipating in the political system, if they don't get what they want they find an enemy to blame for why that is? but, given that we have seen there are internationalist narratives excuse me, there are transnational narratives of a deep state, is there something deeper going on? now, it is possible that there are turkish and american narratives, about a security service with connections to gangs and the mafia, because those things exist. it could just be an accurate reading of events. it could also be that there is something deeper, transnational, not specific to one country, that wants to explain politics as nefarious, as secret, and as the product of a small group that somehow
has more power than they should have. but i want to start that but i will try to keep it short. the easy thing to say would be that, this is a way to engage in, attacks against out groups, withbeing a primary example here. at work, and this figure of george soros and more broadly a figure of, for my point of view it seems what is surprising in some ways is that more often than not, the villain is a wasp, a kind of elite figure from the ivy league who speaks multiple languages, who has all the right credentials. those have often been the people imagined to be at the center of these kinds of conspiracies.
and, i think that, what i would sort of attribute that to, is a kind of frustration among broad swabs of the american people, that both the constitution itself and the meditative state that has been built on top of it, are forms of government that have empowered already powerful people. and, that that strikes many americans as undemocratic i mean, i really think that it is kind of as simple as that. and so, it is a kind of populist critique of elite rule, but i think it is motivated in part by the fact that the competition is a system of government, that creates a system of elite rule,
in large part, and it does so through all kinds of systems, the electoral college, the senate, you know, it was never designed to be a pure democracy, and it has become arguably less democratic over time, and i think that that creates a lot of anger. >> thing i'm going to say two things, i think it is important to recognize that when it comes to conspiratorial thinking, that is a part of broader politics, and you can go all the way back to the 70s and -- 17th and 18th century, there is all this stuff about the british crown what are they doing, and the freemasons, the catholics, it goes back as parts of politics, and i think it is not typically done by people who were outsiders, it is not always a -- i think like every american president has believed in some kind of conspiracy theory, so i think that is just i think the conditional cycle of politics, but you have to have explanations of the movement of
politics and society. then to make sense of it, we would have to endorse that and see about what is going on at different moments. the second thing about populism is that populism is another thing that comes out of a particular moment, there is political language in representative democracy whenever there is a crisis of representation, and you can set the source of authorities as the elites. but also there is popular frustration which has a distinct history, right, we can locate its beginnings in the late 19th century, but of course, it exceeds populism as different ways of accessing its self throughout the centuries, one way is through the representative democracy. you have to have a political system in which you can sort of argue that the people are not
being served, by those in power, and i think populism has ever live with conspiratorial thinking but it is also distinct, overlapping, with a very distinct kind of center. both of these versions are things we find in other countries right, populism, some of the most interesting conceptual literature on populism comes with people studying populism in latin america not just about the u.s. et cetera et cetera, and then the last thing is that, if we are talking about the secrets of the deep state, i think there is something here, which is about the 20th century, which is about the national security state and the big government, there is this idea that you get this duality built into this, and that registers something about the american state in the 20th century, it is a different state by the mid- 20th century than it was before.
and again at the same time which is interesting, very different people from different eras, eisenhower is the ultimate insider, he has an idea of misplaced power, despite his gripes about the pentagon, he is not on the outside, right? he is talking from within. so, again i think is also should not be forwarded to some of the other things as i tried to suggest, there is overlap with populism thing, so i think we have to be very careful to distinguish between these different, i think intellectual traditions that are constantly making and remaking themselves and if we want to have an area to talk about it we then have to kind of contend with the historical specificity which is how i think about the particular political crises. >> it occurs to me that one of the most valuable things we
historians can do on this front is directly separate between valid and invalid critiques of a deep state. from what i have seen in this conversation today is quite a range of opinions on how useful the term is and how much it actually describes real processes and phenomena that we all agree exist and can proved with historical research exists or existed. and that is very different from just carelessly throwing around accusations about couples that control governments. we are just about out of time. i would like to just offer one historian specific pitch on this, which returns to what professor mary started with on secrecy, one of the things that occurred to me over the course of this panel, that is incredibly important for our own work is how much the worst part of deep state narratives reflect one of the additional cost of secrecy in government, right? so, when governments do not
declassify records, or refuse to release them or do not have the budgets to do the normal declassification and release procedures they agreed on in advance, that radically empowers people to say, well, since there is no one else saying anything, i am sure the cia -- not only did the assassination but is right now controlling lunch, right, so if you are disgruntled with what you consider to be loose and unfair exit -- accusations of i'm trust in a deep state, maybe join the cause to get the government to release records and declassify them on time because that is how we can actually disprove some of the crazy claims and prove the very same claims. any final thoughts? we are about out of time but i want to give you the last word. anything you would like to close with? all right, thank you all for joining us, i hope you enjoy the rest of your day. >> featuring american history
tv programs as the future of what is available every weekend on speed -- c-span three. american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral history, the presidency, and, special event coverage about our nations history. enjoy american history tv now, and every weekend, on c-span three. week nights this week, we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span three. wednesday, we spotlight the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, that gave women the right to vote. we include rebecca roberts, author of suffragists in washington dc, the 1913 parade and the fight for the vote. curator karen porter, and her tour of a national art exhibit of the 19th amendment, and historians discussing women's suffragists and