I tripped on a step the other day and wondered if I should sue the “deep state,” or maybe US President Donald Trump.
By now, everyone with an internet connection knows the term "deep state." But consider that if you find yourself in complete agreement with the public, especially when "public" includes people you wanted to murder in the last election, then your position is not only wrong, it's not even yours. You have been trained to think about the deep state, so the money is in understanding why.
The question isn't whether the deep state exists, it is why so many people intuitively knew about it before they learned the term. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, so when I tripped on that faulty step, my instinct was to blame the step, but that gets the problem backward. The issue isn't the faulty step, it is all of the correctly laid steps. I didn't trip because the step was too high or because I should have been more careful. I tripped because the city taught me not to be careful.
On the one hand, we live in a society which values free choice and personal responsibility, but we are told it is safe to value such things only because we expect a certain amount of absence of choice and freedom from responsibility. We assume we will not be allowed to make a truly dangerous choice because our judgment of risk is based on belief in God – and this is even more true if you think you don't believe in God. Hence the “deep state.” Let me explain.
The reason I thought personal responsibility is the answer to the faulty stair is that stairs already exist, and if they already exist they must be safe or "some other omnipotent entity" would not have permitted them to come into existence. That is the problem of modern culture in a nutshell. All the metaphors of modernity imply this omnipotent other, from "free market" to "inalienable rights" to "peace in our time."
This entity can be heard in language such as “globalists” and “New World Order” or "patriarchy." We all see a man behind the curtain. Conservatives say progressives are secretly ruining the world, while progressives say conservatives are holding back freedom. No one ever stops to think: “hang on, if everyone sees a conspiracy and yet no one I meet is ever a part of that conspiracy, why am I not in a padded cell?”
What stops the men in white coats from taking you away is there are no men in white coats. We think only in terms of ourselves and multiply by 7 billion. Take Turkey for instance. In Turkey, a man can be judged on his intelligence based on the complexity of his conspiracy theories. The more moving parts, the smarter he is. Who cares if these pieces don’t fit together, that just proves the conspirators are more powerful than we thought! It's easy to laugh, but what would happen to Americans if a multi-century empire and religion collapsed within a few decades? Actually, that is what happened in the US.
Turkish people were “freed” from Islam in 1924 when Kemal Ataturk founded his secular state but left the gene-deep superstition and pattern-seeking tendencies of Turks completely alone, creating a psychological vacuum. Religion in Turkey didn't disappear, God just switched ownership. The proliferation of conspiracy theories proves the Caliphs weren’t magical, they were simply redirecting the natural human desire to see meaning in a non-meaningful world.
The Christian West switched to the same omnipotent entity: science. Whereas Christians once believed in seven-day creation, now many believe in Intelligent Design. Of course, this is exactly what progressives did by changing Providence into the “arc of history.” That is: they take a belief system which is clearly religious in historical origin and try to disguise it as something that has nothing to do with God as a way to install their religious doctrines as public policy.
It used to be, when the church still had power, the bible needed to be believed entirely for a person to be a Christian. Now that the church doesn’t have power, and Science does, it’s suddenly acceptable to “apply science” to the word of God to “better understand how He did it.” This is how people talk when they align with a new status quo power structure. Nietzsche was wrong, we didn't kill God, we enslaved him and changed his nametag.
Globalists, Big Pharma, Jews, Nazis, communists, Satan, God, Allah, djinns, karma, Vishnu, Tao, voodoo, Nirvana. It’s all the same thing: a desperate attempt not to shine a light into the abyss to see just how abyssy it is. Nietzsche warned us not to stare into the void, lest it stare back into us. He wasn’t telling us to avoid the truth about meaninglessness, he was saying not to make Heidegger's eventual mistake and let this vanity be the conclusion for our lives – and to rise above this need for an "omnipotent other."
If conspiracy theories are just wish-fulfilment, then why do people always envisage nasty plans? Well, when the symbols of superstitious expression are undermined, yet our collective superstitious psyches are untouched, conspiracy theories aren't just optional, they are psychologically necessary. It doesn’t matter who is in charge, so long as someone is in charge. Billions of secular people may scream: “we live in a totalitarian world!” but they will simultaneously whisper “and thank God!”
That's why the deep state is so attractive to our atheistic brains. People often say, “Washington needs to sort Mr Trump out until the politicians can get their act together." Wow. Leave aside policy controversies for a second, observe how easily – naturally – we go over the government to a higher authority. Observe how easily people can find "some other omnipotent entity" to save us from ourselves.
The deep state is this generation’s omnipotent other, and if it fails we will always locate another such an entity because we cannot live without it. Our allegiances to grand plans constantly shift but we will never permit ourselves to live only in the abyss-mal world of our actions. We are always on the side of "who can fix this," never on the side of "I helped cause this." It isn't a political problem, it's a psychic problem: this is how all of us think.
The omnipotent other has three characteristics: it is omnipotent, it opposes the existing (dis)order, and its sole job is to protect you from yourself. Not from the world – from your bad decisions. Now can you see why conspiracies are necessary? After all, the alternative would be to live truly free. And none of us is ready to stare into that void, no matter how much we believe God is dead.
Hence the deep state.