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Deep state

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Some dare call it
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Sheeple wakers

A deep state is a government body that functions autonomously and competes with the government proper for power. It is often found in conspiracy theories, with many cranks speculating that the Illuminati, Freemasons, or some other secret organization is acting as a deep state to undermine the real government.[1][2]

Real examples[edit]

  • In Turkey, the military and bureaucracy repeatedly launch coups whenever groups they see as opposed to the founding principles of Turkey (mainly left wingers, Kurdish separatists, and Islamic fundamentalists) gain power within the government.[3]
  • In Egypt, the military basically controls the economy.[4] The military cut fuel and electricity in order to create chaos during Mohamed Morsi's rein in order to foster enough discontent to cause the Egyptian population to turn against him.[3]
  • The KGB tried to control the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. They ultimately won out, with former KGB agents taking control of the Russian government after the fall of the USSR.[5]
  • In Ukraine, Paul Manafort (before he became a convicted felon) had a shadow government that included a person in every ministry during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.[6]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

Donald Trump, under the influence of Steve Bannon[7] and Vladimir Putin,[8][9] believes that a deep state is trying to undermine his presidency. This is ridiculous, since there is no coordinated effort among government officials to take away political power from Trump. Trump has gone so far as to hire Joe diGenova, a deep state conspiracy theorist as one of his lawyers.[7]

In reality, all that is happening is several government officials are leaking information to the press to hold Trump publicly accountable. The truth is usually pretty boring.[5] As Michael Crowley has pointed out, there are always plenty of people in government seeking to hold on to or extend their power and take advantage of a weak or inexperienced president, but they are not organized into any grand conspiracy, not (generally) breaking the law, and not killing people for speaking out.[10]

The term is sometimes associated with other older concepts of secret and powerful forces in society, such as US President Dwight Eisenhower's warnings about a military-industrial complex gaining "unwarranted influence" over government.[11] Before being used on the right in the Trump era, it was common among more left-wing and anti-authoritarian people like Edward Snowden, and claims that George W Bush was just a puppet for a cabal of shadowy figures led by Dick Cheney.[10] The more paranoid deep state theories are distinct from Eisenhower's vision in describing a unified deep state which does not merely seek influence over government, but already controls it all. Proving once again the horseshoe theory, even some progressives believe in a shadowy yet inexplicably bipartisan cabal that sabotages the Green Party and genuine populist movements and controls every Republican and Democrat except for Bernie Sanders and which they scapegoat for the United States' failure to be like Sweden the rest of the industrialized world.


  1. Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change. The people we elect aren't the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University's Michael Glennon by Jordan Michael Smith (October 19, 2014) The Boston Globe.
  2. A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
  3. 3.0 3.1 What an actual 'deep state' looks like by Ishaan Tharoor (March 7, 2017) The Washington Post.
  4. Egypt's military is hijacking its economy by Amanda Zeidan (Mar. 22, 2016, 3:03 AM) Business Insider.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The "Deep State" Theory, Explained by Robert Longley (Updated January 31, 2018) ThoughCo.
  6. The Plot Against America: Decades before he ran the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort’s pursuit of foreign cash and shady deals laid the groundwork for the corruption of Washington. by Franklin Foer (March 2018) The Atlantic.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Trump just hired a deep-state conspiracy theorist as his lawyer. Here's what Joe diGenova has said. by Aaron Blake (March 19, 2018 at 2:55 PM) The Washington Post.
  8. What Putin whispers in Trump’s ear by Aaron Blake (September 19, 2018 at 9:40 AM) The Washington Post.
  9. The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller (2018) Custom House. ISBN 0062803700.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Deep State Is Real, Michael Crowley, Politico, 5 Sept 2017
  11. See the Wikipedia article on Deep state in the United States.