Suddenly, since the beginning of the Trump administration, there has been a shift, a perceptible shift in the leaking of top secret government intelligence. From the outing of General Flynn, to the publication of President Trump telling the PM of Australia their talk was the worst phone call he had had with a world leader all day - we were not supposed to learn about any of that. Those were examples of the monitoring of international figures as they communicate with American leaders, it is part of what intelligence does on a daily basis - but it is called intelligence because it is secret spy activity that is supposed to remain secret. There have been more cases, and it has thrown a wrench in the gears of the new US President, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
An Anonymous Creature Leaker from the Deep State Swamp
When Trump responded that he was unsure about being able to trust his intelligence agencies, the response from the press was predictable and saccharine. These people are patriots, they have given their lives for America - they are great patriots and to claim they are not to be trusted is unconscionable and un-American. I agree wholeheartedly: how can anyone not trust a spy?
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Allow me to attempt a train of thought, and bear with me because it is difficult to go off the deep end and broach the deep state.
When Aristotle wrote Politics, he described what is essentially the liberal, western ideology that we all embrace to one extent or another, simply by being modern individuals. Aristotle said there are people and rulers, and governance of the city is normal and natural, but what is not great is when a ruler decides they want to continue ruling, they like it too much, and they want to stay. Aristotle says the only hope is for the populace of educated people to know about life and politics and be ready to stand up for what they want, for what is right. After all, politics and ethics go hand in hand, and the city must be managed and ruled ethically, by people who understand their role and function as the enlightened citizenry of the city.
On the other hand, there is Machiavelli, who said something quite different from Aristotle. Instead of visioning a shining city on a hill, with an enlightened populace, feeding back into its own governance in a democratic and knowledgeable way, Machiavelli said a Prince about to rule over a principality had better keep his friends close and find a way to anticipate his enemies and hold them at bay. The only ethics for the Prince to follow are his own commitments to his own success.
In the modern world, we tend to preach about having attained the heights of Aristotelian liberal philosophy. We have constitutional republics, nation-states that guarantee the rights and sanctity of the individual. Aristotle would be impressed and we can be proud. Likewise, we shake our heads when we talk about Machiavelli, as if none of us would dare have imagined such a person as the Prince could actually have thought like that. We marvel at Machiavelli for his brave attempt at boldly describing what we equate with totalitarianism, fascism, and all-around political evil. In short, we claim Aristotle as our own, and we distance ourselves from Machiavelli, as if he was some kind of necessary evil, because he comprises a lesson in the politics of evil.
We are not evil, right?
We are good, right?
The funny thing is that the whole time we are patting ourselves on the back for having inherited a liberal republic, based on principles such as human rights and democracy, and the whole time we are taking for granted that we are the good ones, because we are obviously not the bad ones, the worm is turning.
There is a difference between school and the real world. The reality of the situation is that Aristotle and Machiavelli are lessons for students in school, and have nothing to do with the reality of politics and governance in the real world. Similarly, a society, as described in the sociology textbooks, is presented as a collection of institutionalized actions and organizations, all functioning as a self-regulating system for the survival of the people in it. The explanation of what a society is, from a textbook of sociology, is about as alluring and profound as a game of monopoly. To read about society in a sociology textbook, you would think that it works just like a monopoly game works. It is just an organized set of rules for action that serve to organize our daily lives.
But, all of it - just lessons for young people, for students in school.
Here is what is really taking place.
First of all: a society may best be defined as an organization that performs counter-surveillance. Period. Full stop.
In this context, counter-surveillance is defined as proactive spying on the members of an organization by the administrators of the organization. It is just a matter of security. If you are a thorough manager, and you are in charge of overseeing the flock, then you will see to it that someone is always watching over the flock, whether the flock is aware of it or not. How else can you make sure that everything is going the way it is supposed to?
Look at it this way, if you are a modern mom, and you bring a baby into the world, then you will likely also get one of those monitors that allows you to hear the baby wherever you are in the house. Next you will get a nanny-cam, and so on. It is only responsible. And if you are presiding over the largest of organizations, say, the US government, then you, too, will conduct counter-surveillance, proactive measures of spying on your own people, in order to ensure the smooth functioning of your society.
Therefore, the entire Edward Snowden debacle was a non-issue because anybody who knows how to understand a society, already knew we were being counter-surveilled. For Snowden and others to be caught unawares, and to be thoroughly and utterly shocked to find out that the NSA collects information on everyone with a pulse and a smartphone, was the result of raising people to read their Aristotle, and then to read their Machiavelli, and then to pat themselves on the back for being the good ones who live in the good society, and not the bad ones who live in an evil one.
So, now we are confronted with the deep state. This idea that while politicians come and go, there are those who stay on, and are not subject to the whims of each election. When these people become entrenched, and powerful, then they take on dimensions of power that go deeper than the elected offices. This must be the swamp. Surely, for all the times Trump had talked about draining the swamp, and everyone who loved him just knew it sounded like a great idea, no one of us really thought much about what would happen when President Trump met the swamp, and it was his own intelligence agencies. Now what?
We can assume any country, like the US ,will engage in counter-surveillance. We can also assume that the headquarters of counter-surveillance sinks into the depths of the swamp, tied to entrenched powers that be, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, and the wealthiest stakeholders playing at those levels of the game. We can assume they have always been there and they always will be - just leaking to the New York Times and the Washington Post for the sake of keeping our democracy running like a well-oiled machine. Having these kinds of leaks was always accepted as proof that we are not an evil totalitarian state. So, every once in a while something gets leaked - oh well, it’s better than living in Russia. That’s what we always told ourselves.
Yet, this is a whole new level of deep state leaking that we are witnessing in the Trump administration. We can assume there are agents in the deep state committed to ruining Trump’s presidency, because ever since the end of January 2017, those leaks have been gushing out wildly and recklessly, like a brand new puppy meeting a brand new living room carpet.
The truth is that the two major political parties in this country, and any and all minor parties, will always claim that they are the rightful heirs to Aristotle and the liberal dream of a republican democracy. The truth is that when we get behind closed doors, the spirit of Machiavelli pops out, the counter-surveillance plans get rolled out on the board room table, and every possible means of gaining an advantage over the opposing parties that will not get us thrown in the slammer will be furtively considered.
Moreover, if it is that important, we can always find someone who will be willing to sacrifice themselves, and risk being thrown into the slammer, or worse, for the privilege of serving the powers that be. In other words, there will be patriots who are willing to take the fall, when the going gets tough. A spy, by definition, is a professional trained in the ways of deception, manipulation, and stealth for the purpose of gaining information secretly, against the wishes of whoever is being infiltrated at the time - and they do it for their country. And to insinuate that any such person is not a trustworthy patriot, depends on your perspective. It depends on who ordered the spying and who is getting spied on - who leaked the top secret info, and who got leaked on - damaged - by the leak.
The greatest paradox of the whole thing is that social psychology is premised on the ubiquitous connection between the individual and the group. But, when someone goes dark, gains power in the deep state, and starts ruining people’s lives - then that individual is paradoxically off the charts, unaccountable, and effectively no longer a normal individual member, in good standing, of a normal group. This individual agent of the deep state is something that is nearly impossible to account for in normal social psychology. They are the ultimate paradox: the patriotic liar, the patriotic thief, the rogue agent for the right cause. Such a person is effectively off the normative grid, so to speak, yet they may have the highest and noblest patriotic motivations. Or who knows what they may be thinking?
The powerful member of the deep state intelligence, who leaks top secret info all over the place like a new puppy on a brand new carpet, is one of the greatest paradoxes in society. But, that does not mean they do not exist - on the contrary. They must exist, and we can assume they do.
Meanwhile, what is President Trump going to do? I have no idea, but I will say this much. Last week, Trump was quiet - all week. No tweets, no rants, no incriminations - almost complete radio silence from the biggest character, with the biggest mouth, in the history of American politics. Personally, not being telepathic, and never having witnessed anything like the deluge of top secret leaks we have just witnessed, I have no idea what Trump will do, but you can be sure he will do something.
Last week Trump was quiet - all week. If I were a secret agent in the deep state who had been messing with Trump’s presidency, I would be scared right now.
Ask any mom what the worst sound they can hear from their children at play is, and they will tell you - it’s silence. Any mother worth her salt, will almost automatically lunge to check on her child after hearing silence for a certain amount of time. For the careful mom, who loves her child, there is no scarier sound, than the sound of silence. Babies are always making some kind of noise, and kids will always make more and more noise until someone begs them to be quiet. Kids have big mouths and they like to get their way. If you stop and think about it, those kids are a lot like the Donald - President Trump, I mean. And that is why there are few things that should scare the anonymous creature leakers from the deep state swamp, as much as the sound of silence coming from one, very quiet, President Trump.