Strange Deep State Bedfellows

Victor Davis Hanson’s recent mordant comments about the degree to which the FBI will go to influence elections and its shameless defense of this interference caused me to think about the surveillance state’s endgame. These somber thoughts came, not incidentally, after I had immersed myself in reading about the possible (perhaps likely) CIA involvement in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As Jim Douglass shows in JFK and the Unspeakable, a work to which Tucker Carlson recently referred in discussing the unwillingness of the Biden Administration to release CIA documents related to the assassination, the Warren Report released in 1964 to explain the killing in Dallas was a cover-up. Kennedy, it seems, was concerned about the CIA’s largely uncontrolled exercise of power and planned to rein it in or possibly even dismantle it. Plentiful hints lead to the conclusion that the agency knew of the planned assassination and then worked to cover up evidence about its origin and participants.

If the Left was correct in warning about the dangers of national surveillance agencies throughout the Cold War, I’m not about to award any prize to my former Stalinoid classmates and teachers at Yale. Leftist journalists and politicians like George McGovern were against our surveillance agencies because they scorned them as anti-Communist. I have noted throughout my life the Left’s fondness for communist dictatorships and their opposition to U.S. efforts to unseat such grisly tyrannies. Unfortunately, the Right in turn has exaggerated the “conservatism” of surveillance agencies, and even when countervailing evidence existed, persisted in viewing those who worked for these agencies as being uniformly on the right. There was no evidence for this generalization during the Cold War, even if the CIA funded the early National Review and may have lavished largesse on James Burnham and William F. Buckley. The same agency gave even larger sums to the Congress for Cultural Freedom and other left-of-center organizations that supported its anti-Communist activities. If the FBI surveilled Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1950s and 1960s, it was because that civil rights leader had communist advisors, and anti-communism was the big issue back then. Now surveillance agencies have switched targets and are warning against a “right-wing coup.”

I’m still trying to figure out where the close alliance between surveillance agencies and the woke Left, which has been evident since at least the Obama Administration, may lead. I have no doubt this friendship is based more on power considerations than ideological affinity. 

Although John Brennan once voted for the Communist Party’s presidential candidate and James Comey’s wife and daughter were enthusiastic Hillary Clinton fans in 2016, I’m not sure the CIA and FBI will remain attached to the present Left come hell or highwater. There is no Nibelungentreue, the term drawn from Wagner’s opera and applied to the rash unconditional support the German government pledged to the Austrian monarchy on the eve of the Great War, which ties our surveillance agencies to our weird Left. Christopher Wray is not working for Adam Schiff or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Nor is there any compelling proof that the FBI cooperated with leftist-controlled electronic media to defeat Donald Trump because FBI agents are wild about the LGBTQ+ movement and Black Lives Matter. These agencies were assuring their own sphere of power by gaining the approval of those leftist ideologues in charge of the mainstream media and the administrative state.

One might ask whether a point will be reached where this alliance is no longer useful and when the surveillance state will have to act against onetime allies. Is it really in the interest of those who are trying to exercise power to remain permanently allied to dotty people who are subverting social order and running down public institutions? I’m not posing this as a moral question for those who give no signs of being ethical. My question is purely pragmatic. Do you really want as partners those who use the military to push gender reassignment and incite hatred against white Americans? What about cultivating allies who allow our borders to be overrun?

Mind you, I am not describing such unpleasant but level-headed types as communist commissars and banana republic despots. We are now dealing with an even more disruptive elite that has declared war on such entities as gender distinctions, pronouns, rationality, and the white race and its achievements. One cannot even exercise immoral power very effectively in a society being devastated by these would-be totalitarians. Cynical despots may rule by sowing disunity, a tendency already noted by Aristotle thousands of years ago. But we are now well beyond that strategic game. The insane have been set loose upon the land.

Because of these considerations, I don’t think the alliance between the surveillance state and what looks like an increasingly lunatic ruling class can last. At some point, unless I’m mistaken, the more pragmatic but not conspicuously moral elements of the government that are driven by a lust for power but not woke ideology will turn on their unhinged allies. Exactly what form this will take is not yet clear.

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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