This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
AFTER the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, the US government and its Cold War allies were in a celebratory mood.
The most militant foes of the capitalist order were now absent from the playing field. Was this a temporary setback? Would socialism relaunch? Would the People’s Republic of China continue its flirtation with capitalist economic relations? Does the setback to socialism bespeak some deeper meaning for the course of history?
A year after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1992), a relatively unheralded PhD working for the RAND Corporation authored a book that marked the “victory” of capitalism and Western-styled democracy over socialism as the “End of History,” humanity’s arrival at its political and economic destiny.
Intellectual life in the US had largely scorned such grand narratives, but Francis Fukuyama boldly stated that history had settled the great ideological disputes of the 20th century and decided in favour of capitalism and its version of democracy.
The End of History and the Last Man, though hardly a huge best seller, impressed the ruling class and its courtiers with its pretentious Hegelian framework — interpreted via the work of the decidedly non-radical Alexandre Kojeve. They found his conclusions to their liking. Through Fukuyama, the capitalist celebrants gained intellectual gravitas, though undoubtedly few grasped the argument’s bastardisation of Marxism.
As a reward for his service to capitalism, Fukuyama received plum professorships at George Mason, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford universities. Moreover, he shrewdly, opportunistically shifted his politics with the currents of the day: first supporting Bush’s wars, then turning against them, and spinning again to support Barack Obama. Where ruling-class sentiment goes, so goes Francis Fukuyama.
So it should come as no surprise that Professor Fukuyama has pressed himself again into the service of the ruling class.
His latest foray into the politics of the moment requires no challenging study of Hegel; it is simply a naked defence of the ruling class’s mechanism for imposing consent and control over the lives of its subjects. “American Democracy Depends on the ‘Deep State’” is an unabashed advocacy for the unelected operatives who conduct the daily business of steering the capitalist ship of state. It is dismissive of the idea that these operatives might work for anything other than the people’s interests.
At the same time, it scoffs at the notion that oversight and vigilance — democratic control — is appropriate for those filling the bureaus, agencies, and enforcement bodies.
For Fukuyama, the now popular term “the Deep State” is broadly defined as the unelected employees of the federal government who are “professional, expert, and non-partisan…” and “…whose primary loyalty is not to the political boss who appointed them but to the constitution and to a higher sense of the public interest.”
Fukuyama asks us to “think of Nasa, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.…” Alongside these innocuous, arguably non-political institutions, he adds — almost as an afterthought — “the uniformed military… the Federal Reserve… the State Department,” institutions which have both a political role to play, a political character, and a history of political intervention. He might have added the CIA, NSA, and the FBI, except for the fact that they would have so obviously undermined any credibility for his thesis of non-partisanship.
If Fukuyama were correct in his adulation of the capitalist states’ servants, of his vouching for their integrity, he would have to explain, for example, the long, pernicious career of the FBI’s J Edgar Hoover and his employees, notorious abusers of civil and political rights.
He would need to account for centuries of judicial and enforcement malfeasance, officialdom’s history of blindness to racism, sexism, homophobia and class inequalities, government institutional evils like segregation, mass incarceration, surveillance, and a host of other violations of the public interest.
Of course, endless wars and countless victims are also the unquestioning work of government agencies or, at least, require their acquiescence. Surely, the civil servants who ran the nazi death camps were also “professional, expert, and non-partisan” in their dedication, though their behaviour was hardly in the interests of the people.
It is sheer political romanticism to portray the politically appointed ambassadors and their CIA-infected embassy staffs, the careerist congressional staffers, the obscenely lobbied agency leaders, the cabal of compromised advisory boards, the political party functionaries, the profit-driven government consultants and contractors and the rest of the federal bureaucracy as non-political and imbued with dedication to lofty values.
Professor Fukuyama, the enthusiastic defender of the capitalist lords and their court, shows his disdain for democracy. Indeed, his defence is intimately linked with distrust of popular rule:
“During the 1820s, the franchise was broadened from white males with property to all white males, bringing millions of new voters into the political system. But how to mobilise these masses? [Andrew] Jackson pulls it off by bribing them with bottles of bourbon, Christmas turkeys and (most important) government jobs… President Jackson declared that he got to decide who served in the bureaucracy and that government work was something that any ordinary American could do.”
How shocking to suggest that every man and woman could participate in government work. While Jackson was a populist charlatan like our present-day Trump, he was exploiting the fact that US citizens were disgusted with governance by elites. Like Trump, he opportunistically traded on the growing dissatisfaction with self-serving rule by wealth and power, rule by the appropriately called “swamp.”
The fact that millions gained the right to vote distressed and frightened the US ruling class in Jackson’s time and, consequently, the lapdog media heaped scorn on his administration. Like racist Trump, the mass murderer of Native Americans, Jackson, proved to be a cynical user of mass sentiment, leaving the popular desire for democratic, egalitarian governance unfulfilled.
Fukuyama fears the popular rule falsely promised by Jackson: “Modern government was highly complex and required officials with education, expertise and a dedication to public service.”
He is crudely, unsubtly suggesting that such qualities are not commonly found among the masses. Better, the rulers and their minions should have a proper elite education, they should possess the skills taught in the elite school, and a noble dedication to serve… the calling of the elites.
“Public service,” like so many high-sounding but empty phrases beloved by politicians, cries out for clarity: public service for whom? Fukuyama never considers that question. He assumes that what is perceived as good by those at the top is good for all. Noblesse oblige!
Fukuyama continues to serve the ruling class well. And it is a ruling class and not some “deep state” that determines the course of the US state. Living in a time where brands, slogans, and memes are the fashion, attention to words and to meanings is crucial.
Through policy shifts and changing circumstances, the US ruling class remains. Its constituents and complexion may change, but it persists as the protector of private property, profits, and the privileged until it is overthrown.
To pretend that the state has a malignancy, a deeply embedded and independent body wresting control implies that the “deep state” may be temporary, removable, or overcome and that the state can be returned to its “normal” democratic nature. That is simply liberal or social democratic nonsense.
There are “deeper” elements of the state just as there are deeper objectives or “darker” operations of the ruling class. But there is one state owned by one ruling class.
Yes, the ruling class can be conflicted, even split, but it continues to cling to the state in order to protect and promote capital. To acknowledge a vague, mysterious, conspiratorial “deep state” is to blur our understanding of the ruling class and its relation to the capitalist state.
The CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the DoD, etc are institutions of the capitalist state serving the ruling class and are not a bunch of “deep state” renegades.
In his consistent service to the ruling class, Fukuyama is not lured into fearing the “deep state,” he knows who he must defend.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.