Friday, October 11, 2019


     The title word has long intrigued me. It suggests a condition of mind that possesses permanence beyond the reach of evidence or logic. That’s not something evolutionary mechanisms would favor, unless it was a specific attachment to the proposition that reality is real, or something equally incontrovertible.

     I’ve often wondered how to distinguish a conviction – i.e., a firmly held belief in some moral-ethical principle or causal mechanism – from a mindset or a component thereof. Do other sorts of opinions participate in mindset or are they too mutable for that? It’s not an easy inquiry, but then, I don’t do easy.

     When the enveloping subject is politics and public policy, mindsets rise to a level of importance that’s barely below that of the laws of physics. Yet their nature remains elusive – and one cannot easily cope with an adversary whose nature eludes one’s understanding.

     The subject is on my mind because of this essay by Ned Ryun about the “impeachment” foofaurauw. The passage that struck me most tellingly:

     That’s what the last several years have been all about: a collision of worldview and value sets. The breathless rumors of Russian collusion, Kavanaugh gang rapes, none of it was really ever about THAT. It was all about how we deplorables view the world, a difference of policy, and about how America is to be governed—what we do as a country both domestically and on the international stage. They are quite sure not just that we are wrong but that somehow our opinions are illegitimate. Those people lost an election and they couldn’t stand it that an unwashed outsider walked into their holy of holies and called them fools, much to the delight of the Americans who elected him. [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     All true beyond the possibility of refutation. By their behavior shall we know them – and their power-at-any-cost behavior testifies too loudly to be overmatched by their claims that they’re really just protecting “the Constitution” or “the rule of law.” Moreover, while they might be evil. they’re not stupid. They must be aware that they’re not fooling us. If they can’t fool us, what hope have they of prevailing against us?

     My thesis is that the “Deep State mindset” is the reason behind it all. As I wrote only recently, the establishmentarian mindset is offended by the rise of Donald Trump and his unconscionable habit of keeping his campaign promises:

     “This is the way things are done around here,” a superficially conservative attitude, has been the reflexive defense of establishments of all kinds. It couples nicely with the notion that only those who have “been around” should be trusted with the reins. They who prattle about “qualifications,” in speaking of a political candidate, are quietly invoking that idea. By triumphing over “the most qualified candidate in history,” Donald Trump smashed that precept to flinders. But the most interesting aspect of the matter was that our political establishment sensed the threat from “unqualified outsider” Trump in mid-2015, well before his popular support could materialize.

     The Deep State / establishmentarian mindset can be broken down into a small number of mutually-supporting precepts:

  • Only power confers legitimacy.
  • We (the Deep State) are the power.
  • “Outsiders” who attain high office are insurgents who must be crushed.
  • Since we are inherently legitimate, whatever we do to crush such insurgents is legitimate.

     Orwell was brilliantly concise about it: “The aim of the High is to remain where they are.” The determination of the Deep State to “remain where they are,” in unchallengeable power over the United States and everyone in it, is what lies beneath all its machinations. It is the foundation for the mindset.

     The pre-Trump Republican Party was loosely aligned with the Deep State. It expressed that alignment by never seriously rocking the boat. The occasional bill to reduce marginal tax rates? All right. The Deep State would permit that as not materially affecting its power or perquisites. But actual reductions in federal spending, a drawing-down in any of the alphabet agencies, the repeal of major regulation-enabling laws, or significant changes to international arrangements would not pass muster...and the GOP’s senior figures knew it. The Reagan Rebellion drew close to some of those boundaries but never stepped across them. The Trump Administration has refused to accept them at all, a major affront to “the way things are done around here.”

     The chaos that currently afflicts the Republican Party arises from the cleavage between those who have embraced the Trump agenda and those who see it as a threat to their positions. What doth it profit a Republican politician for Americans to regain their freedom while he loses his earmarks? In this too we see the operation of an establishmentarian mindset. “The way things are done around here” required Republican passivity before the Democrats’ initiatives. The exemplar for that posture was former Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, whom Newt Gingrich called the “tax collector for the welfare state.” It was often joked that were the Democrats to propose beheading all white males, Dole would counter with an offer that it be phased in over a three year period. His go-along-to-get-along attitude characterized Republican Congressional operations for many decades. His spiritual brethren still occupy many seats in both houses of Congress.

     To the extent that any significant portion of the GOP realigns itself with Trump and the movement that has elevated him, it will become the Deep State’s enemy. The mindset discussed above allows us to predict the Deep State’s reaction: Kill it before it spreads. The assaults on Trump’s judicial nominees were concrete instances of that reaction. We’ll see other manifestations as the campaign season matures.

     The Deep State mindset appears unalterable. It’s consistent with the personal incentives and priorities of the millions of persons involved. It also suggests that it cannot be bargained with, and that no truce with it is possible. Which leads us to Ned Ryun’s assessment:

     So if you’re wondering how all of this stops, how we return to normal, I will tell you what a friend told me: “There is no normal. There is only Clausewitz.” There is only absolute and total political war on this axis we face until we beat them into an unconditional surrender. The Left wants it that way because they think they can win. They want no holds barred total political war. Since we can’t escape it, I say we give it to them measure for measure.

     If so, and it does appear that way, let the war begin now – and do not spare the “I’m with you, but” types who call themselves Republicans or conservatives but are less interested in freedom, Constitutionally limited government, and American national sovereignty than in preserving “the way things are done around here.”

1 comment:

Andy Texan said...

I agree. Give them the war they want. Suspend habeas corpus. Arrest the plotters, including the corporate CEOs who own the press. Cut the head off the snake while there is still a slight opportunity to do so. The consensus order is dead but not acknowledged. Face reality and strike back with overwhelming force while still able. The window of bold opportunity is nearly closed.