We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Deep History of America’s Deep State
I highly recommend this to all Americans as a means of recovering a close approximation to the true early history of their country in contrast to the historical fiction they have been subject to in their early impressionable years as young students mostly in public schools. (I've often wondered how this fictional history compares to that given in private American schools.) This version of history forms a major core in the indoctrination received by American students to insure that they grow up to be devoted citizens, loyal workers, and willing recruits for armies advancing the nation's interests which is identical to that of the ruling capitalist class.
I have read many of the sources used by the author to uncover the real history to know that his version is very close to reality. For those of you who want to read material by some of these authors, on the top of the list that I recommend should be anything by Charles Beard, a renowned historian of the early 20th century. Obviously none of the sources mentioned by Thacker have informed the fictional history as taught in public schools. Events such as Shays' Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion are given only a cursory mention in history courses. I also learned of additional very promising historical sources such as the Anti-Federalist Papers and A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier by Joseph Plumb Martin. Hopefully I will find the time to read these materials in the future.
One episode that Thacker only alluded to as a general occurrence of the rich ruling class was one I read about Alexander Hamilton from other history sources. He, of course, is one of the reverently referred to "Founding Fathers". During the war the soldiers, farmers and working people (as usual) led by members of the local elites, fought the war against the British. It was a grueling war: many defeats were suffered at the hands of the British, long imprisonments in terrible conditions, and soldiers endured long delays in receiving their pay which also caused hardships for their families. Then when they were paid, they were usually paid in paper script (formally debt) issued either by their respective States or the Confederation government. This money depreciated dramatically over time until after the war it was nearly worthless. When the war was over, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton and his capitalist friends quietly went about buying up all this script at their market value. Then after the Constitution was rammed through, they made sure that the new government assumed all of the debts for this old money and the other war debts at their face value!
The only criticism I have of this post is Thacker's use of "Deep State" to refer to the ruling class of that time. The very useful concept of a Deep State is admittedly somewhat obscure, but this is only because of its secret nature. It comprises what some authors like Peter Dale Scott have long written about, and more recently people like Mike Lofgren. It is not a synonym for "ruling class" as Thacker uses the term. I wonder if Thacker intentionally omits the use of "ruling class" to avoid negative repercussions to his academic career.