Durham Report: The Republic We Didn’t Keep

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.” —Benjamin Franklin to Elizabeth Willing Powel of Philadelphia, 1787.

The Durham Report (“Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations Arising Out of the 2016 Presidential Campaigns “) is sprawling, and as we might expect, the characters in the cast are all as twisty as corkscrews (and unlikely to be indicted, which must be a relief to everyone who is anyone).

For clarity, I will put a thesis to the readership: What the Durham Report (DR) documents, but does not name, is a change in the Constitutional order. As we know, the Professional-Managerial Class (PMC) is the Democrat base (see Thomas Frank). The PMC achieved class consciousness in 2016, triggered by Trump’s victory (and Clinton’s defeat). They then collectively declared a state of exception — as sovereigns or would-be sovereigns are wont to do — where anything that would defeat Trump was licensed (a “permission structure,” as we say; here is an early example). In the process, the hegemonic elements of the PMC fused Democrat Party operatives, the organs of state security, and the press into a single, Flexnet-like Faction (I use the word “Faction” deliberately) that had the objective of retaining its own power by delegitimizing an elected President, an object it in part achieved. This Faction[1] has dominated the governing class[2] of the United States since 2016, and has a good shot of retaining power permanently (assuming the United States remains a single political entity). The result is a new, and distinctly anti-democratic, Constitutional order that is no way a Republic as the Framers understood the term. The Durham report is a window into the initial stages of the process I have just described.

Sadly, I will not be able to document all the elements of that thesis today. I would love to distentangle one of the more complicated subplots outlined in the Durham Report — say, the Steele dossier, where the FBI initiated an investigation into the Trump campaign based on unvetted and uncorroborated information — but it would take Balzac-like skills for me to do that, and I don’t have them, or the time. Rather, I will focus on a Durham Report subplot that shows the claim that is central to my thesis: Faction > Constitutional Order: “The Clinton Plan.” Let’s now turn to the report.

The “Clinton Plan”

The provenance and definition of “the Clinton Plan.” DR, p. 81:

“Vilify,” eh? Looks like that intelligence was pretty good!

The relevance of the Clinton Plan to the investigation. DR, p 82:

I would say that determining whether materials like the Steele Dossier oppo and that sought “to use the resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies in support of a political objective” would be pretty important! Especially if, oh, checks and balances are important to you….

Apparently, our organs of state security thought so, too, because the “Clinton Plan” went straight to the White House:

(DR doesn’t say whether Obama, or indeed anybody else, was surprised by the intelligence; it’s not unreasonable to think they knew all about it already.)

The “Clinton Plan” was then buried. DR, 87:

(Again, note the contrast to the Steele dossier’s handling.)

It’s hard to characterize burying the Clinton Plan as anything other than a derelection of duty, DR, p. 97:

One can only wonder why this happened! DR, p. 81:

‘Tis a mystery! DR, p 9:

Of course, it would be interesting to know if the Clinton campaign put the Clinton Plan into effect (very much including “the resources of the federal governement’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies in support of a political objective”). Durham spends many pages on circumstantial evidence that they did just just that, but then he talked to Clinton World, too:

“Ridiculous!” “Ridiculous!” “Ridiculous!” Why, it’s almost as if Podesta, Sullivan, and Palmieri were working off the same talking points memo, isn’t it?

One would think that the material from DR pages 81 (“Clinton may be our next President”) and 9 (“someone who should lose to Clinton”) would show that the FBI investigation, at least, had been captured by Faction, but let’s look at the matter a little more deeply.

The Victory of Faction

Durham attributes the FBI’s totally inexplicable inhumation of the Clinton Plan to “confirmation bias.” DR p. 303:

Besides letting rather a lot of spooks off the hook, “confimation bias” is a psychological, cognitive framing. Such framing does not address the direction of the bias, nor the selection of topics to be biased about (Strozok, for example, might well have been biased toward the Washington Wizards, and entirely neutral on politics). We need to move beyond the psychology of the individual and look at institutional factors.

Here, the work of James Madison in Federalist #10, also 1787, is relevant:

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community…..

[T]he most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, [will The Bearded One please pick up the white courtesy phone?] actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens?

Madison then goes on to urge that the Republican form of government is proof, if proof there can be, against faction, at least in the United States. I don’t find all of his argument persuasive, but I think the argument that the sheer scale and differentiation of these united states is a defense against faction has merit:

[T]he extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage…. The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source.

However, fast forwarding to the present day, a Faction that can nationalize politics by controlling a political party, and capturing the press and the organs of state security, will be able to “secure the national councils” in a manner that would horrify Madison. And has done so! Similarly, it looks to me very much like factionalists in the FBI were very much “judges in their own cause,” or else they would not have gone full speed ahead on the Steele Dossier, and buried the Clinton Plan.

Let’s sketch out something a bit more up-to-date, retaining Madison’s central insight that class struggle property is the driver of faction. Randy Waldman has a great post on the structure of the PMC:

In a stratified, liberal capitalist society, the ability to command market power, to charge a margin sufficiently above the cost of inputs to cover the purchase of positional goods [like violin lessons for little Madison, or a house in the right neighorhood], becomes the definition of caste. When goods like health, comfort, safety, and ones children’s life prospects are effectively price-rationed, individuals will lever themselves to the hilt to purchase their place. The result is a strange precariot, objectively wealthy, educated and in a certain sense well-intended, who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. In aggregate, they are predators, but individually they are also prey, and they feel embattled. So long as the intensity of stratification endures, they will feel like they have little choice but to participate in, even to collude to entrench, the institutions that secure their market power and their relatively decent place.

The “margin” — the resources that allow you to eat the smaller fish and, hopefully, evade the larger fish — comes, I would urge, from Bourdieu’s social capital:

First, social capital. From Bourdieu’s glorious Manet, which I am nowhere near finishing, pp. 303 et seq.:

Manet’s life may be described as a long accumulation of social capital…. I am not going to give you a rigorous definition of this concept but, in a nutshell, this is what is known as “connections,” along with the set of economic, cultural, and symbolic resources that can be acquired from lasting relationships with the range of agents that hold this capital.

Flexians, for example, are masters at monetizing social capital.

In the Beltway, one would accumulate social capital in the usual ways, through credentials, but also through access, and the possession of secrets[3]. (It we were looking into the history of the Steele dossier, we would see all these factors at play.) But in the instant case, I think we’re looking at PMCs in the organs of state security hoping to accumulate social capital by hopping on the bandwagon of the Clinton campaign, their favored Faction. They are, as it were, “working toward the Clintons.” Their Factional allegiance drives their confirmation bias. As Madison points out, that’s entirely incompatible with republican government.


Needless to say, the destruction of our Republican form of government by a Faction working in and through the government to disempower an elected President is a SCAD: A State Crime Against Democracy. We discussed SCADs here. All the listed characteristics here are documented in various operations and projects described by the Durham Report:

SCAD, by constrast, focuses on groups of individuals acting within institutions (12):

SCADs can be characterized as crimes within institutions (12):

The Framers understood SCADs to be “high crimes” (11):

The Democrat Faction that got away with the RussiaGate SCAD is still running the show, and has a good shot at doing so indefinitely. No doubt upgrades to our new Constitutional order will be forthcoming[4]. 2024 should be interesting!


[1] I considered calling this Faction The Glob (“Government Blob,” where “Blob” follows Ben Rhodes’ name for a similarly amorphous group of Flexians in the foreign policy establishment). “Glob” also connotes “globalist” (and no, that’s not anti-semitic, ffs).

[2] “Governing class” as distinct from “rulling class” — typical American extravagance — on whose behalf the governance is done. In an exchange with alert reader some guy, I wrote (lightly edited): “The [ruling class] Prime Directive is emergent behavior, determined by a sort of summation or aggregation of elite (“1%”) portfolios of all forms of capital: Economic, social, symbolic, etc. Of course, the incentives are what they are; capitalism is a paperclip maximizer.” The composition of those portfolios, and their investment in firms, political parties, NGOs, charismatic individuals, etc., which investment aggregates into a governing class, is territory for Thomas Fergusion and his stellar team of analysts. UPDATE Since ruling class portfolios by definition can mix public and private, firm and NGO, fixer and politician, media property and intelligence officer, etc., the ruling class is corrupt by definition. It’s not so much a matter of “public office for private gain” as it is a complete erasure of public and private as categories; a suitable topic for another post. UPDATE I would urge finally that the dominant motivation for the 1%’s portfolio management is family/clan reproduction via economic capital accumulation; policy — for example, pandemics or setting the world on fire — is a side effect.

[3] The conversion of social capital into economic capital through book deals, the Green Room, etc., is IMNSHO undercharacterized.

[4] For example.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. flora

    Have we not kept it? Or have we only slowly understood that it is now under attack? Which we never thought might come within the country itself. Surely an attack would only come from from outside the country. except… maybe not? And are we now slowly rallying to keep it from an unexpected source of attack? Against all odds. So many questions. / ;)

    1. flora

      adding: and no, I’m not an adherent of the “stabbed in the back” philosophy. / ;)

      1. Rod

        Thanks Lambert
        I’ve been scrambling for your SCAD Exposition for a week–stoopid brain.
        This was the ripping Scab to me–May 17
        USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/columnist/2023/05/17/durham-report-vindicates-trump-fbi-russia-investigation/70222344007/
        America’s Citizens–no-Consumers–have been asleep -no-put to sleep–at the wheel for a long time.
        My two cents.
        Isn’t that a Major Topic here Flora?
        Mis Information/ Dis Information/ Mal Information.
        Can someone tell me again how to do that simple cross through thing?? Slim? Fresno?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Simple cross through thing

          Type this:

          <del>“del”eted text</del>

          1) The pointy bracket thingies are called tags.

          2) The first tag is an “open tag.” The second tag is a “close tag.”

          3) “If you open it, close it.” (Occasionally, you will see a whole post turn bold. That is the result of a missing close tag.)

          4) Notice the “/” in the close tag (not present in the open tag). To remember it, think of the spring that closes a screen door.

          1. Rod

            You’re the best.
            My apologies to all here for busting thread in that fashion.
            I could tell some stories… believe you me.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Thanks for this very deep dive, Lambert. I had not seen about Podesta, Sullivan, and Palmieri. I was wondering who the “foreign advisor” who got “credit” for the plot was. And I wondered who was “in the room” when Clinton gave her reported approval. That’s funny. Remember Palmieri’s frantic fear that some cabbie was Russian? They invent the ghosts that haunt them, but what else is new.

    I don’t understand this though:

    The PMC achieved class consciousness in 2016, triggered by Trump’s victory (and Clinton’s defeat). They then collectively declared a state of exception — as sovereigns or would-be sovereigns are wont to do — where anything that would defeat Trump was licensed

    But since the Durham Report is only covering what happened before Clinton’s defeat, wouldn’t it seem that the “vanguard” of this class, let’s say the people who were gathered by Brennan as the announcement of the Clinton Plan, was already self-aware and working together. It seems to me that some amazing shift took place where the national security Establishment moved from an alliance with Bush-Cheney to Obama-Clinton.

    1. nippersmom

      I would argue that no move was required from an alliance with Bush-Cheney to one with Obama-Clinton. As their enacted policies demonstrate, any differences between these two groups were superficial at best, and they were both part of (or answered to) the same power base and had the same goals and ideology.

      1. Dida

        Do Democrats and Republicans really have ‘the same power base and goals’? Matthew Karp recently wrote in NLR about the crucial split along party lines inside the American oligarchy (Party and class in American politics):

        “Democrats now hold the upper hand in communications (including a near-monopoly in Silicon Valley), finance (including lopsided support from hedge funds, private equity and venture capital), and health care (including an acute Red-to-Blue swing within the pharmaceutical industry)… In addition to their accustomed dominance within the culture industry, Democrats now prevail in the three most conspicuously dynamic sectors of the 21st century US economy.”

        Based on campaign contributions by sector, Republicans maintain preponderance in energy, real estate, retail, and agribusiness.

        Why the national security establishment moved ‘from an alliance with Bush-Cheney to Obama-Clinton’? My guess then would be that the security establishment decided to go with the winners, the richest and most dynamic side of the Great Reset Economy.

        To quote from Matthew Karp’s analysis of plutocratic politics, the Democrats have become, particularly after 2016, not only a fundamentally technocratic party, ‘conspicuous in the embrace of science as an ideological value’, “but a party which can claim a new kind of predominance atop America’s social, cultural and economic hierarchies.”

        And a party which has in its camp high finance, the high-tech sector, the health-pharma-biotech complex, the culture-media complex necessary to create legitimacy, and which has also coopted the security apparatus of the state, should be unbeatable. The Republicans must be operating in panic mode by now.

        1. Lee

          “The Republicans must be operating in panic mode by now.”

          And the Democrats are so confident that they can offer the voters a ticket combining decrepitude and ineptitude.

          1. spud

            the gop can thank themselves and newt gingrich, that dope actually worked with bill clinton to get rid of safeguards and regulation, thinking the rich would shower the GOP with the payoffs, instead bill clinton and the nafta democrats have a near lock on just about everything, and newt does late night infomercials.

            the job of a opposition party is to not let those safeguards be removed, because otherwise you are no longer at the table, you are now on the table.


            Devin Nunes: Durham Report Reads Like The Tombstone Of The American Justice System, Not Just FBI…

        2. jsn

          There exists a real opposition between what Lambert calls the Glob in his footnotes and some Oligarchs.

          To my mind this is the real tension between nominal “Parties” we see duking it out in Kayfabe Kabuki.

          Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Pentagon or Langley there’s someone who realizes “The man who is skilled at obtaining the support of the people is also the man who is skilled in using military force. Skillfully gaining the support of the people is the essence of military undertaking. It’s that simple (Xunzi).” But there’s a long way between that realization and getting our political economy of human sacrifice for profit back onto a viable track.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      Would they not have been just as happy to work with a President Jeb! if one was given to them by the fickle fates/voters? Or was there some earlier partisan realignment?

      Otherwise this shift must have happened during the 2016 campaigns themselves, likely around when it became clear to those involved that Trump would get the Republican nomination.

      1. nippersdad

        Amie Parne’s book discussed this early on in Shattered, when she reported that Clinton and her campaign staff sat around a table and came up with the Russian interference rationale. From there on it was clear that they used the media apparat that they had collected for the campaign (as evidenced by the Wikileaks releases) to push it.

        IOW, you can take the woman out of the Goldwater Girls, but you will never get the Goldwater Girls out of the woman. She has been squealing about Russians for just about her entire life, so it should come as no surprise when when things went South for her campaign she went home to papa.

        It was just a matter of time.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And it was in a room filled with Shake Shack containers! I’ll never forget that detail from Shattered.

    3. pjay

      I add my thanks to Lambert as well. But as I have said before, I think there is a lot missing from this Report. That it prominently labels this ‘The Clinton Plan’ also serves to obscure some of this. I am pressed for time now, but if I may just quote from two works, one just today by Larry Johnson; the other several years ago by Stephen Cohen:

      “Failed Prosecutor John Durham’s report on the Hillary Clinton campaign plot to convince the American electorate and U.S. allies that Donald Trump was a stooge of Russia totally ignores the role that intelligence operatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel played in helping set the stage to provide the FBI with the pretext of predication for launching its now discredited Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the Trump Campaign.’


      “For example, the intelligence community has said it began its investigation in April 2016 because of a few innocuous remarks by a young, lowly Trump foreign-policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. The relatively obscure Papadopoulos suddenly found himself befriended by apparently influential people he had not previously known, among them Stefan Halper, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, and a woman calling herself Azra Turk. What we now know—and what Papadopoulos did not know at the time—is that all of them had ties to US and/or UK and Western European intelligence agencies.”


      Let me suggest that this is bigger that just dirty tricks by a Democrat faction and their allies in the media and FBI.

      1. britzklieg

        those dead eyes…

        depressing as hell.

        I first admired Freeman at BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 1983, as the narrator in Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s “Gospel at Colonus” – an underappreciated masterpiece which featured Clarence Fountain and the Blind Boys of Alabama. It’s a knock-out show and Freeman caught everyone’s attention playing the preacher emcee. I’d never had a reason to be disappointed until seeing that video. Trust the art, not the artist.

  3. fjallstrom

    Thanks for reading the report!

    I would like to add that the soft pedaling of FBI’s crimes indicates that this is nothing new or shocking. FBI committing crimes? Must be a day of the week ending with a “Y”.

    Here I think Aaron Good’s framework from his “American Exception” could be useful. As I understand it, he divides the state into the administrative state (politics, civil service etc), the security state (police, military, security services) and the deep state, where the deep state is the representatives of the overworld of private wealth. So Allan Dulles for example had many roles, but can be understood as a Rockefeller man who in the end would do what was in the interest of Rockefeller and his fellow oligarchs.

    Just to be clear, the oligarchs are the super rich, the ones who literally own large companies, including media. And figuratively own politicians through large donations and cushy jobs afterwards. It’s not the merely somewhat rich, or an ethnic group.

    Now, Trump was no threat to the overworld of private wealth. The US oligarchs could have let it be known that the Clinton Plan should go nowhere and both security services and the media would have made it so. So, why did they do it?

    Historical documents will probably not be available for decades, if ever. So let’s look at the consequences and see if they might have been intended.

    On the domestic side we have the Democrats wedding their neoliberal strain with warmongering. This makes it harder for any leftist insurgency to take over the Democrats. If they don’t embrace warmongering they will be pummeled for that, if they do then they can’t use peace to gain popularity.

    Presuming that was the intended consequence is the good alternative, because otherwise worsening relations with Russia was the intended consequence. And that means that US oligarchs is operating on a world view that is really distant from reality. Then again, there were factions (according to Aaron Good) that wanted to use nuclear weapons to win in Vietnam.

    1. Piotr Berman

      Why such deep aversion to Trump? Yea, in my recollection, not one of Republican contenders in 2016 was better. But they did stick to a certain common narrative, including the precious “bipartisan consensus”, and Trump did not.

      “then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right: then they laid hold on him, and slew him at the fords of the Jordan.” Judges 12:6 (I wonder if this book is proper for children)

    2. some guy

      If the SuperRich High Oligarchs feel the American masses are not obedient enough to the SuperRich Oligarchs’ will , the SuperRich might want to recreate and restore a “credible foreign enemy” to scare the American masses into submission and obedience with. If they thought Russia would make a good enemy, being “similar” to the old USSR ( which was often referred to as Russia or The Russians), then they of course would engineer bad and hostile relations with it.

      I personally believe worsening relations with Russia was the intended consequence, so as to have a “dangerous Russia” to beat the American masses back into obedient submission with.

      One might also look at zombie-genic parasites in nature for sources of intuitive analogy. Certain funguses program ants to climb to the visible tips of grasses so they may be caught and eaten by something to spread the fungal spores. Some kind of disease in mice will program those mice to place themselves in temptingly open view of cats to get themselves eaten so the parasite may get into the cat and spread from there.

      In the same way, British Imperial and Legacy Imperial brain-control operatives acted through various angophillic organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rhodes Scholarship Program and other such brain-infection measures to take over and zombiefy the brains of American power-excercising elites so that they would carry out an American version of a :”programmed in Britain” world imperial policy including Britain’s old Great Game against Russia with an American flag wrapped around it.

      Do note that it was British UpperClass elitist Boris Johnson who took it upon himself to visit Zelensky and perform whatever brain salad surgery against Zelensky’s mind and awareness was necessary to get Zelensky to break off peace negotiations with the RussiaGov at Johnson’s urging and behest.

      1. tegnost

        quibbling here, but…

        will program those mice

        program is doing a lot of work there, more likely some aspect of a given pathogen has a random effect that exposes the mouse which then is exposed as harmful to the cat also so it takes the evolutionary benefit to itself (the pathogen), gaining evolutionary advantage.

        1. Revenant

          Toxoplasma carrying mice lose their fear of cats, no longer have aversion to cat urine, will wander around in front of toddles. Mouse gets eaten and toxoplasma gondii comes home to its natural carrier, the cat. It could all be cast in elegant agency-less terms of selfish gene outcomes but with hindsight, the mouse has been programmed….

          More to the point, why would Trump being an oligarch earn him their support? Perhaps the last person the oligarch class wants in charge is one of their own: someone who can’t be bought. Somebody who, having already looted the poor, could keep their winnings by switching sides and ruling as tyrant and listening to the street’s demand that the oligarchs be taken down a peg or two. Somebody like that could round all the oligarchs up and shake them down.

          Perhaps Trump and Putin and MbS are all local flavours of the same medicine….

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > As I understand it, he divides the state into the administrative state (politics, civil service etc), the security state (police, military, security services) and the deep state, where the deep state is the representatives of the overworld of private wealth. So Allan Dulles for example had many roles, but can be understood as a Rockefeller man who in the end would do what was in the interest of Rockefeller and his fellow oligarchs.

      Thanks for the reference. I understand the model, but I have some differences with it.

      First, Gramsci says somewhere that state and civil society should/can be separated only as objects of study. So I see states as artifacts, if that’s the word, of class relations (hence ruling class v. governing class. There is no reason, for example, why a reasonably endowed billionaire shouldn’t have, say, the state of Arkansas in their portfolio). That is not to say that states are ephemeral, or do not have relative autonomy within the larger class system, of course. But they are secondary phenomena to capital, because capital is where power ulimately resides in a capitalist system.

      That is why I opposed and oppose terms like “deep state” which implies a permenance, a dominance, and a level of autonomy that does not, in my view, exist. Today, we see (“revolving door” doesn’t really capture this) constant movement of players between State, corporation, NGO, and freelance; the Twitter Files show this very clearly, as would the DR if I had time to graph the players and their roles. This sort of motion is easy to conceptualize at the class level, not so easy to conceptualize at the state level, since the boundaries between state and civil society, even at the level of an illusory propriety, have been scribbled over.

      Second, I think the ruling class (oligarchs) can put whoever or whatever they want in their portfolios. That includes any entity within the (so-called) administrative, security, and deep states. For that task, they employ levels of indirection (because their main interests are clan/family and capital, with governing a distant third. I mean, they don’t want to set the planet on fire; that’s just a side effect of their primary interests). The levels of indirection — family offices, brokers, fixers, lawyers, accountants, advisors, consultants, bent NGOs, etc. — are what makes our rulers difficult to get at. These characters connect our rulers (capital) with our governors (PMC).

      I hope this makes sense; I’m trying to work this out as I go along, because I don’t see a lot of other people working in the same vineyard. The level of rigor required is probably measured not in the days bloggers think in, but years….

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I think one question that lingers, if one accepts the idea of the emergence of PMC class consciousness only in 2016, is: why was Trump seen as such a threat to/galvanizing force for the PMC, in a way that Reagan, GWB, McCain, Romney, and Jeb et al were not? I’m a fan of the two-parties, one-system metaphor where D’s and R’s are the two teams playing the game with more or less agreed-on basic structure, rules, from whence players, coaches, general managers, and owners come from, etc. I’ve always been a primacy of class person but I have to admit the only answer I have been able to come up with is aesthetic – some combination of Trump being uniquely unworthy in an aesthetic sense and HRC being uniquely? (comparatively) deserving of winning the office. Because it is hard to see anything about Trump objectively that can explain the derangement. As you say, this is likely to take a long time to suss out.

        1. jsn

          Hillary speaks in tones of the PMC authoritarian followers who self validate through the formalities, aesthetics, bequeathed to heirs of multigenerational higher education.

          Trump is just plain authoritarian which short circuits the need for and delegitimizes the positions of aesthetic, authoritarian followers: his voters are just plain-old scared people looking for someone strong to right their wrongs.

      2. fjallstrom

        I agree very much with the last paragraph, it is tricky matter. And I appreciate very much the attempts.

        I should really read Good’s book, before I try to apply it, I have recently discovered his pocast series and is rapidly approaching the point were I must buy it anyway (because I am running out of episodes). Still, I do think there is explanatory power, maybe not in the label “deep state” but what he labels, the overlap of the criminal branch of government (mainly CIA) and the oligarchs. There was even in the 50ies players who went between high positions in state, corporation, NGO, and freelance. Good appears to see them as agents of particular oligarchs, which is why they have such staying power. And this overlap reserve the right to declare exceptions, whenever they need one. Hence the titel of his book “American exception”.

        On the specifc question of power relations in US in 2023, I agree that oligarchs can buy control over pretty much anything. I don’t agree that this is necessarily so in a capitalist society. Putin’s Russia is capitalist, and during Yeltsin oligarchs could do anything they liked, but Putin wielded the power of the security state (that he was of and for) to bring the oligarchs down a notch and stay there.

        PMC gaining class consciousness I think is a good explanation as to why Russiagate as propaganda worked so well on most of the PMC and people aspiring to be PMC. But I don’t think it works as well to explain the tight top-down propaganda campaign in itself. Unless you limit the PMC to the very upper levels of the operators that knew they were making up stuff. The Clinton inner circle, the FBI agents described in Durham’s report, the upper levels of the media establishment. Like that media fellow Project Veritas got on tape explaining how Russiagate may be false, but it was profitable.

        My napkin sketch of how this works is that you have the oligarchs and their button men, whose approval is necessary to get this kind of cohesion in the media narrative. Then you have the operators who are for sale but may or may not be bought by an oligarch at this particular moment. Then you have the larger class of the PMC who were targets of the very succesfull propaganda campaign.

        Hm, this is rather similar to your second to last paragraph. Is this down to how the PMC is defined?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > PMC gaining class consciousness I think is a good explanation as to why Russiagate as propaganda worked so well on most of the PMC and people aspiring to be PMC.

          It is true I don’t have a well-worked explanation of power relations within the PMC, as opposed to between the PMC and other classes; I’m sure there’s a lot of variation. I put the success of the “tight top-down propaganda campaign” into the “schooling behavior” bucket (described here). We’re seeing a ton of action in this field of inquiry in the medical (we used to call them “healing”) professions, and I wish I could give a better account of it.

      3. Anthony K Wikrent

        I become more convinced every day that the ultimate cause of our follies are rotten philosophies of governing, and of political economy. For example, “they don’t want to set the planet on fire” but are doing it nonetheless because they can’t comprehend the civic republican requirement of promoting the general welfare within a society that is subjected in all areas and all dimensions to cost benefit analysis. (Ian Welsh posted, a number of years ago, an excellent explanation of the disastrous results of having cost benefit analysis become the sole criteria of public policy, but I have been unable to find it again. I shall email him and see if he can recover and / or repost it.” ) The general argument is along the same lines as the populist critique of the neoliberal obsession with economic “efficiency” which has been especially well articulated in debunking Bork’s anti-anti-trust dogma.

        The most damning evidence for my thinking is the truly extraordinary exclusion of the American School of political economy from mainstream economics. (See, for example, Michael Hudson’s, America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815–1914 (2010). It is easy to judge how horrible an economics textbook will be by simply looking in the Index and seeing how few (usually none) times Alexander Hamilton and Henry Carey are cited, compared to Adam Smith.

        Since the actual industrialization of USA (and Germany, and Russia, and Japan, and Korea, and Malaysia) occurred along the lines charted by Hamilton and Carey, I am not at all surprised to find that elites who have been taught, and told their entire lives, the lie that it was Smith, regularly and consistently botch the job of actually governing a society.

        I think it was Mark Twain who wrote, the more I learn of men’s follies, my list of villains grows shorter and my list of fools grows longer

  4. Carolinian

    Thanks Lambert. Today Larry Johnson has a lot to say about Durham and especially how it lets the intelligence agencies off the hook–the swearing to uphold the Constitution hook.


    As Yves says this morning there was a time when politicians and bureaucrats at least pretended to care about public service and as Larry Johnson says there was a time when the public was shocked that they didn’t. Watergate was a very big deal with the public. Or at least the press, which hated Nixon, made it a big deal and the public followed. Perhaps the Trump haters saw Russiagate more as an “ends justify the means” maneuver which is their psychological excuse for everything they do. We have become ethically rootless in any absolute sense.

    But as Larry Johnson says the worst of it is that the fantasy attack on Russia lingers in a current slaughter in Ukraine. The deep state always hated Russia (why??). They have gotten much of the public to agree….at least temporarily. Propaganda works until it doesn’t.

    1. Piotr Berman

      Long story and many themes. Just a question about Nixon-hating press that “made a big deal”. I was not in USA yet in those years, but my recollection is that burglaries were uncovered before elections, and “the big deal” started after McGovern, perhaps disliked even more by the media, was safely defeated. Do I remember the sequence of events correctly?

      1. Carolinian

        No it was a big deal but I think my point is that the press think they should pick and choose when the coverage is a big deal. And so they treated fake Russiagate like Watergate and Hillary’s Nixonian behavior as something to be ignored.

        There are parallels between the two eras but also big differences since then there were three government licensed networks and now we have many more and the internet. The MSM back then was also compromised to a degree but not like now–nothing like now.

        And yet here we are talking about all this and readers of this blog and others knew the Russia charges against Trump were bogus from the beginning and even saw it as some kind of joke. I still can’t take it too seriously and new poll mentioned by Greenwald shows that the public, mostly, doesn’t either. Trump polls above Biden despite the non stop big media hysteria.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        You’re absolutely right. Press coverage and for that matter, progress in the case, only began after the peace candidate, McGovern, was dispatched.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The deep state always hated Russia (why??)

      First, there’s no such thing as the deep state.

      Second, I think we should distinguished hatred in the general population (which I think can be thought of as a sort of asset class, once sufficiently impacted and subject to manipulation) from hatred in the governing class (for example, it’s clear that Blinken, Nuland, and Freedland hate Russia because they’re Ukrainian irredentists) from hatred in the ruling class (I don’t think even a character like Musk, even Soros, would hate Russia if that hatred got in the way of capital accumulation).

      Think of hatred as an asset class makes it crystal clear that entities in the political class and the press find leveraging it highly profitable. (I should reread Hate, Inc. Perhaps this time I’ll like it better). That’s the level of abstraction to think on, IMNSHO; not simply “for the clicks” (though granted I’ve certainly used that trope).

      1. The Rev Kev

        Alexander Mercouris has also noted a deep rooted hatred by the British elites against the Russians that goes back generations. He says that he does not really understand why but that hatred is certainly there.

        1. tegnost

          Post brexit economics.
          The history of the british elite goes back quite a ways, much to my own literary enjoyment from chaucer to dickens. The EU didn’t offer them what they see (IMO) their rightful position, to be colonialists…that’s how they did it for all those years, and esp. with dickens one can see collateral damage was not a problem if there’s was a pile of money to be gleaned, or a reputation to be burnished, or a nepo that needs to be nepotized. It seems to me ukraine is a natural object of affection now that the EU shackles have been cast aside, and who wouldn’t want a chunk of those russian resources? Of course I’ve read all the patrick o’brian as well so that certainly adds color to my views. As an aside, EU is botching this whole thing.

        2. Lysias

          Didn’t stop the Brits from allying themselves with two very different Russian governments in the two world wars.

          1. Revenant

            I don’t see any deep seated hatred of the Russians in the British psyche. They are not the objects of scorn at county set suppers. I think it must be a Foreign Office inculcation, worrying about the World Island, or frankly the tentacles of the Atlanticist organisation, trilateral commission etc. If anything, they are rather admired for their chess and culture and commitment to whatever metier they are following. Plus Putin clearly gets things done.

            Since they have not immigrated in numbers (not in the EU), they haven’t earned the casual contempt the Bulgarians and Romanians get.

            Now, the French and the Germans, that’s a different Kessel of poissons.

      2. spud

        the clintonites hate russians for the interrupting of the feeding parasites, and will never ever forgive. that hatred is ingrained. the russians and the chinese thwarted their idiotic global delusions.


        “How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

        by Paul Likoudis (May 4, 2000)

        In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson’s Contagion would be
        political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

        If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and
        independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a
        literate people), Williamson’s book would topple the Clinton regime, the
        World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal
        cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you
        could say “Jonathan Hay.””

        “In the new, emerging global economy, it’s clear that Russia is the
        designated center for heavy manufacturing — just as Asia is for clothing and
        computers — with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and
        steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

        This helps explain why America’s political elites don’t give a fig about
        the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes,
        Russia is viewed as some kind of “closet.”

        What is important for Western readers to understand — as Williamson reports
        — is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at
        bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In
        the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers’
        housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and
        the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large
        shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town

        “On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance,
        the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless,
        death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency
        manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war — with emphasis on
        Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the
        Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to
        produce social chaos.”

        ” At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America’s criminal
        politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put
        Williamson’s book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier
        of the White House.”

        “The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a
        three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion!
        The “new financial architecture” Clinton has erected, she writes, “isn’t new
        at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been
        wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices.”

        ” You see, as this book explains, the Clinton’s Russia policy did not just
        plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless
        class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had
        the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers’ New
        World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and
        restricting their civil rights.”

    3. Michael Fiorillo

      Durham’s report is mostly a whitewash, similar to his prior work whitewashing the torture at Guantanamo, though interesting developments may follow from it.

      What no one except Alexander Mercouris is asking, not even Aaron Mate as far as I know, is the whereabouts of Joseph Mifsud, the “British-Maltese academic” who ostensibly fed Papdoupoulos’ name to the Feds? Is he alive? Did he ever exist? Never interviewed by Mueller, ignored by Durham and everyone else, his name has disappeared from the discussion. Hmmm…

    4. Jeff

      “The deep state always hated Russia (why??)” – A few guesses…..

      The deep state today is comprised of 2-3 generations of Americans weaned on the idea of a hostile Soviet Union hellbent on spreading Communism throughout the world. Air raid drills still linger in some of these people’s deepest fears. I’m a Gen X’r and remember some of this, too. These people still think it’s 1962. They also still think that FDR is a good representation of the Democratic Party.

      Few Americans know much about Russia, it’s history, culture, food, people, etc. It’s easy to paint an unknown into an enemy when you know literally nothing about them and be told to just assume the worst.

      “Russia is the bogeyman from outside just waiting to pounce and get Americans.” – typical nonsense spouted by those wanting all attention deflected elsewhere.

      To your point, it’s all bs propaganda. Russia would be well served to do some promotional tourism media here once we bounce the plank of wood in the White House.

      1. JBBird4049

        I’m old enough to have lived through half of the Cold War and my Mom told me about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which has left me with no hostility to Russia. While the sixty-nine years of USSR as well as the forty-four years of Cold War with the various conflicts and much propaganda did a create deep negative influence, Russia has been an independent nation that was desperately trying to create peaceful relations with the West for thirty years.

        At some point, blaming past bad experiences for current bad actions is either a red herring or an excuse, if not outright lying.

        I think that some people want to just feed their greed or egos, and they are willing to do anything for that. If it means Cold War Two or a World War Three, they are okay with it.

  5. G Karlson

    Thank you for your work on this, Lambert – very illuminating. Additional $ in the tip jar for you!!

  6. Not Again

    I still think that the Durham Report was released to knock off Madame Clinton’s chances when Uncle Joe has to withdraw from the race at the last minute at the Convention.

      1. some guy

        If Clinton is the nominee all over again, I will certainly absolutely vote for Trump all over again.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I can’t imagine even Hillary is cray cray enough to run again. Therefore, she’s sticking the shiv into Biden to support some third party. Given her judgment and ideology, I’d say Harris, but let’s see if anyone in the field moves to get closer to her.

          1. Pat

            I think she is, but since she no longer has that invincible aura that was there in 2016 she has probably been getting a lot of polite rejections to any overtures she has made.
            I don’t doubt that she would like to be kingmaker, but my bet is that her comments were as much out of petty resentment as that.

        2. Jeff

          That would be fun. When she once again passes out and has to be dragged into the Scooby van and taken to her daughter’s uptown apartment for a few recover days, we’ll all have a good laugh.

      1. John

        2024: Biden age 82; gerontocrat. Hillary age 77; gerontocrat. Trump age 78; gerontocrat. Michelle Obama age 60; former presidents wife. Tim Scott age 59; US Senator. Ronald Desantis age 46; Florida’s governor. Marianne Williamson age 72; bunch of things. Kamala Harris age 60: US vice president.
        And so on and so forth. We know much about the gerontocrats. Not all or even most of it is good. The others? All splendid individuals in one way or another, but ready to step into the presidency? I have not seen, heard, read, been told, or suspected anything about any of them that would impel me to vote for any one of them.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I have not seen, heard, read, been told, or suspected anything about any of them that would impel me to vote for any one of them.

          Nope. And like it or not, Trump is the only “larger than life” figure on the list (Michelle Obama stans might disagree, but come on). If you want stature — as opposed to gravitas, but who has that? — Trump is the man.

          P.S. You forgot Buttigieg. But that’s so easy to do…

          1. Jeff

            Sweet Pete. He’s a Cosby-like smooth talker who has exchanged communication skills for a respectable work ethic. He’s even convinced his husband that Sweet Pete has some level of competence and integrity.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Hahahahahaha! Delicious!

      What’s team blue’s wing composition these days?

      Is this still Obama wing v Clinton wing?! I don’t think 2008 is sufficiently forgotten in the forests of Chappaqua. The year of the PUMA (via New Republic)! Haahahahah!

      I’ll buy … Obama/Biden wing sniffs out Hillary waiting in the wings and it’s knives out yet again …

      I suspect many are secretly hoping Biden sputters before the finish line, but whatever juice they got him on must be truly amazing. The old dog is gonna make it, isn’t he? I still think Trump beats him … despite the best efforts of FlexNet.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > whatever juice they got him on must be truly amazing.

        I insist that, as I keep saying, Biden is by far the best the Democrats have. Think about it. Biden slaughtered 700,000+ people, disproportionately working class, with no political consequences at all. Not unrelatedly, Biden neutered the left (to the extent there was one). And his style isn’t bad for an old dude:

        Biden is not a negligible figure, even if he is juiced up. Especially when compared to the Democrat bench.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          Dang Lambert! LOL

          “Biden is by far the best the Democrats have … [he] slaughtered 700,000+ people, disproportionately working class, with no political consequences at all.”

          You made me bust out my Lanham (via epdf.pub) to ascertain exactly what marvelous rhetorical device this is! I’m going with:

          Contrarium (con TRA ri um) — Enantiosis.
          One of two opposite statements is used to prove the other: “Now
          how should you expect one who has ever been hostile to his own
          interests to be friendly to another’s?”

          Sorry if my aside about “the juice” sounded like I was trying to marginalize Biden’s importance to Team Blue. It was not. It was more an articulation of the sad reality that his cognitive lapses are a weakness w.r.t direct interaction with whomever the GOP nominates as well as oppo’ material when the general election cycle begins in earnest – neither a Trump nor a DeSantis will kind in that regard.

  7. Regis II

    On the subject of motivations, it seems to me that Russia hatred plays a role here.

    The “military-congressional-industrial complex” (Eisenhauer left out the congressional part) requires an external enemy to justify the $1 trillion dollars now being spent on “defense.”

    Russia has been a convenient enemy for over 100 years and one which Hilllary Clinton in particular seems focused on.

    One of the factions within the permanent bureaucracy, then, would be the “Russia haters,” including true believers within the FBI, CIA and NSA. They would naturally be drawn towards Hillary Clinton and away from Donald Trump, who is not such a Russia hater.

    Now that Ukraine is fighting the Russians on behalf of the Americans, thanks to Joe Biden, et al., Trump’s claiming to be willing to settle that dispute promptly upon taking office (disingenuous though it may be) sets him against the same bureaucratic faction he faced off against from 2016 through 2020.

    I would suggest that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will be set off against the same Russia hater faction.

    1. John9

      I speculate there is a large faction of predatory capitalists among our overlords who look at the land mass of Russia (2× the US), crammed to the gills with abundant natural resourses, and think: how do I get my claws in that?
      Simple greed.
      I think that is where the ” break it up into five countries” comes from.
      Ironically, that could happen here first.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Thank you, John! Would you please consider standing on a tall ladder atop a skyscraper with four giant speakers and booming this message so loudly that NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY IGNORE IT?

        As I see it, this Capitalist Predator class — oligarchs, if you prefer — are driving the war in Ukraine, which, while not as resource-rich as Russia, has hundreds of millions of hectares of the most valuable farmland on the planet, currently at fire sale prices. Better still, many of the rightful owners either have fled the country or are dead, leaving ownership up to “interpretation.”

        I alternate between amusement and frustration whenever I hear references to “the neocons in Washington,” as though they’re some omnipotent cabal. As I see it, they’re but minions serving the Overlords. Some of these minions do seem to have a pathological hatred of all things Russians, which may make them that much more useful, but their masters will never regard them as equals.

        Keep in mind that this is not exclusively a US phenomenon, any more than Davos is an American institution. They’re all in competition with each other, each with their own cadre of civil-servant minions. And you can bet they all know that as climate change progresses, who controls the oil will matter far less than who controls the food.

      2. José Freitas

        Yes, this. The dynamics are well described by Marxist analysis. As opportunities for profit are reducing in traditional economic areas, and as many countries close off the possibility of greater exploitation of their labour pools (or at least reduce the possibility of profit extraction there), capital desperately needs to expand its activities to (tendentially) more marginal profit making areas. Green policies, commoditization and financialization of everything, ever more complex and “virtual” financial instruments, etc… Plundering Rússia would definitely give global capitalism a few decades more of survivability.

    2. Alan Roxdale

      Sometimes I think there a genuine Russiophile faction in the permanent government, but I just don’t think most Americans, even those in Washington, actually care about Russia at all outside of very major world events.

      I think the real driver here is the growing class politics. 40 years of neoliberalism have destroyed the middle class, but under a democracy they could vote to get their money back. Hence the desperation of the PMC to seize de-facto power to prevent the back-transfer of the wealth they now enjoy. Democracy vs Oligarchy. Details like Trump or Russia or the Internet are inconsequential. This was coming regardless.

  8. derf

    Is there any avenue by which this SCAD could be brought before the Supreme Court, and what might we expect if it were?

  9. Godfree Roberts

    To faction is human. To unite is civilized.
    It doesn’t have to be politics or money or anything.
    People will kill each other for wearing certain colors or speaking with a certain accent.
    The Blue and Green factions (ancient equivalents of today’s football clubs) got so murderous and riotous that Constantine had the Army simple slaughter all the Greens after herding them into an amphitheater.

    Geo. Washington:

    Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

    This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

    There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

    The period when no party divisions existed in United States (a decade after 1816) became known as Era of Good Feelings.

    1. MaryLand

      Washington saw this. Looking at various forms of government it’s easy to see a common denominator is corruption. The most challenging thing for humans anywhere is to encourage actually caring about others, especially beyond our circle of friends and family. We see far too many examples of this including the reluctance to wear masks to protect the vulnerable. It seems the best we can hope to see is the avoidance of massacres. Of course we see massacres in various guises all too often. One would hope that religions would blunt this tendency, but they have been instigators of bloody conflict far too often. Those in powerful positions have given lip service to morality while persecuting others in groups small and large. The free press used to be a check on some of the worst, but the press has become increasingly captured. What is left to give hope? I find that talking to others in person builds bonds of kindness even if we don’t agree on everything. (I’m wearing a mask and usually the other person is not.) Complete strangers seem eager to connect with shared experiences. They need this as much as I do. It’s reaffirming our shared humanity that is a counterweight to all the hatred we hear about all the time. It won’t save the world, but it may save some sanity in small pockets of the world.

    1. scott s.

      The 17th amendment was enacted when state legislators no longer wanted their elections to be proxy votes for US Senate. But at the time there still were state parties with unique interests. Today it’s hard for me to envision state races which don’t fall along national politics lines, though I haven’t analyzed how many states have senators whose party differs from the party controlling the legislature (where one party does in bicameral setups).

  10. T-Rex

    The best part to me is the last quote: “the SCAD construct does not refer to a type of allegation or suspicion.” In the report, the “Clinton Plan” is literally defined up front as as information whose accuracy is unverified and that “may reflect fabrication or exaggeration.” All of the other excerpted quotes are extrapolations from that. In other words, allegations and suspicion form the basis of this entire hysterical traipse, which ends by invoking a concept that explicitly disavows that kind of sloppy indeterminacy. A conspiracy theory that, if true, discloses nothing not already obvious. Deploying the concept of class consciousness to describe the PMC is the chef’s kiss. 10/10

  11. Vic

    There is no conceivable scenario in which Obama was not a/the key planner. And the fact of the Russiagate SCAD should have been apparent to anyone with two neurons by Dec 2016. There was a qualitative change in the nature of the US regime in the Obama period. The normalisation of the using of State apparatus for going after political opponents. Lois Lerner comes to mind- a trial balloon ?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Obama

      I have always speculated that Obama cemented the alliance between the Democrats and the intelligence community by not prosecuting any CIA personnel for torture in Iraq under Bush.

      1. Pat

        He certainly normalized it, which was just as bad. There was a lot of normalization of unconstitutional actions and of crime during the Obama administration.

        It isn’t just that the alliance was cemented, there was a concerted effort, successful, to make the public accept that this is the way it is. We blame a lot on TDS, and yes it did turbocharge a lot. But I believe that it also has made clear there is a newer principle we live by that must be jettisoned for Trump and Trump alone. That is the idea that the top government officials, top bankers, top spies, top military, etc are above the law and must never be prosecuted.

  12. NYT_Memes

    The real coup was in the GFC. The globalist showed themselves to be above the law, meaning they now have sovereign power over the government. Everything since then has been tightening the screws. John Titus has a series of videos at UTube/BestEvidence which cover the Clinton to Obama years plus a deep dive into some historical context and how the coup was accomplished – silently. There is much more to what has happened to this nation, far more than virtually anyone can see.

    I have an interpretation of events which I conceived earlier this year that might help (or not). Picture being on an isolated mountain range viewing the sky at night. There are so many stars the scope is almost beyond comprehension, at least for my mind. There is an analog in human events. Each star represents a piece of the puzzle describing human interactions, a point of light which is a data point of knowledge. The difference is that unlike stars in the sky these data points are all connected but nobody can see all the connections. Each of us may recognize a few links, but not the whole picture, largely because the signal to noise ratio is weak due to relentless elite propaganda. With more reading over the years the points start to show some connections, but not enough to clearly see the entire world. Beyond my comprehension.

    Hat tip to Yves for recognizing the benefit of leaving. I do not have the skills to pull it off.

  13. vic

    All regimes use state power against their political enemies- this is realism. Most use it clandestinely- this is called democracy. When they make the jump to being brazen about it- what do we call that ?

  14. vic

    Re Lambert’s last paragraph. Once you cross the rubicon, losing the levers of power can lead to dire consequences, ergo you cannot.

  15. Jorge

    [3] The conversion of social capital into economic capital through book deals

    Regnery Publishing has been the “wingnut welfare” distribution hub of choice at the lower end for a couple of decades. I am terrified to contemplate the amount of perfectly good wood&ink that has been pulped for the sake of distributing “royalties” from its patrons to its beneficiaries.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sure. But Regnery is a single firm; the scale and complexity of the grift is limited. The PMC’s “patronage” is distributed through far more complex and sophisticated channels; FlexNets (I should really review Wedel’s book; I in fact bought a copy of her book for that purpose). I mean, did Regnery give us RussiaGate? Ukraine? Mass infection without mitigation? These were all massive PMC propaganda campaigns that make the right wing “Mighty Wurlitzer” look like a Casio organ. And in every one, the Democrat Party + press + intelligence “Glob” applies (Covid, too, since the spooks are working the disinformation angle hard).

  16. Brunches with Cats

    Sorry to come in so late (long day in the city) to add my compliments for a skillful job. When you put it that way, the argument does rather make itself …

    FWIW, I started reading the linked article about historical revisions to theories about how Hitler rose to power. I didn’t get too far in, because I saw how long it was and wanted to finish this article first. But what I did read was scarier and even more depressing than what Durham left out — or, more precisely, his having left it out.

    It’s hard not to conclude that we are simply fuk-ked.

  17. Mark Gisleson

    “The PMC achieved class consciousness in 2016”

    I would submit that this attaining of consciousness was the result of a fecal implant. The Clinton campaign used social media like a machete. They were significantly more obsessed with purging the Left/BernieBros than they were with any kind of positive messaging.

    After the loss, a stunned PMC simply ceded their voice to the Clintonists who then brayed about Russia nonstop for an entire election cycle in which no one dared take control of the party from them because of Russia/Trump!!! They didn’t lose, they were cheated.

    As for Dip State’s participation, it’s always seemed probable that they were running the show. The folks in charge of the DNC are grifters, not planners. This also explains the insanely counterproductive themes/memes emerging from the DNC, the kinds of things CIA planners would come up with if they wanted to keep the Democrats from gaining too much of a majority.

    I’m happy with the report. Much can be built on this foundation whereas I honestly don’t know that we’d be better off if Durham had included everything as then Garland would have simply classified the report and we’d still be mumbling about that instead of talking about Her crimes.

  18. Deschain

    Lambert, this is a terrific analysis. I guess my question would be – how do you reconcile this view with the total Dem disinterest in offering anything more than symbolic resistance to Trump’s actual governance. You’d think that they would at a minimum want to block his takeover of the judiciary, if they were trying to undermine him through extra-legal means, but instead they meekly allowed the Reps to get Kavanaugh and Barrett through.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how do you reconcile this view with the total Dem disinterest in offering anything more than symbolic resistance to Trump’s actual governance. You’d think that they would at a minimum want to block his takeover of the judiciary, if they were trying to undermine him through extra-legal means, but instead they meekly allowed the Reps to get Kavanaugh and Barrett throug

      Interesting question. Maybe symbolic capital is enough for Democrats to fundraise off? The Democrats have never seriously opposed the Republican takeover of the courts, ever. Perhaps they think the courts are a teardown? To be replaced by administrative fiat?

  19. mcj

    Good analysis, but could we generalize from it and suggest that perhaps this is just one case in a pattern?

    Look at what’s been happening in Europe in the last 10-15 years. The Greek referendum, Brexit, the yellow vests in France. Is it possible that the interests of white-collar and blue-collar segments diverged so much that the whole concept of “liberal democracy” is in crisis? Has run its course?

    1. digi_owl

      It has, because white collars have lost all concept of physics and logistics.

      Snap their fingers and Amazon Prime will deliver fresh fruit in the middle of a Siberian blizzard.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is it possible that the interests of white-collar and blue-collar segments diverged so much that the whole concept of “liberal democracy” is in crisis? Has run its course?

      I’m sure it is, but showing that is not in scope for this post (and in any case national differences are significant).

      Here in these United States, we are in the belly of the beast, so I think we can say that the the process of decay — or rather digestion? — is farther advanced here.

  20. Jim

    Lambert: You have clearly stated your fundamental assumptions, which is extremely worthwhile, for any future debate/discussion on capital and state and their respective degrees of autonomy.

    “I see states as artifacts…hence ruling class v. governing class…that is not to say states are ephemeral…but they are a secondary phenomena to capital because capital is where power ultimately resides in a capitalist system…that is why I opposed and oppose terms like “deep state” which implies a permanence, a dominance, and a level of autonomy that does not, in my view, exist… Second, I think that ruling class oligarchs can put whosoever they want in their portfolios. That includes any entity within the (so-called administrative, security and deep states).”

    There are many questions that can be raised concerning your assumptions.

    One that immediately jumps out is whether the ruling class has ever, or can now, put the national security apparatus of the governing class securely within its portfolio of control.

    The legislative branch of the governing class did engage in a failed attempt to impose its will on the CIA in the mid-1970s (when in 1977 the House established a permanent subcommittee on intelligence to oversee the work of the Agency followed by the Senate doing the same in 1979 along with the passage of FISA, requiring US intelligence agencies to obtain permission to spy on American citizens)–accountability rather than impunity was to supposedly reign.

    Can the ruling class level ever really put the current national security apparatus under its thumb if that same apparatus has the capacity to forever hide key evidence, keep secrets, and ultimately write its preferred version of US history?

    Can the ruling class dominate the personnel of the intelligence apparatus if the NSA/CIA/FBI now has the digital capacity to potentially blackmail anyone (even our powerful capitalist oligarchs themselves) because of the creation, after 9/11, of real time maps of American life consisting of telephone logs and social graphs in which they can now track any of us in retrospect as well as in real time.

    It just may be that the power of capital has now met its equal in the ever increasing power of digital surveillance–giving the spooks the self-confidence to now institute an in-your-face strategy of counterterrorism on all of us.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It just may be that the power of capital has now met its equal in the ever increasing power of digital surveillance–giving the spooks the self-confidence to now institute an in-your-face strategy of counterterrorism on all of us.

      I think that if the spooks did not have the approval or at least tacit consent of important oligarchs — perhaps the count of oligarchs is so low we need to think of individuals, and not factions? — then the explosion of the surveillance state would not be happening. (Of course, except for those whose firms profit from it, they might not care very much, thinking themselves immune, or they figure they’ll profit later if one of their own makes the running, like Uber leading to a whole new legally defined class of exploited worker, or Twitter showing you can fire a ton of tech workers and your firm will still run.)

      NOTE I don’t think most of us have factored into our thinking the presence in our society of a class of people who can literally by anything, including any service. Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock touches on this point.

  21. JBird4049

    I enjoyed reading this including the comments.

    It is interesting to read, but I still feel that I am reading about the antics of spoiled brats. Spoiled brats more concerned about being wealthy and respected by one’s playmates than in doing their jobs. It reads like Barbara Tuchman description of British society at the start of the American Revolution. Who’s in. Who’s out. The Rotten Boroughs, corruption, bribery, unserious people doing unserious stuff while being very important, wealthy people with what little competence in government being in the Board of Trade as that was where the money was made. These systems, the modern and the past ones, have great differences, but the general amount of bull manure and dysfunction seems similar.

    The continuing efforts of using social control by the various groups- PMC, oligarchs, security state, the parties, and whatever- to maintain political and economic control seems to be like a country having a splendid little war. It will all be good clean fun for the Real People and who cares about the ants? Playing games while believing that nothing bad will happen (to them).

    Maybe something like Kaiser Wilhelm II after he fired the Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the various German political parties in the Weimar Republic, or the various European countries in 1937, especially the Soviet Union and Germany, thinking that they have everything under control with their machinations.

    No, none of this is quite right. I think that the conservative bankers and industrialists who gave their support to Adolf Hitler, thinking that they could control him, allowing him to do what he did is the best comparison. Important people doing important things while thinking that they have everything under control all the while looking to score more wealth, influence, or prestige and not realizing that they are destroying what they are trying to maintain and expand.

    Maybe Croesus would also be a good example as well.

    I mean being influential, powerful, even obscenely wealthy is nice, but eventually it gets real what with the mass deaths and burning cities.

    Don’t get me wrong. It is important to clearly understand what is happening and why things are what they are. It is just that the more I understand (I think) our situation, the less desire I feel for respecting or understanding the people who put us into it. And I know that I do have a responsibility to understand them better.

Comments are closed.