The Shallow State

The CDC, Dr. Fauci, and other pandemic experts are sidelined in the midst of the plague. So are many scientists in the E.P.A. and other agencies charged with protecting the health and safety of the people. Government regulations designed for those purposes are cancelled, allowing free enterprise the profitable freedom to freely pollute the air and waters at the cost of whom it might concern. Appointed as cabinet Secretaries are lobbyists and politicianswho have spent their professional careers undermining the mission of the agency they now head. When they prove corrupt they are replaced by cronies of the President as acting heads–who need not be approved by Congress. Inspector generals of these and other federal agencies are removed when they rule honestly, but in ways unfavorable to the President.

An Attorney General is appointed to suborn justice. The FBI, CIA, and other Security branches are attacked by the President, their heads are removed in favor of persons whose principal qualification is loyal to him. The President does not read and ignores his Daily Intelligence Briefing: or else he contradicts it on the basis of his superior judgment as “a very stable genius.” For him, foreign policies are monetary values, especially his own personal monetary value–and/or they are based on secret conversations with dictators who are adversaries of the united States but who know how to play him.

But then, the State Department has been hollowed out by the resignations and firings of numerous long-serving diplomats, committed to the promotion of U.S. interests and values (for better or worse). The White House staff, including the office of the Chief of Staff, has become a revolving door, characterized, as “the adults” leave, by the progressive decrease in the competence of the replacements–if by their increasing subservience to the dysfunctional whims of an equally incompetent boss.

Etc., etc., etc.

There is no Deep State. There is hardly any State. Essentily there there are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. the callow, arrogant, and unqualified senior advisors to a President who doesn’t know that India borders on China. There is only this Shallow State. We are being ruled from behind the closed doors of the West Wing by the agents of the Shallow State.

Marshall Sahlins is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Chicago. His books include: Stone Age Economics, The Western Illusion of Human Nature and On Kings (with David Graeber).