One Deep State is bad enough, but a renegade, predatory private-sector Deep State is intolerable.
In 2007, well before the term Deep State entered the common lexicon, I sketched the interconnected public-private pieces of the Deep State, which I termed the elite maintaining and extending global dominance. This diagram doesn’t make all the connections or list all the consequential nodes of influence of course, but you get the idea: elected officials, i.e. “democracy,” play a modest role in the entire structure, which displays remarkable continuity regardless of which politicians and parties are currently in power.
That’s the whole idea, of course: continuity that can’t be disrupted by an election.
What’s changed is the emergence of a private-sector Deep State–a.k.a. Big Tech–that has established unprecedented power outside the control of elected officials even as it continues to play ball with the traditional public-sector dominated Deep State of the alphabet federal agencies and informal public-private sector ties.
This private-sector Deep State is free to pursue its own agenda of information-gathering and selling, surveillance, influence and profit-maximizing monopolies while seeming to serve the traditional Deep State as information-collecting and censorship services.
What makes Big Tech a private-sector Deep State is that nobody outside the corporations knows precisely what’s in their databases and algorithms or the extent of their capabilities. Sure, they share information with the traditional Deep State players, and censor whomever it’s “suggested” they censor / shadow-ban, but that transfer isn’t 100% of what Big Tech has in hand. All that transfer is just enough to appear to be playing ball so Big Tech can “suggest” OK, we’ve done our part, now leave us alone.
The problem with both Deep States is there is no recourse within the system for those censored / shadow-banned, those being tracked, those whose data is being siphoned off and sold to whomever offers a hefty sum of cash, and so on. The basic idea of the US Constitution is that every citizen has some recourse via the judicial or political systems should the state (government) or private entities overstep the boundaries established by the Constitution.
Citizens have no recourse against the predations of Big Tech or the traditional Deep State. Um, hello there, Big Tech, could you please share precisely how and when I’ve been shadow-banned, who else has copies of the data you’ve collected about me and how much you “earned” selling my data to third parties? What’s actually in your AI tools? Does any public agency have any real oversight power over all the looting, pillaging and predation you’re pursuing?
So sorry (heh), you agreed to our terms of service which grant us all the rights and our algorithms and databases are protected proprietary corporate property. So blow chow, pal, you have no recourse. We’re a corporation, we have rights; you’re only a citizen, you have none. You currently have permission to post photos of puppies and kittens, so just enjoy the photos of puppies and kittens and be happy you haven’t yet been digitally erased entirely.
Um, hello there, Alphabet-Soup Agency, could I please have all the files you’ve assembled on me? Yes, there is a protocol for requesting information (the Freedom of Information Act FOIA), but there are exemptions and delays, so don’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, the nation careens into an era of Polycrisis, defined as a cluster of related global risks with compounding effects, such that the overall impact exceeds the sum of each part. This is of course a classic description of emergent systems, which display characteristics that differ from those generated by each individual component.
I’ve sketched out a few of these dynamics in the chart below of overlapping crises.