As a writer I understand the power of language, the power of words. So when I see words and phrases thrown around in general conversation as a means to discount another's perspective, I tend to to do the research to see where a term originated and what is its intended purpose.
My first experience with this phrase goes way back to anti war activists using the term to describe a military industrial complex gone rogue, working outside the confinements of Government. Several authors have written books about this particular use of the phrase.
The first noted use of the term was describing a secretive Turkish Network known as Derin Devlet. Founded in 1923 by former President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the group's purpose was to use nefarious acts such as coups and private assassinations of individuals seen as a threat to the establishment to preserve the Government structure, particularly the press, communists and other dissenters. At the time, the term was applied to what was happening in Turkey and Russia.
Later, the term was used to describe the secretive activities of the military industrial complex as expressed in President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1961 farewell address: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." At the time, there was great potential for misuse and they did misuse the military often without the consent of Congress, however, in today's information society, nothing the military does is secret. When something happens with the US military, someone records it and the information is made available to global societies. The People involved in 1961 were able to hide their activities without the technology available to make the information available to everyone with internet access.
In The Concealment of the State, Professor Jason Royce Lindsey takes this idea further to include what he describes as a fourth branch of the US Government established after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center to use the national security and intelligence communities to work autonomously from the Executive Branch of Government for private interests. Again, this definition is still entrenched in the military industrial complex.
Moving forward to 2014, a new definition appears from Mike Lofgren, a former Republican US congressional aide as "a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process." This refers to Corporate and private interests using blackmail and payoffs as a way to influence policy through elected representatives serving these entities only and not the working for the will of the people, though they maintain the facade of being dedicated public servants. Moving out of the military industrial complex this definition focuses on the establishment or career politicians who sit in powerful positions influencing policy as Presidents come and go. This includes career military officers, but is not limited to military operations. Intellectuals remain at odds with this definition arguing there is not one entity involved in these nefarious activities, but several groups who often find themselves at odds with each other.
The Trump Administration uses the term to describe leaks and entrenched bureaucracy being used to interfere with the President's agenda. Steve Bannon through Breitbart News pushes this theory in many ways, one such example is the belief Barack Obama is creating a deep state resistance to Trump. This has been proven to have no basis in reality as have other such conspiracy theories coming from the alt-right media. Alex Jones uses this term to describe anything from alien invasions to weather modification to resistance to Trump's political agenda.
Given the confusion surrounding the meaning of this term, polls were conducted in 2017 where as 48% of people polled believed there is a deep state entity in the US Government with the purpose of secretly manipulation and policy influence. In 2018 a similar poll was conducted with 63% of the individuals polled showing unfamiliarity with the term, but believing it was possible for something to like it to exist in modern geopolitical situations.
As one can see, this is a term which has many interpretations and issues surrounding the term are quite convoluted, but at the same time offer a space for constructive ideas to form a potential consensus on the use of the words. What does Deep State mean to You?