Orville Baumgardner and the Deep State
"Before I start, I would like to thank the faculty and alumni of Evansville City University, the most open-minded of colleges, for the opportunity to enlighten you on the character of the Deep State. Although I am a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, I am unaccustomed to speaking in lecture rooms, particularly when they are filled to capacity, so I ask you to indulge me on a few matters before I speak. To begin with, please don't take notes--I find this both distracting and unnecessary. My speech is available on a podcast for the smallest of promotional prices. You may purchase a link after the conclusion of my lecture and the money, if you wish, will go to a charity of your choice. Also, please don't ask questions until I have finished my talk. I will respond to all of your questions once my presentation is concluded.
"I must also insist that you raise your hand if you wish to take a bathroom break. Otherwise, I might think you are walking out on me, which would be contrary to the spirit of detente the University has promised me. The mark of true intelligence, as F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, is not to be reactive but to embrace two opposed ideas simultaneously and to give them equal weight. This concept, though paradoxical, will also allow you to better understand the wieldings of the Deep State. So do keep an open mind, and do spare yourself the pitfalls of zealotry. I assure you that zeal of any kind is the antithesis of enlightenment.
"I would now like to present a competing version of myself, one that challenges the aspersions that have been cast upon me by the press. My name, as you know, is Orville Baumgardner, and I am the commonest of men. I was born in the town of Castleberg in Putnam County, Indiana. As a boy, my hobbies were stamp collecting, fly fishing and chess. I went to college at Butler University where I graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing. I must state, with some pride, that I earned a gentleman's C in every course I took. Why, you may ask, do I value a gentleman's C? I value it because I did not clutter my mind with nonsense as do most overachievers--therefore, I was better able to divine the character of the Deep State. The overachiever, by contrast, may accidentally immerse himself in the Deep State to the point that he inadvertently becomes a part of her. So let's hear some applause for the gentleman's C and the freedom of mind it allows you . . .
"Thank you for that robust applause, and thank you for not dragging it out. Now then, let me tell you how the gentleman's C led to my success. Two decades ago, while still in my twenties, I interrupted a career as an insurance investigator to run for the congress of this great state. To my amazement, I beat out the Republican incumbent in the Forty-Fourth House District, which encompasses Putnam County. I attribute this triumph not to the power of my ideas, but to my having the good sense to abstain from any ideas at all. "Climb not too high lest the fall be too great." This age-old motto served me well and allowed me to conceal myself in a safe and stolid herd. Ideas, at the time of their implementation, are invariably premature--half-baked so to speak--and, as such, they are foredoomed to failure. So I preferred the quiet cultivation of my mind to the pursuit of quixotic ideals. Check my congressional record, and you will find that I voted along party lines throughout my twenty-year career. Were it for not the scandal that now assails me, which I shall discuss a bit later, I daresay I would still be a keeper of the flame.
"By now, you may wonder why I consider myself an authority on anything, much less something so esoteric as the Deep State. Am I not, after all, the most mediocre of men? To this, I would add that I am also a man who reads. I have devoured the works of all the great thinkers and I would like to say, not in a shy way, that Spinoza, Plato, and Nietzsche are like older brothers to me. Because I slowly expanded my mind, I have comfortably arrived at my Age of Aquarius--a time when I may forgo puerile pursuits and take my place among the thinkers of the world. To use an analogy, I am like a carefully-cultivated rose which, having reached its fullest bloom, is ready for plucking.
"There now, let us begin. So what, exactly, is the Deep State? Sadly, nothing is exact where the Deep State is concerned. The Deep State is analogous to the human body replacing each and every one of its cells every seven years. Therefore, she cannot be defined in terms of individuality but rather in terms of her pursuits. Occasionally, she will display an effigy--a mask so to speak--but these are no more real than the omnipresent Big Brother in George Orwell's futuristic nightmare. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt--and to some degree even Donald Trump--are effectively veils, chimeras by which the Deep State facilitates her agenda. To paraphrase Dan Brown: history is written by fibbers--an indulgence into which he himself fell when he codified The Last Supper. I assure you that Leonardo DaVinci had no intention of attributing a yin and yang to the Catholic Church when he painted this masterpiece. He was simply cognizant of the fact that one of the disciples, probably John, did not have a beard.
"Ah, but I digress. Let me say simply that if history excites you, if it makes you feel good about your heritage, if it leads you to grand epiphanies, this means you are probably not studying real history. But neither can you rely on a denouement of what is in the history books. This counterculture of thought, so to speak, is also a component of the Deep State and, as such, will bring you no closer to the truth. And so we are left with myth and countermyth--an eternal paradox that serves not to inform but to solidify the control of the Deep State. But why, you may ask, does the Deep State vacillate between extremes? Why does she not build her house on a firm foundation? Is this not suggested by the Parable of the Two Builders as voiced in the Books of Mathew and Luke? To this, I will say that constancy is not serviceable to the Deep State. Firm foundations inevitably crack while shifting sands are forever malleable, thereby enabling the Deep State to assume whatever vogue is most advantageous to the moment. That is why you must embrace competing perspectives if you are to understand the Deep State.
“Now then, since she is publicly a mirage, what are the actual goals of the Deep State? Does she strive to empower a fortunate few, so that this elite may live lavishly on the labor of the masses? Does she seek to militarize Joe Public, so that she may use him as fodder in ill-conceived, private wars? These concepts amount to prehistoric thinking, which devalue the survivability of the Deep State. They are the conceits of Marxism and, as such, are doomed to sink the Deep State should they spark a revolution. Yes, the Deep State has misused the masses--witness Donald Trump’s raid on the Capitol Building or the ill-founded Vietnam War--but she is no less inclined to cease the polemics of plunder and relegate them to the graveyard of bad ideas. In the years to come, the Deep State may well abandon her cosmetic wars, raise your standard of living threefold, and enable you to feel secure in your lives. She will not do so out of magnanimity, however, but because such concessions will better provide her with the implements of control. In short, she will be donning yet another mask.
"I know what you are aching to ask me now. Why, if the Deep State is potentially an agent for our betterment, should we bother dissecting her? Why not instead live like lotus- eaters and leave the Deep State to her inscrutable shenanigans? I would urge that we do just that were the Deep State constrained in her manipulations. But because the Deep State is as capricious as the wind, because she is analogous to the Great Harlot of Babylon as depicted in the Book of Revelation, she cannot be entrusted with our well-being. That which she would embrace today, she would gladly abandon tomorrow should power become more attainable by other means. Practically speaking, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are every bit as useful to the Deep State as a horn of plenty might be.
"Now then, let us return to my earlier question: What are the goals of the Deep State? I misspoke when I used the plural because the Deep State has only one goal. That goal, of course, is the consolidation of power--not power to serve an end but power as an end in itself. To secure power, the Deep State will start a war or secure peace with equal indifference. She will promote capitalism or socialism with equal commitment. Why? Because power--not war, peace, justice or even greed--is the ultimate intoxicant, and to this end, the Deep State will use every means at her disposal. I am flirting with a cliché when I say this, but the Deep State is nothing if not trite.
"Now then, let us touch upon the scandal that has afforded me, ironically, the power of the pulpit. Did I violate the standards of the Deep State when I pursued a lesser siren? This, I assure you, is impossible because the Deep State has no standards. Witness the pontificators on the Supreme Court, two of whom may be better defined as predators. Witness Thomas Jefferson, who enslaved a fourteen-year-old girl and forced himself upon her repeatedly. Since these vulgarians are useful to the Deep State, her illusion of order and supremacy, they have not suffered the slightest reprimand for their behavior--rather they have been lauded as pillars of the community. Conversely, I fared less admirably when I was bewitched by an enchantress other than the Deep State. But my romp was a transgression only to the extent that it transcended, however briefly, my loyalty to the mightiest of vixens. I simply forgot, for an instant, that the Whore of Babylon is not inclined to share. Having allowed my eye to temporarily stray, I was instantly deemed a pariah in the eyes of those less discriminating than myself. My Circe, after all, was a month shy of the arbitrary age of consent. My word, I did not even penetrate her--my hand simply brushed her breast. But the duplicity of my arrest may be obvious to at least some of America. Otherwise, I would not be out on bail and standing before you today.
"Now then, what are we to do about the Deep State? Ah, therein lies the rub. Many have tried to unseat her, and all have patently failed. Remember that the Deep State is a soulless temptress, not a proud and vulnerable queen. As such, she anticipates the shakers--those who would try to outshine her--and skillfully disposes them to the ranks of her many, many courtiers. Since every plan to upstage her has failed, I would advocate that she be confronted not by tactics, philosophies, or manifestoes but by the very absence of these things. If left without suitors to fill her womb and seed her fickle spawn, the Deep State may well implode after, possibly, a thousand years.
"But then again, what do I know? I am only the simplest of men. I have barely scratched the surface of a subject of infinite darkness and complexity. And so, my only aspiration today is to plant a humble seed. I would suggest that, metaphorically speaking, you pick up every stitch where the Deep State might be involved. I draw this from the mantra of Donovan Leitch, Scottish seer and composer of that prophetic ballad, "The Season of the Witch." Having left a stitch uncollected, I am essentially a man without a country--a modern-day Cain who must dwell forever in the proverbial Land of Nod. Sadly, my friends, where the Deep State is concerned, it is always the Season of the Witch.
"There now, I see that my time is up. Are there any questions?"
James Hanna is a retired probation officer and a former fiction editor. His work has appeared in over thirty journals, including Crack the Spine, The Literary Review, and Sixfold. He is also a regular contributor to Fear of Monkeys. James’ books, all of which have won awards, are available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/James-Hanna/e/B00WNH356Y?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000