American Exception: Empire and the Deep State

American Exception: Empire and the Deep State

American Exception: Empire and the Deep State

American Exception: Empire and the Deep State


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American Exception seeks to explain the breakdown of US democracy. In particular, how we can understand the uncanny continuity of American foreign policy, the breakdown of the rule of law, and the extreme concentration of wealth and power into an overworld of the corporate rich. To trace the evolution of the American state, the author takes a deep politics approach, shedding light on those political practices that are typically repressed in “mainstream” discourse.
In its long history before World War II, the US had a deep political system—a system of governance in which decision-making and enforcement were carried out within—and outside of—public institutions. It was a system that always included some degree of secretive collusion and law-breaking. After World War II, US elites decided to pursue global dominance over the international capitalist system. Setting aside the liberal rhetoric, this project was pursued in a manner that was by and large imperialistic rather than progressive. To administer this covert empire, US elites created a massive national security state characterized by unprecedented levels of secrecy and lawlessness. The “Global Communist Conspiracy” provided a pretext for exceptionism—an endless “exception” to the rule of law.
What gradually emerged after World War II was a tripartite state system of governance. The open democratic state and the authoritarian security state were both increasingly dominated by an American deep state. The term deep state was badly misappropriated during the Trump era. In the simplest sense, it herein refers to all those institutions that collectively exercise undemocratic power over state and society. To trace how we arrived at this point, American Exception explores various deep state institutions and history-making interventions. Key institutions involve the relationships between the overworld of the corporate rich, the underworld of organized crime, and the national security actors that mediate between them. History-making interventions include the toppling of foreign governments, the launching of aggressive wars, and the political assassinations of the 1960s. The book concludes by assessing the prospects for a revival of US democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510769137
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 06/21/2022
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 282,549
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Aaron Good has a PhD in Political Science from Temple University. His dissertation, “American Exception: Hegemony and the Tripartite State,” examined the state, elite criminality, and US hegemony. It was an expansion of a previously published article, “American Exception: Hegemony and the Dissimulation of the State.” Prior to completing his doctorate, he worked on the 2008 Obama campaign in Missouri. Born and raised in Indiana, he has since lived and worked in Taiwan and Shanghai. He currently resides with his wife and son in the greater Philadelphia area where he has been a history and social science instructor.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword Peter Phillips xiii

Chapter 1 Empire, Hegemony, and the State 1

The Question 1

Bringing the Tripartite State In 5

Hegemony vs. Empire 12

Scholarship on Foreign Policy: Alternative Explanations and Approaches 15

Chapter 2 History and the Issue of the Exception 23

Diplomatic History 23

The State, Exceptionism, and Political Science 31

A Note on Exceptionism 34

Original Contribution 37

On Methodology 41

Chapter 3 Academia and the State 44

Dual State or Double Government? 44

Double Government vs. Political Science 61

Foreign Policy Analysis 67

Chapter 4 The American Power Elite 75

C. Wright Mills: Power and History 75

Mass Society, Failed Liberalism, and the Higher Immorality 82

The Tripartite State: A Critical Theory 89

Structure and Agency 94

Chapter 5 The Deep State, Dark Power, and the Exception 97

Defining the Deep State 97

Dark Power 102

Exceptionism and the State 107

Legitimacy, Lawlessness, and Liberal Myths 110

Chapter 6 An Imperial Colossus Is Born 116

Planning for an "American Century" 116

NSC-68 and the Rise of the Military Industrial Complex 119

Eisenhower and the Growing Deep State 132

The Kennedy Administration: A Brief Departure from the Imperial Consensus 137

LBJ: The Empire Returns to Form 139

Chapter 7 Empire Strikes Back, Harder 143

The Rise and Fall of Tricky Dick 143

Dallas and Watergate: Strange Parallels 147

Monetary Esoterica: The Balance of Dollars 150

War by Other Means: Oil and Finance 155

American Glasnost: Collateral Damage from Watergate 159

Chapter 8 Triumph of the Deep State 166

Ford and Carter: Disposable Stewards 166

The Last Investigation 167

Set Up to Fail: The Overmatched Jimmy Carter 174

The Deep State Untethered: A Natural Experiment 181

Consolidating the Deep State: Reagan's "Revolution" 185

Chapter 9 The Watergate Mystery Wrapped in a Riddle Inside an Enigma 191

Beneath the Myth 191

Nixon and the CIA's "Bay of Pigs" Files 195

A Fractured Establishment Turns to Leak Warfare 197

Nixon Ensnared 198

Of Felled Trees and Scorched Deserts 201

A Media-Driven Scandal 203

A Structural Deep Event or an Establishment Civil War? 206

Wheels Within Wheels: Sex Rings and Surveillance 207

Chapter 10 Watergate, QU'EST-CE QUE C'EST? 214

"A Third-Rate Burglary" 214

Revolt of the Bureaucrats 215

A Combustible Mix 221

Watergate: Richard Nixon's Deep State Nemesis 223

Chapter 11 The Constitution of the Deep State 230

Supranationality 231

The Underworld and the Deep State 232

Deep State Banking and Finance 238

Netherworlds of Dark Money 243

Every Day is Doomsday! COG and the Deep State 249

Deep Sovereignty in the Imperium 254

An Unconstitutional Constitution 263

Chapter 12 Let Us Bring Light to the Dark Side 265

The Utility of Tripartite State Theory 265

Surveying Our Situation 270

How Might the Truth Help Revive Hopes for a Better World? 282

Glossary 291

Endnotes 294

Index 345

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