“Our Democracy” is Rule by a Hidden Cabal

“Two systems of administration were to be formed: one which should be in the real secret and confidence, the other merely ostensible . . .”

“The whole system, comprehending the exterior and interior administrations, is commonly called, in the technical language of the court, Double Cabinet.”

Edmund Burke, Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)

You are no doubt familiar with C.S. Lewis’s essay on “The Inner Ring,” and thus with the proposition that every organized group will develop “two different systems or hierarchies,” one outward and ostensible, the other hidden and real.  Lewis illustrated this proposition in his novel That Hideous Strength, where Bracton college is ostensibly governed by its professors, but really governed by the Progressive Element (the Progressive Element is in turn really governed by the N.I.C.E, and the N.I.C.E. is in turn really governed by the Devil).  Edmund Burke tells us that the conspirators in a hidden power call this arrangement a “double cabinet.”  We today call its hidden half the “deep state.”

But whatever we call it,  Burke explains, “the ministers who stand before the curtain . . . . have nothing to do with the ultimate disposal of things.”

To put this in a nutshell, all visible “rulers” are under a higher power, and this higher power is not God.  Proof of this can be found in the astonishing emasculation of every man American voters elect to the office of President, Senator or Representative.  Our elected officials do not go to Washington to rule the nation; they go to Washington to be ruled by the unelected officials who stand behind the curtain, and who have everything to do with the ultimate disposal of things.

The emasculation of elected officials was well described by a Virginia gentleman named Hugh A. Garland, in 1839.  Garland, who later wrote the outstanding biography of the great conservative John Randolph of Roanoke, was at the time employed as Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Garland thus had an unobstructed view of the degradation of the People’s Representatives into toadies and minions of the men behind the curtain, of the men who from from their secret snuggery ruled the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The constitutional form of legislation is an idle mockery; the people may go through the solemn ceremony of electing men to represent them in Congress and the Legislatures, but so soon as men arrive on the theater of action, they universally imbibe the opinions, and fall into the current of feeling most fashionable around them.  They soon learn that the interests of the banks and of the people is the same . . . they are not long in discovering that the directors and financiers of moneyed corporations are wiser than they are, or their constituents, and that whatever schemes they may desire or recommend must be implicitly adopted.”*

The “constitutional form” of popular government is an “idle mockery” that has “nothing to do with the ultimate disposal of things” because there are, in fact, “two systems of administration,” one of them hidden and real, “the other merely ostensible.”  Edmund Burke’s analysis of this “double cabinet” of “exterior and interior administrations” is naturally adapted to the particularities of constitutional monarchy in eighteenth-century Britain, but it can serve us as a general theory of the “deep state,” “Cabal,” or “inner ring.”

The first tenet of this general theory is that a “Cabal” is able to operate much more efficiently when the people are distracted by a puppet show of strutting and sparing politicians.  The theory tells us that every burning political issue should be understood as a flamboyant diversionary tactic, because all “exterior administration” is a sham.  The purpose of “exterior administration” is simply to disguise and aggrandize the power of the “the Cabal” of “interior managers.”

“They contrive to form in the outward administration two parties at the least, which, whilst they are tearing one another to pieces, are both competitors for the favor and protection of the Cabal, and by their emulation contribute to throw everything more and more into the hands of the interior managers.”**

Remember that the word “emulation” properly means competition, not imitation.  The more partisan and polarized the visible parties of the “outward administration” become, the more unified, centralized and efficient the actual power of the hidden “Cabal” grows.

The second tenet of this general theory is that a “Cabal” of “interior managers” is able to operate much more securely because, when the public is disgusted by its policies, the public will vainly denounce—perhaps even remove—the sham politicians in the “outward administration.”  As Burke explains, real power does not risk “the slippery heights” of visible politics, but rather enjoys “perfect security” in “less conspicuous” lifetime appointments

“The members of the court faction are fully indemnified for not holding places on the slippery heights of the kingdom, not only by the lead in all affairs but also by the perfect security in which they enjoy less conspicuous, but very advantageous, situations. Their places are, in express legal tenure or in effect, all of them for life.”***

Burke’s “court faction” is what we now call the “deep state,” or what our ancestors called “the power behind the throne.”  As I said before, the particulars of Burke’s analysis are adapted to the circumstances of his times, when constitutional monarchy was the “outward administration” of Britain; but we may generalize his analysis and say that every “outward administration” serves as a blind to hide the “Cabal” of “interior managers.”  In fact, it seem reasonable to suppose that the “double cabinet” system of hidden government must reach a sort of apogee when democracy evolves into a modern managerial state.

To update the following passage from Burke, I suggest you simply change the words “branches of the royal family” to the words “electorate, by way of mass media,” and the word “throne” to the words “sovereign power.”

“That this body may be enabled to compass all the ends of its institution, its members are scarcely ever to aim at the high and responsible offices of the state. They are distributed with art and judgment through all the secondary, but efficient, departments of office, and through the households of all the branches of the royal family; so as on one hand to occupy all the avenues to the throne, and on the other to forward or frustrate the execution of any measure, according to their own interests.”†

Our current “deep state” of “interior managers” is just a larger version of Burke’s “court faction.”  And this is the “Cabal” that holds real power in what is nowadays called “Our Democracy.”  The “outward administration” of “Our Democracy” is thus a diversionary spectacle of battling buffoons on the “slippery heights” of visible politics, while the real power of “Our Democracy” is in the hands of a hidden Cabal of inexpungable tyrants whose names we do not know.

I do not think this cabal can be fully explained as a plot by plutocrats and the banks, but am certain that plutocrats and the banks are senior partners in the plot.  Nor do I think that this cabal of “interior managers” is in any sense new, as should be evident from the fact that men like Garland and Burke pulled back their curtain, two hundred and more years ago.

I think the Cabal of “interior managers” is simply “that hideous strength” that has stood, all but invisible, behind every throne since there were thrones to stand behind.  In 1816, the great American conservative John Randolph of Roanoke felt this hideous strength pressing on his neck like the foot of a “great mammoth,” and he was appalled by the sudden knowledge that the “outward administration” of the American government—and of the American churches—were mere toys when compared with this Beast.

Here is Randolph in 1816, as quoted in Garland’s biography of the great man:

“We are tied hand and foot, sir, and bound to conciliate this great mammoth, which is set up to worship in this Christian land: we are bound to propitiate it. Thus whilst our government denounces hierarchy; will permit no privileged order for conducting the services of the only true God; whilst it denounces nobility—has a privileged order of new men grown up, the pressure ‘of whose foot, sir, I feel at this moment on my neck . . . .this monstrous alliance between the bank and the government.”††

*) Hugh A. Garland, The Second War of Revolution (Washington: Office of the Democratic Review, 1839), p. 6-7
**) Edmund Burke, Cause of the Present Discontents (London: J Dodsley, 1770), p. 32.
***) Burke, Discontents, p. 36.
†) Burke, Discontents, p. 35.
††) Hugh A. Garland, The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke, two vols. (New York: Appleton & Co., 1856), vol. 2, p. 81.

27 thoughts on ““Our Democracy” is Rule by a Hidden Cabal

  1. I maintain–I think I have commented here to this effect, I probably ought to expand on this idea at some point–that seemingly coordinated evil on a massive, bureaucratic scale is less conspiracy and more emergent flocking behavior.

    If we assume there is one bureaucrat in middle management of some government agency, and he has a team of four, and each member of that team themselves oversees a team of four, all the way out to the far flung outposts of the National Park Service. If that one bureaucrat is dedicated to evil, and HR structures of government prevent him from being removed, and indeed perhaps his dedicated evil makes him good at his job, then his team of four will seek to please him by adopting some form of his evil, and their teams, so on and so forth, all the way out to those far flung outposts of the national park service. No one has chosen to be evil, and no coordinated effort has been made to promote evil. Everyone is just trying to make their boss happy, and get through their day with as little agitation as possible.

    If that one evil bureaucrat has an evil bureaucrat friend and they meet for lunch on thursdays, then maybe they can coordinate their evil. But then, the conspiracy remains between just two people, and the hideous strength is less commitment to evil and more a desire to please ones boss.

    So really “that hideous strength” is a condemnation of entrenched bureaucracy, which becomes evil by emergent “follow the leader” behavior and evil is able to expand and grow when it is not cleaned out regularly. A small efficient government is certainly able to minimize it’s hideous strength, but it is also less able to serve the whims of the people and politicians. It seems to me that it is a paradox: You can have a government with a hidden, hideous strength, or you can have an ineffective and weak government. Small, weak governments can’t be evil; big, effective governments can’t be good.

    • I think that “flocking behavior” is how most of us choose to be evil. The blood of Caligula does not flow in our veins so we sin more from sloth than from pride. Do you know C.S. Lewis’s essay, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast?” The scene is a banquet where the devils are about to feast on the souls of the damned, and Screwtape in his toast apologizes for the blandness of modern sinners

      It would be in vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.

      Oh, to get one’s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or evena Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you’d got it down.

      Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistak- ably a Little Man — a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances — a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly be- cause everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn’t. They all tasted to me like un- dersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their “normalcy,” or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Cassanova, they were nauseating . . .

    • I echo all that has been said thus far. Coincidentally, I have a friend who has done trainings for the National Park Service nationwide and is frustrated by the difference in understanding of real problems between the people he is training and their remote supervisors. And as a further oddity, I suspect a younger cousin of mine, also a JMSMITH, has risen to become one of those remote supervisors in the Department of the Interior. This would not be a good thing.

      But to the original point, this is indeed the problem we have with any large bureaucracy, and yes, only a large bureaucracy will have the reach to get things done, though it be directed by a tight group at the top. From any point of authority, good or evil, poison or nutrition, seeps down to those below, though they be good men and women themselves. Even the most virtuous and enlightened of leaders will have others who effect their policies, and those others will be drawn from the common lot of mankind, which is flawed.

      It is for this reason that we raise a warning flag when entire industries or occupations drift toward moral indifference or even evil. The “common lot” they draw from will be worse than average, and it is unlikely to grow better over time.

      Well, I seem to have joined a group of amiable deplorers over here, so let me make you all feel a little worse, though I believe accurately. There is another CS Lewis principle, that things can only fall as far as they can rise. Mad cows trouble us only a little – mad geniuses or charismatic leaders are the stuff of warning literature. Therefore, it may matter more that a Divinity School go 10% to evil than a grievance studies program go 90% evil. And uh, I am pretty familiar with what has been happening in denominational seminaries the last 50 years.

      • You and Scoot both make good points about institutional and social corruption, which means we all must take care in choosing our friends and colleagues. The moral and spiritual state of an individual tends to rise and fall with his group. Or to put the matter more precisely, it will rise and fall with that of the Cabal that actually governs the group. One sign of a titular boss is that he has no moral influence over his employees. To the extent a Cabal is known, it’s existence breeds contempt for the rules.

        I don’t know much about divinity schools, but think you may be correct that they can plumb uncharted depths of decadence. A decadent church is loathsome to behold.

    • Flocking, herding, etc. The like-minded find each other, conspire to mutual benefit (not only to do evil things, but “good”). When threatened as a herd, they circle the wagons, and emasculate or liquidate the enemy, as needed; when on the back-foot, they liquidate each other, a phenomenon history has witnessed for millenia I call the Leftist’s Circular Firing Squad. An animal behavior. Human beings are animals, that is, when bereft of divine inspiration.

    • Scoot, that’s totally convincing. It’s an argument for small and weak government. It is also an argument for distributed lethal power of government, and indeed for feudal hierarchy. If you are an employee of your boss, entirely dependent upon his good will for your promotion and success in the bureaucracy, you have little option to stymie such evils as he proposes. If on the other hand you are an independent duke with lands and resources and men at arms of your own, and a vassal to your lord, why then you have some wiggle room: you might decide to defect from your allegiance to your quondam lord on account of his perfidy, and pledge your fealty instead to some other duke.

      • Agreed, i’ve been musing on my blog for some time about the virtues and values of a feudal hierarchy. At risk of rudeness by self promoting, I would appreciate your take on some of my thoughts on the link I included, and anything else if you happen to find it interesting.

        In short, A feudal relationship is the most effective form of subsidiarity: the buck must always stop at the top, there is no one else to blame. And the role of both subject and sovereign is clear and unambiguous. Liberalism/Democracy makes people out to be kingmakers, so they think if they shout loud enough they deserve to be heard. it is not so.

      • @Scoot

        Even a feudal hierarchy can be subject to having its actual power subverted by a Cabal. And of their offices turned into mere acting as they are puppets of said power.

        The Cabal can and will do what it can to remain that hidden hand. And True Sovereign.

      • @Scoot

        On the other hand. When we have it for granted that feudal hierarchies are an effective form of subsidarity that is practically immune of very resistant to Cabal influence.

        Feudal societies aren’t as good at winning wars in the long term over centralized bureaucratic states.

        For one thing. Centralized bureaucratic states can mobilize far more troops with standardized equipment. And equip far more Men and with said machinery implement conscription.

        The reforms of Shang Yang for example who helped to build the first Totalitarian State in China abolished feudalism and promoted centralization:

        “The Warring States Period was a period of great transformation when China changed from a slave society to a feudal society. The kings of various countries continue to wage wars with each other, vying for living space. Military wars replaced the political hegemony in the Spring and Autumn Period. The kings of various countries launched many world-famous reforms and reforms in order to strengthen their own countries. Shang Yang Reform was one of them.”

        “1) The state recognizes private ownership of land and allows free trading.

        2) Encourage the people who are engaged in farming wars and produce a lot of grain and can be exempted from corvee.

        3) Grant titles and fields according to military merits, and abolish the privileges of old nobles without military merits.

        4) Establish a county system, and the monarch directly sends officials to govern.

        5) Improving population management and taxation systems.

        6) Rule the country by law. Law precedes credit and authority; the main content of law is “agriculture” and “war”, and “law” is the means by which the monarch governs the country. In addition, the main tendency of a country under the rule of law is to emphasize law and neglect morality.

        7) There is no hierarchy of punishment: the nobles, civilians, and slaves are included in the legal norms, and they are required to abide by the same law.”

        “After Shang Yang’s reforms, Qin’s economy developed and the military’s combat effectiveness continued to increase. Qin developed into the most powerful state in the late Warring States period. Qin soon ended the Warring States period. ”

        https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=114511

        This is aided by the democratization of war. Where the lower classes get more and more involved in War.

        The mass use of Crossbows which required far less training and expenses than the Chariot-riding Warrior Aristocracies at the time of the transition from Feudalism to Centralized Bureaucracy.

        The mass use of infantry wielding pointed weapons in formation to counter heavy cavalry.

        And mass use of muskets by infantry in Europe for example to also counter the Warrior Aristocracy.

        This eroded the Warrior Aristocracy over time and undermined Feudalism.

        https://www.quora.com/Why-didnt-China-have-a-dominant-warrior-aristocrat-class

        Bureaucratization and total mobilization is the only way to survive a Total War in the end. As is evident in WWI and WWII.

      • A cabal might like sham feudalism as much as it likes sham monarchy and sham democracy, but cabals always aim to centralize actual power. Actual feudalism is no more liked by cabalists than actual federalism, which is why they always destroy it.

  2. The True Power must always be exposed. Where the buck really stops is where the True Sovereign lies.

    All Sovereigns in the Human sense relies on Keys of Power. Men in Key Power nodes who are loyal to said Sovereign and who carry out his will.

    If the Keys of Power aren’t Loyal. The Sovereign isn’t truly on the Throne. It becomes a mere ceremony by that point.

    And the proported Sovereign is just playing dress up in a Live Action Role Play.

    Only God has Sovereignty truly from himself. And doesn’t need the loyalty of his subjects to have Power in himself.

  3. SInce I came to my independent understanding of this — in the midst of anguished prayer over the debacle of the peace movement dissolving in Obama worship — I realized that this principle applies to the tiniest of governments — it applies to extended families and to church groups. For example, the peace group I knew best I also headed. Why was I the head? Because I was the newest one. As time went on, I realized that I was a figurehead chosen precisely because the older old hippies of the group could subvert Christianity using peacemaking as their cover while pointing to me as the fresh youth (at 41! LOL) who’d now taken over leadership.

    (Yes, I am long ago resigned from that bunch and also from that denomination.)

    This applies even when people try desperately to make consensus decision making work. In fact, I think consensus makes that hideous strength thrive because then all the corridors of power within the group are thoroughly hidden. Does anyone here know the phrase “subgrouping” from psychology? We’re talking about subgrouping on a small from that of a church club all the way up to the relationships between the filthiest richest of the global richie riches.

    • You are right that the process of rule by a hidden cabal is found everywhere. The group of which you were titular head was dishonest about its government and its purpose. There is a good chance even those old hippies didn’t know who was pulling their strings, or why. I suspect there is somewhere an anonymous cabal that ought to be called the International Directorate of Grassroots Organizations.

  4. At what point did “Our Democracy” become the sloganeering that it is today? Do you know?

    As I have written elsewhere, I have an 8th grade “History” book in my possession that loudly proclaims throughout the mission of the US to “make the world safe for Democracy.”

    My recollection is that the book in question as written c. 1938, but I cannot put my hands on the book to confirm (or not) that publication date. In any case, my wife got the book for me at a used book sale some few years back. When I started thumbing through its pages, the overwhelming thought came to me, “oh my God!, this is a much bigger problem than I had before thought!”

    • “Making the world safe for Democracy” was an ideal slogan because American communists could say it with a clear conscience. By 1938 there were plenty of Americans to whom “democracy” meant communism, and thy naturally gravitated to public education.

      • Don’t you realize that “American Communists” is a contradiction in terms? *wink, wink*

        Seriously, though, I have been told this many times over the course of years – mostly by would-be American Communists who in fact *would be* if our system did not proscribe full-blown USSR-style “American Communism.”

      • The road of equality leads to communism. Travelers can stop to rest beside this road, but sooner or later the road beckons and move a little farther down it. Political equality entails social equality, and social equality entails economic equality. “Fellow travelers” are just chumps who don’t know where they are going.

    • At what point did “Our Democracy” become the sloganeering that it is today? Do you know?

      There are two parts to this question, or rather, two ways to read this question.

      If you mean to ask, at what point did it become the same message that it has today, or close enough kin that the tracing of the particulars is easy, I’d say you put your thumb fairly well on the right date, though there are plenty of others you could choose. For example, we still live in the America of Manifest Destiny; the difference is simply that the Destiny America intends to Manifest is interpreted through microscopically different sets of unprincipled exceptions to liberalism. But I suppose somewhere in the 1917-1938 time period is when that Destiny no longer simply applied to America and her self-evident vassal-states – er, I mean nearby neighbours under the Monroe Doctrine.

      If, however, you mean to ask, when did “Our Democracy” (or republican virtues, etc) and its spread to immanetize the eschaton of Political Heaven on Earth, become the principal aim of the State, I’d put my finger squarely on 1688. Or, better, 1627, with the Massacre at Merrymount.

      Of course the central problem of the idea of liberalism as the foundational principle of governance and the unending cycle of violence to force it to be so goes further back than that.

      • I agree that there are two questions and suggest we tie them to two slogans. “Making the world safe for democracy” means making the world unsafe for anything that democracy dislikes. “Defending Our Democracy” means defending the current managerial elite. One justifies aggression outward, the other aggression inward, and aggression is naturally represented as defensive.

  5. Interesting quotes.

    I would say that conspiracy and flocking behavior are not mutually exclusive. A clever conspiracy would even use flocking behavior to make its rule more efficient because then it has to do less directly.

    One of the biggest issues related to the corruption of “our democracy” is that whether cabal or no, people are reluctant to call politicians, bureaucrats, financiers, etc., evil. But what else is grinding people into the dust for decades while enriching yourself? And not just any anybody, but one’s own people to whom one has a responsibility.

    One will search in vain for a passage in the Bible or anywhere else that says if you grind peopel into the dust and seek their utter destruction but do it in a subtle way while wearing a suit on TV then it’s okay. And yet many people speak and behave as if they think exactly that.

    • Everything I have read about conspiracies says that conspiracies have outer rings of individuals who do not understand the conspiracy and may not even know they are part of it. We see this in an advertising campaign that manufactures a trend by declaring that it exists when it does not. Then before you know it there is an actual trend of people who have flocked to the conspiracy. Written orders are not the only way to coordinate behavior.

      • This structure is in fact explicitly understood and promulgated by the Comintern, for example, in their recommendations on how to structure Communist ‘front’ organizations for subversive action.

  6. James Lawrence is a sane fellow and has written some excellent posts about this subject (and related) that I have linked to below, taking it upon himself to better develop Mencius Moldbug’s descriptive constitution of the modern regime, as consisting of Democracy *as opposed to Popularchy*, where the Demos is the regime whereas the People are the sovereign. Excellent analyses here and here:

    1) https://affirmativeright.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-perennialist-theory-of-democracy.html
    2) https://affirmativeright.blogspot.com/2021/02/democracy-versus-popularchy.html

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