Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seilschaft vs. Deep State

Seilschaft is my current Word of the Month. It's a hidden network of people with a shared outlook and common background who work together and support each other inside an institution. Readers may wonder if a Seilschaft is the same as a "deep state", a term used by the Trump administration in its claim that there exists a clandestine network across the intelligence community that aims at undermining the president through leaks.

The notion of a deep state
"comes from the Turkish derin devlet, a clandestine network, including military and intelligence officers, along with civilian allies, whose mission was to protect the secular order established, in 1923, by the father figure of post-Ottoman Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was behind at least four coups, and it surveilled and murdered reporters, dissidents, Communists, Kurds, and Islamists." (David Remnick, "There is no Deep State", The New Yorker, March 20, 2017)
Clearly, a Seilschaft and a deep state have things in common: They are secret networks and established deliberately. But there are also significant differences. A Seilschaft tends to be smaller and restricted to a group within a single institution. Its purpose is, first of all, to provide fellow comrades with cushy jobs—someone gets in and then tries to help others to fill positions that open up. There may be a political side effect because the members of a Seilschaft have a shared world view, which may influence their decisions. There may even be Seilschaften (that's the plural) whose explicit goal is to advance a political agenda. But that is not a necessary condition for something to be called a Seilschaft. A deep state, on the other hand, tends to be large and spread over various institutions, and its members do pursue a common political goal. They spring into action when they see an opportunity to advance it or see it threatened by political enemies.

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