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Three Circles of Power

When we examine the heart of power, we can distinguish three strata:

1 – A mass of inert-conservatives using 90% of their energy to protect their micro-lordships. These individuals federate from time to time in order to resist any kind of change. Their main weapon is to be present and to delay action as much as possible. The conduct of change is out of their range, and they respond to it by the strategy of the turtle. The bureaucratic heart of this mass is protected by a cartel of obtuse centurions.

2 – A small minority of operetta-leaders. Their official presence only corresponds to a transitory box to tick on their cursus honorum. They practice a strategy of ambiguity in order to impose on their subordinates any impulse coming from above, claiming that they were the authors of these ideas. What is important for them is to maintain a complete opacity on the instructions received from above in order to play their role of false decision-making perfectly. 

3 – Between these two strata, we find the interesting underworld of the agents of influence. They have very clear objectives, and work in small but fluid groups, suitable for any reorganisation. They function as a small colony of cuckoos seeking to replace the false decision makers. To do so, they play on several pianos at a time to advance their interests. Very often, their political purpose simply dresses up their individual interests, but this is not always the case. These agents of influence form groups, which compete with one another. In order to be effective, they must gather strategic information, coordinate intelligence, and use their intuition to decipher the weak signals of the mysterious false decision-makers. They must grasp the positional alignments in order to push their interests, surprising their opponents who are double: the inert masses and their own influence rivals.

From this, we can conclude that innovation is situated outside the realm of the inert bureaucratic masses and the circle of the fake decision-makers. We can also conclude that the political life constituted by these three circles is eminently fluid. As a result, a deep state does not exist as a structured and uniform stratum. We are rather dealing with competing and moving minorities bending the decision in one direction and then in the other, according to their positions on the game of chess. As the masses conspire against the cuckoos — who are the agents of change — their only way to exist is to allow the false decision-makers to give, from time to time, the illusion of change. Obviously, this contributes to the promotion of their careerist interests. In short, intelligent leaders will take from time to time a cuckoo in his hand, and move its wings, before locking it carefully into his cage.

This piece was written by Thomas Flichy de La Neuville, Professor at Saint-Cyr’s military academy, and Research Professor at IWP.