The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Which Is the Shadow, and Which Is the Real Government?

Mar 4, 2002

The Bush administration has leaked a “top-secret” secret–and with such fanfare that everyone was sure to notice. It seems, according to administration spokespersons who confirmed the leak, that there is a “shadow government,” set up in place in case the “real government” is unable to carry on.

According to stories circulated in the press, plans for this “shadow government” were set up during the Eisenhower administration, during the height of the Cold War, but never implemented.

Bush, however, has decided that the time is now ripe to put this “shadow government” into existence. Al Qaeda might be able, he says, to detonate a portable nuclear device in Washington, knocking out the real government. Thus, top officials of the army, the state department, the treasury and other such essential agencies have been taking turns living and working in hidden underground bunkers, “somewhere on the Eastern seaboard.” A Pentagon spokesperson added, “you don’t want the bad guys to know where you’re putting your people and what your plans are.”

The Bad Guys! Sounds like the Bush administration has seen one too many Westerns, getting its scripts mixed up.

In any case, one thing is true: There is a “shadow government,” but it’s long been in place, although not in these secret “bunkers.” The “shadow government” is that part of the state apparatus which continues, no matter who sits in the White House pretending to make policy. It’s that part of government that no one sees, but which makes all the “real” decisions. The generals, the diplomatic corps, the top layers of the secret police agencies, the people who control the federal reserve bank and its various parts, the top courts–these people are not elected, they do not serve at the will of the people, but they make the basic essential decisions. Most of them the population couldn’t name. They don’t appear in public defending their policies. But they are, in fact, the real government. Elected officials, sitting in the White House and Congress, are in reality only THEIR shadow, window dressing for all the non-elected people who make public policy.

Of course, when a Republican sits in the White House, certain corporations get more consideration than others–the Enron affair shows us that. Just as when a Democrat sits there, capitalists like Marc Rich got an extra bit of help. And the Democrats occasionally give a few crumbs to the unions to assure their loyalty at the next election.

But underneath, there is always a continuity of policy, the main goal of which is to defend the basic interests of the capitalists who control the economy and who require the help of the state apparatus to do it.

But, of course, this is not what Bush is talking about today, when he refers to the “shadow government.” Bush is simply making more propaganda, still trying to keep our fears alive and to use them against us. We continue to be bombarded by “terror alerts,” telling us that a new attack could happen any day–even while big companies like Boeing which carry on military work have been told they can relax their security procedures.

For the Bush administration, September 11 has been a very useful weapon, and they’ve used it almost every day since in one way or another, always with the aim of convincing us we must sacrifice. They tell us we must accept more layoffs, lower wages, worse conditions in the cities where we live, worse schools for our children, reduced pensions for people who retire, less access to medical care for the elderly, even while the biggest corporations in the country are getting ready to grab still more profit. Our sacrifices go for nothing other than to pay for these profits.

This is the real policy of the government today–both “shadow” and “real.” And we are not served by either one.

Yes, we have to defend ourselves–but against all these rapacious agents of American capitalism and against the corporations that make their profit from our labor.