Over the past several years, debates about America’s so-called “deep state”—the web of agencies, career civil servants, and unelected bureaucrats responsible for a growing amount of federal policymaking—have increasingly found their way into political discourse in the United States. Though these arguments occasionally take conspiratorial turns, at their core is perhaps the most important question in political science: Who rules, the people or the bureaucrats?
In Mosaic’s September 2020 essay, the lauded Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur takes us inside the workings of another country’s deep state: Israel’s. He makes a surprising and thought-provoking case, one that might seem counterintuitive to many Americans. He argues that while the Israeli bureaucracy is unelected and largely unaccountable, it is also an indispensable source of fiscal prudence and market discipline in a political system rife with profoundly distorted incentives.
In this podcast, Gur speaks with Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver about his essay. They explore how Israel’s socialist roots still influence contemporary economic debates, the legacy of Israel's 1980s economic turmoil, and how the budgetary bureaucracy counter-weighs dysfunction elsewhere in Israel’s political system.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.