State within a state

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For sovereign states whose territory is surrounded by another sovereign state, see Enclave and exclave#Enclaved countries.
"Deep State" redirects here. For the alleged Turkish system, see Deep state.

State within a state is a political situation in a country when an internal organ ("Deep State"), such as the armed forces, intelligence agencies, or police, does not respond to the civilian leadership. The term, like many in politics, derives from the Greek language (κράτος εν κράτει, kratos en kratei, later adopted into Latin as imperium in imperio[1] or status in statu).

Sometimes, the term refers to state companies that, though formally under the command of the government, act de facto like private corporations. Sometimes, the term refers to companies that, though formally private, act de facto like "states within a state".[2]

Certain political debates surrounding the separation of church and state revolve around the perception that if left unchecked, the Church might turn into a kind of State within a State, an illegitimate outgrowth of the State's natural civil power.[3]

Imperium in imperio was also the first state motto of Ohio, reflecting its great size and influence within the early United States. The motto proved unpopular and was replaced two years later.[4][5]

Alleged cases of “state within a state”[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ from Baruch Spinoza: Tractatus politicus, Caput II, § 6.
  2. ^ Daniel De Leon: "Imperium in imperio" in: Daily People, June 4, 1903.
  3. ^ Cf William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, IV, c.4 ss. iii.2, p. *54, where the charge of being imperium in imperio was notably levied against the Church
  4. ^ "Great Seal of Ohio". Ohio History 10: 392–393. 
  5. ^ Knabenshue, S. S. "The Great Seal of Ohio". Ohio History 10: 489–490. 
  6. ^ BBC On This Day: May 26, 1981
  7. ^ Who Controls Pakistan's Powerful ISI?, Radio Free Europe, August 14, 2008
  8. ^ "Pakistan's shadowy secret service, the ISI". BBC News. 3 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Ambinder, Marc; Grady, D.B. (2013). Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Wiley. ISBN 978-1118146682. 
  10. ^ Priest, Dana; Arkin, William M. (2011). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0316182214. Lay summaryThe Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here. (July 9, 2013). 
  11. ^ Scott, Peter Dale (March 10, 2014). "The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld". The Asia-Pacific Journal 12 (10, No. 5). 
  12. ^ Jordan Michael Smith (October 19, 2014). "Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.". The Boston Globe.