Culture of impunity

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Concept.png Culture of impunity 
The idea that particular circumstances will prevent one from being punished — a key component in the development and operation of the deep state.

A culture of impunity is a culture without expectation that punishment will be applied. It is necessarily a privilege, prevailing only within a particular group of people and/or at a particular time or location.


Throughout history, groups have created and nurtured narratives to exempt themselves from otherwise universal concepts of justice. These have been particularly effective when they built on special status already afforded, for example, to religious or other leaders.

A particularly effective example was the "divine right of kings". This has been replaced in turn by more nebulous alternatives such as "national security".

Specific individuals

Full article: Too big to jail

While many deep politicians try to keep a low profile, others try to establish a reputation as too "powerful" to be subject to normal strictures, whether due to an abundance of lawyers, money and/or influence over other such individuals. In modern parlance, they are "too big to jail", an epithet often applied to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Specific groups

Effective cultures of impunity are important in the success or failure of criminal syndicates, especially deep states. The modern US deep state's culture of impunity was dramatically demonstrated by the JFK hit and subsequent cover-up. The culture of impunity for deep state operatives remains in force as of 2020. Political leaders and their retainers are largely impervious to legal sanctions, inviting comment that "accountability isn't just for little guys."[1]


Full article: Party politics

Shallow politicians are occasionally punished for minor indiscretions, but the system of party politics is set up to prevent politicians from being "held to account". In the UK, there is no legislative restriction on promising voters one thing and doing exactly the opposite when elected. A bill introduced by a British MP to try to change that received very little support from his peers.

Deep state operatives

Full article: Deep state operatives

Deep politicians work hard to cultivate a culture of impunity within their organisations. This is facilitated by access to (or better still, control of) other deep state groups or individuals with de jure exclusive access to information. Such de facto control over the narrative greatly facilitates efforts to evade punishment.


Full article: Bankers

The monopoly over money creation enjoyed by central banks affords unparalleled means with which to purchase influence. This seemingly unassailable position is illustrated in the fact that while debate is ongoing about whether commercial banks should be considered "too big to fail", the punishment of bankers for massive financial fraud is very rare,[2] as is discussion in the commercially-controlled media of the central banks which control the system.


Full article: Police

Members of police forces, like members of a criminal syndicate or like soldiers in wartime, may experience powerful, visceral feelings of loyalty and team spirit. These can override more abstract ideas such as the law. The "blue line" is an informal understanding between police officers which prevents them from testifying against one another. Occasional whistleblowers such as Adrian Schoolcraft provide an insight into the toxic effect of the resulting culture of impunity.

The rich

Full article: Stub class article Billionaire

While many nations do provide some legal representation for the financially poor who are accused of a crime, they almost all allow defendants to employ what lawyers they like (and any number of them), decreasing the chance that the rich are found guilty. Many crimes incur financial penalties, which are of no real significance to the extremely rich.

Specific occasions

A culture of impunity is sometimes limited to a particular time frame or set of circumstances.

"State of Emergency"

Full article: “State of emergency”

Governments often reserve the right (codified or otherwise) to declare a "national emergency". This can effectively nullify otherwise inalienable human rights, instantly creating a culture of impunity that can permit summary execution, torture etc.

In the 21st century, this is exemplified by the "war on terror". Although similar in the totality with which it abrogates civil liberties[3] it differs from traditional ideas of a "state of emergency" by its permanent and ubiquitous nature.


The deliberate killing of other humans is perhaps the canonical example of a crime, but in wartime — with regards to enemy soldiers — it is not only sanctioned, but lauded.

Chris Hedges in: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, describes the corrosive effect that sustained combat has on 99% of those involved. Most soldiers are very resistant to committing murder, an effect does not apply to psychopaths (~1%) and some of the war crimes to which this has led. These arguably both arise from and give rise to a temporary culture of impunity in warzones. Groups set up during wartime may continue that war's culture of impunity and extend it into peace time. Operation Gladio is the key example of this in the 20th century.

War Crimes

Full article: War crime

On paper, the idea of war crimes offers the hope of limiting the worst excesses of war, even as it lends legitimacy to the whole enterprise. In practice, prosecutions such as those following the My Lai massacre or Abu Ghraib are typically very lenient. Moreover they represent only the tip of the iceberg and are invariably subject to hugely selective enforcement; only the most egregious offences and only the most junior ranks of the military command structure are punished. Tony Blair, for example, generally agreed to have committed the supreme war crime (starting a war of aggression) was as of 2020 not only unpunished,[4] but the UK-government continued to fund bodyguards to prevent his arrest by concerned citizens.


Full article: PMC

Private Military Contractors (PMC) operate in warzones in which there is a generalised culture of impunity, sometimes both de facto and de jure.[5]


The endemic secrecy surrounding intelligence agencies renders de facto oversight impossible[6] (notwithstanding a project of supposed legal "reform" designed to hide this embarrassing truth behind a veil of parliamentary oversight). Perhaps inevitably, considering these groups' close connection to war, a culture of impunity has resulted, which combined with compartmentalisation allows for the commission of structural deep events such as the JFK assassination and the "war on terror". The one size fits all exemption, codified in many, perhaps most national legal systems is "national security".

Operation Gladio

Full article: Operation Gladio

The partial exposure of Operation Gladio ended decades of impunity for the Italian deep state.[7]


Full article: Rated 3/5 VIPaedophile

The Jeffrey Epstein Affair has awoken many people to the reality of sexual entrapment operations set up to use sexual blackmail. Whether this will be a watershed moment in ending the culture of impunity of those involved in such operations is as yet uncertain. VIPaedophile operations have long been a legal blindspot; for example, Peter Hayman escaped prosecution in 1978 after his solicitor personally lobbied the director of public prosecutions.[8]

MeToo movement

Full article: MeToo

The MeToo movement has seen a changed social norm around gestures of sexual attention, especially in a work environment, from men in more senior positions to women in less senior positions.[citation needed]


An example

Page nameDescription
Diplomatic immunity


  2. The Savings and Loan Fraud, with profits running into hundreds of billions of dollars, resulted in only a few prosecutions
  3. In the US, the 2012 NDAA claimed the right of indefinite imprisonment or assassination without trial, which Obama's casual admission that "we tortured some folks" extended the cultire of impunity to cover torture.
  4. Although he was convicted of warcrimes by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission