The Deeply Deranged State of the “Deep State” Conspiracy Theory

This is an effort by the Obama administration to undermine the Trump administration.”-Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie “We’re up against a permanent bureaucratic structure defending itself and quite willing to break the law to do so” -Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich “The Deep State that we talk about, they’re out for blood.”-Sean Hannity

L
ately we’ve heard much about “Deep State” in the media, even in this very magazine. It seems to be a rather popular conspiracy theory among assorted supporters of President Trump.

It is to be found even in the conspiratorial depths of the White House itself where its most vehement proponent is none other than Presidential Adviser Steve Bannon, the former Brietbart editor who is often cited as the man behind the idea that the judiciary, civil servants and the media are hostile to the White House and even the US Constitution. He has previously referred to the media as the “opposition party” or alternatively as “the enemy of the people,” and recently told the Conservative Party Conference that he supported the “deconstruction of the administrative state”. One of his missions is to fight the enemies of Western Civilization, another is “to deconstruct” Deep State.

One may ask: what exactly is Deep State? Does it even exist? Well, it all depends on whether or not you are a fan of conspiracy theories, fake news, and alternate facts. These are rather general phenomena in the era of post-truth. Those phenomena are abetted even by some attorneys and so called journalists whose duty ought to be the uncovering of the truth.

Deep State is a belief that holds that there is a network of shadowy, powerful government agencies (among which spy agencies) and the military which secretly manipulate the government. It used to be called “fake news,” but now it is called Deep State. Since the middle of February searches for the term “deep state” have increased dramatically— a sure sign that it’s gaining traction online and in the media in general. It was bound to be picked up and used by Trump’s political allies.

There is a reality show with racist tendencies making the rounds on TV dubbed “Infowars” by Paul Sperry. It is prone to create “alternate facts” in the era of post-truth asserting, as we speak, that Obama is organizing an army of activists at his home only a few miles from the White House, ready to spark a Civil War. One wonders: is this sheer political paranoia, or sheer mental derangement? Not easy to tell. Even Lincoln and the other founding fathers, all believers in reasoned discourse and common sense, must be turning in their grave

In any case, the belief in Deep State is reminiscent of a cult of sorts. It is believed firmly, never mind the facts, that an alleged intelligence-led coup is out to undermine the new presidency thus preventing it from draining the swamp of corruption and save Adams’ Republic of Virtue from mortal danger, something that was promised during the campaign. We are back to the birther movement. One way they accomplish this is allegedly via politically damaging leaks. Quite a few of the twits of Trump encourage his supporters to “get the leakers,” never mind that during the campaign he was going around proclaiming that “I love Wiki Leak.”

In fact, it was leaks that forced the resignation of former Security Adviser Michael Flynn only three weeks into the new administration entered the White House, when it was revealed that, before the inauguration, he lied about discussions with Russia’s ambassador to Washington. It was leaks from US intelligence officials of alleged ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign staff that led to the Congressional investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016’s presidential election; something still ongoing and potentially leading to impeachment. The term Deep State is now used to describe the souring relationship of Trump with the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA. Allegedly some elements in the intelligence community, professional bureaucrats, government workers, the judiciary, the military, and all those unelected employee who run the government on a daily basis are working against the president. In an iconic illustration of Deep State, those are the underground roots under the Capitol which need to be forcibly eradicated, never mind that those people have been dutifully and patriotically working at their government jobs for decades.

All of the above frustrations with leaks designed to undermine Trump’s administration, has inevitably led to an attempt to cover up what the leaks reveal. One strategy is to boost the credibility of the Deep State conspiracy theory.

As one peruses those inhinged conspiracy theories about Deep State one cannot but notice the plethora of vituperations and insults which come close to fanaticism and hatred. There is precious little reasoned lucid discourse on the meaning of a Democratic Society. It feels like Germany in the early 30s when ideology was paramount. What seems to count is loyalty to the new sheriff in town parading as a reforming populist president. The idea that Democracy and freedom itself may be in jeopardy under this kind of mind-set is not contemplated for a minute.

Will history end up repeating itself? Eventually, history itself will render a verdict on such an inquiry. In any case, one thing remains true: those afflicted by oblivion of their own history are condemned to repeat its mistakes and atrocities.

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Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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