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The reality of America’s Deep State

Donald Trump has become the ringmaster of the Deep State cult

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

It is difficult, especially in these days and times, to believe that America is essentially a kind of Utopia. But it is.

“Utopia”, of course, is from Utopia by Thomas More.

The full title of the work is: Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia – A little, true book, not less beneficial than enjoyable, about how things should be in a state and about the new island Utopia.

The Greek word Utopia has the prefix “ou” which means “not”, and topos: “place”, ending with the suffix :-iā. That means “Not place” or “no place”.

In other words, Utopia is nowhere; a place that does not exist. America as Utopia does not exist either, but that has not stopped Americans from trying to find it. To be an American is partly to be a utopian.

The USA, created by many peoples and individuals, has at its root the kind of Protestantism that is utopian and also individualistic. It is a belief convinced of its own innate goodness and truth. A solitary belief, if necessary.

It is this innate belief that Ronald Reagan was talking about when he said that the goal of America was to be “The shining city on the hill”.

That America had progressed towards that goal in no small part by enslaving African peoples and the routing of indigenous people from their land was beside the point. The point was to believe in that shining city and to take steps to reach it.

Expressions like “Black Lives Matter” are intrinsically utopian: the belief that the “shining city on the hill” of racial equality is out there, just over the horizon: to be achieved.

Both the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump share the same utopian qualities of vision and reward.

And like twins: “Yes We Can” and “Make America Great Again”, those presidencies existed within the same arc of time: an exhaustion of the American Dream.

There are plenty on both sides of the American political divide who believe that the defeat of these two visions was because of the Deep State. The Hidden.

American colonisers held the belief that indigenous people were ruled by some “super chief”, someone hidden in the background guiding operations; making the plans.

Conservatives in the 1960s began to believe that the civil rights movement, feminism and the anti-war movement were the product of the machinations of the remaining communists that they did not manage to get to and lock up in the 1950s through the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Despite being routed, the theory went, the commies were still secretly in charge via the Deep State.

You can hear echoes of this today when Liz Truss and the Daily Mail explain that, despite 12 years of Conservative rule, the Deep State is still controlling Britain and choking the potential of Brexit.

The American left believes in the Deep State too. Three Days of the Condor has its best scene at the end of the movie, when Robert Redford is escaping a CIA-hired assassin through the streets of Manhattan, convinced that the government is out to get him, his face a map of shifting glances as he examines every person who passes him by.

In The Godfather, when someone suggests that the government does not have anyone killed, Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone tells the man in ironic tones that he is naive.

The Watergate cover-up was Deep State for real. And the federal government did run an illegal surveillance operation supervised by the FBI. It was called COINTELPRO – CounterIntelligence Program – and existed from about 1956 to 1971. Its aim was to nail the alleged communist influence in the civil rights movement.

Today, the Trumpian right believes that same FBI is a tool of a left-controlled Deep State that is behind the raid on Mar-a-Lago.

They have their own media telling them that the Deep State is real – including radio host Alex Jones, able to make millions peddling the lie that the massacre of teachers and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 actually never happened. That this tragedy was actually a fantasy created by the Deep State.

Now he will have to pay £40million to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook, after a court defeat that his supporters will no doubt blame on the Deep State.

The Deep Staters have their ring master in Donald J Trump, barker for his own lethal carnival. He has weaponised the idea of the Deep State with much more effectiveness than even senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.

The FBI’s execution of a warrant recently to search his estate in Florida for classified material, taken there without clearance from the National Archives, allows him to extend the idea of Deep State among what can only be called his cult.

Many of those cultists are not utopians but millenarians. They believe that America is heading towards a final battle, an apocalyptic event that will finally deliver the promise of the shining city on the hill.

And that meanwhile it is the Deep State, ultimately the work of Satan, that is preventing the call and the battle.

The Deep State has been reality in the form of COINTELPRO and it is also the nation’s dream state. It is subtext and uber-text and if you cannot grasp this, even a little, you cannot grasp something intrinsic to America.

TS Eliot wrote in The Waste Land, published 100 years ago this year, a question that still applies:

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish?

When reading these lines, I hear after the poet’s question: “In the land of the Free. And the Home of the Brave.

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