The Deep State, Hegemony, and Democracy
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Like “Dark Money” (see Chapter 6) the idea of a “Deep State” is best conceived not as an overarching, single conspiracy theory but as a sphere of politics that spawns operational conspiracies. The Deep State is real but it is not monolithic, nor are all its activities malevolent. However, it does operate in the shadow of national security institutions and in what Timothy Melley (though he eschews “conspiracy theory”) calls the “covert sphere.” Abetted by popular fiction, the Deep State fosters indifference and amnesia about its abuses of constitutional authority and violations of human rights, in effect hiding its operational conspiracies in plain sight and enabling the national security apparatus to thwart efforts to curb its power after major scandals. This is particularly threatening to democracy under an emotionally and politically unstable Donald Trump, who has charged the security establishment with complicity in plots to bring his presidency down and has challenged some central tenets of American internationalist policies, but also, on the other hand, used hypernationalism and fear of terrorism to free the military and police from constitutional, legal, and human rights restrictions on its operations.