Thirteen Reflections of Golden Don in the Hall of Mirrors

by Jordy Cummings

 

These with a thousand small deliberations

Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,

Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,

With pungent sauces, multiply variety

In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do

Suspend its operations, will the weevil

Delay?

TS Eliot, Gerontion

 

1.

Roger Stone is a DC troublemaker of the old school. Stone was close to Lee ‘Willie Horton’ Atwater, supported the Contras and reaction more generally throughout the ‘New Cold War’ of the eighties. Stone and another backroom operator, Paul Manafort even lobbied for Marcos and for Mobutu, not to mention a Russian oligarch or two. Later on he worked with Al Sharpton, FBI informant. All of this is to say that, whatever is being said about his connections with everyone from the Russians to Julian Assange – though WikiLeaks denies a connection with Stone – there is no doubt that Stone has friends in high places. Indeed, he recently admitted a relationship with the hacker Guccifer 2.0, widely said to be a Russian asset, and many point out that Stone seems to have predicted the Podesta e-mails being leaked. He continues, in his media persona, to take on a believable attitude of, well, not giving a shit. At various points, he claims to have been poisoned by secret agents, likely British Intelligence. He has a tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on his upper forearm. His credo and that of his comrades is ‘Admit nothing; deny everything; launch counterattack.’ That credo may well have a point of origin in a certain Roy Cohn.

Like Trump, Stone is a protégé of the legendary Cohn. Yet we hear hews and cries, not dissimilar in tone from some of Cohn’s invective, from a range of people, from Michael Moore to Bill Kristol that Trump is loyal not to America, but Moscow. Moore has put out the call to President Trump: ‘Vacate, you Russian Traitor’. Bill Kristol is more subtle, tweeting about how between Trump and what he himself calls the ‘deep state’, he’d take the latter any day. By this logic, Stone, a die-hard defender of all things ‘Make America Great Again’, is more Trumpite than perhaps even Trump himself, being allegedly a key element in a Moscow backed conspiracy to install what amounts to a Manchurian Candidate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And indeed, intelligence services do seem to have Stone as a ‘target’ for their investigations into the alleged activities of the Soviet Union Russia in ‘manipulating’, or ‘hacking’, the election. So, Roger Stone went on Alex Jones’ Infowars Radio a few weeks back and said: ‘The Deep State has got to cut the shit.’

Yet what is this ‘deep state’? Is it the one in which Trump has just appointed an architect of the torture and extraordinary rendition programme as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency? CIA operative Gina Haspel’s deviousness in ‘the company’ came early. As a top coordinator at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, the site of the torture of Abu Zubaydah, Haspel mocked Zubaydah and accused him of faking his symptoms. Yet the tradecraft that really seems to have impressed certain higher-up elements in the Agency, was her initiative in rationalizing the destruction of evidence. This has made her, according to a report in ProPublica, a divisive figure even in agency circles. In all reality, the ‘deep state’ is a hall of mirrors, a paranoid dog-eat-dog world riven with factionalism and competitive individualism. As can be seen in the recent Showtime Documentary, The Spymasters, featuring every living former CIA chief, the major division, it seems, in what they call the ‘IC’ (intelligence community), is roughly: torturers vs. drone-fetishists. And it is from this former crowd of rough and tumblers that we can situate the likes of Haspel and indeed, Roger Stone.

 

2.

We must agree with Roger Stone on the ‘deep state’. In the last instance, no radical should ever support what amounts to ‘deep state’ machinations towards a soft-coup. Even if one grants a wide manner of Russian involvement in the US election, as Glenn Greenwald astutely points out, if Donald Trump is bad, countenancing a ‘deep state’ takeover is entering waters far more uncharted. American democracy may be hollowed out and merely formal, but these forms are important, many won in spite of the desire of ruling classes. There are numerous avenues in which Trump is already being opposed, from the streets to the courts. Trump has provoked opposition from a wide manner of quarters. A leftish feminism is reaching broader and broader audiences, while socialist organizations are growing exponentially as spaces that Americans feel are necessary to oppose Trump. The reversal of the travel ban by some of the most classically Pacific Northwestern nerdy jurists is the real deal, but these bespectacled Washingtonians would not have had the gumption, I reckon, to stand against Trump, were it not for the spontaneous protests that arose against the Muslim ban. Any attempt to keep even a tiny amount of public oversight of the state, both deep and narrow, would be stopped in its tracks if Trump lay victim to palace intrigue.

 

3.

The situation in regards to those Russia connections right now, is pretty fucking confusing. Why would the CIA go after a businessman? Is this a power grab by ‘the deep state,’ a term that has gotten so loose in comparison to how it has been used to signify elements in, say, the Greek and Turkish states, to nearly have no meaning? Many use it to signify specifically, the intelligence and police apparatuses that organise beyond command hierarchies and formal legalities. This makes sense to a limited degree, but is that how it is now being used in Alex Jones-inflected commentary? Perhaps not. In any case, the investigation of a prominent businessman and potential politician who may well have financial ties to organized crime, domestic as well as foreign – the latter of which are often connected with states – doesn’t seem, on the face of it, to be of a piece with how the Greek deep state pressured the SYRIZA government to capitulate to the Troika. In addition, the moves against Trump involve elements beyond the intelligence and police services, indeed they seem largely driven by freelancers like former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, Clinton machine operatives like John Podesta and Sid Blumenthal, consultants, people with connections of one form or another.

So then, what is it that is driving the CIA – or to be more clear, networks within the CIA and other government institutions, to go to war with Trump? Can it partially be deemed a sort of civil servant mini-rebellion, akin to the Park service alternate twitter accounts, the State Department resignations and the like? This could plausibly be a motivation for mid-level intelligence operatives, in the same way revelations inspired Ellsberg, Snowden, Manning and so on. John Le Carré is renowned for his critical eye towards his former employers in the secret services but doesn’t mince words when writing about ‘traitors’ like Kim Philby. To Le Carré, what Philby is alleged to have done – blown networks, gotten people killed – goes beyond ‘politics’, it is institutional, not political treason. An angle of institutional or corporate loyalty overriding going-along-to-get-along may well be hegemonic at Langley, where more than a few likely have the Washington Post’s David Ignatius on speed-dial. Yet this seems far more organized, and as much driven by media, in particular CNN, as it is by ‘the deep state’. This could well have to do with the liberal intelligentsia, and in particular, the educated denizens of the intelligence services and diplomatic corps’ genuine revulsion at Trump as well as revulsion toward the masses and potential change coming from below. Yet there is probably more to it than that.

An unfinished side-note to this comes in the form of the revelation that the disgraced General Flynn, even while advising Trump, was a lobbyist/agent of the Turkish state, even writing an op-ed comparing Gulen to Bin Laden. The connections between Flynn and Turkey are verified, and now a matter of public record. Could Flynn’s Russia connections, always circumstantial, be a mere McGuffin for his all-too-real role as a Turkish operative? How better to throw off the scent of working for one tyranny than appearing to work for another? Could this be the real reason he had to walk the plank? Could it be that the Turkey story is so explosive and implicates far too broad a segment of the American lobbying scene that Russia has become the focus so everyone else can keep their head up and above the fray? Very little is known at this point about Flynn’s connection to Turkey, whose interests don’t necessarily align with Moscow.

 

4.

Trump is stepping on a lot of toes that are attached to powerful feet. To call Trump a traitor would be ludicrous. It is true, however, that while comfortable with a containable Trump, the American ruling class (as a whole) wants to do everything possible to stop Trump from fundamentally altering the ‘world alliance’, such as, by downgrading NATO and other international institutions and preferring to deal with Europe, as Bannon has said, on a bilateral basis. For some people around Trump, from Stone, Flynn and Manafort, to Bannon and the Breitbart crowd, the ‘liberal international order’ is not worth sustaining, materially or ideologically. It may well have been a mistake in the first place. Yet any time there are revelations about Russia we see a bit of a media two-step. Trump goes out and plays to the crowd about ‘fake news’ and, in a perhaps unintentional act of trolling, calls the media ‘enemies of the people’, while Mike Pence, Mattis and others are quietly trotted out to genuflect to NATO or the very existence of the European Union. Yet what Trump wants seems unclear. His White House seems chaotic, to a point that people don’t even want to work there. Trump is all image: he has been open about wanting to pick cabinet members and agency chiefs as if they were out of central casting. John Bolton’s moustache was too garish for Trump, preferring, as he does, the gristled old school appeal of Rex Tillerson. Beyond knee-jerk Fox News-derived ‘analysis’ there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Trump himself holds any fixed positions on international affairs. He does, however, have positions on making money. Making money is tremendous! Indeed, the collective ‘hive mind’ of the state/media ideological state apparatus that is pounding Trump may well be coming from a multiplicity of places, but cannot be reduced, in a vulgar Marxist sense, to a single tangible ‘interest’. Trump’s Russia connections on the other hand, most certainly can. Capitalism.

 

5.

So back to Roger Stone. Stone, Manafort, Bannon and company are concretely rooted in a far-right network that seems to have worked within the ‘deep state’ since way back when, but have a bit of a tendency to go a bit far for those who I would call the ‘sober analysts’, from Arthur Schlesinger to Ezra Klein. Perhaps the debut of this tendency was the adventurism of General Douglas McArthur, who wanted to extend the Korean War all the way into China. And indeed, McArthur’s adventurism was of a piece with Roy Cohn and Joe McCarthy’s red-hunting project, which was about ‘who lost China?’ Joe McCarthy himself whelped about ‘communists and queers’ in the State Department, not unlike Donald Rumsfeld and his macho pals griping about Colin Powell in the George W. Bush era. Of those targeted by Cohn and McCarthy, it was the fabled ‘China Hands’ like renowned scholar Owen Lattimore that bore the brunt of their crusading zeal. Notably Lattimore, who had a good deal of pull at Foggy Bottom, as an eminent China scholar, was disliked by his colleagues for his unvarnished attitude towards the various forces at play in China at the time. No Maoist by any stretch, he nevertheless was pretty critical of Chiang Kai-Shek and it would not be mistaken to read into his perspective an attitude, shared by broad segments within the American state at the time, that the ‘Communists’ weren’t that bad after all. Lattimore was targeted quite vociferously by the ‘China Lobby,’ later courtiers of Tricky Dick.

However, at least since the rationalization of the American state in the first few decades of the 20th century, the world of intrigue, intelligence services, diplomatic corps and the like, attracts as many liberal intellectuals, from Lattimore to Daniel Ellsberg to Edward Snowdon, as it does ideological zealots and mercenary-types. One does not at all need to buy into the absurd conspiracy theories of Nafeez Ahmed, or LaRouchean dribble drabble about a ‘civil war’ within the deep state, to realize that there are multiple contending networks within the state apparatus, defined not merely as the US government and its bureaucracies, but the entire K-Street lobbying/consulting/mercenary/beltway media scene that defines Washington D.C. The former, the ‘sober analysts’, those who may have even favoured Castro’s defeat of Batista and quietly read Monthly Review and spoke about a fabled ‘convergence’ between the US and USSR, were somewhat cast aside in the fifties, post-McCarthy, but came back as the ‘best and brightest’ under Kennedy. Yet these forces, like Robert McNamara were blinded by their own ideology of technocratic and post-ideological anti-communism, which led to escalation, and then war in Vietnam, and then, with their fall from grace, the re-empowerment of the ultra-right. Indeed, the China Lobby, those that pushed McCarthy to attack Lattimore as a gay communist, helped Nixon win the 1968 presidential election through an intermediary that advised the corrupt South Vietnamese leadership to avoid peace talks, that with Nixon they would get a better deal than that would have been offered up by that Minnesotan liberal Hubert Humphrey! There is far more concrete evidence of ‘rigging’ in the 1968 election than there is for Trump in 2016.

 

6.

Under Nixon you had a third force entering the picture, with the Kissinger crowd. Kissinger didn’t have much time for the ultra-right. He was a man of ideas, of grand designs that would always require tactics that were historically and geographically specific, as shown in Greg Grandin’s masterful Kissinger’s Shadow. The right-Hegelian Henry was able to play the chastened best-and-brightest crowd on one hand off against the tooth gnashing Operation Phoenix killers on the other hand. To the former, he gave Détente and, what’s more, China. To the latter was given absolute carte blanche in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, putting together the international network of mercenaries and intelligence operatives that produced our Roger, our Paul, our General Flynn. This latter faction joined forces, even against Nixon from the right, as what has come to be known as the ‘Neocons.’ This network, a boon to the military-industrial-complex, big oil and the ‘Cowboy’ Sunbelt faction of American capitalism finally coalesced with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Of course, as we shall see, this wedding of neocons and the ultra-right mercenary crowd was to take some hits in later years.

 

7.

One well known wit quipped on social media upon Trump’s election that the real story would be its implications for Marxist state theory. Yet what we’ve seen since the election is merely more substantive proof of a theory of the state that arguably goes back to Marx’s 18th Brumaire. The uniquely American state is not merely ‘relatively autonomous’ from capital. It is a factor required for the social reproduction of capitalist social property relations – and one of these structural requirements is this degree of autonomy. It is indeed the ‘Executive Committee for the Management of the Common Affairs of the Bourgeoisie’. Yet, I ask, dear reader, have any of you ever been on an Executive Committee, say, in a political organization or a union? Does the ‘exec’ usually speak with one voice? Executive committees are cut-throat pressure cookers, packed with opportunists who would throw their grandmother under the bus if it meant more power, more control. So then how do we define the American state apparatus if not as a container for a ‘war of all against all’ as adjudicated, of course, by varying branches, that may well, themselves, be rife with duelling factions?

The very existence of this type of arrangement, I’d contend, is not merely a feature of the ‘actually existing’ American state, but is revealed by history to be a defining feature of states and sovereigns. As Marx puts it, ‘It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers … which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence, in short, the corresponding specific form of the state.’ Competitive individual subjects are the raw material of the American Leviathan. And those subjects always need that proverbial shadow-man, a player willing to wade through the hall of mirrors at the service of the state, in order to keep from getting their own hands dirty. Just as capitalism needs mafias, capitalist states also need shadow-men. And sometimes the shadow-men acquire their own power by virtue of their indispensability. It could be Roy Cohn or Paul Manafort, Sidney Blumenthal or Bill Kristol. It’s even better when these guys are at each other’s throats. Witness the ‘team of rivals’ fetish shared by Obama and Trump alike!

 

8.

So let’s go back to Roy Cohn and our Roger, rankled as he is by the Deep State. Cohn and McCarthy did a lot to set back the cause of ‘anti-communism’ among liberals in the United States. It doesn’t seem hard to imagine a salon filled with the likes of Sidney Hook and Lionel Trilling bemoaning the abuse of Anti-Communism in the name of Midwestern demagoguery. It also doesn’t seem hard to imagine this kind of crowd imagining that McCarthy was effectively a Soviet agent, as was imagined in The Manchurian Candidate to which we will return. Within a few years, however, the situation had stabilized; McCarthy had been discredited and was widely a figure of satire, while anti-communism could be rational, thoughtful, even post-ideological once again. In this atmosphere, novelist Richard Condon wrote a book that would end up being an all time classic Hollywood thriller, The Manchurian Candidate. As one of the great shadow-men of the Clinton camp, Sidney Blumenthal, puts it in a recent essay in London Review of Books:

At the height of the Cold War, Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate laid out a Russian conspiracy to elect a malleable president. Raymond Shaw, a US army sergeant during the Korean War, is captured and brainwashed along with the other members of his unit in Manchuria. His comrades are programmed to testify falsely to his bravery, for which he wins the Congressional Medal of Honor. ‘Raymond Shaw is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life,’ they all declare. The American war hero is turned into a Russian sleeper agent, groomed to assassinate the presidential nominee at the convention. But Major Ben Marco, a former member of his army unit, breaks through his brainwashing and so instead of murdering the nominee, Shaw shoots his mother, who had been controlling him throughout, along with his idiotic stepfather. Decades later, Condon explained the inspiration for the perverse dynamic between Raymond Shaw and his mother. ‘Raymond’s mother is Roy Cohn, and her husband Johnny is McCarthy. I was fascinated by the very strange relationship between Cohn and the senator. Roy ran McCarthy, totally dominated him.

 

9.

So do we now see an historic reversal? In The Manchurian Candidate, a foreign-controlled stooge is meant to be a stand-in for a reactionary. With Donald Trump, a reactionary is a stand-in for a foreign-controlled stooge. The very forces that pioneered McCarthyism begat forces seemingly attacked by McCarthyism, or more properly Roy Cohn’s dark power. Cohn is a fascinating historical specimen, perhaps best captured in Nicholas Von Hoffman’s biography Citizen Cohn, later to be made a superb TV movie with James Woods, and also, a character in Tony Kushner’s majestic Angels in America. Cohn was the personification of the American state’s mercenary faction: quite literally, he was a Mafia lawyer and mentored Trump beginning in the early Seventies, though Trump turned his back when it turned out Cohn was dying of AIDS. The thread tying all of this together is Roy Cohn-style politics. Cohn’s use of political actors, from gossip columnists to more ‘moderate’ Republicans like Robert Taft is precisely, after all, what is occurring with the ‘deep state’ and media gang-up on the Stone crowd. Yesterday’s Walter Winchell is today’s Anderson Cooper. Yesterday’s Robert Taft is today’s John McCain. Underneath ‘partisanism’ this is about the use of information and intimidation to monkey-wrench one’s rivals. It is cliché to point out that hunters become hunted, but the Cohn faction is now on the opposite end of Cohn-ism.

Indeed, it is no wonder that this faction – big oil, the Mafia, and of course, adventurist real estate con artists like Donald Trump – became close to the Russian Mafia state in the quarter century since the end of the Cold War. The seemingly well-connected investigative reporter James Henry writes, in an investigative piece in Frances Fukuyama’s American Interest, that this agglomeration of scoundrels resembles ‘a veritable Star Wars bar scene of unsavoury characters, with Donald Trump seated right in the middle.’ As Henry implies, the swerve that became an encounter between the Trump/Tillerson/Tony Soprano wing of the American bourgeoisie and the Russian mafia state, is an historically specific phenomenon. This all pivots around Russia’s ‘emergence since the 1990s as a world-class kleptocracy, second only to China as a source of illicit capital and criminal loot, with more than $1.3 trillion of net offshore ‘flight wealth’ as of 2016.’

 

10.

Yeltsin was, for all intents and purposes, far more under the sway of the US, and more broadly, ‘the International Community’ than near any other Russian politician. Even more than the relatively competent US-backed politicians like Pinochet or Marcos, Yeltsin was Infinitely malleable. Under Yeltsin’s watch, neoliberal shock therapy, which Henry compares to a Stalinist Five Year Plan, gave rise to a reaction in the form of the right-wing populism of Putin and his own camp of disempowered Russian deep state apparatchiks (make no mistake, if any state has depth, it’s the Russian state). As Henry’s analysis has it, the outbound flight of the newly accumulated capital of those who had made a shitload of money off of shock therapy was accompanied by vultures licking their chops with their money pouring in, be they Mafias of all stripes, investment banks, Exxon, Donald Trump, everyone wanted a piece of the pie with the new Godfather in town, Vladimir Putin. Putin certainly crushed or exiled some oligarchs, but this was quite clearly a consolidation of power. Indeed, we should see it, given the necessity of these players – Mafias, banks, oil, Golden Don – in the reproduction of global capitalism, we could even point out that if Putin didn’t exist, Capital would have to invent him. In the case of Trump and his ilk’s concretely verifiable links with Russian business, Mafia and state, Henry’s work is indispensable. Until very recently, the Trump organization did very little to hide its links with Russian big business, not unlike other capitalists with investments in Brazil, India or China.

 

11.

So let us return to D.C.. The Best and Brightest camp was at its perch in the Obama administration, having made uneasy but solid peace with the neocons on adjustment and consolidation of US imperial strategy. Alongside this, as I explained in Jacobin, there had been the rebranding of the CIA as the liberal cadre burrowing away, even under the George W. Bush administration. Anyone and everyone near the CIA made it known that they opposed the war in Iraq. Contradictions started to appear in this front, however, during the Obama administration, pivoting specifically around the ‘deal’ in Iran. Many, even including Greenwald, overstate the idea that Russia and Trump’s rationale for opposing Clinton was Clinton’s plan for ‘regime change’ in Syria. While that may well have been the case in an argument lost back in 2012-13, it strains credulity to believe that Hillary Clinton had any plan to substantively shift US Syria policy by 2016. There was some gossip that Trump, having met with Kissinger, was planning a pivot to Russia to counter China, a reverse of Kissinger’s earlier move. This is not entirely implausible. Even more plausible would be that Trump simply neither knows nor cares about Syria, probably couldn’t even place it on a map.

Among those networks disempowered within the deep state around this time was that around General Michael Flynn, himself having been pushed out of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama/Panetta years. There are all sorts of stories as to the reason for this, but it seems quite clear that Flynn and his network coalesced with networks, like those led by Stone, and Manafort, who had been doing business in Russia and in Ukraine, just as they had done business with Republican candidates and Ferdinand Marcos. Manafort appears to have a decades-old relationship with Russian capital, even helping formulate Russian policy! These guys were players, who had all sorts of contacts, and, hey, word is that Donald Trump is gonna run for president? Shit! Donald Trump? What was good for these guys was good for Trump and for Russia, and it seems quite likely that there was some degree of active coordination between the Russian state and the Trump campaign. It needs to be remembered, however, that this is hardly unprecedented, from Israel to China, nations have influenced elections on multiple levels in the United States of America. In global capitalism, everyone can try and have a say everywhere. It’s the American way – indeed US officials not only openly bragged about their influence on their ‘help’ getting Yeltsin elected in 1996, this became a prototype for how they’ve operated over the last 20 years. This is to say, through ‘consultancies’ who with the CIA’s blessing, help ‘opposition’ candidates in Latin America. Manafort may have stepped out of the mainstream with his taking on Pro-Putin politicians in the Ukraine, but he was just one of many people marketing ‘our brand is crisis’.

 

12.

So about that hall of mirrors…

Before Cohn, before McArthur, before McCarthy, there was James Jesus Angleton. While he was part of the Oh-So-Social (OSS) set, smoking Virginia Slims and eating Mussels at the club, and friendly with the legendary Kim Philby, it would be no mistake to label Angleton a bit of a fascist. A gifted poet and editor of Furioso, a Yale based poetry journal, Angleton published and was friendly with Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot. Indeed, Elliot gave him the central metaphor for which to understand parapolitics or ‘the deep state’ and beyond that, the entire international underground of spies, criminals, mercenaries and Mafias. This is ‘the hall of mirrors’, of distorted images refracting infinitely in strange loops or Moebius strips, and the presumption that paranoia and even mistrust of one’s own instincts are standard-operating-procedure. Angleton, by all accounts, was absolutely obsessed with moles, with double agents, convinced towards the end of his career that even his colleagues who wanted to push him out were themselves double agents. This was due, in part, to Angleton having no way of disproving the idea that they were double agents. In turn, more than a few, looking back on his friendship with Philby, thought Angleton himself was a double agent and that his persona was, as Trump calls the ‘fake news’ about Russia, a ‘ruse’.

Once you start wandering around the wilderness of mirrors, anything is possible. It is akin to Peter Ustinov’s film Romanoff and Juliet, in which Ustinov plays the Prime Minister of some tiny entity akin to San Marino, who spends his time wandering back and forth between the U.S. and Soviet embassies. First, he learns the U.S. knows the Soviet Code and he thus duly notifies the Soviets. The Soviets claim they already have this information, thus Ustinov tells the Americans: ‘they know you know their code’. The Americans claim they already have this information. Back he goes to the Soviets, explaining: ‘they know you know they know your code’. And so on, until finally, after a dozen ‘you knows’ and ‘they knows,’ one of the Ambassadors exclaims ‘they do??!!’

This is the proverbial last instance.

 

13.

When it comes down to it, in regards to the parapolitics of Trump and the deep state, and the interests at play – Wall Street and manufacturing wanting an opening to Russia, the military industrial complex wanting new enemies, tech wanting free trade and less surveillance – there is no ideological unity within the ruling class, and hence not within the state itself. They are all Peter Ustinovs, wandering around between embassies. Yet it is not enough to merely say ‘neither Washington nor Moscow but Peter Ustinov!’ on one hand, or to dismiss this as petty politics within the state that have no bearing on capitalist power in general, or the repressive, racist authoritarianism of the Trump regime in particular on the other hand. It actually is the playing out of the real competition of the former within the latter, and how the dreidel lands after spinning around is the moment in which an Ambassador is shocked. There is no telling what is going to happen next, so while it would be folly to end up like Angleton, convinced everyone around him was a Russian agent, it is useful to adopt an approach that examines the necessary internal relations within what cannot simply be called ‘the deep state’. Instead, given the fluidity between state apparatuses, the blurring of lines between coercive on one hand, and ideological on the other, it makes more sense, at this point, to merely call it the state.

The fluidity of the situation, with Trump’s beloved alt-right scene turning on Reince Preibus and even Steve Bannon himself as enablers of a sleeper cells operating within the state, agents of the nefarious Barack Obama, with perhaps guidance from our Sid Blumenthal and even maybe Leon Panetta – because why not? Preibus is, according to this paranoid reasoning, the one who made the martyr Flynn walk the plank. Bannon, meanwhile, is enabling Preibus, So let us give Roger Stone the last word: ‘I think this is Pearl Harbour for the true Trump supporters, the Trump loyalists…. Priebus moved on General Flynn and I think he intends to move on Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller next. He is not serving the president well. The people he hired are loyal to the Republican National Committee, not the President of the United States.’ Many the speculation can thus be made, if we re-enter that hall of mirrors one more time. What is Stone’s game here? Is he an old hand, like those slow-talking veteran socialists who at meetings need to make every point humanly possible, simply because they need to know they are being heard? Or does he have something up his sleeve, pertaining, perhaps, to recent outreach between Ukrainian Pro-Putin politicians to Trump, through the intermediary of Trump’s private lawyer? In other words, perhaps Stone is proverbially saying, while flashing that old Nixon tattoo, ‘come at me’! One could go on and on, yet in reality, this is a prime example of a known unknown in the topsy turvy funhouse of the hall of mirrors.







 

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