Behind the “Deep State Coup”

Richard Greeman

Summary: Notions of a “deep state” opposing Trump echo claims by the Putin regime; what is really happening is a split in the US ruling class that opens possibilities for the Left — Editors

Was the forced resignation of Trump’s National Security Advisor, General Mike Flynn, evidence of an attempted “coup” by the Deep State, as many anti-imperialists claim?

According to the “coup” conspiracy theory, the intelligence community wants to put the US and Russia on a collision course leading to WWIII, but thankfully world peace will be saved by collaboration between Trump and Putin, the heroes of this fable. This imaginary scenario was obviously concocted by experienced Russian propaganda services under the orders of former KGB operative Putin, and it is being propagated by Western Leftists nostalgic for Stalin’s Soviet Union. Their justifiable hatred of ‘our own’ U.S. imperialism turns them into ‘one-way anti-imperialists,’ victims of the Cold War fallacy that “the enemies of our enemies are friends.”

The reality is that within today’s U.S. government there is an internal conflict between two of our enemies: 1) an incompetent, far-right, ideology-driven Trump White House (Flynn was known as an off-the-wall Islamophobe) and 2) an “intelligence community” made up of sophisticated professional imperialist spies, assassins and coup-makers. The Trump gang represents nationalist crony capitalism, and it is ready to make ‘deals’ with similar regimes from Putin to the murderous Duterte (Trump’s personal favorite). The CIA represents the established Washington consensus based on neo-liberal globalization (capitalist internationalism). The “coup” theory is based on warmed-up, leftover Cold-War propaganda depicting Russia as the party of “peaceful coexistence.”

During the Cold War, Russia at least pretended to be “Communist,” and many Leftists courageously but naively rose to defend it against U.S. imperialism. But today, under Putin, Russia is a reactionary, nationalist (anti-Semitic), mafia-capitalist dictatorship which has abolished all the social benefits once provided by the Soviet regime — retaining only the Stalinist repressive apparatus (the Deep State). Those who defend it are best described as ‘Zombie Stalinists.’

In case you have any doubts, consider this. Putin has long demonstrated his support for the election of LePen’s National Front in France and of proto-fascist parties in Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere. It is normal that Putin’s Russia did its best to get Trump elected (just as the U.S. interferes with elections, e.g. Ukraine) and that together they will try to make ‘deals.’ Birds of a feather flock together. Obviously, all these birds are vultures.

Today, we live in a multi-imperialist world, where the rivalries (and opportunistic alliances) between nationalist crony-capitalist states are superseding the domination of international capital regulated by the IMF, WTF, World Bank and various multinational treaties like NAFTA. This post-1989 New World Order, once known on the Left as “Empire,” is crumbling. In today’s New World Disorder, it is ‘every man for himself.’ War is no longer a “threat.” Permanent world war is a daily reality in places like the Middle East and Ukraine, where multiple rival imperialisms, regional and supranational intervene in local conflicts.

All these capitalist-imperialist states (and proto-states like Isis) are our enemies. They are the enemies of the global 99%. They are the enemies of women and of human rights. They are all racists who repress their internal minority groups. They are all state terrorists who massacre civilians. They can never be our “friends!”

Misguided Leftists who propagate self-contradictory conspiracy theories to support Russia and her allies are what the Stalinists used to call “useful idiots.”  In the name of one-sided anti-imperialism, they defend bloody dictatorships and ignore the simple truths of human rights and solidarity among the 99%.  The ideology of one-way anti-imperialism provoked splits in the movements against the Vietnam and later the war in Iraq.  Let us not allow this ideology to divert our anti-Trump resistance at a crucial and promising moment when previously-divided social movements are spontaneously uniting: for example in defense of Muslim immigrants, the most vulnerable among us.


Now for the good news. The internal struggle between Trump and the “intelligence community” is not evidence of a coup but the sign of a much-welcome split within the ruling classes, a disunity that reveals their weaknesses and reflects the growing strength of the popular anti-Trump movement. This split offers us new opportunities: for example we can now be seen and heard in the media. A similar split among the rulers opened up back in the Sixties, under the pressure of our Civil Rights/Black Liberation, anti-Vietnam-war, and student movements that magnified our strength.

More good news. Today’s self-organized resistance movement has at long last succeeded in uniting women, Blacks, other minorities, low-wage workers, and LGBT folks on the old Wobblie principle that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’ This ‘not our president’ network also has allies within the federal bureaucracy and among local Democrats (but not in the neo-liberal party leadership). Wherever it may lead (or fall apart, or be repressed) it is already historic.

So let’s keep our eyes on the prize and not get caught up paranoid plots. It is not our job to defend one right-wing dictator against another but to unite with the global 99% against them all.



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  1. Richard Abernethy

    What of claims of a coup “obviously concocted by experienced Russian propaganda services under the orders of… Putin”? This seems possible but by no means certain. There are other suspects. The far-Right in the West is quite capable of manufacturing fake news without help from Russia. So are the “one-way anti-imperialists” (a good description!) of the old Left.
    I consider expressions like “the global 99%” unhelpful and misleading. If only it were that simple, capitalism would be long gone. Such a phrase ignores complex hierarchies of wealth, power and status involving class, gender and ethnicity, and relations of exploitation and domination between countries as well as within countries.
    The mass protests against Trump are a good step towards unity but there is still such a long way to go. We cannot ignore the painful reality that a significant section of the U.S. working class voted for him.
    Lastly, as a birder might I put in a word for vultures? They have a necessary role in the biosphere clearing up carrion.

  2. Joe Brown

    To all those participating in this historic resistance: be aware that once the Democratic party is able to get their act together, if ever, they will try to highjack the movement just like the Republican party highjacked the tea party. This should be prevented at all costs for any meaningful pro-worker change to take place.

  3. Eric Sommer

    Hi there, Richard Greeman’s analysis above contains elements of truth – two factions of the U.S. ruling elites are in fact colliding – and elements of falsehood – Russia and China, though not names, are not imperialist states at this point, as he suggests. Both are ruled by states which represent the interests of oligarchs, but they are *not* operating as imperialist states. His implicit premise is that if these countries are not ruled by workers governments, then they are necessarily imperialist, is false and dangerous. It is precisely the position of various pseudo-left groups which orbit the U.S. democratic party, enabling implicit or even explicit endorsement or at best token opposition to the murderous campaigns of the U.S. state around the world, and its current military encirclement around both China and Russia. Opposing the U.S.-led imperialist campaign against these and other countries is *not* the same as endorsing the governments of these countries. The test is this: How many countries has the U.S. state invaded, occupied, or used Jihadist proxies against in the new millennium? How many have Russia and China invaded, occupied or otherwise attacked in the past 16 years? Another test: Which state is moving its military forces up to the borders and strategic spaces of Russia and China? The U.S. and its allies. Where are Russia and China moving their forces around the U.S. or other countries? Answer: None. This is not just an academic issue. It’s crucial for our fellow workers to understand – and oppose – the U.S.-led imperialist onslaught which is leading towards nuclear war.

  4. Eric Sommer

    I will add to my above comment that identifying the U.S., Russia, China, and perhaps other states such as Iran in the middle east as all contending imperialist powers can completely disempower working class resistance to the U.S. warfare state. Since if the conflicts are between different imperailists, then why should we support or oppose any of them?

  5. Eric Sommer

    Final point: The famous ‘facts on the ground’ are actually simple: The U.S. state, in conjunction with its Nato allies, is continually making threats against, engaging in indirect or protowars using sanctions, clandestine destabiization campaisngs, using Jihadist proxies, and engaging in direct military aggression and invastions against an ever-grwoing list of countries. Russia, China, and the reactionary capitalist states which Richard appears to subsume as ‘imperialist’ are not.

  6. Dan Beltaigne

    Dan Beltaigne,
    March 9, 2017

    On the whole and taking into consideration all the caveats voiced by Richard Abernethy, I agree with Richard Greeman’s assessments in his article. As to Joe Brown’s comments of Feb. 28th: I agree that we should be aware that the Democratic Party will make every attempt to highjack this newly arising movement. Given the divisions on the Left that will be a tall order. I do not believe that the Democratic Party has to have its act together—at least not completely—in order to highjack the movement. The movement, however, will have to get its act together in order to prevent this highjacking, because this attempt will happen. I would like to say that in the effort to prevent this highjacking the movement should not refrain from using the Democratic Party for its ends, as it should not refrain from exploiting any divisions within the ruling class. As to comment of yesterday by Eric Sommer, I will say this: Capitalism, from its inception, may have changed its form many times but its content has remained the same. Living and expanding off all the unpaid for value created by living labor is that content, and imperialism like charity begins and has always begun at home. The “test” for the movement I do not believe is how many countries we have invaded or threatened versus how many they have. All state powers, all the ruling classes of all countries pose a constant danger to all working people around the world. This is true of what we see in the capabilities of failed states and pseudo states like ISIS. Why should opposing a state power like Russia or China necessarily be taken as an endorsement of American imperialism? Why should a foreign power that opposes American imperialism automatically be given a free pass? Moreover, by the way, I still think it was correct to oppose the US incursions into Southeast Asia even with all the inconsistencies that may seem to imply here.