I'm not sure whether a coup is underway, but the outlines of one have taken shape. A powerful faction of the Ruling Clique, how large of one it is impossible to say, has issued a challenge and a series of threats to the out-group faction that won ("won") the election and is preparing to shift the ship of state onto an uncharted course of unbridled corruption, destruction and rapine.
There is no precedent for anything they are setting out to do. The consequences, if they are not stopped or controlled, intrinsically threaten the survival of the Republic (already on its last legs), and could result in an extinction level of harm to Americans and people around the world. (Again, not that such a fate hasn't been bruited about for a generation or more.)
Something must be done about it, and fast.
The agencies that have lined up in opposition to the imposition of Trumpivism on the nation and the world -- an opposition retailed as some kind of Russian interference in the election just past -- are not among the most highly regarded by the public. The CIA has one of the most wretched reputations for bad thinking, lies, and destructive conduct of any in US history. It has operated effectively as a shadow government since its formation after WWII. While there are few brakes on CIA activities abroad, it can assert a powerful influence on domestic government; it has the power to change who is in charge through various means, including the Kennedy Solution.
One messes with it and its affiliated agencies at one's peril.
Apparently Mr. Trump has chosen to mess with it.
We'll see what happens. I'm not particularly sanguine that the opposition agencies will win the contest with Mr. Trump and his loyalists, but we'll see.
A way to understand what's going on is through the lens of White Supremacy and the White Rightist conception of how the United States and the world should be run.
I have no doubt whatever that Mr. Trump and his chief loyalists and followers are steeped in the belief system of White Supremacy. It's the foundation of their identity. We've been seeing a resurgence in White Supremacy, White Identity, and White Rightist and Nationalist political ideology throughout Western Europe and North America especially since the advent of the Obamas in the White House, but it has never not been a factor in the political economies of Western Europe and their colonial and post colonial enterprises around the world, including the United States and Canada of course. Let's not forget Russia as part of the White Rightist world.
White Supremacy and White Rightism is always there, but it has been submerged in very public efforts to be inclusive and promote ethnic, racial and cultural diversity within the context of White Supremacy.
The context doesn't change. Who gets to participate and to what extent does.
Once included, it's hard for formerly excluded groups and individuals to let go of their seat at the table, and that's part of why there is so much public anxiety about the advent of the Trumpist faction to power. He and his loyalists have made quite clear that the party's over for the inappropriately included (interpreted, I believe correctly, as non-white.) He has explicitly targeted numerous minority groups he regards as unworthy. Scapegoating is de rigueur. One almost has to be white (and preferably male) or be seen as a non-white acceptable to white men to be included in the Trumpist vision of the New America. Loyalty and obedience are the essential factors affecting inclusion; race and gender are subsidiary but crucial factors.
The Republic has been on its death bed for some time, the coup de grace administered by the Supreme Court decision handing the presidency the Busheviks in the interest of "equal protection." It was bullshit, unconstitutional, and it was a coup. Yet by and large, Americans accepted it with relatively minor protest and grumbling. What could they do? A lot more than they did do, but the Rules of Politeness and Patriotism were more important at the time than fighting for what was right.
It was clear from the outset that the Bush Regime would be catastrophic for Americans and peoples around the world, and so it was. We are still living with the consequences. My generation will never escape them.
The Obama regime mitigated some of the worst aspects of the Bushevik catastrophe but didn't really change any of its fundamentals. It was obvious from the beginning that his job assignment was to con and soothe the Rabble and prevent, channel, or crush any revolt -- while the looting and destruction continued with little let up.
Hillary was supposed to continue the program with some slight revisions in emphasis.
Trump has overturned the status quo in a way; in another way, he's announced his intention to shift the existing program of looting and destruction into hyperdrive. In other words, the current program isn't producing enough rewards for the worthy people and it produces too much reward for the unworthy. Priorities and targets for exploitation and destruction will change, the world will witness and tremble.
Among White Rightists, Nationalists and Supremacists, there is a near worshipful regard for Trump and extreme levels of hope for his commitment to restoring Whiteness to its rightful position of superiority over the lower orders. Cluestick: there has never been a time in the colonial and post-colonial era when Whiteness hasn't been privileged in the Western European/North American context. Never. But that doesn't register with white people who sense an existential threat to them from the very presence of non-whites.
This White Supremacist worship is being exploited by Trump and his cronies to the fullest extent they can without triggering too much of a response from the lower orders. One of the ways they exploit it is by assuming a quasi-royal mantle (the Busheviks were masters at it) by which the title of President serves as a stand in for what it really is --- modern day King-Emperor. After all, Trump summons his potential barons and earls to his gold-plated palaces for interviews (palaces that strangely and discordantly resemble Saddam's "Republican Palaces" most of which were destroyed in Bush's war of aggression, but some of which were preserved intact and are part of the American and Iraqi puppet presence there.)
It's a matter of style over substance, but there's little reason to doubt that Trump intends to rule as if he were a King-Emperor, and his loyalists and cronies are fully on board with it. Why not make explicit what has long been implicit, after all?
There's another element that seems obvious to me, but is otherwise widely unrecognized. It is the concept of Führerprinzip -- the "leader principle" -- commonly ascribed to the Nazi rule of the German Reich, but much more widely believed and exercised than merely during that episode of unpleasantness.
I pointed out that it was part of the belief system of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he assumed the mantle of California's governorship after defeating Gray Davis in that recall back in 2003. He strongly believed in his rightness and unbridled authority because of his personality, power and position. The fact was, like so many who have been raised to power over the years, he was incompetent and was unable to rule as he wished because of powerful forces aligned against him, and the ability of some of those forces to more and more easily influence his rule as they took his measure and exploited his many weaknesses. By the time his wife left him, he was little more than the tool of other interests.
I doubt that would happen with Trump. Not because he's competent. Not at all. But because he has carefully tended his authoritarianism and knows how to use it against rivals and enemies. This is part of his conman and gangster persona. He acts as an implicit -- and sometimes explicit -- threat to any disloyalty or disobedience. This in turn shapes the behavior of both his loyalists and opponents. These threats are clearly meant to be taken seriously. And for the most part they are.
The Führerprinzip presents the Leader as the center and source of all law, policy, and political action. This is of course totally at odds with the traditional power-relationships of the Republic, but the Republic has been on life-support for a long time. The transition to a hegemonic imperial state guided and ruled by a Leader is merely a detail in the march of progress, no? Call him a dictator, a king, an emperor, a president or Führer, it hardly matters. In the conception of many authoritarians, it doesn't matter. They're all essentially the same thing.
Trump may face opposition from Congress, the judiciary, and many elements of the security state and the military, but he seems to have convinced the private sector elites to go along with him at least for the time being.
After all, they're getting richer by the minute. What do they have to lose?
As for the Rabble, enough of them are happy enough to be ruled; and too many don't care. On the other hand, Their Betters care no a whit what happens to the Rabble. They are mostly surplus anyway.
Meanwhile, this is a dangerous and unstable situation. Those who manage and impose the rule of the government and take action for and against governments overseas are rationally alarmed at what might be coming, and Trump has gone out of his way to antagonize them.
How they will respond is anyone's guess at this point, but what's happened in the past is that the security state and the presidency have found accommodation with one another through various forms of unpleasant negotiations. We'll see whether accommodation is found this time.
I'm not looking forward to the outcome.