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Hope and the Deep State

 

“Hope” by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil SmithI post reviews of every book I read here, but this post is about a novel I read fifteen years ago, Hope, by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith, which, although I considered it a thriller bordering on fantasy when I read it in 2002, I now consider prophetic and highly relevant to events now playing out in the United States.

Alexander Hope, a wealthy businessman with no political experience, motivated by what he perceives as the inexorable decline of the U.S. into a land where individual liberty and initiative are smothered by an inexorably growing state, manages, defying all of the pundits and politicians, through a series of highly improbable events, to end up elected president of the U.S., riding a popular wave of enthusiasm he generates in large rallies where he tells crowds things they’ve never heard before from the lips of politicians of the Locust and Quisling branches of the unified party of the ruling class, or from their mellifluous mouthpieces in the mainstream media. Crowds find themselves saying, “Wait—that makes sense!”, and the day after the election finds America with a president unlike any in its history.

Hope arrives in Washington with no political allies: members of both purported parties see him as an interloper and potential destroyer of their comfortable and lucrative racket. The minions of the bureaucracy and the “Beltway bandits” who feed at the federal trough are in a state of abject panic: here is a president who understands that about 95% of what they’re being paid for is not among the enumerated powers of the federal government. Never before has there been such a threat to the welfare/warfare/surveillance/nanny/spy empire, and this “deep state” reacts and begins to draw its plans against this elected interloper.

President Hope owes nothing to anybody except the voters who elected him. He has no constituency in Congress, and is unbeholden to lobbyists and donors. The legacy media, joined at the hip to the slavers, is unanimously aligned against him and his agenda. Hope has no alternative but to push government by Executive Order to the limit, finding that his predecessors have created ample precedents he can now exploit to dismantle or at least obstruct the administrative state. He continues, as he did in the campaign, to go over the heads of the media and communicate directly to the electorate, unfiltered.

This is a dangerous course, and before long the deep state begins to respond with acts, both overt and covert, to deal with the imminent threat.

Does any of this sound familiar? As I noted, when I read this I thought it fantasy; now it seems like we’re living it. If you like political thrillers, you may enjoy what has now become almost a guide to current events. I shall certainly be re-reading it in the months to come. There are a few goofs regarding constitutional law, but I didn’t find them to seriously detract from the story.

Zelman, Aaron and L. Neil Smith. Hope. Rockville, MD: Phoenix Pick, [2001] 2008. ISBN 978-1-60450-293-0.

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Members have made 31 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of James Gawron Thatcher

    John,

    I can’t wait to live this…er…read this.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
    • February 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm
  2. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Fascinating. So how does he deal with the spies and treason?

    • #2
    • February 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm
  3. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    That’s uncanny. Wow.

    • #3
    • February 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm
  4. Profile photo of Arjay Member

    I just ordered it.

    • #4
    • February 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm
  5. Profile photo of Z in MT Member

    Crazy. I might order it also.

    • #5
    • February 15, 2017 at 1:25 pm
  6. Profile photo of Clavius Thatcher

    Hmm, no need to order it, just keep following the news.

    • #6
    • February 15, 2017 at 1:42 pm
  7. Profile photo of civil westman Member

    Prescient indeed. I find myself realizing just how much vision, fortitude and sheer staying power will be required of President Trump if he is to succeed. Actually, given the volume of incoming fire, it will take all that to just get out of bed in the White House every morning.

    I fully expected the federal bureaucracies to try to obstruct him at every turn. I am not sure, though, I am prepared (and I sure hope he is) for what is beginning to look like a post-modernist version of a revolution – a coup by a thousand cuts, with the so-called intelligence agencies providing the ammunition being fired by the Dems allied with the MSM. Whenever Schumer speaks, after I get over the creeps, it confirms by belief that there is nothing they won’t do to correct what they believe to be the erroneous election result.

    • #7
    • February 15, 2017 at 3:47 pm
  8. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    John – I’m wondering if you could do a podcast with the author – he has to be in shock – might be time for a sequel so we know what’s going to happen over the next few years – “a real nail bita”! I agree with Civil Westman’s comment above – everyday I wake up wondering what the headline will be….

    • #8
    • February 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm
  9. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Walker Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    John – I’m wondering if you could do a podcast with the author – he has to be in shock – might be time for a sequel so we know what’s going to happen over the next few years – “a real nail bita”!

    L. Neil Smith was my guest on the now-defunct EAMU (Earlier/European Audio Meet-Up) for 2015-02-15. In early 2015, Trump wasn’t on the radar, and we didn’t discuss Hope, as I recall. Here is a recording of the EAMU; L. Neil joins the call around one hour in. Co-author Aaron S. Zelman died in 2010.

    • #9
    • February 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm
  10. Profile photo of kelsurprise Member

    John Walker: There are a few goofs regarding constitutional law, but I didn’t find them to seriously detract from the story.

    That closing line sounds like a mini-review of the previous administration, penned by the most besotted members of the press pool.

    And the book sounds fascinating. Thanks!

    • #10
    • February 15, 2017 at 7:09 pm
  11. Profile photo of David Carroll Member

    Amazon did not have a Kindle version. My library system does not carry it, either in hardback or ebook. Had to order it from Amazon.

    • #11
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:47 pm
  12. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Walker Post author

    David Carroll (View Comment):
    Amazon did not have a Kindle version. My library system does not carry it, either in hardback or ebook. Had to order it from Amazon.

    This is considered a “back list” book, originally published in 2001 by a different publisher, then re-issued in 2008. The publisher has been slow to produce Kindle editions of such works.

    I was actually happily surprised to find it was still in print at all.

    • #12
    • February 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm
  13. Profile photo of Sash Member

    No way. Someone seriously thought this could happen? Wow.

    So do they get him in the end?

    I think Trump is doing better I expected, and I loved his press conference this afternoon.

    Hillarious to see the press so upset.

    I’m a bit worried that the Seal didn’t want the job. That is actually the first thing that has worried me so far.

    The media and Democrats are crazy.

    • #13
    • February 16, 2017 at 9:44 pm
  14. Profile photo of Sash Member

    Clavius (View Comment):
    Hmm, no need to order it, just keep following the news.

    It might be nice to skip to the end and find out if the CIA brings Trump down or not.

    I’m trying not to be emotionally involved, but this is really unfair and it’s hard to keep emotional distance.

    • #14
    • February 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm
  15. Profile photo of Hartmann von Aue Member

    Uncanny.

    • #15
    • February 17, 2017 at 3:23 am
  16. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    L. Neil Smith is a radical libertarian. I read several of his books back in the Bill Clinton years. He’s one of those authors that tries to copy Heinlein from his later crazy years. He’s entertaining, but preachy.

    • #16
    • February 17, 2017 at 4:16 am
  17. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):
    He’s entertaining, but preachy.

    Kind of like Heinlein at Heinlein’s worst. Even at his worst Heinlein was entertaining. Most writers are just preachy at their worst.

    Seawriter

    • #17
    • February 17, 2017 at 4:47 am
  18. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Walker Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):
    L. Neil Smith is a radical libertarian.

    Aaron S. Zelman (the middle initial is used to distinguish him from the television producer with the same first and last names) was the founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and author and co-author of several books and publications about gun ownership. He and L. Neil Smith were also co-authors of The Mitzvah, which is now out of print but readily available used.

    • #18
    • February 17, 2017 at 4:51 am
  19. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Hope sounds as prescient as this novel. Let’s hope things don’t end as badly this time around as they did in the previous novel.

    Seawriter

    • #19
    • February 17, 2017 at 4:52 am
  20. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member

    Sounds like a fascinating novel.

    Does it address the fact that the hidden power of the so-called “deep state” come largely from its relationship with the press?

    I’d argue that our current environment validates the Laws of Secrets. That is, a secret that stays a secret is no threat; it only causes damage when it’s revealed, and the potential for blackmail comes when the secret-holder threatens to make it public. In this game, the “deep state” secret-holders are only damaging (and therefore powerful) if they release secrets to the press. The deep state can’t be a threat without the “surface state,” i.e., the press. The press becomes the accomplice.

    To break the deep state, you have to break the press as well. The press enables the deep state.

    • #20
    • February 17, 2017 at 7:53 am
  21. Profile photo of Jack Sarfatti Member

    Which one of those authors is doing the precognitive remote viewing that is explained by my post-quantum mechanics? Or, are they time travelers back from the future? 😉

    • #21
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:10 am
  22. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Walker Post author

    KC Mulville (View Comment):
    Does it address the fact that the hidden power of the so-called “deep state” come largely from its relationship with the press?

    To break the deep state, you have to break the press as well. The press enables the deep state.

    The influence of the legacy media and its relationship to the ruling class is an important part of the story. The novel was published in 2001, when the Internet was not yet in a position to challenge the legacy media. Yes, Drudge had broken the Lewinsky scandal in 1998, but most people still got their news from the big networks, newspapers, and magazines. The emergence of an alternative to this stranglehold on the flow of information and President Hope’s exploiting it to go around the entrenched media is central to the plot. An innovative Internet journalist with “Net Planet News” is an important character whose picture figures on the cover.

    One of the villain-politicians remarks (this is from memory—I read the book 15 years ago), “The Internet—we didn’t stop it when we had the chance.” Don’t think they’ve given up trying.

    • #22
    • February 17, 2017 at 2:17 pm
  23. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Aaron S. Zelman (the middle initial is used to distinguish him from the television producer with the same first and last names) was the founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and author and co-author of several books and publications about gun ownership. He and L. Neil Smith were also co-authors of The Mitzvah, which is now out of print but readily available used.

    I look back and fear that my admiration for Neil may have seemed subdued. I do like him, and while I’m not quite as radical a libertarian as him (I’m a big believer in world peace through superior weaponry and the will to use them), and I’m certainly not a Libertarian, I do like a lot of what he says. My comment about preaching was only meant as a mild literary criticism.

    edit: I don’t know why my quote of John shows up as being from Seawriter. I think I had something highlighted. Sorry.

    • #23
    • February 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  24. Profile photo of Jack Sarfatti Member

    Just received from one of the usual suspects 😉
    Hope: L. Neil Smith, Aaron Zelman: 9781604502930: Amazon.com: Books
    http://www.amazon.com

    “Particularly pertinent to the 2016 presidential cycle, ain’t it?
    By Dr. van der Lindenon January 23, 2016
    Format: Kindle Edition
    I had read this novel shortly after publication (the authors’ earlier novel The Mitzvah – set in the same speculative fiction ‘universe’ as Hope – had been entertaining in a meaty, thought-provoking way) but in light of The Donald’s presidential candidacy (and the fact that the novel’s Alexander Hope was described as running in an election wherein the National Socialist Democrat American Party had nominated an altogether undisguised representation of Hitlery, ‘America’s ex-wife’) I can’t understand why this title isn’t flying off the shelves – or out over the Web in Kindle format – like hotcakes.

    Irreverent, consummately well-informed (pertinent even to the recent #OccupyMalheur uprising against the federal Bureau of Land Management, a foul mess stewing for decades in the flyover country of the Jackelope Rebellion) and entertaining on a humanist character development level, it’s the sort of contemporary political science fiction that would be up for a ‘retro Hugo’ this year were the Social Justice Warriors not ripping the guts out of the World Science Fiction Society in a ‘destroy the village in order to save it’ campaign.”

    • #24
    • February 17, 2017 at 6:26 pm
  25. Profile photo of TeeJaw Member

    I don’t believe in the supernatural but when a prophecy is as accurate as this one, it’s tempting. One alternative is coincidence, but such detailed coincidences are just as hard to fathom. Perhaps another is that there was already something in the air at the earlier time that the authors were channeling without knowing it.

    Otherwise, such accurate prophecies are beyond comprehension.

    • #25
    • February 19, 2017 at 11:12 am
  26. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    I’ve been trying to remember where I came across the idea, whether it was a classic sci-fi story, or maybe even Douglas Adams. A story of scientists telling the public that a world-ending disaster is imminent as a ruse to take control of society. And then I think of climate change.

    Hmmmmmm…

    • #26
    • February 19, 2017 at 11:21 am
  27. Profile photo of TeeJaw Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    I’ve been trying to remember where I came across the idea, whether it was a classic sci-fi story, or maybe even Douglas Adams. A story of scientists telling the public that a world-ending disaster is imminent as a ruse to take control of society. And then I think of climate change.

    Hmmmmmm…

    I think you are correct that climate change is simply a way to get more government control over every nook and cranny of our lives. But are all the scientists in on this or are they just dupes like a lot of other people?

    • #27
    • February 19, 2017 at 11:58 am
  28. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor
    John Walker Post author

    TeeJaw (View Comment):
    I think you are correct that climate change is simply a way to get more government control over every nook and cranny of our lives. But are all the scientists in on this or are they just dupes like a lot of other people?

    I forget now who it was who observed how curious it is that regardless of what the “existential crisis” of the moment happens to be (“population bomb”, “resource exhaustion”, “new ice age”, “genetically modified crops”, “peak oil”, “deforestation”, “collapse in biodiversity”, “global warming”, etc., etc.) the solution always seems to be increasing the power of the state and further reducing citizens to serfdom.

    An excellent fictional treatment of the end point of all of this is Agenda 21 by Harriet Parke and Glenn Beck. (Beck is forthright in stating that his contribution to the book consisted solely in getting it published.) A factual treatment of the anti-human thread which ties all of these hysterias together is Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin (yes, him).

    • #28
    • February 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm
  29. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    TeeJaw (View Comment):
    I think you are correct that climate change is simply a way to get more government control over every nook and cranny of our lives. But are all the scientists in on this or are they just dupes like a lot of other people?

    They have been bribed. They make good livings as research scientists. They know the golden rule applies (he that deals out the gold makes the rules) and the grants end if they do not report results the grant providers want. They may be consciously shading their results or they are true believers (because they deliver the results sought by the government) who are rewarded for reporting desired results. Either way, the process culls out all the nonbeliever/heretics who don’t feed the government line.

    Seawriter

    • #29
    • February 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm
  30. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    TeeJaw (View Comment):
    I think you are correct that climate change is simply a way to get more government control over every nook and cranny of our lives. But are all the scientists in on this or are they just dupes like a lot of other people?

    They have been bribed. They make good livings as research scientists. They know the golden rule applies (he that deals out the gold makes the rules) and the grants end if they do not report results the grant providers want. They may be consciously shading their results or they are true believers (because they deliver the results sought by the government) who are rewarded for reporting desired results. Either way, the process culls out all the nonbeliever/heretics who don’t feed the government line.

    Seawriter

    In one of Michael Moore’s movies he made a big deal out of global warming skeptics being funded by ‘industry’, to the tune of $19m. At that point in time, the cumulative total for believers from government and other sources was over $50b. More than 2500 times as much.

    It’s become a trope that if you want funding, add a global warming angle. If you want to study the mating habits of harp deals, submit a grant proposal for studying the effects of global warming on the mating habits of harp seals, and add a discussion of global warming in your executive summary when you publish the study. Easy money.

    • #30
    • February 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm
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