WASHINGTON, March 19, 2018. – Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Trump, would describe himself as a “populist.” After separating from his White House position he has been busy revealing himself as something far more sinister. In an interview with the Spectator, Bannon told Nicholas Ferrell that he “adores” the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and is impressed not only with his political acumen but his way with women.
Benito Mussolini + Steve Bannon = Bennitannon
Speaking of the Italian dictator, Bannon says:
“He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. he has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.”
The interviewer, Nicholas Ferrell, who is also a Mussolini biographer, indicated that the fascist leader may have been the source of the 2016 campaign slogan. He reports about the film “Sunrise,” screened in New York City on September 23, 1927, in which Mussolini directly addressed Italian immigrants to the United States, calling on them to “make America great.”
Bannon and Marine Le Pen
In early March, Bannon was in Lille, France to attend the conference of the far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, whose father, the party’s founder, is well known as a Holocaust-denier and supporter of France’s collaborationist Vichy government.
Bannon addressed the party congress in a fiery speech which The New York Times said “stole the show from Ms. Le Pen.”
In his talk, Bannon told the crowd to embrace the charges of “racism” from their critics. He declared:
“The central government is debasing your citizenship, and the huge capitalists are debasing your personhood. Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.”
When Bannon singled out “the opposition party media”, “the running dogs of the global elite” and called on them to identify themselves, the crowd of National Front activists booed and hissed the journalists present.
Bannon and Julius Evola
When he spoke to a Vatican conference in 2014, Bannon cited the Nazi-affiliated thinker Julius Evola.
“The fact that Bannon knows Evola is significant,” said Mark Sedgwick, a leading scholar at Aarhus University in Denmark, a specialist on Evola’s so-called “Traditionalist” movement.
Evola (1898-1974) is best known as a leading proponent of “Traditionalism.” A worldview popular in far-right circles, they believe progress and equality is an illusion. Evola became a favorite of Italian fascists and Italy’s post-fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather.
They called themselves “Children of the Sun,” after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the “solar civilization.” Today, the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party includes Evola’s works on its reading list and the leader of the Hungarian Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works.
Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader of the alt-right, says that, “Julius Evola is one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century.”
He said that “it means a tremendous amount” that Steve Bannon was aware of Evola and the Traditionalist movement. Gionfranco De Turris, an Evola apologist and biographer based in Rome, notes that, “It’s the first time that an adviser to the American president knows Evola or maybe has a Traditionalist formulation.”
Bannon and Viktor Orban
The Hungarian prime minister, who is leading his country away from Western values and is in the process of limiting the freedom of non-government human rights organizations, is another Bannon favorite.
He recently expressed his admiration for Viktor Orban and said he viewed him as a “hero,” and “the most significant guy on the scene right now.”
In his recent campaign, Orban spent most of his time in a veiled anti-Semitic campaign against Hungarian-born George Soros who was, in fact, one of Orban’s benefactors. Orban received a scholarship from Soros to study at Oxford. The billionaire Soros’ current crime, in Orban’s view, is providing financing to some human rights groups in Budapest. Orban presents himself as a defender of “Christian Europe” against a Muslim invasion. He has expressed contempt for NATO and sympathy for Vladimir Putin.
Bannon and the Alternative for Germany Party
Recently, Bannon spoke to a far-right group in Zurich and said he had a “fascinating meeting” with the leaders of Germany’s extremist Alternative for Germany party.
They included Alice Weidel and Beatrix Von Storch, who reacted to a New Year’s Eve public service announcement by the German police that went out in various languages, including Arabic, by tweeting, “Are they seeking to appease the barbaric, Muslim rapist men?”
What is being challenged by Steve Bannon and the anti-NATO, anti-EU nationalist and ethno-centric groups he is promoting is the seventy years of relative growth, prosperity and peace the West has experienced since the end of World War II. We largely believed that after the Cold War, liberal democratic values would grow and spread. Instead, authoritarianism, led by Russia, China and far-right groups in Europe, is on the March. It is important that defenders of democracy recognize the new assault it is facing.
A less than perfect order
Recently, the German Marshall Fund brought together a group of American and European officials, lawmakers and academics in Brussels to consider the growing assault on Western values and security.
Author Robert Kagan told the group,
“We lost sight of what it took to create this international order and what an act of defiance of history and even defiance of human nature this order has been. We have the capacity to push back — we just need to understand the pushback needs to start occurring.”
Unfortunately, the liberal international order which we and our Western allies created after World War II is far from perfect. It has many problems. But it is better than a world system ruled by the nationalism and xenophobia of the past which kept the world in eternal conflict.
Not a good idea
To think that a man such as Stephen Bannon, who openly embraces the enemies of that free, open international order, served in the White House is hard to believe. Then he called himself a “populist.” Now, he is publicly proclaiming that this was a euphemism for something quite different.
When Bannon left his White House position, President Trump said that he had “lost his mind.”
Possibly, the president is correct. It is more likely that, free from any constraints, he is telling us what is really on his mind, and has been all along.