Steve Bannon: An Unusual Conservative


February 13, 2017

Steve Bannon: An Unusual Conservative

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria@The Washington Post

Image result for fareed zakaria with Henry Kissinger

Dr Fareed Zakara and America’s Foreign Policy Enfant Terrible Dr. Henry Kissinger

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/stephen-bannons-words-and-actions-dont-add-up/2017/02/09/33010a94-ef19-11e6-9973-c5efb7ccfb0d_story.html?utm_term=.14e5d7218424

Perhaps it’s just me, but a few weeks into the Trump presidency, between the tweets, executive orders, attacks and counterattacks, I feel dizzy. So I’ve decided to take a break from the daily barrage and try to find the signal amid the noise: What is the underlying philosophy of this administration?

The chief ideologist of the Trump era is surely Stephen K. Bannon, by many accounts now the second-most powerful man in the government. Bannon is intelligent and broadly read, and has a command of U.S. history. I’ve waded through his many movies and speeches, and in these, he does not come across as a racist or white supremacist, as some people have charged. But he is an unusual conservative. We have gotten used to conservatives who are really economic libertarians, but Bannon represents an older school of European thought that is distrustful of free markets, determined to preserve traditional culture and religion, and unabashedly celebrates nationalism and martial values.

In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012, Bannon explained his disgust for Mitt Romney and his admiration for Sarah Palin, whose elder son, Bannon noted, had served in Iraq. The rich and successful Romney, by contrast, “will not be my commander in chief,” Bannon said, because, although the candidate had five sons who “look like good all-American guys . . . not one has served a day in the military.”

Image result for steve bannon donald trumpPresident Trump’s Chief Ideologue Stephen Bannon–The Powerafter President Trump in 1600, Pennslyvania Avenue, Washington DC

The core of Bannon’s worldview can be found in his movie “Generation Zero.” It centers on the financial crisis of 2008, and the opening scenes — in their fury against bankers — could have been written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But then it moves on to its real point: The financial crisis happened because of a larger moral crisis. The film blames the 1960s and the baby boomers who tore down traditional structures of society and created a “culture of narcissism.”

How did Woodstock trigger a financial crisis four decades later? According to Bannon, the breakdown of old-fashioned values resulted in a culture of self-centeredness that measured everything and everyone in one way: money. The movie goes on to accuse the political and financial establishments of betraying their country by enacting free trade deals that benefited them but hollowed out Middle America.

Image result for Howard Zinn

Historian, Civil Rights Activist and Public Intellectual, Howard Zinn

In a strange way, Bannon’s dark, dystopian view of U.S. history is closest to that of Howard Zinn, a popular far-left scholar whose “A People’s History of the United States” is a tale of the many ways in which 99 percent of Americans were crushed by the country’s all-powerful elites. In the Zinn/Bannon worldview, everyday people are simply pawns manipulated by their evil overlords.

A more accurate version of recent American history would show that the cultural shift that began in the 1960s was fueled by a powerful, deeply American force: individualism. The United States had always been highly individualistic. Both Bannon and Trump seem nostalgic for an age — the 1930s to 1950s — that was an aberration for the nation. The Great Depression, the New Deal and World War II created a collectivist impulse that transformed the country. But after a while, Americans began to reassert their age-old desire for personal freedom, fulfillment and advancement. The world of the 1950s sounds great, unless you were a woman who wanted to work, an African-American who wanted to vote, an immigrant who wanted to move up or an aspiring entrepreneur stuck in a large, faceless corporation.

The United States that allowed individuals to flourish in the 1980s and 1990s, of course, was where the young and enterprising Bannon left a large bank to set up his own shop, do his own deals and make a small fortune. It then allowed him to produce and distribute movies outside of the Hollywood establishment, build a media start-up into a powerhouse and become a political entrepreneur entirely outside the Republican hierarchy. This United States allowed Bannon’s brash new boss to get out of Queens into Manhattan, build skyscrapers and also his celebrity, all while horrifying the establishment. Donald Trump is surely the poster child for the culture of narcissism.

Image result for president donald j trumpMaking America Great Again in a Messy World

In the course of building their careers, Trump and Bannon discarded traditionalism in every way. Both men are divorced — Bannon three times, Trump twice. They have achieved their dreams precisely because society was wide open to outsiders, breaking traditional morality did not carry a stigma and American elites were actually not that powerful. Their stories are the stories of modern America. But their message to the country seems to be an old, familiar one: Do as I say, not as I do.

 

10 thoughts on “Steve Bannon: An Unusual Conservative

  1. //Bannon represents an older school of European thought that is distrustful of free markets, determined to preserve traditional culture and religion, and unabashedly celebrates nationalism and martial values.

    Fareed’s word shed much light to my small world of misunderstanding others. I was reading up philosophy of 王明阳 last year, who gained popularity in recent China and how he has fascinated the Japanese samurai.
    I stumbled upon Yukio Mishima.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima
    Narcissism.

  2. “…Bannon explained his disgust for Mitt Romney and his admiration for Sarah Palin, whose elder son, Bannon noted, had served in Iraq. The rich and successful Romney, by contrast, ‘will not be my commander in chief,’ Bannon said, because, although the candidate had five sons who ‘look like good all-American guys…not one has served a day in the military.'”

    And he has no problem serving under a commander-in-chief who was a Vietnam War draft dodger, a goddamn coward. I’m qualified to call Trump a coward because I answered the call for duty of the country and he did not.

    “Both Bannon and Trump seem nostalgic for an age — the 1930s to 1950s — that was an aberration for the nation.”

    That was the period when you could do anything you wanted if you were white, male and 21; that was the period when my father, a graduate from a reputed university, had to leave the country to look for a decent job because of the color of his skin.

  3. May be Mr. Fareed can throw some light. Thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets to protest President Trump’s Travel Restrictions and the CNN and US MSM are cheering them on inviting them to come in before the court injunction is lifted. Be careful what you wish for because your wish may be granted.

  4. “…….and also his celebrity, all while horrifying the establishment. Donald Trump is surely the poster child for the culture of narcissism.”

    I think it is rather callous to insinuate the ingratitude in both men to suggest that both are guilty of biting the hand that feeds them. On the contrary, both should be commended, not condemned , for undertaking remedial steps to restore the cracks to save integrity of the structure to prevent total collapse by eliminating the causes of the cracks.

    “..American elites were actually not that powerful. Their stories are the stories of modern America. But their message to the country seems to be an old, familiar one: Do as I say, not as I do.”
    No. The truth of story is that power which actually belongs to the people has been hijacked and usurped by the elites and what both Bannon and Trump hope to achieve is to shorten the odds to bring about a more leveled playing field.

  5. As a conservative, I will say this. There are many terms to describe Bannon and conservative is not one of them. Anyone who believes that Bannon a white nationalist is trying to change the system is correct but not in they way they think.

    Anyone who actually believes his propaganda is stupid and the past few weeks have demonstrated that Bannon (Trump) have no intention of draining the swamp but merely adding more reptiles to it.

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