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Published in The Commuter on 2/8/2017
Steve Bannon is frequently labeled as a fascist and/or white supremacist, but why?
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for President Trump, is described by some as a “masterful political operative.” The former Breitbart News CEO and Goldman Sachs investment banker has controversially been given a seat on the National Security Council, which drafts proposals for national security and foreign policy.
Reactions ranged from delight on the far right, including KKK leader David Duke, to shock and terror on the left, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referring to him as a “white supremacist.”
Bannon has a long history of advocating for assimilation of different cultures into a “Judeo-Christian America” in speeches and on Breitbart News Daily, which he hosted from it’s inception in November 2015.
“It’s a huge issue they have in Europe, it’s a huge issue that they have in Western Europe, it’s a huge issue they have in London with the non-assimilation of different cultures, societies, particularly Islam,” said Bannon in November 2015.
Bannon has also minimized the importance of confronting religious discrimination towards Muslims and made unsupported claims about ISIS recruiting Muslim immigrants in cities with large immigrant populations.
“Do I have this correct? A U.S. Attorney is after people about Islamophobia when they’re the hotbed—Isn’t Minneapolis the hotbed of recruiting for ISIS in America?” said Bannon, in response to U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger writing an opinion piece addressing a wave of violent attacks on Muslims in Minnesota, in November 2015.
Bannon has repeatedly claimed that Muslims are trying to take over the world.
“You have expansionist Islam, expansionist China. Right? They are motivated, they’re arrogant, they’re on the march and they think the Judeo-Christian West is on the retreat,” said Bannon in February 2016.
Bannon has also openly stated his belief that the existence of Islam is more threatening than Nazism.
“You could look in 1938 and say, ‘Look, it’s pretty dark here in Europe right now,’ but there’s something actually much darker. And that is Islam,” said Bannon in January 2016.
Bannon has also publicly described feminists as “dykes,” in a pejorative manner.
While one can point to statements he’s made as being quite frightening, he has refrained from the classical vitriol of the far-right employed by Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, whom he associates with.
Bannon makes no bones about his participation in the “alt-right,” even bragging about creating a platform for the “alt-right” in Breitbart News. Breitbart is famous for provocative headlines and articles decrying women for using birth control, accusing Muslims of trying to take over America, insisting LGBTQ+ people should “go back in the closet,” and claiming the confederate flag represents a “glorious heritage” after neo-nazi Dylann Roof committed a terrorist attack on a church in South Carolina that left nine black people dead.
“Alt-right” is often accompanied by quotations because it is viewed by some as a euphemism utilized by crypto-fascists to disguise their ideology as anything other than neo-fascist.
Both Spencer and Yiannopoulos openly advocate for an authoritarian white ethnostate in the United States, which is an undeniably fascist ideal. Bannon co-authored a sort of “alt-right” manifesto with Yiannopoulos which referenced Richard Spencer. Spencer is considered to be a founder of the movement and is openly anti-semitic and racist, recently landing in hot water for leading his supporters in a Sieg Heil to President Trump.
Bannon made his rise to power not through inflammatory statements but through effective propagandizing and media-legitimization of hateful ideologies. His trajectory and rhetoric is similar to Sir Oswald Mosley. Mosely is known in Britain as the founder of British fascism. He founded the “New Party,” which later merged with the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
Active in the late 1920s and 30s, Mosley was a veteran who insisted a promise was made to preserve traditions of past generations, as Bannon did in a speech in January, 2016 at the Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach.
Mosley advocated increased isolationism and Keynesian nationalism, a form of economic nationalism, as does Bannon (who is self-described as an economic nationalist). Mosley claimed immigrants were a prominent source of political upheaval, violence and unemployment, as does Bannon.
Mosley acknowledged the presence of anti-semitism and racism in his party, but claimed it was not the party line, as Bannon has with the “alt-right.” Mosley pointed to a handful of Jewish and black supporters as proof that his philosophies were not racist, or anti-semitic, as does Bannon.
Mosley claimed the media was being paid to slander his group, as does Bannon.
Mosley claimed that anti-fascist protesters who opposed his party were paid by prominent Jewish people, as does Steve Bannon. Mosley attempted to distinguish his party from the perception of fascists as being uneducated and brutish by declaring the leaders and supporters as intellectuals, so does Bannon.
The biggest difference between Mosley and Bannon, is that Mosley didn’t hold one of the highest national security posts for the largest military superpower in the world as his first job in politics, aside from campaign management, as Bannon does.
There’s more reasons that many feel Bannon’s newfound power is extremely alarming.
Steve Bannon recently said in an interview with Time that he is a big fan of a generational book called “The Fourth Turning,” written by William Strauss and Neil Howe.
Strauss-Howe generational theory alleges that history occurs in cycles of four stages lasting from 80 to 100 years called “saecula.” When a “saecula” ends after the fourth turning, society experiences an “ekpyrosis,” which is an extreme disruption of systems and social structures brought by massive disaster.
Bannon firmly believes that we are in the fourth turning, nearing an ekpyrosis.
The book, and the Strauss-Howe theory itself has been criticised for ethnocentrism in its view of American history and what have been the most important moments within it. The Trail of Tears and other forms of removal of indigenous people created one of the largest and most prolonged acts of genocide in human history, however, this is not considered an “ekpyrosis.”
The Civil Rights movement that ended legal segregation and restored marriage and voting rights to black people in the United States, as well as the violent persecution of people of color within the movement is not considered an “ekpyrosis.”
In “The Fourth Turning,” Strauss and Howe predict that the fourth turning in the early 21st century will give rise to an authoritarian “Gray Warrior” who seizes control in times of uncertainty and forcefully unites the country
Despite Bannon’s extreme worldview and involvement with open white-supremacists, he has never declared himself as a fascist or racist. Bannon, however, openly admitted the presence of racism and anti-semitism involved with the “alt-right” in an interview with Sarah Posner of Mother Jones at the Republican National Convention in July 2016.