The always masterful Pepe Escobar recently wrote an article for Sputnik about the overriding intellectual and philosophical motives behind Trump strategist/key adviser Steve Bannon.
Although Escobar’s intellectual dissection of Bannon is the best such article to date, like other articles which tend to look at Bannon as a kind of exaggerated Rasputin figure, there is a danger that many are over-intellectualising Bannon, a man who has built his support, his career and his reputation on cultivating anti-intellectualism.
In the past, Bannon has talked about Strauss and Howe’s theory on the world operating on a series of cycles, in which a cataclysm necessarily transpires and changes/moves history; think Spengler in recycle mode with a pinch of Marxist-Leninist dialectic . But I wouldn’t put too much credence on Bannon’s supposed apocalypticism.
In reality, Bannon like many others (myself included) simply has a passionate dislike for the existing order of policy makers, mainstream media and cultural elites.
At Breitbart, he rescued the fortunes of the at times fledgling website and made it a go-to place for people to get news and views from an anti-establishment, pro-Christian, at times pro-Zionist, at times millenarian perspective, condensed into sound-bite friendly quotes about politicians that were rightly deserving of public ire. Like other websites, it had a demographic who responded well to the content. This is called business.
Bannon’s time in Hollywood surely did him some favours when it came to knowing how to boil down large philosophical ideas into real life tales of good versus evil.
But the fact of the matter is that good and evil do exist and people who feel isolated from power will always search for ways to restore good to the wider public discourse. There is of course the Nietzschean realm of ‘beyond good and evil’ about which Escobar writes, but the truth is that most people will never transcend to that level, as Nietzsche himself stated quite bluntly.
Bannon like many in new-media gave a voice to the voiceless silent majority and even gave them a bit of philosophical weight, should any crave it.
But the fact of the matter is, Bannon is no Rasputin. If anything, he reminds me of a Tsarist adviser who loathed the anti-patriotic, anti-Church, anti-Russian attitude of the intelligentsia. Tsar Nikolai II once said that he wished to eliminate the term intelligentsia from the Russian language. I could easily hear such a statement coming from Bannon.
And he would be right, just as the last Tsar was. Intellectual elites, as a rule, tend to be individuals who are out of touch with society, the real feelings of ordinary people and the needs of all people They also have a tendency to profess hatred of religion whilst they themselves act as deities on earth. Such an attitude is an insult to tradition, history and culture.
This is why many voters in democracies would rather vote for someone who exudes either strength, a common touch, or credibility, rather than simply someone who intellectualises.
Bannon recognises this and far from wanting to foment a kind of bizarre Jungian revolution of collective consciousness, he wants to shut up those who think such fanciful things are possible.
Bannon wants a return to normalcy, but because the intellectual elites have such a tight grip over the Western media, globalist/corporatist bodies and the US deep state, he at times seems like a revolutionary. He isn’t. He is a pragmatist who is temperamentally counter-revolutionary and in terms of presentation, he knows how to get attention. The lattermost element is his job, and he does it well.
In this sense, Bannon is like Trump who once said that he loves the poorly educated. All this means is that ‘ordinary people’, those whom the oddly intellectual Nixon once spoke of as the ‘silent majority’, may actually have some representation to go along with their taxation.
Over intellectualising Bannon plays into his hands. That way he can point to his critics and laugh.
Bannon doesn’t want the end of the world, he simply wants the end of the old guard, which is the sentiment and aim that helped win the election for Donald Trump.
The only problem Bannon may have is being able to differentiate between rhetoric designed for domestic consumption and the more realistic language of international diplomacy. He could learn a lot from studying Iranian leaders in this sense, however ironic this might sound.
Many political figures thrive on underestimation. Bannon has found a way to thrive on overestimation. So has his boss.