Steve Bannon, Special Counselor to the President - Excerpts of interview on Vladimer Putin, Russia and Nationalism.
Question: Obviously, before the European elections the two parties had a clear link to Putin. I see there, also Marine Le Pen campaigning in Moscow with Putin, and also UKIP strongly defending Russian positions in geopolitical terms. These two parties have both been cultivating President Putin.
Bannon: I think it’s a little bit more complicated. When Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he's got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what's called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism. A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that.
One of the reasons is that they believe that at least Putin is standing up for traditional institutions, and he's trying to do it in a form of nationalism — and I think that people, particularly in certain countries, want to see the sovereignty for their country, they want to see nationalism for their country. They don't believe in this kind of pan-European Union or they don't believe in the centralized government in the United States. They'd rather see more of a states-based entity that the founders originally set up where freedoms were controlled at the local level.
I'm not justifying Vladimir Putin and the kleptocracy that he represents, because he eventually is the state capitalist of kleptocracy. However, we the Judeo-Christian West really have to look at what he's talking about as far as traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism — and I happen to think that the individual sovereignty of a country is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors, and that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it's what can see us forward.
You know, Putin’s been quite an interesting character. He’s also very, very, very intelligent. I can see this in the United States where he's playing very strongly to social conservatives about his message about more traditional values, so I think it's something that we have to be very much on guard of. Because at the end of the day, I think that Putin and his cronies are really a kleptocracy, that are really an imperialist power that want to expand. However, I really believe that in this current environment, where you're facing a potential new caliphate that is very aggressive that is really a situation — I'm not saying we can put it on a back burner — but I think we have to deal with first things first.
For years, Europe's "New Right" and America's "Alt Right" roamed the wilderness of the Western liberal order. Launching fringe parties, reviving Nordic myths and trolling the internet for converts marked the brio of their youth. But no more.
Odin's sons have risen. The convergence of European and American ethno-nationalism has produced a potent new political compound--the Alt White.
As a new global actor the Alt White navigates a complex political universe. It inherits historical antecedents anchored in European nation-states and civilization. From the Kremlin to Silicon Valley it enjoys the financial largesse of oligarchs and cosmopolitan technology firms.
In presidential palaces and halls of parliament, its supporters tug at the levers of state power. Their philosopher-kings have even crafted a 4th Political Theory to guide their ascent to the gates of "New Valhalla."
The evolving union of Euro-American white nationalists and supremacists is hardly accidental. Just as the interwar years of the 1930's gave rise to fascism in Spain, Germany and Italy, the crisis of globalization has fueled the surge of the Alt White.
On both continents immigration of people of color from Global South to North America and Europe is the fueling resurgent White Nationalism. The circumstances and paths taken by Europe's New Right and America's Alt Right are different, but their point of departure and destination are the same.
Europe's New Right is Odin's eldest son. Called "Nouvelle Droite" or New Right, it emerged as a school of thought in the late 1960's in France. It's guiding star, philosopher Alain de Benoist raised its flagship organization, the Research and Study Group for European Civilization (GRECE). The group promoted scientific racism while opposing multiculturalism and immigration of non-whites from France's former colonies. GRECE also opposed liberal democracy and the more sinister workings of capitalism.
By the late1980's Jean-Marie Le Pen had rekindled GRECE's ideological torch in the form of the National Front party and carried it into electoral arena. Over the next two decades, small far right-wing groups replicated the National Front model. But they remained on the fringe of Europe's political mainstream. That is, until a bombshell exploded on the continent.
Few imagined the breakup of the Soviet Union would open a second front for Western Europe's New Right. The collapse of the Iron Curtain was supposed to usher in the final triumph of liberal democracy over communism, or in Francis Fukayama's words, "the end of history."
Instead, Yeltsin's brief and chaotic experiment with Russian "go-go capitalism" succumbed to a KGB takeover by Vladimir Putin. In the name of "restoring order" Putin cracked down on Russia's democratic leaning capitalists, political parties and opposition media. He also prosecuted an aggressive foreign policy to re-establish Moscow's sphere of influence in former Soviet Republics, especially Ukraine.
At the same time, a talented apologist, Aleksander Dugin was dusting off an old Russia-centric ideology called Eurasianism that neatly justified Putin's authoritarian
and expansionist designs. It's embrace of rugged nationalism played well to the New Right's hatred of elitism, U.S. led globalization and anti-European Union sentiment.
Eurasianism also called for reviving old traditions, culture and even pagan religion to reclaim nation-state sovereignty from the shackles of globalization. Its traditionalism resonated with the New Right's nativist, racist and anti-immigrant sentiment. It also held that any nation's form of "democracy," no matter how authoritarian, is legitimate provided it mirrors a country's organic development.
Putin genius was marrying Eurasian's worldview with financial contributions to Europe's New Right parties. He placed at their disposal Russia's FSB intelligence units. They planted fake news stories and conducted cyber-warfare against the New Right's electoral opponents.
With Russian support and their own fanatical persistence, Europe's Alt right parties have now taken power in Hungary and narrowly lost in Austria's 2016 elections.
In the United States the Alt-Right (AR) has traveled a very different path. For most Americans, the Alt Right is a frightening, if barely understood quantity. It conjures visions of violent low-information Neo-Nazis, eccentric white supremists in button-down suits, and a disheveled looking fellow named Steve Bannon. Before his August 18 resignation, he was the grey eminence sitting at Trump's right hand who masterminded his unlikely victory.
The Alt Right surfaced with the mystique of a newly discovered virus threatening a pandemic. It survived as a newborn, by cutting the umbilical chord tethering it to the Bush-led Republican Party and the neo-cons who vacated the White House in disgrace. It was in 2008 that the term "Alternative Right" was first uttered by Elizabethtown College Professor Paul Gottfried.
"At a speech to the Mencken Club, Gottfried called for an “Alternative Right” to combat the high degree of neoconservative control over the intellectual Right." They were spoiling for a fight with mainstream conservatism and the Republican Party establishment.
The Alt Right didn't just oppose the mantra that America's strength lay in its diversity, they sought to extol the virtues of a superior white race. They didn't oppose illegal immigration because it was an unfair burden on tax U.S. tax payers and took jobs away from Americans. AR viewed Latinos overrunning the borders as an existential threat to perpetuating a pure white race. An America enamored with the social utopia of diversity and inclusion, could only lead to white bloodlines being reduced to that of Mongrels by miscegenation.
AR ventured beyond challenging feminism to fashioning a new vision of masculine domination and men's rights dubbed the "manosphere." They brazenly attacked every sacred cow of society, seeking to replace democracy with medieval visions of enlightened monarchy. Many in its ideologically diverse ranks condemned globalization before the leftist "Occupy Wall Street" pitched tents in lower Manhattan. And finally, the Alt Right reigned fire and brimstone on Bush and the neocons imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to remake the Middle East in America's image.
For the last eight years AR intellectuals, penned polemics, circulated "white" papers, argued on message boards, started publishing houses and created their own news satellites, all largely out of the view of the public's eye. At the same time a new political undercurrent was afoot; the Tea Party. Conceived in reaction to Barak Obama's election, and in time dedicated to Trump's proposition that Obama was a foreign born Muslim, the root and branch of a white nationalist political movement was born.
When Donald Trump arrived on the GOP presidential scene in 2015, calling Mexican undocumented workers murderers and rapists, the boil of white nationalism burst onto America's political landscape full bloom.
Trump's nativists appeal was layered with a populism that was ready to blow up the GOP and the Washington establishment. His anti-globalist, anti-Wall Street, anti-free trade and anti-elitist message was all tailored to white sensibilities of a forgotten people.
On election day Trump's "White Lives Matter" election strategy was vindicated. With white voters making up 70% of the total vote, Trump routed Clinton by a 58% to 37% margin, winning majorities of white men, white women, lesser educated whites and even white youth between the ages of 18 and 29.
On November 8, with Trump's stunning victory, America's Alt White was born. Suddenly, Alt Right intellectuals and their internet-based movement with no mass support, had a white nationalist sympathizer as president and a fired up white nationalists leaning electorate. The voting bloc that catapulted Trump to power included, moderates, independents, Democrats, hawks, isolationists, well and less educated voters
In one election cycle, America's Alt Right achieved what Europe's New Right has been unable to accomplish in three decades. A political novice captured the nomination of a mainstream party, articulated an Alt Right agenda, rallied a electoral majority to win the presidency, and invited the Alt Right into the halls of power.
For the Alt White, there appear to be two challenges on their short term agenda. First, a movement is afoot to continue the Civil War against the establishment leaders in the GOP. Now that Steve Bannon has resigned his position as Special Councilor to the President and returned to Breitbart News, he is heading up the campaign to get all Anti-Trump congressional and senatorial incumbents voted out of office. Should more radical right-wing and Al-Rightish candidates gain control of the Republican Party the Alt-White will have taken a huge step in becoming an institutional fixture in America's political mainstream.
The second challenge that is currently under debate is how to move to start transferring the All-White movement from its internet base to the streets. How to do actual political work to cultivate ties and build broad organizational strength with the white masses is the challenge of moving to the next level.
We shall be watching the sons and daughters of Odin with great interest.