In a very overweight and ungroomed Jordan Belfort sort of way, Steve Bannon is back. Sunburnt and sloppy, Bannon was photographed leaving the Federal District Court in Manhattan after being arrested last month aboard an expensive yacht. For all of us who aren’t yacht brokers, credit this interesting and relevant Forbes piece by Bill Springer. Citizens now know it’s not just any yacht, but an eight figure one.
And it wasn’t just Bannon’s skin which was burnt, his deplorables were too. His arrest is a result of a defrauding these deplorables of their “We Build the Wall” campaign donations. The campaign had been raising funds in order to construct private sections of the U.S. southern border wall. Bannon, along with three other co-conspirators, then diverted that money, upwards of $1 million, for personal use.
But this isn’t just about money or Bannon’s collusion, it’s about his ideology. Bannon refers to himself as an economic nationalist, a Darwinist, a pulpit of an authoritative style upheaval. He trumpets this movement as a product of the ‘Davos Elites’. A theory that western Democracies are a scam.
Simpler put, he represents a populist revolt. He advocates that it’s not just simply from the red hats, but also blue in the face supporters of Bernie Sanders or AOC. Liberal Democracy is surrounded by liters of gasoline. And Bannon is lighter fluid.
After Bannon was fired as Trump’s Chief Strategist, the two’s relationship has been awkward. But, don’t let that nor Trump’s denouncing of this current scheme fool you. No, no no. In Eric Lipton’s Times piece he connects the red hats for us. They’re all involved. Bannon and co are shouting for the elimination of a political cult, just as they are orbiting one themselves.
This isn’t just domestic, however. Bannon has jetted all across Europe to harness deplorables.
“Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor,” Bannon iterated at a 2018 Marine Le Pen rally in Lille, France.
All aboard. Trump, Le Pen, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Salvini in Italy, have all taken their seats. Bannon is conducting this choo choo and it is steam rolling right into our dining rooms.
This past weekend, I was steamrolled by my two young daughters right into Barnes and Noble. Better books than an iPad, I suppose, but interestingly, before any sort of meltdown or book leveling, I made a purchase — War for Eternity by CU Professor Benjamin Teitelbaum. Teitelbaum reveals an inside look at Bannon’s circle of global operatives at their own dining tables, or those of fancy hideaway hotels.
Teitelbaum opens with a transparent, accurate, and honest line — “I am by trade an ethnographer, not a journalist.”
I applaud this distinction, but I find it not just truthful, but insightful. Teitelbaum’s independent monitor of these power brokers hits at the simple definition of his trade — individual cultures.
The individual culture and its gravity towards an insular world are behind Bannon’s philosophies. Who knows this? Me. And Jeremy Peters, for starters. Bannon gravitates towards the screen. He has since his Hollywood days. His ten-minute sit down with the enemy, the Times in 2017, may have been surprising. Yet, thanks to Peters, it was anything but stale.
I am a very very very poor man’s Peters. I couldn’t hold a metaphor to his manuscriptions. But like, Bannon, we all come from the Catholic Church. I can’t condemn Peters’ current condemnation of the Church but can confirm his attending parochial Brother Rice High School in Michigan.
Peters has covered Bannon, as well as the majority of the conservative movement, for the Times. Peters’ triumphant ten minutes in 2017 was a caricature of Bannon’s fragility. Whilst we may see the collars and barn jacket, Peters along with the more recent PBS Frontline interview, are craftily watchdogging this man’s motives.
Human nature is to want to belong. I see it from neighbors. From family and friends. And it’s not just to a political party or group, a religion or sports team, an ethnicity or even a Facebook group. There’s this sense of comfort when guarded by those with the same skin, pendant, or bumper sticker.
This longing for belonging is what permeates Teitelbaum’s Chapter 1 (That’s as far as I’ve got). The ‘Pillars of Tradition’ as he describes it. So much of Catholicism is tradition. So much of our country is tradition. But, there’s innovation. There’s acceptance. There’s fluidity. These are the values of democracy at stake. And, it’s not a democrat or republican dilemma. It’s the state of heterogeneity. Globalism is good. Greed isn’t. We shall not focus on Bannon’s coat, but what’s inside his pockets.
Free thought depends on truth. May journalists’ keyboards never quit on it.