Monday, 28 November 2016

Trump's Cardinal

Unlikely recount changes notwithstanding, Donald Trump will take office as President of the United
Steve Bannon in 2010
States at the end of January. In the days since the election, his team has been taking shape almost as chaotically as his ducking and diving on some of his policy announcements during the campaign. His narcissism is unbound as he poses in front of his golden elevator and sits on the thone-like chairs that adorn his Trump Tower apartment and many people seem genuinely afraid of where his narrow, uninformed world view and his sheer temperament ("Why do we have nuclear weapons if we can't use them?") might take our planet.

But behind the bluster and bigotry, we shouldn't think the emerging narrative will be chaos. For Trump is neither a fool nor does he stand alone. He represents a strain of thinking, not founded on the people who voted for his cod- "movement" but rather on the small group of rightwing populists who use a valid anti-liberal establishment narrative to push extreme capitalist solutions. These are the people who bemoan the ineffectiveness of welfare and who promote the idea that it needs to be abolished rather than revolutionised. They talk of crony capitalism while advocating for the outsourcing of government to private corporations.

A key figure in this is Steve K Bannon. Originally the TV Director of the successful Seinfeld show, Bannon became the chair of the rightwing Breitbart "news" organisation and Trump's election campaign CEO. He has now been named Chief Strategist for the Trump Presidency. His intellectual rigour and planning strengths will be deployed on behalf of and through one of the most ill-prepared Presidents in history and will be all the stronger because of it. Bannon will almost certainly be the deciding influence in how the next four or, as he had claimed, forty years of American policy and politics are shaped.

There have been some rather hysterical and amateurish attempts to trash him as anti-Semitic in parts of the media, although his revisionist take on Islamic history has been largely ignored - but in truth the threat from Bannon is at once more explicit and more subtle. For his is a logical philosophy, individualistic, radical and utterly stone-hearted, and one that chattering, compromised liberals are singularly unsuited to challenge.

The video below shows Bannon speaking in 2011 to a small group of fellow right radicals. His tone is measured, informed and all the more terrifying because of it. He regrets the challenge of the Occupy Movement as targeting, in his view, the wrong culprits of what he rightly characterises as America's fourth existential crisis and harps back to Lincoln's limited cannon of Shakespeare, Plutarch and the King James Bible as "all you needed" in simpler times. But crisis brings opportunity and "We will be different on each side (of the crisis)," he warns hopefully.

Yet he is not some uniquely evil individual. He is simply playing his part in the defence of and extension of the real elite he and Trump represent: the elite beyond the public establishment; the disciples of Ayn Rand and the Breitbartists who are now set to manipulate the narrative in the French elections in an attempt to install the neo-fascist FN candidate Marine Le Pen into office next year.

The outlook is chilling, but it is not illogical and it is riding the curve of history. However perplexing to liberals, it will be defeated neither by apocalyptic indignation, nor with hand-wringing, gut-wrenching appeals to restore the failed status quo nor through the machinations of mechanistic legalism. Court cases and constitutional pleadings will hasten rather than halt what has begun. As Bannon himself has remarked, "The liberals don't know what is going on."

Only a far more robust, collectivist response will have any chance of countering the radical right - for, unlike the vacillating showman Trump, Bannon is driven by conviction and belief. His agenda, his revolution, will only be defeated by those whose own convictions and beliefs run as deeply and radically as his do, but course in a very, very different direction. Radical rightism can only be met by radical leftism. There is no compromise, no common ground and those who seek it in some soggy centre condemn society to the predations of Bannon, Trump and their backers, and betray a future that could yet be better for all.

No comments:

Post a Comment