“Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists,” reads a recent New York Times headline. “President Bannon?” reads another from a few weeks earlier. The Atlantic calls him “reportedly a reader of neoreactionary political theory.” Steve Bannon is the White House Chief Strategist and a permanent member of the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. President Donald Trump appointed him to both.
It is noteworthy that Trump has little in the way of complex or deep ideological foundations, while his chief adviser seems to have such a background. In a way, that is almost how things should be, with the sovereign dedicated to the art of ruling and his advisers and councilors fulfilling other specialized roles. But the media, who Bannon correctly identified as “the opposition party,” are in a word, hysterical about this particular man’s rise to the top.
I suppose it is bad enough (for them) to have a bull loose in the Cathedral’s china shop, without a matador leading it deeper into the the place. But even with Trump being the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler according to the media, it is somehow worse still that one of his advisers may be an actual reader of near-fascist traditionalist philosophy? For all the horror and hand-wringing signaled over Trump, it is somehow even more alarming who is in his circle? If Trump is the devil of America’s liberal civic religion, how can anything be worse than the devil? How is anything noteworthy beyond Satan being Satan in building a case against Satan? Is reading Evola worse than being literally Hitler?
This is where Bannonphobia becomes interesting. Trump is easy; he’s an avatar of white identity politics for them to scream at. He’s their lawful evil, a Republican president of the United States. Such people are always Hitler. While the reaction to Trump is rage and hysteria, Bannon is something else.
Bannon inspires terror. I don’t mean terror in the sense of orchestrated and politically-motivated acts of violence. I mean a pure sinking sense of dread and all-pervading fear. Here is someone who is not a politician, someone with independent thought, who is largely unaccountable to public opinion since he has a guaranteed platform, and whose career consists of influencing people through narrative-constructing media. The reason the chattering class singles out Bannon is because he is a rogue version of their own revolution. He is counter-revolutionary. He can name his enemies and describe the struggle against them in a way that hasn’t been seen since the “culture wars” of the 1990s. And he is more aggressive and effective at it, a sort of post-paleoconservative with a splash of Leninism. He turns the left’s own mindset upon them.
For observers, that is terrifying. The White House was supposed to go to another progressive Brahmin surrounded by progressive Brahmin advisers, and instead there’s Trump and Bannon (and Miller). The American elite and their internationalist partners were not planning this fight. They did not want someone who could name the game and savage them. This is an enemy who has declared his job is to push politics rightward, not just to lash out in confusion at the latest liberal innovation and demand it be overturned.
They see themselves in Bannon. That sinking feeling you are experiencing? You are fighting an enemy you don’t know you can beat. The Left has treated the right like bacteria. Instead of being clean themselves, they’ve opted to use hand sanitizer over and over and over. Now they’ve got superbacteria and some of the most left-immune forms of the Right are in power.
The Left’s quiver is out of rhetorical arrows. If Hitler is in power, why should anyone care that Evola is his adviser? The people who want to hit the streets and punch “Nazis” don’t care about this. Bannonphobia is pure Brahmin panic. A New York Times columnist should be in Bannon’s seat, and that is what strikes terror and jealousy into their hearts.