Read here this stunning piece in the NYT that tries to draw a connecting line between Stephen Bannon and the Italian Dada Fascist Nazi theorist Julius Evola, about whom we are learning was a political theorist is steeped in apocalypse and racialist hierarchy. The NYT piece mentions that Evola has “caught on” with European fascist movements in Italy, Greece, Hungary, and with the American alt-Right promoted by Bannon at Breitbart. The smoking gun is the Skype presentation that Bannon delivered in 2014 to a group of Catholic Traditionalists at the Vatican. What is unclear is the whether or not the man in the White House actually subscribes to Evola’s political theory. It would be a stretch to call Bannon’s brief nod to Evola as “complex” only because the thinking would be better characterized as sloppy and incoherent.
It’s a rambling mess, but you can read the whole transcript here. I’m posting below in italics the relevant sections from the Vatican presentation. Most of the speech is directed against banks and bankers and the crony capitalism that along with secularism is seeping so-called Judeo-Christian values. Openly aligning with UKIP in England and with National Front movements on the continent, the stance is nationalist. Repeated mention of “Judeo-Christian values” should not obscure that the screed against banks bankers is part of an anti-modernist theme that was once central modern fascist theory. One suspects that the fact that the one bank mentioned is Goldman Sachs, where Bannon once worked, is not merely happenstance.
But what about Evola? Read below to see how the mention of him on Bannon’s part came in response to a question about Putin. On the one hand, in the main body of his presentation he describes this new Tea Party populism as “center right” and expresses confidence that that racist and anti-Semitic “baggage” of what we are now today calling the Alt-Right will be “washed out” if properly “policed.” On the other hand, the response to the question regarding Putin and klepto-capitalism is sloppy, slipping and sliding seamlessly from a passing reference to Evola as part of Putin’s ideological background to Putin’s support of the Traditonalist values that Bannon is himself promoting. The very mention of Evola, an obscure theorist, suggests genuine erudition, and also to the most probably certain fact that Bannon spends a lot of time trolling around fascist and Nazi literature, or at least websites. Reflecting a sloppy mind, Bannon does not stop at that bright red line that a fascist Nazi-leaning theoriest should have marked, but plows right ahead to embrace Putin as a fellow traveler.
The alliance that Bannon wants to strike with Putin has to do with Putin as Traditionalist and an enemy of Islam. All of this should remind one of the way fascist sympathizers s in the United States and England supported Hitler and the Nazis in their struggle against the common enemy of Soviet Bolshevism. From what follows below, it seems that Bannon gets much of his information about the war of Islam against the West from Twitter, Facebook, and then CNN and the BBC. The idea he expressed that in 500 years people will be talking about Stephen Bannon and his role in this great war of civilization suggests both incoherence and a dangerous megalomania. As fascist and even Nazi-like thinking, what clearly stands out in Bannon’s Vatican presentation is how “Islam” stands in for “the Jew” as the great threat to white Christian national traditions.
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.
[[[And then here’s Bannon’s takeaway against Islam]]]
If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places… It bequeathed to use the great institution that is the church of the West.
And I would ask everybody in the audience today, because you really are the movers and drivers and shakers and thought leaders in the Catholic Church today, is to think, when people 500 years from now are going to think about today, think about the actions you’ve taken — and I believe everyone associated with the church and associated with the Judeo-Christian West that believes in the underpinnings of that and believes in the precepts of that and want to see that bequeathed to other generations down the road as it was bequeathed to us, particularly as you’re in a city like Rome, and in a place like the Vatican, see what’s been bequeathed to us — ask yourself, 500 years from today, what are they going to say about me? What are they going to say about what I did at the beginning stages of this crisis?
Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us.