Who is Steve Bannon, the crazed right-wing ideologue that sprang from the pages of Breitbart to sit on our National Security Council and to whisper sweet nothings in the ear of our president? “Darkness is good,” said Bannon in a recent interview. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.” But, if you think he’s only joking when he compares himself to Darth Vader, the joke is on us.
Bannon, the master-mind behind Trump’s appalling and unconstitutional ban on Muslims, has predicted “a major shooting war in the Middle East” and “war with China” in five to ten years. “Lenin,” said Bannon, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” To say that Bannon is the scariest adviser in a position of power since Rasputin is a disservice to the Russian.
An article by Jason Horowitz in the New York Times, “Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists”, gives us some clue to what is going on. Horowitz directs us to a reference by Bannon in a 2014 speech at the Vatican where Bannon discusses Italian proto-fascist thinker and philosopher Julius Evola. Evola, to quote Horowitz, “is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.” Horowitz continues, “Evola became a darling of Italian Fascists, and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather. They called themselves Children of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the Solar Civilization. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works. More important for the current American administration, Evola also caught on in the United States with leaders of the alt-right movement, which Mr. Bannon nurtured as the head of Breitbart News and then helped harness for Mr. Trump.”
More specifically, Horowitz cites Evola’s work as viewing “humanism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution all as historical disasters that took man further away from a transcendental perennial truth.” Evola was a guiding light for Benito Mussolini who followed Evola in enacting anti-Semitic racial laws. According to Bannon, Evola’s thinking also influences the world view of Vladimir Putin. Bannon cites Putin as defending European Traditionalists “from the onslaught of Western liberal democracy, individual liberty, and materialism — all Evolian bêtes noires.” Horowitz notes that the attraction of that view is not lost on Bannon. As he quotes Bannon, “A lot of people that are Traditionalists, are attracted to that.”
Mere intellectual awareness of the dark side is no reason for condemnation. In the case of Bannon, however, who revels in the attraction of power and destruction, no leap of faith is necessary. Bannon has let us know who he is. We need to listen.