Ann Coulter is a white nationalist
Chief Strategist in the White House : Stephen Bannon as Trump's torchbearer
He is Mephisto, self-declared Leninist, most dangerous man in the White House, Darth Vader, right-wing extremist ideologue, choleric and unpredictable, a destroyer, whisperer, mob, rebel, Manichean, apocalyptic, nihilist, conspiracy theorist, nationalist, militarist, anti-feminist. Stephen K. Bannon has achieved one thing with all these titles: For the "establishment", as he contemptuously calls it, he is public enemy number one. On the threat scale, he often ranks ahead of Donald Trump.
As the President's chief political strategist, the 63-year-old Catholic of Irish descent is pulling the strings in and around the Oval Office. Trump's decrees bear his signature. Bannon, the fascination - creepy, puzzling. What does this man want, what drives him?
There are audible speeches from him, such as those in front of "Tea Party" sympathizers in New York City, in front of the "Liberty Restoration Foundation" in Orlando (Florida), connected to representatives of the religious right in the Vatican via Skype from California. There are also dozens of interviews with him on Fox News, the Batcave blog, on Breitbart. Another key to understanding Bannon's political ideology are his films. From the late 1990s to 2016 he worked as a screenwriter, producer and director.
Documentaries are at the center of Bannon's cinematic work. The word suggests objectivity and is therefore misleading. A “documentary” of this kind wants to shake up, polarize, admonish, outrage. What Michael Moore is from the left, Steve Bannon from the right - an agitator who doesn't pretend to be anything else. Bannon is referred to by colleagues as "Leni Riefenstahl of the tea party movement".
Fight against fascism, communism and jihadist Islam
His appeal to the audience: they have to choose between light and darkness, truth and lies, upright and stooped gait, belief in God and apostasy from God. Simple pictures illustrate the metaphors. Money is printed and burned. That means waste. Images of concentration camps, the Gulag and the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center represent the fight against fascism, communism and jihadist Islam. The narrative is underlaid with classical dramatic music, sometimes quieter, sometimes louder. As clumsy as it is catchy.
Bannon's hero is Ronald Reagan. In 2004 the glorification flick "In the Face of Evil - Ronald Reagan’s War in Word and Deed" was released. The rise of the actor, governor and later president is contrasted with the expansion of power of the "beast". The beast is Soviet communism, Stalin's terror, the building of the wall, the gulag.
Before Reagan defeated this beast through a "crusade for freedom" - clarity, rearmament, a firm belief and the support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan - it was fed by appeasers. Attempts were made to contain it and appease it through arms control agreements, to allow it to dominate Eastern Europe in Helsinki, and to put up with the development of the Soviet atomic bomb and the construction of the Berlin Wall. But then came Reagan, the Redeemer, a man with a vision, an outsider who was cursed as paranoid, reactionary and warmongering, but who was the only one who “had the courage to do what was morally right”.
Alone against everyone, laughed at, mocked, misunderstood: This is a biblical myth and one from western films. Noah building the ark, Jesus on the cross, Gary Cooper in "High Noon". Evil is in the majority, powerful and sly. But the good wins, thanks to a higher power that it carries.
Bannon masters the sound behind it, which makes the story vibrate emotionally. He also weaves his message into a historical image that seems to fit plausibly into the American national epic. He was inspired by the book "The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss. Accordingly, US history can be divided into eighty-year cycles. The first cycle revolves around the revolution (1763), the second around the civil war (1861), the third around the fight against Hitler, the fourth around the two formative events in Bannon's life: the Islamist terror on September 11, 2001 and the global financial crisis.
In the film “Generation Zero” from 2010, details of this philosophy of history are expounded. The 80-year cycles are in turn divided into four 20-year cycles. They are called “high”, “awakening”, “unraveling”, “crisis”. Roughly speaking, the first twenty years after the victory over Hitler's fascism characterize the functioning of the “American Dream” - piety, intact families, prosperity. Then came the generation of 68 and betrayed these values. Egoism, narcissism, arrogance, the unconditional will for self-realization led to the “moral decline” of the country. Its consequences: the Lewinsky affair, galloping national debt, a political class that is constantly enriching itself, casino capitalism, and the financial crisis.
Images of atomic bomb explosions, avalanches
Now this “decade of shame” must come to an end. The fight becomes "hard, bad and dirty". The biblical passage from Ecclesiastes 3 is quoted, "everything has its time", pictures of atomic bomb explosions, avalanches, the hamster turning senselessly in the wheel, underline the drama of the situation. Contrary to the assumption, racism, white supremacy, homophobia or anti-Semitism do not appear in Bannon's films. Instead: smashing the existing order, spiritual renewal, end-time rhetoric.
Who should fight the fight? Before Trump stepped on stage, Bannon was hoping for conservative reactionary women like Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. For a long time he saw the incarnation of Reagan in Palin. His film about her is called "The Undefeated" (2011). Palin is "incredibly intelligent," an "intrepid warrior," a thorn in the flesh of the establishment, says Bannon. Almost a year earlier he directed the film "Fire from the Heartland - the Awakening of the Conservative Woman". Women like Palin, Coulter and Bachmann are "our last line of defense".
A film that was never made, but was planned in an eight-page synopsis by Bannon in 2007, was to be entitled: "Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism in America". Radical Muslims take over the country, and shouts of "Allahu Akbar" can be heard from the Capitol. The media, Jewish organizations and the government apparatus - although “guided by the strongest motives” - weigh down the danger posed by the jihadists and thereby involuntarily pave the way that leads to this “unique hell on earth”.
Bannon's worldview revolves around terror and the financial crisis. America's Outside Enemy: Islam and Islamism. America's internal enemy: effeminacy, value relativism, greed, secularism, atheism, corruption. The battle must be fought on both fronts. At the 2014 Vatican conference he lamented the “crisis of the Judeo-Christian West”, guilt was “a crisis of our church, a crisis of faith”.
No wonder that Bannon's last film, “Torchbearer” (October 2016), is a monumental sermon on the need for Christian renewal in America. It will be performed by the long-bearded missionary and reality TV star Phil Robertson. The "Torchbearer" are a worldwide evangelical denomination. The story of the persecution of Christians is told, Christian martyrs are praised, and there is a warning against social Darwinism and the loss of values such as altruism and devotion.
Radical traditionalists against the representatives of a global elite
Bannon corresponds regularly with arch-conservative cardinals in the Vatican, such as the American Raymond Burke, who are opponents of Pope Francis. His message of mercy, tolerance towards Islam and compassion for refugees contradicts Bannon's call for a renewal of Christianity in contrast to Islam. The good guys in Bannon's world are the “radical traditionalists”, the bad guys the representatives of a “global elite” to whom “London and Berlin are closer than the people of Kansas and Colorado”.
Bannon's goals are the Christian renewal of America as the foundation of a free, unregulated, but value-bound capitalism, the victory over "Islamic fascism", the revival of the cultural norms of the 1950s - and as a condition for this, the smashing of the relevant institutions of the ruling class, that is : from party feeling, media, protection of beneficiaries. It is all in the name of the little man who works hard and has been forgotten by the elite. No reformation without revolution.
Bannon ended his speech in New York in 2010 to sympathizers of the Tea Party with a quote from a song by Bob Dylan: "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows". It comes from “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, a source of inspiration for the founding of the radical left student group “Weatherman” in the late sixties. Like the 68s back then, Bannon and Trump talk about themselves and their ideology as a "movement" today.
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