Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Learn the true meaning of the political “F-Word”

Put aside distractions: Spicer, Priebus, the Mooch.... It's Steve Bannon who has drawn concerned attention lately from those seeking signs and portents. For example, Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist reads a lot and styles himself a supreme intellect. In this exploration of Bannon’s favorite books, you’ll find plenty to worry about, such as his cult-obsession with a coming apocalypse-like crisis foretold by inevitable “cycles of history.” (I'll append more about his favorite authors, below.)

Elsewhere, I’ve written about this fellow’s obsession to give Trump, Putin, the Ayatollahs and Saudis the one thing that they most want in common, a U.S. war against Iran. (And in today's news, ever-more risky encounters between US Navy ships and Republican Guard vessels in a waterway we no longer need to defend or care much about. Can anyone spell T-O-N-K-I-N?)

Oh, but folks will clutch at hope. Might the crazy be limited? For example, people ask if I am shocked (shocked!) that Dark Lord of the West Wing floated a trial balloon proposal to raise taxes on the rich, to a 44% top rate on incomes above $5 million.

Shocked? Um, not. Let me remind you that Steve Bannon is not a member of the plutocracy that has long owned the Republican Party, controlling its policies through lickspittle politicians, pulpit pounders and mouthpiece shills like George F. Will.

Yes, for decades that oligarchy had its way, feeding lip service to social conservatives on issues like racism, xenophobia, abortion, religious litmus tests and so on, without ever delivering on any of those hot-air promises, least of all doing anything for lower middle class (LOMIC) whites, economically. GOP Congresses have been by far the laziest in the republic's history, concentrating only on legislation that benefits the oligarchy.

That hasn't mattered, till recently. By Fox-steering populism into a confederate know-nothing cult, those cynical manipulators were able to turn LOMICs against other elites — the smartypants know-it-alls and fact-using professions like scientists, teachers, journalists and now FBI, Intel and military officers …  much as 1860s plantation lords got poor, white Southerners to march against their own best interests. 

Distraction-distraction; they thought it would work forever. Alas, those lords are ignoramuses, when it comes to history. Take what eventually happened to those slave-owning plantation lords. Or French aristocrats, when the populist masses got fed up. 

A more frighteningly germane example is the Junkers-caste 1930s Prussian nobles, who thought they could control a populist beast they helped stir into hydrophobic frenzy. They subsidized and riled up Nazi fever as a weapon against communists, only to see gifted Robspierres leap into the saddle of their frothing horse, sending it charging in directions that brought their own ruin.

Enough context; how does Steve Bannon fit into all this? Despite his stint at Goldman-Sachs — a job requirement in the Trump Administration — Bannon has never been a plutocrat. He is a fascist. 

The genuine article. Not any of the ersatz things that silly-cursing-ignorant lefties call by that name, but in the dictionary sense of the word — romantic-nostalgic, utterly dedicated to symbolic and ritualistic purity, terrified of complexity and even the thought of positive-sum, hostile to expertise, obsessed with fore-ordained destiny and cyclical “history,” thrilled by regimentation of a sacred, uniform, race-centered 'nation' and convinced of the sub-humanity of any opponent. That is what the political F-word actually means.  

Bannon's heroes, like Julius Evola and Mussolini and Vladimir Putin, have been icons of this pattern. And, while fascists go easier on plutocrats than communists do (witness Putin’s oligarch mafiosi), the rich had better toe the line, and surrender however much lucre the populist movement demands. Only those Junkers and German industrialists who clicked heels to the swastika got to keep their estates - and heads - under the Nazis.

Now, the key question: how much is our time like 1934? Short of a Reichstag Fire, I don’t see Bannon’s LOMIC white populists and fundie-dominionists and true-fascists being able to overwhelm the plutocrat GOP-owners quite yet. Yes, the firing of Reince Priebus certainly is a step in that direction. But mainline, old-money pols like Lindsey Graham have already drawn lines in the sand. This is our party, say the plutos and their shills, we paid good money for it.

No, the brown-shirted GOP wing daren’t stage their Reichstag fire, their Gleiwitz or Tonkin Incident, until first they’ve purged the FBI, intel agencies and officer corps of brave adults.  Till then, lobotomized lords — like the Kochs and Murdochs — will remain ‘in control’ of the Republican Party.  And till then, Bannon’s tax hike trial balloons will be made of lead.

But he’s biding his time. And unlike the Kochs and Murdochs, Steve Bannon actually knows some history. He has studied what errors were made by his heroes — Robspierre, Rasputin, Lenin, Evola, Mussolini, Röhm, Goebbels, Borman, Stalin and the rest.  This time, meticulously, he intends to get it right.

==  What's on his book shelf? ==

See Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, by Joshua Green. For those of you who have the stomach to dive into this noxiously recurring world view - Guénon’s The Crisis of the Modern World (1927) and Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World (1934) are what drew Bannon’s interest to Traditionalism, both of whom were certainly influenced by Oswald Spengler’s 1922 The Decline of the West. All eagerly forecast the imminent shattering of a western enlightenment that - disappointingly - never collapsed. Instead, our pragmatic-scientific-mongrel renaissance proved rather more resilient, dynamic and creative than they expected, skyrocketing into a Golden Age. 

But addicts will get their fix. Continuing this baleful-gleeful gloomcasting in the 1950s was émigré philosopher Leo Strauss, who taught the Bush era neocons like Wolfowitz and Kristol how to get absolutely every single thing completely wrong, often with pinpoint precision. Strauss is on Bannon's shelf, along with Allan Bloom, whose 1987 The Closing of The American Mind made him guru of those pouring hate at American universities, our one zone of overwhelming superiority in a fast-changing world. Also glimpsed there are the stunningly delusional works of David Gelernter, who would have been Donald Trump's 'Science Advisor,' if the confederate leader ever appointed one. (He hasn't, and for good reason: even Gelernter would occasionally have uttered the forbidden words "that's not exactly true, sir.") 

Sure, all these mesmerizing tomes on Steve's shelf proved not only wrong, but diametrically wrong in every way. But that never-true contradiction of all fact raises no qualms. Nor does relentless scholarly disproof of Bannon's favorite modern tome, Strauss & Howe's absurd but captivating exercise in pattern-seeking The Fourth Turning. But that's how cults work. It's not fact that matters, it is how the incantation makes you feel! If facts inconveniently contradict feeling, then that only makes fact-users the enemy.

== Scandals?  We got scandals. ==

Connect the dots to see what all the parties to the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Junior have in common. Scan who was there and what they’ve been up to, for decades, and your blood will run cold.  Oh, they all say they were there (and had other meetings) to discuss “adoptions.” And POTUS said that was the content of his long, unannounced meeting with Putin – without any U.S. government officials present. “Adoptions.” Read here what the word “adoptions” is code for.

But the thing I find most shocking is how utterly amateur their spycraft was. Seriously? This is how you arrange secret meetings? Either these are morons… or their putsch to undermine the West is so far along that they feel confident enough to get sloppy.  (ASIDE: An experienced former 30 year US counter-intelligence expert asserts that “the clearest evidence that this was a Russian influence operation is the trail of bread crumbs the Kremlin seemed to have deliberately left leading from Trump Tower to the Kremlin. This operation was meant to be discovered.”)

Oh, but now Fox is shrilly calling the Clintons “Russian Stooges” for having done some paid speeches. Um, it ain’t the pay, guys, it’s the favors. Trump just ended U.S. support for the moderate rebels against Putin’s pal Assad.  “Adoptions” is code for ending U.S. sanctions against Russia’s elites for annexation of Crimea and the Donbass.

As for Hillary and Barack?  They were Enemies Number One and Two to Putin, who openly raged against them.  Clinton and Obama gave Russian hegemonism its worst setback since the fall of the USSR, when we supported the people of Ukraine chasing out their KGB-puppet president and turning to the west.  Putin and the Moscow press directly credit HC and BHO with that. Directly, and they declared vengeance.

Tell us, oh, Fox. How do you explain away that? Oh, you don’t have to. Your viewers do not care about verifiable “facts.”

== Halloween will be political!  And Snippets ==

Wardrobe decisions for Halloween: It’s not too soon to use your contacts to affect what we'll all be wearing, October 31. Let some novelty company know to produce millions of blue, civil war Union kepi hats. All right, I was premature, earlier years, but now? Wanna bet you’ll want one, in just 3 months?  Get those orders in.  Or find me an order site and I’ll publicize!

And just in time… a new parallel world sci fi show called “Confederate” seems a timely, provocative riff on our re-ignited American Civil War.  “The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”  I'll comment more on this, later.

Jim Wright's Stonekettle Station blog is always entertaining, on-target, lively and interesting. This born-rural military vet eviscerates the hijackers of American conservatism, especially those hand wringers who claim to be shocked by Donald Trump's antics. Drop in now and then! But today's missive is especially biting.

Trump marginalizes experts, debases expertise -- from The Washington Post.

To any Ayn Rand literates here, was there any significance that the lately lamented White House communications director - a veteran of Goldman Sachs - was named "Mooch"?

Oooog.  Enough, already.  Can I wake up now? I swear off whatever hooch I drank, to give me these DTs.


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Treebeard said...

Donzelion, I never said Trump or the GOP are fascists; that's what people do who call everyone they don't like fascists without understanding what it means. Trump is an uber-merchant, and most Republicans don't fight for much except their bank accounts. Maybe Trump fantasizes about being a fascist, but Americans make really bad fascists. Jihadists are nothing like this; they actually believe in transcendent values and fight for them. Like Duncan says, fascism is theocratic. Italy, Japan and Germany all had a mystical essence centered around a supreme ruler. This was common in history. I think Leftists distorted fascism at some point to make it sound like a purely capitalistic, materialistic phenomenon -- probably because they have a hard time understanding anything else or they don't want people to realize that there are other idealistic alternatives to capitalism out there.

Paul SB said...

Uber-merchant? When so many of his business ventures were failures or scams? If the Grope hadn't been given millions by his father he would never have made it past used car salesman. The sapling is right that fascism often incorporates a religious element. It was Catholicism for both Franco and Mussolini, Protestantism for Hitler, Evangelism for today's Republican Party. And all of them shared that cult of personality, as did Castro's Cuba, Stalin's Russia and Mao's China. So I guess there's a little flow through his phloem, but not a lot. He still wants to claim that jihadis have transcendental values but leftists do not. Sorry, Paly, but every side in every conflict claims that they have transcendental values and the other guys don't. Pure partisanship with no room whatsoever for critical thinking going on there. Heart rot to the core.

Jumper said...

Any kid with a pencil, pen or stylus re-invents the swastika out of line segments as a doodle, often before knowing a thing about Germany and history. It appears in middle-Eastern old tiles, old European heraldry and it's a Chinese character. It's ubiquitous.

And I think it's just as likely Hitler was reminded of ancient totemistic art history by noticing some Scouts' badges.

Jumper said...

More likely, the Finnish Air Force used the swastika as an emblem, introduced in 1918.

Tim H. said...

Have a look at
A pleasant thought for us, the stuff of nightmares for Obama.

Paul SB said...

There was a German pilot in WW 1 who had the crooked cross on the fuselage of his Fokker D VII, though I don't remember the name of the pilot. My memory is vague on this one but I seem to remember that Uncle Adolph either worked on or subscribed to a right-wing radical newspaper in Austria after WW 1 that used the same emblem, so I doubt there was any connection with the Boy Scouts. Franco American made pasta swastikas before WW 2 heated up.

Wow, aren't we filled with swastika trivia?

If the Republicans lose control of Congress in 2018, Obama might just welcome a third term, but not if it would just be a repeat of his last term. Anyway, it's just a partizan sentiment, just like all those "George W. Bush says Miss me yet?" bumper stickers I started seeing on pick-up trucks before Obama was even sworn in. Maybe the sentiment is felt more keenly now by more Americans, a sit's so obvious that we have been sold out to a gang of thieves. Well, more obvious than usual, anyway. Every Republican administration since at least Nixon has been a gang of thieves.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Anyway, it's just a partizan sentiment, just like all those "George W. Bush says Miss me yet?" bumper stickers I started seeing on pick-up trucks before Obama was even sworn in. Maybe the sentiment is felt more keenly now by more Americans,...

I remember the slogan, and how some right-wingers I knew acted as if it represented some sort of universal sentiment. I was all like, "No, I don't miss you at all. You overstayed your welcome as it is." However, if those same bumper stickers or billboards appeared again now, I'd probably go, "Yeah, I do miss you, you big lug."

LarryHart said...

By the way, Dr Brin apparently has trouble posting comments while traveling, but he did put up a new sci-fi oriented post. So you might want to move...



David Brin said...

Carl is increasingly desperate. The commonalities of the Nazis and the USSR and Chile's Pinochet and his ilk had nothing to do with "socialism" per se. They all re-built the same feudal pyramid that cheated and crushed competition and oppress 99.9999% of our ancestors. They fiffered a little in the superficial catechisms of their justifying religious priesthood.

But Carl knows this. He is flailing and shouting "squirrel!" to avoid the question I keep asking about those 6000 years.

Treebeard's assertions are entirely wrong. But I reward his presenting them with non-offensive articulation by saying his name in full.

In fact, fascism is a romantic movement that does oppressive feudalism, but whose superficial religion is centered in racial-purity, cyclical destiny, enforced uniformity, obeisance to symbolism, spite toward expertise and utter-utter romanticism. These are somewhat features of Trump, but actually apply to the monsters down the hall.


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