February 7, 2017


What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read (ELIANA JOHNSON and ELI STOKOLS, February 07, 2017, Politico)

Bannon's readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory, and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon's own public remarks over the years--a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. His ascendant presence in the West Wing is giving once-obscure intellectuals unexpected influence over the highest echelons of government.

Bannon's 2015 documentary, "Generation Zero," drew heavily on one of his favorite books, "The Fourth Turning" by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which explains a theory of history unfolding in 80-100 year cycles or "turnings," the fourth and final stage of which is marked by periods of cataclysmic change in which the old order is destroyed and replaced--a current period that, in Bannon's view, was sparked by the 2008 financial crisis and has now been manifested in part by the rise of Trump. [...]

Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-found Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed "neoreactionary" who blogs under the name "Mencius Moldbug," attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that "nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth." When he was frogmarched out of a computer software conference where he was scheduled to speak following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer/blogger's dismissal.

Moldbug's dense, discursive musings on history--"What's so bad about the Nazis?" he asks in one 2008 treatise that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies--include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump's approach to truth. "To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army," he writes in a May 2008 post. [...]

Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. During the transition, he made clear his deep skepticism that the Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the source said - a message that Trump himself reiterated several times.

Of course, it was internationalist technocrats--W, the UR and Ben Bernanke--who prevented the 2008 credit crunch from being more than a bump.

Posted by at February 7, 2017 8:29 AM