Bannon out! Steve Bannon survived 7 months as Special Adviser in the White House of President Donald Trump. Add 6 months that he did as chief of the successful Trump Presidential campaign in 2016 and he had about a year in the global media spotlight. As I show in my new paperback book Theoretical Times (out with Emerald on October 7) in today’s accelerated culture a year is actually a very long time in politics, not a short stay at all. Just ask Trump’s most recent Communications Head! He survived 11 days!! On leaving the White House Bannon returned to the far-right website Breitbart where he was Chief Executive for a few years before he took up the reins with Trump. For Breitbart, a website full of white supremacy, fascism and racism, the Trump Presidency was a ‘revolution from the right’. Bannon has proclaimed his intention to continue this revolution from outside the White House. With his global fame the venture will be doubled down now. We should all watch out.
Eminent ultra-realist criminologist Professor Steve Hall has labelled, on Twitter, Steve Bannon as an ‘anarcho-capitalist’. This is the most accurate categorization of Bannon whose right-wing thought has been developing apace over the last decade into a finely honed new right ideology. Bannon believes that the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 and 2008 was something of a watershed, and something for the new populist right (energized by the Tea Party and many other far right organisations in the USA) to make a stand on. Bannon believes that a ‘great reset’ of global capitalism is urgently necessary in the wake of the GFC. This great reset has, though, to come from the new right, which is why Bannon himself (and other Presidential advisers like Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka who remain in the White House) were always on a collision course with Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. These traditional Republican leaders gell much more with the militarism of the retired Generals with which Donald Trump surrounded himself, as well as myriad finance capitalists and the representatives of ‘Big Oil’ like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly of Exxon Mobil.
The two main contemporary arguments within the right globally are today the two main ideologies in the USA. Bannon and co represent the new right nationalists (protectionists) and many of Trump’s speeches on the campaign and since he became President reflect more or less this position. What Slavoj Zizek calls Trump ‘defecating in public’ in his brilliant new book The Courage of Hopelessness, namely Trump’s vulgarity and blatant nationalism, sexism and racism, fits into the populist nationalist discourse and is so far successful electorally given the large section of the population in the USA alienated from the mainstream. But Trump, with a foot in both camps, is also partially a part of the other right discourse too – that is the neo-liberal, globalist tendency which for decades has dominated globalized politics and which is symbolized by past US Presidents like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, if she had won the Presidency in 2016, would probably have continued the line of neo-liberal globalism. This continuation of the tendency of a world led by neo-liberal globalism for Slavoj Zizek and other critics would have been even worse for the planet than a Donald Trump victory with Steve Bannon at its head. Ironically with Bannon departed from the White House there is now more of a chance of Trump (pushed from behind by Generals and Trump family members) taking the neo-liberal globalist route with all the inherent danger for the world (North Korea, Iran, Syria) that entails. World War Three anyone?