The new press secretary and the new communications director for the US administration seem to be settling in to their new positions. The former seems to be going for the ‘good cop’ version of the old press secretary and the latter seems to be living up to his namesake. The number of people trying to figure out what exactly a Scaramucci is has evidently skyrocketed.
I don’t like to single-source, but I thought the Democracy Now (!) interview with Joshua Green was interesting enough to reference here. (Green has just released a book entitled, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.) The interview includes this account:
But in the course of my reporting, I asked Steve Bannon—I said, “You know, when you were at that Vatican conference”—and this wasn’t just a Vatican conference, this was a group of far-far-right conservative Traditionalist Catholics. Bannon name-checked a man named Julius Evola, who was an Italian intellectual and Benito Mussolini’s fascist ideologist at the beginning of World War II. And I said, “Steve, if you’re not an anti-Semite and a Nazi and a white supremacist, as you’re often charged with being, but you say you’re not, why is it that you are familiar with people like Evola?” And he said, “Oh, you know, when I developed my ideas about nationalism, I went back and was looking for an intellectual edifice to kind of inform these ideas. And to find nationalist thinkers, you really have to go back to the 1930s and the 1940s, when those ideas were ascendant. But the real guy who influenced me,” Bannon told me, “was an man named René Guénon, who was Evola’s intellectual godfather.”
Guénon has a fascinating biography. He was born in France in the late 19th century to a Roman Catholic family, practiced occultism, Freemasonry, and later converted to Sufi Islam and observed the Sharia, which is a very unusual guru, it seemed to me, for a guy like Steve Bannon, who is so virulently Islamophobic. But Guénon was the founder of a religion, a kind of religious philosophy, known as primordial Traditionalism. That’s capital-T Traditionalism. And primordial Traditionalism holds that there is common spiritual truths, unifying spiritual truths, at the heart of ancient religions, like the Hindu Vedanta, Sufism, medieval Catholicism, even paganism. And these are original spiritual truths that were revealed to mankind in the earliest ages of the world but had been lost in the West by the rise of secular modernity.
So, Bannon, who was raised in a very traditional Catholic family, who went to a right-wing Catholic military high school and has been steeped in this right-wing, Western sieve curriculum, believes, as Guénon does, that we are entering a dark age, that the rise of the Enlightenment in the 1500s has led us toward apocalypse, and that if he can’t prop up traditional values and do what Guénon had hoped to do, which was to, quote, “restore to the West a traditional civilization,” then mankind is going to be destroyed. And that is his animating belief.
There are some interesting folks in the wheelhouse right now.
Will you do the fandango?