Useful Idiots of the Art World
“A Tumultuous Assembly” by Marinetti, an active supporter of Mussolini.
In a gallery in East London, in the summer of 2016, something strange was taking place. LD50 was about a year old by then, run by Lucia Diego, and had hosted shows by prominent artists at varying stages of their careers—Dinos and Jake Chapman, John Russell and Joey Holder, Deanna Havas, and Jesse Darling to name a few. A program of speaking events was organised, described by the gallery as a “conference on reactionary and neo-reactionary thought.”
Amid reputable speakers, a number of more divisive figures were programmed. Nick Land was one, widely acknowledged to be an intellectual inspiration for segments of the alt-right, though he retains some residual credibility in the art world resulting from his academic work at the University of Warwick in the nineties. Brett Stevens was another, an extreme ethno-nationalist who inspired and praised the murderer Anders Breivik. “I am honored to be so mentioned by someone who is clearly far braver than I, no comment on his methods, but he chose to act where many of us write, think, and dream,” he wrote.
During the same period, a show titled “Amerika” was put on at the gallery, dedicated to popular alt-right imagery. A Hitler quote is placed alongside a picture of Taylor Swift in one piece. Cutesy semi-ironic placing like this helped to keep the tone of such work questionable, allowing itself plausible deniability. Lucia Diego’s contention was that the gallery’s aim, too, was to “explore” rather than to propagate. What does it mean to put alt-right imagery in a room? Well, what does it mean to place any object in any particular room? Who can say?
After comments by artists querying Diego’s opinions and voicing dissent were repeatedly deleted, artist Sophie Jung made public a private message sent to her by Diego. In it, Diego bemoans the cultural echo chamber of what she perceives to be the left-leaning art world and expresses qualified support for Trump’s Muslim ban on the basis that “it is a temporary measure to help transition governments.”
At this point, things blew up. The message was widely shared on social media, calls were made for artists to disavow the space, British newspapers picked up on the story. In a shockingly reckless move, Diego leaked screenshots of the artists involved to the far-right website Amerika.org. A movement was organised to shut down the gallery. Protestors gathered outside LD50 on Saturday February 25 to leaflet and alert the local community.
This seems to me an important starting point for a discussion of what has taken place at LD50; a concerted refusal of Diego’s attempt to frame the NRx conference as abstract.
LD50 is a real place, in a real neighborhood, filled with people who are directly threatened by the vile speech of the very real racists who were invited into it. Repeatedly, the defence mounted by the gallery has been that it was attempting to have an open discussion about reactionary ideologies. The implication is that LD50 were engaging in some sort of completely neutral anthropological consideration of current events, rather than extending a fawning welcome to alt-right lynchpins.
I have seen it said by antifa that LD50 is not a story about art, but about fascism. I take the point—what’s at stake here goes beyond the merely aesthetic.
But as much as this is a story about actual violence, it is also a story about art. It’s a story about how the excesses of one allow the outrages of the other. It’s a story about the voiding of language’s applied meaning. It’s a story about what exactly is gotten away with under the assumed guise of irony and objectivity.
We can see clearly in Diego’s initial message to Jung, as well as in her subsequent justifications following the story’s leak, that she considers herself an underdog. She claims to be troubled by the dictatorial left which dominates the art world. She is concerned by what it means for art that all ideas—even fascist ones—cannot be platformed. She is struggling against it! She is a renegade, a rebel! The famous liberal elite are at it again—quashing the little guy!
This self-perception as brave outlier is an absurd belief that Diego and her defenders have in common with the heroes of the alt-right. They believe we live in a world dominated by authoritarians who impose a militaristic political correctness upon private citizens. By their logic, they are the put-upon underclass. They are rising up to defend the oppressed conservative whites. This, the age of Trump, of Breitbart, of Pepe, is their equivalent of the flower child’s sixties.
The disgraced former tech editor of Breitbart Milo made this clear in “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt Right” in March 2016, outlining their need to feel part of a transgressive rebellion. Another British import to the American movement is Paul Watson of Infowars. Watson is a strange and sad man who videos himself talking in front a large map in his home, curiously red and wet mouth flapping incessantly at the camera, begging his teenage fans to continue thinking he’s badass. Watson furthers Milo’s proposition and renders it significantly more risible by claiming that the alt-right is “the new punk rock.”
The murky world of the alt-right
06 MARCH 2017
Donald Trump’s tweets offered us an insight into the megalomaniacal playground that is his psyche. But his retweets revealed something even more sinister: his connections to the white nationalist far right.
During the presidential primaries, Trump retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM and another user called @CheesedBrit, which featured an avatar that looked like a modified swastika and a bio claiming that “we should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little mustache”.
After his election victory, footage of a roomful of young men chanting “Hail Trump!” went viral. These incidents, as well as the appointment of leading far right figure Steve Bannon to the position of chief strategist have put a spotlight on the murky world of the alt-right.
The term alt-right was coined by Richard Spencer, its self-styled intellectual leader. For Spencer, the movement is a break from traditional conservatism. It wants to rip up the status quo. According to Spencer, “The alt-right is in a way conservatives who don't have anything to conserve any more”.
The alt-right is primarily a loose-knit umbrella formation of online ideologues promoting extreme nativist, ultranationalist and white supremacist ideas. According to the Huffington Post, the rank and file of the alt-right “are mostly young white men who are angry about income inequality, poor job prospects, PC culture, crumbling social welfare programs and war. They come from Pat Buchanan’s nativist paleoconservatism, Ron Paul’s libertarianism, the rape-y Manosphere, the Gamergate underground, and other subcultures”.
Some of the leading figures in the movement are, however, blue blooded elites. Spencer, for instance, is from a wealthy family in Dallas, Texas. He attended an elite boys’ school and then Duke University, where he studied European history.
After a stint in experimental theatre, he discovered Nietzsche and fascist writers such as the Italian philosopher Julius Evola. While at university, Spencer made a name for himself as the defender of the white race against its enemies (which include all “non-Aryans” and Jews).
At a university appearance in Texas last year, he said: “We conquered this continent. Whether it’s nice to say or not, we won and we got to define what America means and we got to define what this continent means. America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men”. Spencer’s goal is to create a white ethno-state through what he calls “peaceful ethnic cleansing”.
Figures like Spencer are largely uninterested in the economic populism that was an important aspect of Trump’s campaign. At the same forum in Texas, Spencer said: “I believe in elites. I believe that culture and society, to a very large degree, not totally, but to a very large degree … come from the top down. I believe that elites set a tone for the country”.
Another alt-right website declares: “[W]e need to adopt a resolutely elitist strategy. We need to recognise that, culturally and politically speaking, some whites matter more than others. History is not made by the masses. It is made out of the masses. It is made by elites moulding the masses. Thus we need to direct our message to the educated, urban middle and professional classes and above”.
This general thrust helps distinguish the alt-right from other right populist or more plebeian proto-fascist movements.
Trump and Bannon’s boosting of the news site Breitbart has helped mainstream the movement. Breitbart is now the third most read news site in the USA, after CNN and the New York Times.
One white nationalist who is involved in establishing a militarised commune in Indiana said of the impact of Trump’s election on his group: “I can’t get over how rapidly this has come alive. We’re all growing and using this momentum”.
These are worrying trends. Far right movements in the US have been instrumental in cowing and terrorising migrant populations and have operated as shock troops against the left in the past. They must be resisted.
Mike Cernovich, Alan Dershowitz and the Jeffery Epstein Underage Sex Trafficking Case
Unredacted information on the court document included the case number, 1:15-cv-07433-RWS. This case is better known as Giuffre V. Maxwell, and is a suit filed by a woman named Virginia Giuffre against British heiress Ghislane Maxwell, alleging that Maxwell acted as a facilitator and groomer for Jeffrey Epstein’s child prostitution enterprise, and that Maxwell was directly responsible for trafficking the then-underage Giuffre as an unwilling prostitute.
Cernovich inserted himself into this case in January of 2017 when he made a motion to intervene and a motion to unseal previously sealed court documents and exhibits in this case. Cernovich’s claim is that his motion to unseal these items is a purely journalistic investigation, and that it was part of his “quest” to oppose pedophiles. This is, apparently, not the case.
It is then with no small amount of irony that we note that Cernovich’s motion was aimed against Giuffre, not on her behalf.
According to the response in opposition to Cernovich’s motion to unseal, documents filed by Giuffre’s attorneys state that Cernovich is attempting to unseal documents that were sealed under an order intended to protect Giuffre. The opposition documents further state that Cernovich’s motion to unseal mirrored earlier motions to unseal filed by celebrity attorney and close personal friend Alan Dershowitz– who is also named as being involved with Epstein’s sex ring– and that Cernovich is acting as Dershowitz’s proxy. They also noted how Cernovich has been a pro-rape advocate, often using rhetoric favoring the targeting of rape victims, as well as Cernovich’s relationship with Dershowitz, most notably Dershowitz’s appearance in Cernovich’s movie “Silenced”.
Meet Silicon Valley's Secretive Alt-Right Followers
The political glue binding the predominately young, male 4chan community is essentially anti-leftist: a disdain for identity politics and so-called "social justice warriors." This attitude thrives amid a culture of anonymity, in which status ostensibly comes from page views rather than one's gender, ethnic, or social background. "Larry," a software engineer for Google and an alt-right fan, points to the infamous 4chan post, "There Are No Girls on the Internet," where one 4channer profanely lectures another about how online life is a meritocracy in which gender should play no role.
Yet, hostility toward women and people of color thrives on 4chan and on Reddit, the social sharing site whose political and gaming forums /r/the_donald and /r/kotakuinaction are popular with the alt-right. In 2014, 4chan and Reddit users launched an elaborate campaign of rape and death threats against female video game developers that became known as Gamergate. They found champions in Yiannopoulos, who argued that the true victims were the men whose gaming culture was being destroyed by "feminist bullies" and the "achingly politically correct" tech press, and in Mike Cernovich, a blogger who has trumpeted the neuroticism and other alleged weaknesses of women as well as what he claims to be the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups. When former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao last year banned five "harassing subreddits," including one called ShitNiggersSay, the move unleashed weeks of bigoted trolling (a.k.a. "shitposting") and digital vandalism on the site—and a migration to a Reddit copycat site, Voat. (More recently, similar migrations took place after Reddit banned /r/altright and discussion of the fake-news scandal #PizzaGate.)
The anonymity of 4chan and Reddit makes it impossible to tell the extent to which they are dominated by tech workers, though an abiding interest from the tech press suggests considerable overlap. "It's definitely geek culture," says McGill University cultural anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, who has studied how 4chan gave rise to the hactivist group Anonymous. "Clint," a Valley cybersecurity startup founder and longtime visitor to the site, told me that the majority of active users on 4chan/pol/ are in tech, though typically in lower-level system administrator and tech support jobs that come with a lot of downtime during the workday. Dale Beran, who recently wrote about the political history of 4chan, argues that techies have become less dominant as 4chan and similar sites have expanded, though they still play a role: "We can define [4chan users] by their retreat into the computer, which means a lot of them have computer skills—whether that's networking or coding or whatever—but to some it may have simply been World of Warcraft."
"Most contributions that built the internet came from white people," declares one notorious hacker.
Before Gamergate, Larry, the Google software engineer, was "a standard Democrat straight-voting person," as he puts it. But reading about the movement in the tech press and on pro-Gamergate websites "did highlight some of the inconsistencies and hypocrisies with positions on the left," he says. A comment in a Gamergate thread led Larry to the Unz Review, a website run by Palo Alto tech entrepreneur and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz. There, Larry says he was exposed to treatises on "human biological diversity" expounding on the supposed cognitive differences between intellectually superior and inferior races.
Human biological diversity has also gained currency in the Valley through computer scientist Curtis Yarvin, who writes under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug. Starting in 2007, in series of blog posts often cited by alt-right followers, Yarvin laid out a political philosophy known as neoreaction or the "Dark Enlightenment." Combining a technocratic sensibility with reactionary political thought, neoreaction rejects Enlightenment concepts—such as democracy and equality of the races and sexes—and instead advocates something much closer to authoritarianism. Yarvin believes government would work much better if run like a tech company and helmed by an all-powerful CEO president. He spoke admiringly of Napoleon, whom he considers to be "kind of the Steve Jobs of France."
Yarvin's blog combines dorky programmer lingo with dense references to obscure, proto-fascist political texts. "When I started blogging 10 years ago, the availability of completely unorthodox written content [online] was mostly confined to the pre-1923 corpus, which Google did such a nice job scanning," Yarvin told me in an email. He believes that software programmers are attracted to his writings because they "are always looking for something to do with their restless, fidgety brains. Especially if it's weird and doesn't involve dealing with physical humans."
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who reportedly gave Trump more than $1 million during the campaign and was an adviser on Trump's transition team, has circled neoreactionary ideas. "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible," he wrote on the Cato Institute's blog in 2009, adding that women and "welfare beneficiaries" have through their voting habits "rendered the notion of 'capitalist democracy' into an oxymoron" (He clarified two weeks later that he supports women's suffrage and redirected blame for the supposed demise of democracy on "unelected technocratic agencies.")
Wombaticus Rex » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:55 am wrote:It's quite probable that if the Alt-Right survives, it will be because of Anti-Fascists: it's not like Steve Bannon is going to respond to black bloc kids on Twitter, but some frog avatar sure as shit will. That constant hostile engagement is the lifeblood of any identitarian movement, whether it's Furry Rights or Aryan Nations. Group bonding demands other groups to organize against.
Are there enough Shia LeBeoufs to keep the Alt-Right cohesive?[/b] Only time will tell.
Aliens, Antisemitism, and Academia
Alt-right conspiracy theorists have embraced postmodern philosophy. The Left should return to the Enlightenment to oppose their irrational and hateful politics.
Jason Reza Jorjani.
A scandal is brewing in academia. The photo accompanying a recent Atlantic article depicts Jason Reza Jorjani, who received a PhD in philosophy from Stony Brook University, embracing Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term alt-right back in 2010.
Jorjani, the article details, has become a prominent leader in the movement. He now works as cultural editor for altright.com and serves as editor-in-chief of the New Right publishing company Arktos Media. Last November, he spoke alongside notorious white nationalists Spencer, Jared Taylor, and Kevin MacDonald at the National Policy Institute (NPI) conference in Washington, DC. While Spencer leading the crowd in a “hail Trump” chant may have captured the most headlines, Jorjani’s speech most clearly revealed the alt-right’s perverse philosophical logic.
Jorjani’s writings, political activities, speeches, and media appearances have drawn charges of antisemitism and Islamophobia. In one instance, he suggested that Yahweh and Allah were actually space aliens who enslaved their believers and tricked them into committing genocide. He has openly characterized certain high-ranking Nazi officials as akin to supermen with psychic powers. While Jorjani has vehemently denied the charges of bigotry leveled against him, his public statements do make you wonder.
All of this has drawn uncomfortable and occasionally hostile attention toward his alma mater.
Stony Brook’s philosophy department, famous for its pluralism and progressive politics, seems like an unlikely context for this scandal. Many of the department’s students and professors identify themselves as leftists and liberals. Their focus on Continental philosophy includes research on critical theory, feminism, post-colonialism, and queer and critical-race theories. It came as a great shock, then, that one of Stony Brook’s newest alums had become the self-appointed spokesperson for “Aryan Imperium.”
Jorjani wrote an open letter to the department after he discovered that an attendee at a faculty meeting suggested reviewing his dissertation research. Although there’s no evidence that the department is conducting such an investigation, it has nevertheless elicited a flurry of articles from Inside Higher Ed and industry blogs like Leiter Reports and Daily Nous, which highlight questions of censorship, the revocability of degrees, academic freedom, and the role of dissertation committees.
The institutional embarrassment certainly stems from Jorjani’s reactionary views on culture, which he outlines in Prometheus and Atlas, the book based on his dissertation. But the parade of oddities that appear in the book — including, but not limited to, sorcerers, precogs, ancient aliens, telepathy, and the sunken city of Atlantis — are equally disconcerting.
To defend against charges of antisemitism, Jorjani cites his occasional references to Jewish philosophers like Leo Strauss, brags that there were Jewish attendees at the NPI conference, and reminds readers how even Mussolini enjoyed the support of some Italian Jews, however briefly. His book is even dedicated to Jeffrey Mishlove, a Jewish parapsychologist and media personality.
This evidence doesn’t suffice to overturn the charges, however. After all, the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger dedicated his magnum opus, Being and Time, to his slighted Jewish mentor Edmund Husserl.
We also attended Stony Brook’s philosophy department, where we were contemporaries of Jorjani. We know that some in academia would prefer that we not give this story any more attention. Jorjani, they say, is a morbid curiosity not worthy of earnest critique. This mirrors those liberal pundits who warn against “normalizing Trump” by taking his inflammatory rhetoric and oddball proposals too seriously.
Comforting as this dismissive stance may be, it fails to recognize the place Trump’s and Jorjani’s ideas have in contemporary culture. Calls to ignore these figures are based on the faulty premise that they are lone cranks, aberrant blips on the radar with no real connection to broader trends in politics or philosophy. If only this were true.
Although the alt-right remains on the fringes in the United States, it has come within proximity to real power and is trying to position itself as court philosopher. Figures like Richard Spencer see themselves as the Trump movement’s organic intellectuals, guiding the president’s followers, whom they characterize as a directionless “body without a head.”
These would-be-Rasputins have a plethora of modern antecedents to follow, including interwar intellectuals like Carl Schmitt and Ernst Jünger in the Third Reich, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in fascist Italy, and the Anti-Dreyfusard Charles Maurras in France. Ideas, even incoherent ones, often amass significant political followings.
Second, Jorjani’s work participates in a significant philosophical tradition that combines antisemitism with occult beliefs. The long historical association between irrationalism and anti-Judaism suggests that they emanate from a common worldview. After all, the mystical, neo-pagan writings of Dietrich Eckart inspired much of the Third Reich’s racial policy. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Hitler’s friend and mentor, proclaimed that “every Mystic is, whether he will or not, a born Anti-Semite.”
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, perhaps the first instance of popular conspiracy theory literature, is riddled with images of demonic manifestation alongside Jewish treachery. And as far back as the eighteenth century, Counter-Enlightenment ideologues sought to denigrate reason itself as “Jewish” and political emancipation as a subversive Hebraic plot. Figures like Joseph de Maistre praised the Spanish Inquisition for rooting out the political and spiritual “cancer” of Jewry, and the conservative Edmund Burke compared the French Revolution to a cabal of Jewish bankers.
Steve King’s Long History Of White Nationalism
At the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), King joined a panel criticizing multiculturalism featuring Peter Brimelow, the Alt-Right figure who founded the white nationalist outlet VDARE; John Derbyshire, a VDARE contributor who was fired by the National Review for his racist writings; and white nationalist Bob Vandervoort.
King praised Brimelow, who most recently was seen attending an Alt-Right summit in Washington where attendees cheered on Trump with the Hitler salute, telling him: “I’ve read all your books!”
As Rosie Gray pointed out:Brimelow operates on the line between the mainstream conservative movement and an openly racist fringe. His book “Alien Nation,” for instance, advanced the thesis that “Race is destiny in American politics,” and that policies altering the American complexion are both wrong and against what voters desire. His website, VDare, regularly hosts more openly racist work, like Kevin MacDonald’s claim that “Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies.”
LARGEST ALT RIGHT INSTITUTION LOSES ITS NON-PROFIT STATUS
For the past several years, the National Policy Institute has stood out as the most prominent Alt Right organizations in the country. Headed by Richard Spencer, NPI and its journal Radix has been a leader in the intellectual formation of the Alt Right and furthering its brand of fascism. The non-profit was formed in 2005 around the ideas of the late Sam Francis, a paleoconservative turned white nationalist known for his associations with American Renaissance and the Council of Conservative Citizens. After Spencer formed Alternative Right in 2008, he rose to prominence and eventually took it over in 2010 turning it into a think tank for “European American interests.”
Since then his flagship has been the NPI bi-annual conferences, which feature the “who’s who” of more pseudo-intellectual and culturally significant white nationalists, like Jared Taylor, Alain de Benoist, and Mike Enoch. The branding has gone in the direction of the French New Right and the Identitarian movement, with neofolk music acts, philosophical veneer, and an penchant for the dramatic.
NPI publishes books under its Washington Summit Publishing wing, which originally was just putting out scientific racism by people like Michael Levin and Richard Linn. It has expanded to anti-Semites like Kevin MacDonald, English translations of books by Eurasianist nationalist Aleksandr Dugin(translated by Spencer’s estranged wife), and unpublished tomes by Sam Francis. The Radix Journal seems to be the most active, which is the home for his podcast, blogs, and an occasional academic-looking journal.
The reasons for the IRS booting NPI from its 501(c)(3) status appears a little confusing, at least for Spencer. When he was asked by the L.A. Times, he did not seem to have a clear answer.I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to make a comment because I don’t understand this stuff…It’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s not good. We’ll figure it out.
Spencer had earlier incorporated the non-profit at his Mother’s address in Whitefish, Montana, where he lived for most of the year. This has recently caused even more controversy as the community and the anti-fascist organizations of the area had enough of the Spencer’s, and even though his mother had presented herself as an unwitting participant she had allowed her facilities to be used by the operation and had herself attended white nationalist conferences.
When Spencer first took over NPI, which did not “officially” take place until 2011, he stopped filing his taxes properly after 2012. If you do not file your taxes for three consecutive years, you lose your 501(c)(3) status. The IRS was behind on follow up with this, but after Spencer had raised upwards of $50,000 in donations to create a new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, and a central hub called AltRight.com, they got caught up and pulled his status.
Given the behavior of Spencer and the record of NPI, it is quite likely that Virginia will reject their application and they will no longer be able to operate as a non-profit. This will be a good precedent, especially if it is the targeted language of organizers countering him. If the result of the ruling can come in the wake of concerted counter-organizing, especially the churches and organizations (like the IWW) who have been protesting the new Alexandria location, then it will create a standard pressure point for anti-fascist organizations to go after. The New Century Foundation, which props up American Renaissance, may be next, as well as the Pioneer Fund and the various anti-immigrant non-profits out there funding policy research.
Spencer says his strong suit is not paperwork, which is true since he is strongest when complaining on Twitter and Periscope about how the “powers that be” treat him. We are guessing that is the strong suit we will hear most about in the coming weeks.
Beyond the Acid-Filled Jacuzzi: Sinister Truths About Bannon's Fascism
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
By Alexander Reid Ross, Truthout
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks at CPAC 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017.
Stephen Bannon is an enigmatic man. According to The Washington Post's well-traveled report, he is so difficult to pin down that he effectively had no fixed address during the three years before becoming Trump's top adviser.
Although Bannon filed for residency in Florida, evidence shows that he may not have lived there. Some speculate that he may have claimed residency in Florida to avoid California's high taxes. However, his ex-wife apparently did live at his declared home, and the landlord reported some doors in the house dead-bolted, some doors missing entirely, and the Jacuzzi destroyed and "covered in acid."
Further reports indicate that Bannon was paid $376,000 from 2012-2015 for 30 hours of work a week by an anti-Clinton media company funded by Robert Mercer and connected to the Koch brothers called Government Accountability Institute at the same time as he worked at Breitbart, often staying at the Breitbart Town House on Capitol Hill, as well as in New York, London and Miami.
While Bannon's suspicious residency history is being picked over extensively by journalists and Florida state prosecutors alike, another more deeply sinister aspect of his story has failed to attract sustained public scrutiny: his adherence to an international, traditionalist movement closely linked to occultist fascists like Julius Evola and Alexander Dugin.
Bannon's roots in traditionalism were observed earlier this year when BuzzFeed released a transcript of a June 2014 conference that he attended in the Vatican. Organized and attended by rightist and Catholic groups like the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, the event gave Bannon an opportunity to identify allies on the far right in what he called "the international Tea Party movement."
Speakers included Luca Volontè, a trustee at CitizenGo, which provides online platforms for far right petitions like the anti-choice One of Us citizens' initiative. Intended to halt public spending on abortions, One of Us was created by Carlo Casini, another speaker at the 2014 Vatican conference. Participating groups in One of Us included Zivile Koalition e.V., a lobbying organization created by Beatrix von Storch of the radical right party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The list goes on.
Bannon's comments at this conference reflected the kind of mixture of radical right, conservative and fascist elements assembled under the title of traditionalism and lending their support to the populism of the Trump campaign, among other rightist mobilizations.
Calling the president of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute "the smartest guy in Rome," Bannon told the conference about his mission to win "an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism" on behalf of "the Judeo-Christian West." This war cannot be fought through decadent modern culture, Bannon insisted, but through a return to tradition. Rather than look to the EU, then, Bannon suggested turning toward Russia: "Putin is standing up for traditional institutions, and he's trying to do it in a form of nationalism," he said.
This form of nationalist Eurasianism, according to Bannon, comes from "an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what's called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism."
Evola was not an outlying traditionalist who influenced fascism, as Bannon would have it; rather, Evola was an overt supporter of fascism. In 1930, Evola insisted, "We would like a more radical Fascism, more fearless, a really absolute Fascism, made of pure force." He then joined the arch-Blackshirt Roberto Farinacci, notorious for pouring castor oil down his victims' throats, in editing the publication Il Regime Fascista.
In a letter to the Fascist cultural minister, Evola explicitly stated his intention "to give an anti-Semitic orientation to Fascist spirituality." He was a leading participant in the fascist movement and sought to push it further. Dissatisfied with mere populist fascism, Evola actually called himself a "superfascist."
Evola's dedication to ultraviolence inspired a generation of fascists whose merciless attacks on civilian infrastructure killed hundreds of innocent people in bloody massacres that characterized what became known as the Anni di piombo, or Years of Lead.
In recent decades, the European New Right (ENR) -- a group of banal, fascist ideologues that formed in the late 1960s -- has summoned the full collective force of their limited imaginations to paper over Evola's fascism and present him as a palatable, avant-garde traditionalist. Even a cursory look at the historical context of Evola's rise, however, reveals Evola's fascist commitments and the covert fascism of those like Bannon who seek to carry on his legacy under the guise of "traditionalist Catholicism."
Tradition, Family, Property
Traditionalist Catholicism is a growing movement in Europe and the US, having emerged from the counter-enlightenment tradition and reactionary rejection of the French Revolution. Against Liberté, égalité, fraternité, traditionalists identifying with the Pope (ultramontane) rather than local, more radical, priests and bishops, called for a return to family and property.
Through the 19th century, ultramontane Catholics increasingly turned toward Catholic Action and its support for a socially responsible corporatism beholden to crown and altar. The leading ultramontane group, Action Française, prefigured the rise of fascism and the Lateran Accords, a series of agreements between Mussolini and the Church in 1929 that granted autonomy to the Vatican. Action Française leader Charles Maurras's later collaboration with fascism, as well as the fascistization of ultramontane monarchist Léon Degrelle, further influenced the politics of post-war radical right populism that would manifest in the Front National.
Many US Catholic traditionalists like Joseph McCarthy and cofounder of the John Birch Society, Francis Fenton, embraced virulent anticommunism, condemning the destruction of traditional family values. However, at the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s, the Church embarked on Vatican II, a reform period moving away from the Latin mass and even opening up to left-wing human rights missions throughout Latin America. A number of prominent traditionalists, like Fenton, declared that Communism and Freemasons had "deeply infiltrated the Church."
In an intellectual contribution to this new traditionalist struggle, Evola republished his translation of Léon de Poncins's La Guerra occulta with a pointed "concluding chapter" in which Evola sharply rebuked the movement toward reform. Evola's message spread throughout European fascist and traditionalist networks, from Franco's Spain, where Degrelle befriended Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, to the expansive fascist and traditionalist circles of Latin America.
In Brazil, a staunch defender of Catholic Action and follower of Maurras named Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira founded a group called Tradition, Family, Property (TFP) in 1960, which vehemently denounced Vatican II and priests sympathetic to the left.
TFP leaders brought their doctrine to other countries like the US, where a group of far-right leaders associated with the John Birch Society and Religious Right known as the "New Right" received traditionalism in earnest, developing a new US chapter in 1973. Meanwhile, Fenton created the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement (ORCM) and, at the same time, Vichy collaborator and Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre created the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
As Catholic traditionalism spread throughout the world, TFP chapters increased their power base in South America. Argentina's TFP, for instance, manifested the spiritual message of military dictatorships in Argentina to the extent that the 1976 junta adopted "Tradition, Family, and Property" as its slogan. To combat leftist guerrillas during the blood-soaked Dirty Wars, the Argentine far-right also relied on sadistic paramilitary forces known as Alianza Anticomunista Argentina, organized by occult fascist, Jóse López Rega, nicknamed "the Argentine Evola." López Rega's connection to Evolian terrorists tied into the Anni di piombo are well known.
Traditionalist Politics and Conservative Revolution
While the reformism of Jorge Bergoglio (later Pope Francis II) would emerge from this context in Argentina, his detractors within SSPX, ORCM, and TFP were similarly forged in the crucible of the Cold War and continue to make their presence felt. In 1984, Venezuela banned the organization for allegedly plotting to assassinate then-Pope John Paul II, not only were they thought to have paramilitary training camps but they were said to use the Pope's image as target practice, and more recently, controversy has swirled over whether or not prominent members of the Venezuelan opposition are TFP members.
Of course, these networks are well connected to far-right traditionalists in Europe. The Front National's ties to SSPX-linked lobbying group, Civitas, are fairly open. Beatrix von Storch of AfD is related to the director of the European TFP franchise Federation Pro Europa Christiana. In short, the traditionalist network present at the 2014 conference in the Vatican was the perfect opportunity for Bannon to cite "an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola" as an important influence.
The unnamed adviser Bannon was talking about is likely Alexander Dugin, a prominent Russian fascist who is known for having close ties with Moscow State University and some of Russia's military brass. Dugin made his name after the fall of the Soviet Union, when he helped mobilize a "National Bolshevik" network of fascists throughout Europe around the imperative of defeating globalization and fostering "a genuine, true, radically revolutionary, and consistent fascist fascism" in the words of his text, Fascism: Borderless and Red. Since then, Dugin's traditionalism has been associated with the traditionalist tendencies to criminalize "propagandizing homosexuality" and end abortions throughout the world.
Playing his enthusiasm for fascism down in recent years, Dugin has developed what he calls the "Fourth Political Theory," which posits that liberalism, communism, and fascism represent three failed epochs to be overcome through the revolutionary rebirth of authentic, conservative life. For Dugin, "Traditionalists advanced the program of fundamental conservatism" which was given "an exhaustive description" by Evola.
Through this conception of "conservative revolution," which hews closer to fascism than to democracy, Dugin suggests that a cultural shift toward traditionalism might give way to broader political transformation. Rather than support the EU, Dugin suggests creating a federated zone of culturally homogenous ethno-states, which he believes would bring about "an unavoidable social dynamic characteristic of globalization and openness, but without those shortcomings that globalization has taken on a global scale." In short, a kind of fascist international.
Dugin's stated goal is "to pull out from the structure of the world the roots of evil, to abolish time as a destructive quality of reality, and in so doing fulfilling some kind of secret, parallel, non-evident intention of the Deity itself." Interestingly, Dugin's left-right syncretism and catastrophism closely mirror some of Bannon's own statements; for instance, "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."
As Bannon indicates, Dugin's hope for a spiritual "conservative revolution" that will break apart the EU's "Atlanticism" is backed by Russian support for Eurosceptic parties and movements that have also been embraced by Trump and, it would appear, much of the Republican Party.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year, the UK Independence Party's xenophobic former leader, Nigel Farage, triumphantly called Brexit and Trump the signals of a "global revolution," interestingly repeating the claims of fascist Kai Murros. When Bannon addressed the CPAC audience from the stage, he repeatedly called for an "economic nationalist agenda."
Bannon's recently revealed enthusiasm for Catholic traditionalist Jean Raspail's extremely xenophobic text, Camp of the Saints, as well as the historical narrative of national rebirth, The Fourth Turning, only further clarifies the combination of xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and creeping fascism underlying the networks of contemporary traditionalism currently gaining power.
In short, Bannon believes that he is helping to bring about a sacred revolution to overthrow a multicultural, globalist "establishment" and wage war against what he frames as the ethno-religious enemy of Islam to pull the "Judeo-Christian West" out of a historic collapse and build a new spiritual empire. The reports of acid in the Jacuzzi and the alleged investigation into his address only offer small samples of the erratic, temperamental and bizarre behavior that accompanies such a fascistic ideology -- and the mess he could leave around the world.
Now that Bannon is installed as Trump's adviser at the center of the White House, the impact of his reactionary, traditionalist ideals are taking shape through the Trump administration's ongoing attack on the most vulnerable populations.
To defeat this onslaught, the anti-fascist resistance must address not only the Trump administration but also the broader trans-Atlantic political and cultural shift that Bannon rode to power.
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