I’m not sure how much more bad news my readers or I can take, but one thing that certainly cannot be ignored is Steve Bannon’s intention to focus the bulk of his energies on undermining liberal democracy in the West by going to Europe and organizing all the far-right nationalist parties into a cooperative he calls The Movement.
You might remember what Bannon said last year while addressing Marine Le Pen’s Front National in Lille, France:
Up on stage he told the crowd: “You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.”
Bannon was shocked to learn that the Brexit campaign had been so cheap:
The sight of Brexit virtually upending the entire European Union with a campaign spending cap of £7 million ($9 million) was a great inspiration. “When they told me the spending cap was £7 million, I go, ‘You mean £70 million? What the fuck?!’ £7 million doesn’t buy anything. It doesn’t buy you Facebook data, it doesn’t buy you ads, it doesn’t do anything.”
“Dude! You just took the fifth largest economy in the world out of the EU for £7 million!”
So, now he’s going to address one of the far right’s weaknesses:
Up until now insurgent populist groups across Europe have often suffered from similar problems: lack of expertise and finances. Le Pen’s party was kept afloat by Russian loans back in 2014, when French banks refused to extend lines of credit for the Front National. Le Pen was back in Moscow shaking Putin’s hand before last year’s French elections, which the NSA subsequently revealed had been hacked by the Russians.
The Movement plans to research and write detailed policy proposals that can be used by like-minded parties; commission pan-European or targeted polling; and share expertise in election war room methodology such as message discipline, data-led voter targeting and field operations. Depending on electoral law in individual countries, the foundation may be able to take part in some campaigns directly while bolstering other populist groups indirectly.
If the following sounds like a conversation between Vladimir Putin and his intelligence chiefs, that’s no accident:
[Bannon] describes [Germany’s Angela] Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the French president who crushed Le Pen in a runoff election last year but has since flagged in the polls, as vulnerable figureheads of establishment Europe. With Britain voting to quit the E.U., Merkel and Macron’s vision of a united continent will be put to the test at next year’s elections.
Bannon is convinced that the coming years will see a drastic break from decades of European integration. “Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That’s what will govern,” he told The Daily Beast. “You’re going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders.”
The grassroots movements are already in place waiting for someone to maximize their potential. “It will be instantaneous—as soon as we flip the switch,” he said.
Bannon will do anything to distract from the Russophilic aspect of his mission. He echoed Trump’s criticism of Merkel, accusing of her selling out to Russia because she hasn’t cancelled a gas pipeline that was set in motion by her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder. He ignored the Russian role in funding Brexit and he’s done the same with the recent Italian elections:
Bannon went to Italy to observe the campaign earlier this year as populist parties surged in the polls despite their tiny operations. “Look at Five Star and the Northern League,” he said. “They used their own credit cards. They took control of the seventh largest economy in the world—on their credit cards! It’s insane.”
And how has the Italian coalition behaved so far?
The two anti-establishment parties reached a coalition agreement that made Matteo Salvini deputy prime minister and put him in charge of the interior ministry two months ago. He has since shut Italy’s ports to NGO ships carrying rescued migrants and called for a census of the Roma community that may lead to mass deportations. Last year, he called for a radical crackdown on immigrants. “We need a mass cleansing, street by street, piazza by piazza, neighborhood by neighborhood,” he said.
Bannon sees Salvini as a model for his future Movement partners to follow. “Italy is the beating heart of modern politics,” he said. “If it works there it can work everywhere.”
While the Italian government wants a census of the gypsies, an idea that already has currency in Hungary and Romania, a state minister from Austria’s far right co-governing Freedom Party has proposed creating a registry for anyone who wants to buy Kosher meat.
I’m not the only one warning about the resurgence of fascism, but I don’t feel like we have enough voices attuned to the threat. Steve Bannon is announcing his intentions to destroy liberal democracy and that just so happens to be exactly what his former boss in the White House and the president of Russia are working on in tandem.
This is not a drill.