Populism and Fascism ‘Are Not Even Related – That’s Just a Smear’

Steve Bannon
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‘Fascism’ is just a ‘smear’ used by the media to discredit ‘populism’, Steve Bannon has said in a wide-ranging interview in the Spectator.
Bannon – former senior advisor to President Trump and former Executive Chairman of Breitbart News – was talking to interviewer Nick Farrell, who asked him what he thought of claims that “populism is the new fascism.”

‘This is all theoretical bullshit. I don’t know. Populism, fascism — who cares? It’s a media smear of the populist movement.’

Donald Trump, I suggest, can’t be a fascist, as he does not want to replace democracy with dictatorship, nor is he left-wing, as was fascism.

‘The bigger threat we have got than socialism is state-controlled capitalism, which is where we’re headed, where we have big government and a handful of big companies. That’s what you’re seeing in technology right now with these massive companies. It’s the biggest danger we have.

Interviewer and interviewee were brought together by a shared interest in Mussolini. Neither shares his politics but they both find the Italian dictator “fascinating.”

Mussolini was perhaps the reason Bannon granted me an interview. It turns out he likes a book I wrote about the dictator years ago.

‘How many guys have you interviewed who have read your biography?’ he asked. ‘Am I the first?’

Had he really read it? ‘I have, definitely … I haven’t read all the old biographies but it’s the only modern one that treated Mussolini as … one of the most important figures of the 20th century. You put the juice back in Mussolini. He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.’

Bannon was speaking to Farrell on his European tour, where he has been speaking at a series of sell-out events and reporting on the recent Italian elections which Bannon described as “the most important thing happening politically in the world right now”.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Is Donald Trump’s Revolution Already Over?

In side-lining Steve Bannon, the US President is starting to look as much a part of the system as the Clintons.

There were three reasons why I so badly wanted Donald Trump to win the US presidential election. One was that the alternative was Hillary; another that I knew it would annoy all the worst people in the world; but the third was a positive one: I genuinely believed that as an independently wealthy, outsider candidate with no loyalties to the DC establishment, Trump was going to be the revolutionary hero who would finally free the people from the shackles of a corrupt, sclerotic and self-serving ruling elite.

Some may scoff at my naivety. But there was evidence to support my view. Brexit had just happened and what seemed clear from Trump’s embrace of Nigel Farage was that he saw himself as part of the same populist wave. We knew from Trump’s Twitter feed that he rejected the GOP consensus of the Bush eras: he was against neocon-style military intervention, he wasn’t going to pay even lip service to global warming (‘created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive’) and he was going to stick up for the neglected ‘middle class’ — all those ordinary, hardworking Americans whose living standards hadn’t risen in 20 or more years, while the 1 per cent just got richer and richer. And we could also guess from his public manner and private behaviour (such as the infamous ‘pussy’ tape), that Trump was unlikely to share Hillary’s enthusiasm for the political correctness which is making parts of the US — notably its campuses — feel like a very un-American liberal fascist tyranny.

Then, finally, there was his campaign adviser — and later chief strategist — Steve Bannon. I’ve read lots of things about Bannon, mostly from people who don’t get him and have never met him. He used to be my boss at Breitbart — and to say I loved him would be an exaggeration because he can be foul-mouthed, quick-tempered and very, very scary. But I admire him hugely for his vision, his galvanising powers and his extraordinary energy.

Steve — ‘Honey Badger’ as we used call him, after the viral internet video about the famously fearless and impervious mustelid who ‘don’t give a shit’ — is a force of nature. He lives on almost nothing but Diet Coke and BlackBerry updates, sleeps no more than about three hours a day and, like the Eye of Sauron, sees everything and misses nothing. He thinks many steps ahead and he makes stuff happen: just the kind of guy you’d want at a high level in your presidential administration.

Though Bannon is rich enough from his days as a Wall Street financier (his biggest coup was when, in lieu of an adviser’s fee, he accepted a financial stake in five TV series including an obscure no-hoper called Seinfeld) not to feel out of place among east and west coast elites, he has never lost touch with his working-class roots. He prefers to dress more like Michael Moore (a fellow multimillionaire and scruff) than New York preppies, which is one reason why he looks so awkward in his suit in those White House photos next to uber-preppy Jared Kushner. He genuinely identifies with blue-collar America.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

It’s Tough Being the Only British Journalist Who’s Right about Everything

The Donald’s disbelief in global warming is not some wind-up stunt: it’s going to be a core part of his programme.

So I made £250 betting on Trump to win the presidency. It would have been more, except that every time I got close to topping up my stake, this boring, mimsy, responsible voice in my head kept saying: ‘Now, now James. Don’t be silly. All your sensible friends who know much, much more than you do about politics have been telling you that President Trump just isn’t going to happen.’

One of them was m’learned colleague Toby Young. Until recently we used to do a podcast together. Because it was partly aimed at a US audience, we’d usually chat about the presidential race and I’d go into my crazy spiel about why Trump was the only sane choice; and Toby would patiently explain how silly this was because Trump wanted to disband Nato and we’d probably end up with the third world war.

Toby has now got himself a proper job (working for an education charity), as have most of my journalistic contemporaries. Of late, I’ve begun to feel like the pilled-up, grey-haired rave casualty on the dance floor who hasn’t quite accepted that the party’s over. There I am, persuading myself that I’m the last of the breed, fearlessly relaying truth to power when all the rest have fled the field. But maybe the truth is — or so I’ve sometimes wondered in my darker moments — that I’m just a puerile contrarian raging against reality, when what I should really have done is embraced Remain and rooted for Hillary, like all my more sophisticated friends at places like the Economist, the Times and the Financial Times.

Instead, look at what happened! No, I can’t believe it either — it feels so weird and unnatural I almost want a rerun. Not only was I in the journalistic minority of being right about Brexit, but I was in the even tinier minority of being right about Trump. Maybe it wasn’t such a totally lunatic thing taking that contract with Breitbart, after all.

Breitbart, as you’re probably now aware, is the right-wing US website which can more or less claim ownership of Donald Trump’s victory. Until last week, they were derided by the left-liberal media as being quite beyond the pale of civilised discussion because of their shockingly rude stories about feminists and Islamists and Black Lives Matter activists. Even one or two conservative friends advised me that I’d be tainting myself by association with such a fringe organisation.

What I replied to these kind friends was: ‘One — you clearly don’t understand what’s happening to the media. Fat fees and fantastical expenses have gone. To earn a living you have to go where the money is. And increasingly that ain’t on what’s left of Fleet Street.

Read the rest at the Spectator.