Trump’s strategist said in 2014 that capitalism lost its moral moorings and turned against working and middle classes
Stephen Bannon, who led Donald Trump’s campaign to win the U.S. presidency and is slated to be the chief strategist of the incoming administration, saw the victory of Narendra Modi in 2014 as the beginning of a global revolt against a capitalist system that lost its moral moorings and has turned against the working class and the middle class.
Mr. Bannon argued that entrepreneurial capitalism has declined, even as State capitalism and corporate capitalism took over. “Capitalism …is taken away from the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity and, really, Judeo-Christian belief,” he said, attributing it to the aggressive secularisation of Western society.
While the Judeo-Christian system is eroding, “we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism”, Mr. Bannon said. While the tools of capitalism enabled the victory of the West in the Second World War, “Islamic fascism” is now using capitalist tools to attack the West, he said.
Mr. Bannon’s politics involves rescuing capitalism from corporations and State power while creating a coalition of nationalist forces around the world to fight Islamism in the coming decades.
“And that centre-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great victory was very much based on these Reaganesque principles, so I think this is a global revolt,” he said a month after the 2014 Indian election.
Mr. Bannon was speaking at the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences in the Vatican City, in a conference on “Poverty and the Common Good: Putting the ‘Preferential Option for the Poor’ at the Service of Human Dignity”. Buzzfeed published the transcript of his speech on Tuesday. “I certainly think secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals,” he said.
While pushing back against State capitalism is essential, fighting Islamism must be the priority now, he argued. Russia, which he said was a kleptocracy, has, however, asserted its national power against global institutions.
Ties with Russia
Mr. Bannon supports nationalist assertions across the world, and said of Russia: “I really believe that in this current environment, where you’re facing a potential new Caliphate that is very aggressive, that is really a situation… I think we have to deal with first things first.”
Echoing a view now strong among Trump advisers that America, India and Russia are the pivots in the fight against Islamism, Mr. Bannon said: “We understand that we’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasise.”
Many critics have tried to interpret Mr. Trump’s campaign as an appeal to white nationalism and several others had alleged it has been anti-Semitic. Mr. Bannon’s remarks, however, reveal its appeal to a broader Judeo-Christian identity. After Mr. Bannon took over as his campaign chief, Mr. Trump began to sign off his speeches with the call to unity “under one flag, and one god.”
Role of faith
Mr. Bannon said the success of capitalism in providing material prosperity to people was due to the beliefs of its pioneers. “They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christian faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs were manifested in the work they did.”
But now, under global corporatist capitalism, “people are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief,” he said.
“The corporatists garner all the benefits for themselves” and “the central thing that binds that all together is a centre-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos,” he said.