War for Eternity. That is the title of a book about today’s subject Stephen K. Bannon, the one-time senior strategy advisor to the President of the United States. This fascinating story leads us through a year and a half interviews with Bannon, and other contacts such as Alexander Dugin, who tend toward a philosophical belief system called Traditionalism with a capital T, as the books author frequently points out. Many Americans are familiar with Bannon and his successful efforts to help Trump win in 2016, but few have been afforded insights into what created this man, often referred to as brilliant. I am personally pretty familiar with Steve, having been interviewed by him many times on Breitbart radio, and met with him over a meal several years ago, but this story is a remarkable in-depth view into the man and what has been his growth into who he his. Here is an excerpt from the book framed at a time when I was interacting with him regularly: “It was then late July 2014 and Steve was a little-known figure, the CEO of a right-wing media outlet called Breitbart. He had recently signed on as vice president of a voter data intelligence firm called Cambridge Analytica. He was speaking via video chat to a room full of conservative Christians gathered for a conference in Vatican City. What he began to describe was a nightmare. He spoke about a crisis in the West, about capitalism and the way it had morphed into two terrifying forms: a state-sponsored crony incarnation that enriched a select few with political connections, and a libertarian form of selfishness that took no care for community. About the secularization of youth. About a rising conflict with a new brand of Islamic extremism emboldened by newfound access to weapons of mass destruction and the messaging power of social media. And about the prospect of violence returning to Europe and North America. He called for capitalism to be subordinated to spirituality— to Jewish or Christian values in particular—so as to blunt its instinct to treat human beings as commodities. He called for a conservative revolution, not against leftists, but against the conservative establishment in the West, which was peddling elitism and ensuring crony capitalism.” You can see the level of intellectual thought transitioning into modern action in the geo-political world by Steve’s comments and this was years before Trump’s win. This story is so compelling, I’ll even tell you where the book ends, here it is, “the Steve Bannons of our times can find victories where others see defeat. With weapons and armies sometimes manifest, sometimes invisible, they view the world through radically different sets of eyes—witnessing chaos in structure, order in ruins, and the past in the future.” We are very fortunate this week to have the author of War for Eternity as our guest. Benjamin R. Teitelbaum is an ethnographer of contemporary radical nationalism in Europe, a performer of Scandinavian folk music, and Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and International Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
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