29. On Bannon and Nationalism

In last Thursday’s posting, I said that today I’d be explaining why the Democrats most likely won’t win in 2020.  There’s an old proverb about the best laid plans.  I was about half-way through my chosen topic when I flipped on the TV news and saw that Steve Bannon had been axed.  My train of thought was instantly diverted.  I’ll get back to the Presidential race at some future time.

Here’s the New York Times article on the event.

I’ll start by giving myself a little pat on the back.  One of my earlier postings – #7 to be exact – essentially predicted this.  I likened Bannon to Ernst Röhm, commander of Hitler’s Brownshirts – a true believer – who clashed with the generals and industrialists that der Führer needed to run his government, and was consequently dumped when the Nazis had been in power for a little over a year.  Similarly, in my view, Bannon’s ouster marks Trump’s surrender to the forces of orthodox Republicanism – the generals and billionaires in his cabinet – and a turn away from the nationalist and populist ideas that fueled his Presidential campaign.

In that earlier piece, I also pointed out the difference between Röhm’s situation and Bannon’s.  Hitler could dispose of Röhm very conclusively, by having him shot, but Trump can’t do that to Bannon, who moved directly from the West Wing to the familiar environs of Breitbart.  There he began his assault, maybe not on Trump personally – at least not at first – but on everyone Bannon regards as an enemy, a long list that includes most of the people Trump relies on.  It’s going to be brutal.

It’s as if Röhm had left Hitler’s employ and taken the Brownshirts with him.

Consequently, I have to regard this latest move as a bad mistake on Trump’s part.  Bannon may have been in some respects a pain in the ass, but I’ll predict, without benefit of astrology, that he was a lot less obnoxious to the other advisors when he had that nice White House office, than he’s going to be now.  Trump won the Presidency by putting alt-right populists together with more normal Republicans, but campaigning isn’t governing, and the alliance is beginning to show some cracks.  Casting off Bannon will make it harder to keep Trump’s coalition together, and if it comes apart completely, the Democrats might have a chance in 2020, after all.

From my point of view, Bannon’s demise has a clarifying effect, since it ends any pretext for regarding Trump’s administration as authentically nationalist.  I’ve always regarded myself as something of a nationalist, and one of my beefs with our so-called President is that I don’t think he really is one.  He’s a plutocrat, a militarist, and a blowhard, but none of these indicates genuine nationalism.  And since critics usually aren’t up on political theory, they haven’t been quick to point this out.

A consistently nationalistic position has very little resemblance to contemporary American conservatism, which takes its guiding philosophy – trickle-down economics based on principled selfishness – from the fiction of Ayn Rand.  By contrast, nationalists believe in community.  They believe they have certain crucial interests in common with their fellow citizens.  They know that “free market” means “free trade,” which means globalization.  They’re glad to see the flow of capital and labor stemmed by government action, if it’s done to benefit the American people.

There’s nothing inherently right-wing about nationalism, as the names of Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh sufficiently demonstrate.  I’m not endorsing those particular characters – my point simply is that proper nationalism won’t be a cover for reactionary social policies.  It’s often a vehicle for empowering the common people against an oppressive elite.  The Jacobins – the makers of the French Revolution – were nationalists.  The liberators of the Latin American peoples were nationalists.  Benito Juarez was most definitively a nationalist.  In the twentieth century, Asian and African peoples fought Western imperialism in a series of nationalistic revolutions.

Gandhi was a nationalist!

But Trump’s a fraud – he won votes by voicing nationalist and populist themes, but he didn’t really mean it.  His tax-cut plan, the brainchild of his Wall Street advisors, is basically a windfall for the corporate sector and the super-rich.  An actual nationalist would maybe understand that giving billionaires a tax break, so they can transfer more capital abroad, may not do as much good for the USA, as taxing away some of their ill-gotten wealth, and using the proceeds to care for our own.

I think nationalism implies a few other things as well:  that the United States should, as far as possible, avoid military adventures far from our borders; that we should shift the resources we currently devote to defending foreigners to addressing our domestic concerns; and that whatever tends to split us into warring factions strikes at the heart of our community.

Bannon wasn’t a perfect vehicle for expressing this perspective – I’ll say more about his limitations next time.  Without him, however, Trump’s simply a conservative Republican who’s a bit bonkers.  That’s my opinion, anyway.

Given my astrological interests, I suppose I should say something about today’s eclipse.  I think the analysis here is pretty simple.  The Sun is Trump’s Ruling planet, so the eclipse refers to him, and means some kind of disaster.

I guess you could plausibly predict that on other grounds.

Blessed be.

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