Steve Bannon was on with Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova of the Red Scare podcast, and his view on how we got to this place of pandemic is that it’s the result of a failed ideology of managing the decline of the American empire.
Khachiyan and Nekrasova are never afraid to address big issues, or have incendiary guests on their show. Both are disaffected Democrats, and their allegiance is to curiosity and exploration not to any party line. Even so, having Bannon on is kind of a big deal. He is not only disliked among the American left, but routinely derided, notoriously hated. These are crazy times.
Yet, he was early in calling for caution with regard to the pandemic, and when he suggested that media take a closer look at what was happening, the message given out by health officials back in late January was that the then nameless coronavirus wasn’t going to be a worry for Americans.
Bannon remarked that the effect the pandemic is having on our supply lines and economy is mostly the result of the “managed decline of America and the west by the elites.” He’s not wrong. Bannon believes that we are living “off the capital that was banked before we became a consumer economy.”
For several years pre-pandemic, and during the Obama administration, articles were circulating around the internet that the United States was in its last days as a global empire, and that it was imperative to manage its decline. Additionally, the feeling among the left was that this was the right thing to do.
That because of past sins, namely racism and slavery, the US was not fit to be a global leader. The contention was that we didn’t do enough with our privilege and that we just didn’t deserve to have it. The charge was that the US were cultural appropriators, ungenerous global actors, and uselessly rich.
While corporate America and the global industrialized west turned their economies from manufacturing to a consumer based model, we gave up our ability to produce goods to China and its totalitarian government. In virtually every sector this was the case, including with medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. We are seeing the consequences of this decision now that much of what we need to curtail and contain the coronavirus contagion is located a container ship away.
As we move into the meat of this crisis, populism is what is mounting on both sides of the political divide. Conservative populism is definitely a Trumpian cause, while leftist populism is led by cult-of-personality types like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was a member of the working class before propelling herself into the ranks of government.
The establishment types on left and right are left behind by the populist approach. Neo-cons and neo-liberals alike are without a foothold in the new political landscape. As Khachiyan and Nekrasova pointed out, the talking points of each party have also been reversed.
Globalism is now the cause of the left, where it had previously been a conservative talking point in service to capital and corporate industry. And Trump is talking about something that looks like a single payer Medicare expansion. The traditional positions of left and right are basically up for grabs, and either party can own them as the ideologies shift.
Bannon is an advocate for the working class, military and military families, and he views the 2008 financial crisis and the pandemic as part of a massive shift in how American life will be structured. He thinks that on the other side of this, we will see an increase in populism. Nationalism will increase in the sense that people will be more concerned for their individual nations and not globally driven.
It “could be very positive,” Bannon said, but “we’re gonna go through a decade or so of a real grind.” Much of his concern is for the millennials, who he feels have the potential to be the “next greatest generation.”
Bannon said that “millennials are bed fed and better clothed,” but that “millennials are nothing but Russian serfs, they don’t own anything and they’re not going to own anything.” There are two ways to wealth for this generation, Bannon believes, inventing a world-changing algorithm or inherited wealth.
“You’re just a hamster on the wheel of some sorrow,” Bannon said to millennials. “You get a little bit of credit and you’re on the wheel and you can never get off the wheel and you’re one or two paychecks away from oblivion.”
“Because of the evisceration of the pension funds and this collapse of the $20 billion of value that we’ve lost… if you couple that, the stock market crash with the zero interest rates, I think you could argue that every person under 50 years old is gonna have to work every day of their life from cradle to grave and not bc they find their job rewarding but bc you're gonna have to work every day of your life.”
We sold out our ability to maintain ourselves to China. In service to capital, we declined to comment or call attention to that nation’s continued civil rights abuses and mistreatment of its people. The US does not hold China accountable to anything but the bottom line of corporate greed.
And what is the result? The result is that our economy has been tanked due to a virus that an brutal regime obfuscated, global actors are more interested in appeasing Chinese interests than being factual about the dangers of its authoritarianism.
American factories are being repurposed to make what we need, from personal protective equipment to life saving medical machines. We are looking to what we can do for our national interests at home as opposed to facilitating dictators overseas.
And while the grind ahead of this economic stoppage is what the future holds for us for perhaps a decade or more, the change that we’ve been looking to see in our political topography is forthcoming. “People are just getting their hands around this,” Bannon said. It will for sure be a while before we have any kind of solid grip.
Pandemic punditry has been lacking in effective discourse that does anything more than blame people for their perceived ineptitude. The censorious establishment pretend that these ideas don’t even exist, and they have no intention of bringing on any guest that sincerely questions their own side.
Small media is able to break through the cable news haze. It’s a time when every idea should be on the table, interrogated, and considered on merit alone and not who thought it. There’s simply too much at stake.