Traditionalism, Steve Bannon and world politics

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Benjamin Teitelbaum has dedicated part of his career to studyingextreme right parties and ideologies. He came across a school of thought that began between the world wars called Traditionalism that is anti progress and has its spiritual roots in eastern religions. He dismissed it as being insignificant until he started hearing Steve Bannon, whilst working with the US President, mention names associated with the ideology. Benjamin spent the next two years chasing leads, spending hours talking with Steve Bannon and others associated with Traditionalism and uncovered a network that has political influence in the US, Russia, Brazil, in the Brexit vote in the UK and also in China.

Traditionalism, Steve Bannon and world politics

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Benjamin Teitelbaum, author of “War for Eternity: Inside Steve Bannon’s Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers.”

Morning Show – 05/01/20

If during the Golden Age society is stratified, and different people follow separate social and religious paths, the rise of darkness entails the complete breakdown of difference and a leveling of global humanity in pursuit of its basest wants. It is the fusion of these beliefs and their association with cyclicity that separates Traditionalists on the right from more mainstream religious conservatives like Ross Douthat. Indeed, latter-day Traditionalists use this lens to regard globalism and the seemingly chaotic circulation of money, goods, power, and peoples as tokens of a decadent secularism and a sign that collapse—and with it a turning of the ages—is near.

That’s how Steve Bannon sees it, at least. I spoke with the former campaign chairman and special adviser to Donald Trump during an opening in his schedule, now dominated by activities related to the coronavirus outbreak (he has been hosting a daily radio program devoted to the topic since January 25). What we are witnessing now, he claims, is the turning of this Dark Age—the Kali Yuga, as he calls it, referring to Hinduism’s account of cyclic time. The signs of this are a convergence of three imminent catastrophes:

You have a massive pandemic. Two, you have an economic crisis, and part of that is these perturbations of travel and service economy, that’s horrific, but then deeper you have a systemic issue, one is the supply chain—we don’t make any of the medicines here, we don’t make any of the gloves. But deeper than that is the globalization project, that we have essentially shipped everything to China, the manufacturing. We don’t make anything. So we have this system that can collapse quite quickly. And now we’ve triggered something that might be far bigger than the first two: We’re in a financial firestorm, a financial crisis.

The crashing economy, he explains, is born of liquidity and solvency problems. Underlying it all is “globalization”: in his view, the inability of states to erect meaningful borders regulating movement of people and the production of goods.

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Bannon, like Dugin, thinks of borders more expansively than most people. He advocate for the strengthening of national borders, yes, but borders of all kinds are besieged in his mind—borders between civilizations and identities as well as borders within societies governing how people act toward each other and organize their lives.

Borderlessness is a hallmark of modernity, reflected, according to the early Traditionalists, in the disintegration of hierarchy and its replacement by mass, borderless society lacking any collective between the individual and the totality. Reviving borders of all kinds is anti-modern behavior. It is to introduce order where chaos previously existed, and to segment and stabilize the world. This is the common thread motivating Bannon’s social conservatism, his cultural (some would allege ethno-)nationalism, his non-interventionism, economic protectionism, and opposition to immigration

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Traditionalists hold that we are living in a time of destruction, the Kali Yuga, from which will follow rebirth. The book shows how Dugin, Bannon and Olavo have been influenced by this esoteric blend, though they, and the heirs of Evola and Guénon, interpret it in disparate ways.

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