The Pseudo-Leninist Stephen K. Bannon
Democracy is a form of the state, it represents, on the one hand, the organized, systematic use of force against persons; but, on the other hand, it signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state.
~ ~ Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)
One of the incongruous characters to come onto the American political stage is the pseudo-intellectual, Stephen K. Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist. Mr. Bannon sees himself as a "revolutionary" who thinks he can hijack the Leninist theory of dismantling the state apparatus through what he calls the "deconstruction of the administrative state," i.e., the current system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts that the president says "have stymied economic growth and infringed upon U.S. sovereignty”.[i] Although Mr. Bannon claims to have read Lenin’s works, it seems he has failed to study more thoroughly Lenin’s The State and Revolution regarding the apparatus of the state machinery.
Lenin did not mean to literally destroy— “smash, break, destroy" that state machinery a phrase often misunderstood and quoted for political, manipulative purposes since the time that classic work was written. Lenin was a pragmatic revolutionary, not a reactionary dilettante like Bannon. Lenin wrote: "We are not Utopians . . . we do not ‘dream’ of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination.”[ii] Lenin then goes on to state “The subordination, however, must be to the armed vanguard of all the exploited and working people, i.e., to the proletariat”.[iii] Bannon, in his ignorance, believes the American people incapable of governing themselves; that they must be governed by an oligarchic elite, forgetting that the very roots of American democracy arose from the bloodshed of the first American Revolution. The bourgeois democracy of the present historical period can be destroyed by a dictatorship, which can lead to the political militancy of the American people. The American people would not allow anarchism to destroy the infrastructure of the state machinery; they would instead reduce the state bureaucracy and institutions they require for their own needs, which would function as a socialist state under their own supervision.
Mr. Bannon, like his unstable and irrational President, has degraded not only established, legal agencies like the FBI and the CIA, but has the grand illusion that he can delegitimize not only these formidable institutions but all other federal institutions as well. Like the other sycophants who surround the President of the United States, Bannon is not practical in creating friends out of enemies, but instead allows his political and personal hubris to create self-inflicted wounds upon his political strategy to dominate the American scene. This imperious atmosphere, perpetuated by his own immature personality and the narcissism of the president has resulted in a recent ban on news outlets from White House briefings for reporters who do not agree with the president's political agenda to dismantle the American “administrative state”.
The irony for Mr. Bannon and his political minions is that they are creating a revolutionary front that will have nothing to do with his own reactionary constituents or Republican Party members. Such a political, American movement, even in its infancy, will not only bear its political brunt against the United States Government, but will vent its hatred against small demigods like Bannon, more precisely.
The New York Times, banned from a White House news briefing on Friday, February 24, 2017, reported that the day before, Bannon appeared casually dressed in a Ivy League sports blazer and khaki pants, urging a ballroom full of supporters to stick together against the forces that were trying to tear them apart. "Whether you’re a populist, whether you’re a limited-government conservative, whether you’re a libertarian, whether you’re an economic nationalist," he said, "we want you to have our back."[iv] Now we must ask ourselves what kind of activists, what kind of national revolutionaries he has among his ‘army’, to watch his back, since he is known to be a great admirer of the renowned Vietnamese General, Vo Nguyên Giáp. Of note is that, despite his admiration for Lenin and Giap, Bannon never once mentioned American workers.
A former Navy officer, Stephen K. Bannon regards himself as something of a deep strategist. If Brannon’s strategy is to divide and conquer, and to disrupt the American intelligence services through his cohorts’ deceit and mixed signals to the American news media, then he is an amateur if his goal is absolute power. He is, rather, nothing but a disappointed nihilist who has no revolutionary party, let alone revolutionary theory that the American people can accept.
Bannon denies that he is a fascist, preferring to be thought of as an American nationalist, harboring a hatred for Muslims. As Mother Jones reported, “Bannon's views often echo those of his devoted followers, describing Islam as "a political ideology" and Sharia law as "like Nazism, fascism, and communism." On his Sirius XM radio show, Bannon heaped praise on Pamela Geller, whose American Freedom Defense Initiative has been labeled an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, calling her "one of the leading experts in the country, if not the world."[v] What we see is that Bannon has the insidious capacity to lie about his actual political and ethnic hatred in the guise of his greater, American national aspirations that he wants the gullible American people to buy into. The deportation question of Muslims, undocumented workers from Mexico, and those who come from the so-called list of terrorist states echo the deadly agenda that Nazi officials, at the Wannsee conference during January 1942 in their quest for the “Final Solution” for the German Jews, would have admired.
Bannon's personal, strategic vision, in advising the President of the United States, is to establish an oligarchicl dictatorship, which he believes can be accomplished through a so-called deconstructivist revolution. He does not understand that a "revolution" is not a bantering of words at a ballroom gathering, but a struggle whose examples can be found in our past.
[ii] All quotations from The State and Revolution are taken from V.I. Lenin, Selected Works (London 1969), p.298.
[iii] Ibid, p. 298.