So what has Steve Bannon been up to lately? You know you want to know, even if you know it's nothing good.
Since being dropped by his funders, the alt-right billionaire patrons Rebekah Mercer and her father Robert a year ago, for insufficient fealty to Trump and other unspecified reasons (possibly in part because he wanted them to back him in his own run for president and they realized just how crazy he was), he's been busy stirring up trouble in Europe, looking for new funders, and trying to start something he calls The Movement.
Personally, I thought movements were made by large masses of people with a common interest in achieving a certain set of goals, not curmugeonly individuals with the backing of a few billionaires, but who knows? It's a new world these days in which capitalist robber barons can fancy themselves as champions of the people and they aren't laughed out of the room by the political media.
In the midst of Bannon’s hobnobbing with European fascists, euroskeptics, reactionary Catholic groups apoplectic about Pope Francis' reforms, and various populist-nationalist political parties, there was this interesting project of his — setting up a "gladiator school for culture warriors" in a medieval Italian monastery:
Several hundred people demonstrated Saturday in central Italy, against a planned "Academy for the Judeo-Christian West" backed by US political strategist Steve Bannon.
President Donald Trump's former aide in September vowed to set up "war rooms" across Europe to help form a pan-continental right-wing movement ahead of European Parliament elections in 2019.
Local activists and a network of associations protested against the plan in the village of Collepardo, expressing their views behind banners that read "Stop Bannon, Free Europe," and "Trisulti, European land."
The village lies close to the Trisulti charterhouse, a former Carthusian monastery now leased to the Catholic institute Dignitatis Humanae (DHI), a group close to conservative US cardinal Leo Burke and Bannon.
DHI plans to offer classes at the site east of Rome "to transmit Steve Bannon's thoughts to the next generations," founder Benjamin Harnwell told the Italian-language daily La Stampa.
He said the project had many financial backers, but cited only Bannon by name.
Bannon is not only funding the project, but also developing its curriculum:
Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there.
Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defense of what used to be called Christendom”.
Bannon’s increased engagement with the Institute demonstrates how his involvement in Europe extends beyond electoral politics to an effort to build a populist faction inside the Catholic Church.
The "school" is being run by a Briton named Benjamin Harnwell.
Soon, he said, the monastery would be filled with students who wanted to master the tools of populist politics. The halls with centuries-old oil paintings would serve as classrooms where students could learn “the facts” — the worldview espoused by Bannon, who, since being booted from the White House and Breitbart News, has turned to fomenting right-wing populism in Europe and beyond....
Harnwell is still recruiting teachers. He hasn’t yet received accreditation. He has yet to test whether students will want to venture up into the Apennine Mountains for such an education.
But if all goes well, Harnwell said, a new generation of leaders will spend time here and then descend back down the mountainside road, returning to Rome, to other European capitals or to Washington, helping to ensure that Bannon’s version of a revolt might last for decades to come....
He said the monastery would continue to serve as a space for “cultural activities.” It will offer courses devoted to the ideologies of both Bannon and Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, who is known as a fierce fighter against euthanasia, the death penalty and abortion.
It's been going for eight years but apparently has yet to see its first course or first student.
Not scammy at all...
Part of the problem seems to be a lack of backers.
For a while there Bannon was courting the right-wing Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis of Germany to replace Rebekah Mercer and her billions. But perhaps German princesses have more perspicacity in the rascals they decide to keep around them than American princesses do. She's connecting him to the reactionary Catholic network of Europe but seems to have drawn the purse strings shut when it comes to Bannon and his monastery school of culture warriors.
In a recent interview, Mr. Bannon said that he sensed a tipping point for a church besieged by crisis, and that his plan was to use Princess Gloria’s castle in Regensburg for a summer school while other prominent Catholic donors would fund the Trisulti project.
Asked whether Princess Gloria was among those prominent donors, he raised a knowing eyebrow and said, “I cannot disclose any of the donors.”
Princess Gloria said she welcomed Mr. Bannon’s contributions to the orthodox movement and found him to be an excellent communicator, political strategist and “Hollywood guy.”
But she made it clear that she wasn’t cutting any checks.
“We all want great things, but who is going to pay for it?” Princess Gloria, wearing a string of mothball sized pearls, asked rhetorically.
She ridiculed the possibility of investing $100 million to turn the monastery, where she was horrified to encounter a colony of bats, into a school.
“Sometimes men are dreamers and we women are more practical,” she said. “That’s why I said, ‘Great idea, start small.’”...
But before Mr. Bannon helped the cause, Princess Gloria suggested, he first needed to get his own spiritual house in order.
“I’m there to help, but I’m very strict and I say: ‘O.K., let’s go to church first. Change your life,’” she said. Asked specifically whether she meant she wanted Mr. Bannon to regularly attend church before he tried to fix it, she smiled. “I want to see all of my friends be faithful Catholics first. And then we can start.”
But Bannon hasn't abandoned his efforts in America. Far from it.
Lately he's been busy trying to get The Wall built on the southern border. He was one of the initiators of the scammy GoFundMe campaign to privately raise a billion dollars to build it on private land.
A group of President Donald Trump's most hardcore allies reportedly visited the US-Mexico border last week to brainstorm construction plans for a private border wall.
They apparently want to fund the wall with the millions of dollars raised through a viral GoFundMe campaign.
The Trump luminaries included former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, ex-Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling, and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach...
A wildly popular GoFundMe campaign raised $20 million for the wall last month, but fell far short of its $1 billion goal. The campaign also hit a number of other roadblocks, most notably the fact that it would still need Congress to approve the donated funds' use for the wall. ...
GoFundMe announced that since Kolfage had changed the terms of the campaign, all the donations would be refunded.
But since then, donors have forwarded at least $7 million of the refunded donations to Kolfage's non-profit, and he has amassed a growing number of Trump's strongest supporters to plan out construction and fundraising. Now, Bannon, Schilling, Clarke, Kobach, and Prince all sit on the non-profit's board.
Here's how the meeting went this weekend:
As Congress and President Trump debate funding a wall on the border with Mexico, 300 ardent Trump supporters gathered Friday evening in Sahuarita to hear about plans to use private funds to build a wall.
Organizers of the We Build the Wall campaign were short on specifics, but said they could build a wall cheaper, faster and better than the federal government by using crowdfunding to pay for walls on ranches and private land, including in Arizona....
Bannon told the crowd of mostly retirees at the Quail Creek Country Club that they had met with Southern Arizona ranchers and are consulting with “high level” elected leaders in Arizona....
Kobach and the campaign’s “land acquisition committee” spent all day Thursday meeting with “eight to 10 ranchers,” mostly in Cochise County, Bannon said in an interview after the event.
“They were all interested in doing something on their land,” Bannon said. None of the ranchers wanted to give their name at this time, he said.
The group’s wall eventually would “link” to the wall the government builds, “almost like a Lego locks in,” Kolfage said....
The panel of speakers did not broach the subject of what would happen with donations if the plan to build the wall fell through....
Building a privately funded wall along much of Arizona’s border with Mexico would be complicated.
The federal government owns most of the land from Nogales west to the Yuma area, including a military bombing range and wildlife areas. Most of the rest of the land is part of the Tohono O’odham Nation.
That doesn't sound scammy at all either, does it?
As a former investment banker and VP of Goldman Sachs, Bannon is supposedly a highly intelligent person.
He can't possibly be influenced in all this reactionary activity by sources he's cited over and over again like the French novel The Camp of the Saints, which depicts a Europe overrun by hordes of malevolent and bestial brown people. It's an incredibly stupid and ignorant book, written by a person who wanted to restore "Christian monarchy" in Europe.
For all that he and the reactionaries like him talk about wanting to "restore" "Christendom," it's hard to see anything of the teachings of Jesus Christ in what they’re doing. Instead, it all seems to be about a pursuit of money, power, and building cadres of single-minded warriors who will function as a private army in their hate and their culture war.
It seems more like a way to impose the will of a few ruthless aging white males on the rest of the world, when the rest of the world is ready to move on and try new ways of doing things that might be better for those of us who aren't aging white males with a hunger to rule the world.
Those of us who just want a better and more peaceful and prosperous world for ourselves and our children, where the riches of the world can be more fairly and broadly shared. Kind of like what “Christendom” was supposed to — at least theoretically — be all about.