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Nationalist “Presidential Adviser” Stephen Bannon Plays Up to French Right-Wing National Front

2018-03-10

The Washington Post reported on Saturday morning that Stephen Bannon had travelled to France to address the National Front in France and give his support to Marine Le Pen, its new leader.  Mr. Bannon is well-known in this country for his nationalism, xenophobia, “populism”, and racism, and perhaps for an incipient fascist streak.  Ms. Le Pen has long been estranged from the National Front’s original leader, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.  Ms. Le Pen lost badly in last May’s presidential elections in France, gaining only a third of the country’s votes against Emmanuel Macron.  The National Front did even worse in legislative elections, losing all but eight seats in the 577-seat Assembly.

Italy’s nationalists did much better in their recent elections; a divided government, with nationalists in key positions, appears to be under organization.  Italy’s membership and/or participation in the European Union may be in danger as a result.  Cynics would attribute the success of nationalists in Italy to their poor defenses against cyber-sabotage and payoffs directed by Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.  The French, on the other hand, were able to suppress cyber-propaganda of foreign origin very effectively.

Nonetheless, Mr. Bannon claimed that nationalists were winning and the republican parties were losing; he was quoted as claiming, “The tide of history is with us, and it will compel us to victory after victory after victory.”  Note the words “tide of history”– Mr. Bannon has described himself as a Leninist, but he is thought to refer to Lenin’s tactic of completely destroying the government he was taking over and remaking it in his own image.  He is not thought to be a Marxist; if he were, his reference to the “tide of history” would be understandable as referring to Marx’s “historical” theory of the development of feudalism followed by capitalism followed by communism.  Instead, his reference is more likely to be part of a delusional, popular rant for the ears of his nationalist supporters in which nationalists are winning control of the world.

Assuming he were serious, we can readily argue that historical trends appear to be leaving nationalism behind.  The twentieth century saw the rise of multinational corporations who were able to “sit out” the second world war and maintain their viability and profits by dealing with all sides in the world-wide conflict.  In this century, multinationals are becoming larger than many countries; one or two US states is already larger than all but four or five of the largest nations.  Nationalism as a force (for good or ill) appears to be waning as corporations win control over larger asset sets and are gaining partial immunity against sanctions and depredations of most countries.

The persistence of nationalism as a force is of course championed by almost all nations, most demagogues, and many national leaders.  The most powerful proponents of nationalism are the leaders of China, Russia, and the US.

The concept of nationalism is inimical to the best interests of the Earth as a whole as well as to the well-being of the humans on it (the interests of Earth and of humans are not identical.)  Nations are artificial constructs and they depend on the ideas of race, culture, and national identity.  Race is an extremely superficial concept, as modern genetics has shown us: it is determined by skin and hair color and texture and facial characteristics, which do not assort genetically with intelligence or any of the many determinants of personality.  Culture is a powerful and subtle concept, but it is mutable and evolves over time– what is more, it is not distinct between nations.  National identity as a construct is useful only to national governments that wish to motivate their young men to die for their country and their young women to raise “good Americans” or “good Russians” (allowing that nationalism and sexism are equally obsolete concepts.)

The top ten multinational corporations, by annual revenue, according to the Telegraph (UK), are :

  • Sinopec (China) – $267.5bn.
  • China Natural Petroleum (China) – $262.6bn.
  • Toyota Motor (Japan) – $254.7bn.
  • Volkswagen (Germany) – $240.2bn.
  • Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands) – $240bn.
  • Berkshire Hathaway (US) – $223.6bn.
  • Apple (US) – $215.6bn.
  • Exxon Mobil (US) – $205bn.

All of these companies have smaller total revenues than the GDP of Egypt (40th in the world.)  However, tax revenues show that South Korea, fourteenth in the world, has similar receipts as the total revenue of the largest corporation.  This may be a more accurate measure of a country’s power compared to a company’s power.  These numbers show that large corporations are capable of buying immunity from prosecution in most countries in the world.

I am not trying to say that nationalism is bad or that corporatism or globalism are good, merely that their relative strength as concepts has undergone changes over the past two hundred years.  Proponents of nationalism, in this day and age, tend to have ulterior motives like personal power.

Quoting from the last part of the article presented by Microsoft’s News application (part of Windows 10) (these articles usually are word-for-word extracts of articles that appear in their respective sources):

Le Pen has long sought to “de-demonize” her party by distancing it from its origins.
The National Front was co-founded in 1972 by her father, the convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, who continues to refer to Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” in the history of World War II. Last week, he published the first volume of his memoirs, “Son of the Nation,” which feature an empathic defense of Philippe Pétain, the leader of France’s Vichy government, a body that willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany during the war.
Although several of Marine Le Pen’s aides were also accused of Holocaust denial during the recent election campaign, she claims to be estranged from her father. The party conference in Lille will also feature a vote as to whether the elder Le Pen can keep his title as the party’s honorary president. His daughter officially expelled him in 2015, for repeating the gas chamber remark.
Bannon had some advice for those who might be embarrassed by such a history. “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists,” he said. “Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.”
In French media, Jean-Marie Le Pen — noting that Bannon was widely perceived as the “most radical” of Trump’s advisers — cast doubt on the value of his daughter’s American guest.
“I think this is not exactly the definition of ‘de-demonization,’” he said.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com and Alexas_Fotos)

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