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White Supremacy in the White House Rooted in a Dark Theory of History White Supremacy in the White House Rooted in a Dark Theory of History
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-02-06 11:20:24
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The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny
by William Strauss and Neil Howe.

The theoretical slogan “Make America Great Again,” followed in practice with a ban on travel to the US from seven Moslem countries, is ultimately rooted in a sinister theory of history. The theory does not originate from the new occupant of the White House, who has never exhibited much intellectual curiosity, be it in history, or any other subject for that matter, with the possible exception of business deals, but it is endemic to his most influential and trusted advisor Steve Bannon, the man behind the curtain who landed him in the White House.

Bannon is known as a White Supremacist, with racial and anti-Semitic tendencies; a passionate adherent to a theory of history about America’s future as elucidated in the above mentioned book. There are around a plethora of cyclical theories of history, the most popular being perhaps that of the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico. One could indeed go all the way back to the ancient Greeks who believed that at the end of a given cycle of history (the saeculum) comes a “ekpsyrosis” or a cataclysmic event, a trial of fire of sorts, which destroys the old order and brings about a new one, but this new theory by Strauss and Howe is unique in its sheer darkness. To boot, Bannon misinterprets it to better suit his own political agenda.

As per this theory, there are three turning of history which America has experienced, so far: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Depression followed by World War II. They were marked by massive dislocations, war, and decay from which the people were forced to reunite and build a new order. In other words, first comes a catalyst event from which issues a period of regeneracy climaxed by a war with the old order which ends with a resolution. The resolution is the triumph of the new order.

Bannon seems to be obsessed with the theory. He is convinced that a reckoning is fast approaching, in fact it must necessarily arrive in order for a new order to emerge; also, that the climactic conflict will be conducted from the White House. He has shown himself willing to advise Trump on the enactment of policies disruptive of the current order. It is generally believed that the  he was the architect behind the ban, called temporary for now, on travel and on entry Muslims in the US. He was also behind the deletion of the reference to Jews as victims of the Holocaust on its recent yearly commemoration (on the very same day of the ban enacted on Moslems by executive fiat).

One of the side-effects of this encouraged disruption is the breaking down of old political and economic alliances, even the turning away from traditional American principles to create chaos and prepare for the new order. Chaos seems to be the climate in the present White House: rampant confusion under conflicting orders, with Caligula redivivus creating the confusion and then perversely enjoying the reality show, to suddenly show up as the man with the brilliant solutions. It’s as if the Apprentice TV show were still going on. It’s the atmosphere of the Roman Colosseum where the phenomenon of survival of the fittest is the ultimate goal and rationale. Many, in and out of the White House, are concerned and are beginning to entertain the idea of impeachment. Some have even mustered the courage to call him “illegitimate,” which is the equivalent to the little boy in Christian Andersen’s tale shouting “the emperor is naked” as the emperor struts around in his splendid invisible clothes to the sycophantic admiration of his followers.

The bizarre show, as of this writing, goes on unabated. It has to go on, necessarily, because Bannon is attempting to bring about, or fulfill, if you will, the so called fourth turning of US history, a new vision of America as described in the theory above. Trump is merely the means to attain to it. In an interview Bannon has described Trump as “a blunt instrument” but one that he is perfectly willing to use nevertheless, in order to attain the appointed goal of history. It is all rather deterministic with human responsibility, guilt and regret, notably absent from the whole process.

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Nevertheless, taking notice of this fourth turning gives some needed context to policies that so far seem deranged, incoherent and inconsistent, unexplainable and confusing even to experts in geo-politics, as they vainly attempt to square the circle and make some rational sense of it all.

Bannon is convinced that we are already in a period of regenaracy. The catalyst was the financial crisis of 2008. As described in the book, this is a period of isolationism, of reimagining the economy (which so far has shown itself prone to a reimagining new tax breaks for the rich…), re-building of the infrastructure, and, most importantly, a strong centralized, authoritarian, powerful government where the executive reigns supreme, unencumbered by too many laws and regulations. But this is only a preparation for a massive conflict of civilizations to come. A conflict between East and West, which may mean the Middle East or perhaps China. Russia, for the moment, seems to be considered a friendly ally, with few if any rationales.

But what does history ultimately show? Does it really repeat itself deterministically, or are the catastrophes of every era unique to each era? Will the fourth Turning be the same as the first, second, and third? To take a close look, it appears that the Fourth Turning of the Civil War was quite different than that of the Depression and World War II.

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Two white supremacists, both Trump advisors, confabulating with each other

Logically, it is argued, the financial crisis of 2008 is the catalyst for our crisis and the coming struggle, just as the Depression was for the third turn. But are the two really comparable? During the Depression unemployment reached 20%; in the fourth turning it never went beyond 10%. Unlike the Hoover Administration (an administration which prided itself of its business acumen) which dilly dallied for two whole years, the government of Barack Obama acted very fast to prevent a meltdown and turned the situation around, at least on a financial level.

What this financial crisis has brought about this time around is an exacerbation of the income inequality gap which has been growing globally since it began some forty years ago. That explains the popularity of a Bernie Sanders, and to a certain extent that of Donald Trump, who as one of those who benefitted from and produced the gap, then skilfully  used it  as a campaign strategy to fool millions of middle class workers who are now waiting for the check in the mail. Good luck. The disappointed will be palpable in a few months.

If there is a comparison to be made, it ought to be that of the inaugural address of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, when he describes a county devastated by the Great Depression, a picture that all Americans could see and recognize; and compare it to that of Trump in 2017 a couple of weeks ago, where he talks of a dark “American carnage.” What was he talking about? Not many can answer that question. But it may aptly describe the deep divisions presently existing in this country of ours.

Unlike the era of FDR which put people back to work and created a national unifying spirit wherein society’s resources were redistributed and society rebuilt, what is most apparent today is discord and disunity, as exemplified by the two main political parties who have all but forgotten the word compromise and harmony. The anger and the authoritarianism is there, apparent to all, but not the yearning for social justice, not the common purpose, or the common good. Division and dissension have been promoted as never before.

And this is where Bannon and him minions in the White House are greatly misguided. They believe that they are working for “the Gray Warrior,” the leader described by Strauss and Howe who will “urgently resist the idea that a second consecutive generation might be denied the American Dream.” The identification of the Gray Warrior in a pathological narcissist who creates “alternate facts” as he goes along is indeed a grave mistake.

They also conveniently forget that the new order in the Germany of 1932 was inaugurated by a power-mad fellow named Adolf Hitler who wanted to make Germany great again. Pari passu, today’s hero and savior, while claiming to be champion of the disadvantaged, continues to pursue his own personal financial and political interests and has so far shown precious little compassion for the poor and the unfortunate.

In reality, the ones who may eventually show us the way forward, out of our impasse and begin the Fourth Turning are not the Trumpists in love with Ayn Rand’s “virtue of selfishness” but the Millennials, the young, whose needs have all but been ignored by the likes of Trump and Bannon.

The only candidate who attracted them during the presidential campaign was Bernie Sanders. Trump appealed and managed to fool mostly an older generation who felt that something had been taken away from them and resented that fact. The millennials have no such resentment; they have, in fact, never been given a chance at the American Dream in the first place. Most of them voted against Trump, many stayed home and for good reasons: Trump had offered them nothing.

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Steve Bannon contemplating the cycles of history

What Bannon has failed to grasp is that the Fourth Turning, as envisioned by Strauss and Howe, is not inevitable and deterministic but requires an urgent return to a constitutionally agreed-upon set of values. The millennials have grasped that much. What Bannon and Trump are doing, on the other hand, is that, far from unifying against outside threats, they are creating enemies galore (Mexico, China, Australia, the EU, you name it) which many Americans don’t want to have. That insistence on creating enemies at a tough bargaining table, does nothing but increase the palpable anxiety and frustration.

Indeed, we find ourselves in uncharted perilous territory and history cannot deterministically predict  where we will eventually end up. It can only give us guidelines and lessons on how to avoid past mistakes. History however does teach us that to ignore the voices of justice and reason is to make sure that we will end up with an enormous political disaster on our hands. In a way we already have one reigning disaster right inside the White House. Those who did not vote for confusion and dissension (by 3 million votes difference) are now asked to go along for the ride with the mad emperor. Such are the ways and byways of democracy. In any case, better buckle up; the ride is likely to be bumpy.

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Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them for FREE HERE!
 
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