As you can see here, this morning Steve Bannon is using his contempt of Congress charges to publicize his podcast and fundraise. Tweet or I guess publicize through it, you might say. It’s not surprising. This is pure Bannon: all defiance and spectacle. As we learned with Trump 5+plus years ago, there’s no shaming people in the Trump world. They lean into it. The only way forward is bringing all the reality of the situation to the foreground, the movement’s penchant for violence, contempt for democracy and eagerness for foreign subversion. Along these lines I wanted to point out an abiding feature of Trumpism and Bannon’s role in it: in this self-styled American ‘nationalist’ movement it’s surprisingly difficult to find … well, Americans.
Bannon’s lead hype man this morning is a guy named Raheem Kassam, a British national associated with English nationalist and Brexit cheerleader Nigel Farage. He’s also Bannon’s podcast cohost. The association with Bannon goes back a number of years. He set up and ran Breitbart UK, which he left in 2018. Over the Trump years he’s become an increasingly ubiquitous presence in US Trump world.
And funding? Bannon’s whole operation these days seems to be funded by Guo Wengui, a Chinese exile who is either an exile running a network of organizations opposing the PRC or possibly a Chinese spy with the exile thing as his cover. Probably the former, but not a few people suspect the latter. When things like that aren’t clear it’s seldom a good sign.
Here’s a recent write up on the mix of activism, criminality and on-going federal investigations tied to Guo and Bannon. (Remember, when Bannon got arrested a couple years ago he was on Guo’s yacht.) Guo is the backer of numerous far-right disinformation efforts in the US which he has wrapped together with his claimed Chinese “government in exile” – which he calls the “New Federal State of China”. Remember Gettr, the new Twitter-clone run by one time Trump advisor Jason Miller? Well, that also appears to be funded by Guo. Back in June Guo sponsored and hosted this Trump/Right-Wing Extremist folk revival in New York City. It’s a typically Trumpian/Bannonite mix of showmanship, big money criminality and far-right politics.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with working with foreigners. Some of my best friends are foreigners, as they say. My point in raising this is to highlight how much Bannon especially, but elements of the Trumpist movement generally, aren’t really American ‘nationalists’ so much as the US branch of a global authoritarian movement. It’s less nationalist than trans-nationalist, with the unifying feature contempt for civic democracy and support for authoritarianism.